Week-long program promotes Christian beliefs, awareness

Lauren Mogannam

The suffering faces of young victims of human trafficking lined the entrance to a lecture room in Harris Hall Thursday night as part of an event held by EngageNU. Informational posters were interspersed on the walls, proclaiming that human trafficking will be the leading global crime by 2010.

“Where is the Love?”, this year’s theme for EngageNU, began April 20 and will end this Sunday. The week is sponsored by the five Intervarsity Christian fellowships on campus.

Eric Ha, a Chicago attorney and member of International Justice Mission, opened his presentation with a short film featuring interviews with former victims of human trafficking in India as the audience sat and watched in stunned silence. Ha’s lecture was part of EngageNU’s weeklong outreach aimed at initiating discussion on questions of faith and Christianity in relation to global issues.

After the film, Ha took the stage and shared stories of his work with the organization to convict human traffickers and supporters of the trade.

“There are 27 million slaves worldwide and $32 million invested in human trafficking.” Ha said. “How does one find compassion, purpose and hope in bleakness?”

Slaves live and work in intolerable conditions, Ha said, including work days of up to 13 hours and restriction of personal freedoms.

“Imagine your dorm room,” Ha said. “Take away the furniture and the windows, make the walls brick and the floor and ceiling concrete. Then lower the ceiling to six feet and move the lock from the inside of the door to the outside. Finally, put a whole family in the small space.”

Thursday’s event was a partnership between secular and faith-based organizations to fight a huge injustice in the world, said Weinberg senior Wayne Hsueh, a member of One Voice and Asian American Intervarsity.

“Our mission is to spread awareness and turn awareness into action by informing students that they can make a difference,” Hsueh said.

EngageNU publicity committee member Josh McComas said the topics covered during the week of EngageNU are those which revolve around legitimate questions about the Christian faith.

The presentation was part of the group’s week-long attempt to discuss justice on both global and national scales. Students involved with EngageNU were also by the rock earlier this week to confess to passers-by some of the past sins committed by the church.

“We are here to engage the campus,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We want to show that, yes, we are Christian and focus on God, but that we want to talk about and discuss issues that need to be talked about.”

Other activities for the week include a panel discussion about the Christian sects and five interactive stations set up around campus. Stations offer free candy, opinion boards and a live game of jeopardy, all aimed at attracting student participation, said Allen Wakabayashi, NU Intervarsity’s religious advisor and EngageNU coordinator.

“The five stations are a way to create buzz,” he said. “It was a way to see what kind of interest there is among students.”

Weinberg sophomore Amy Zhu said the purpose of EngageNU is to reach out to NU and discuss issues like the allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.

“We do not aim to be offensive in any way,” said Zhu, Wakabayashi’s assistant. “Our main goal is to clear up any misconceptions people may have about Christians, especially about the sex scandals.”

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