By Sharon Mager
ELLICOTT CITY, Md—Bethel Baptist Church in partnership with Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, will sponsor a “Youth at Risk” conference at the church April 4-5 in an effort to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, to discuss preventative practices, expose signs of trafficking and to provide safe outlets and resources for victimized youth. There are combined and separate sessions for adults and students.
The conference will be led by Araminta Freedom. The organization’s mission is to “awaken, equip, and mobilize the church and community to end human trafficking in the Baltimore area.
The name “Araminta” was Harriet Tubman’s given name as a child slave and it means “defender.” As Tubman, an ordinary person, trusted God to lead her in freeing thousands of slaves, so those at Araminta trust God to lead them in leading ordinary people to stand in the gap and be used to free modern day slaves.
Araminta’s director of programs and pastor of Horizon Church of Towson, Mark Stephenson said one of the big components of the conference will be online safety. “We really want to teach people how to stay safe online. That’s where a lot of it begins.”
Stephenson was drawn to the movement after watching a CNN special. He was devastated and he felt a burden to help in some way. He and others formed a small group that prayed, seeking God’s guidance. Eventually, they formed the 501 3C organization.
“Our mission is to go to the church. If we can mobilize the church we will get a lot of people onboard. The church should not be lagging behind but should take the lead,” Stephenson said. He is excited that Araminta is working cross denominationally to make an impact in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.