Throughout the school year, the students and faculty of Oklahoma Wesleyan University are seen sporting navy blue and deep red, the official school colors. However, a new hue has emerged over the past few years, and it has inspired a movement.

The Orange Movement is led by director Marci Piper, staff member Heather Utzman, seniors Liz Stowell and Sarah Sapp, and recent graduate MarShondria Adams. The Movement is named after 18th century abolitionist Orange Scott, a prominent figure in the early beginnings of the Wesleyan Church.

Orange Week occurs every year during February 11-15, in honor of Orange Scott’s birthday on February 13. It serves as a time of raising awareness about modern day slavery issues and educating students for involvement. This past year was the third annual Orange Week, and it was full of different opportunities for students to learn and serve.

The issue of human trafficking has been an “open secret” for years, but the modern abolitionists are slowly gaining traction as more people begin to take it seriously. The frightening fact of the matter is that trafficking can directly affect anybody, and often indirectly affects everybody in the culture.

Contrary to what many people assume, slavery did not end years ago after the Civil War. Humans are still bought and sold on a daily basis. In fact, it is estimated that there are 27 million men, women, and children in slavery at any given time.

The Orange Movement has already begun combating this affront to human rights by simply making college students aware and knowledgable about the issue. Knowing what to look for can prevent individuals from becoming victims, as well as enable people to see and help those who are already victims.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines “severe forms of trafficking persons” as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has no attained 18 years of age; or
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

There is no one description for victims of human trafficking. Victims range to include children and adults, rich and poor, men and women, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. The reason they are trafficked also varies. People are trafficked for commercial sex, agricultural work, housekeeping, and a variety of other reasons. The sole similarity that all victims have is that they have been deprived of the most cherished human right of autonomy and freedom.

Human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry, and one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Why is it so profitable and growing so quickly? “You can only sell a drug once. You can sell a person over and over,” theorizes director Marci Piper.

Human trafficking is not only an overseas problem. The United States is becoming a primary destination, and Oklahoma has not escaped unscathed. In fact, the U.S. Department of State lists Oklahoma as one of the top four states for the largest concentration of human trafficking victims receiving federal assistance. The three main interstate highways running through Oklahoma, I-35, I-40, and I-44, provide routes from Texas to the north, east, and west, which makes Oklahoma the perfect pipeline.

In addition to raising awareness, the Orange Movement touts prayer as a key step in the fight. MarShondria Adams explained that working with the Orange Movement made her realize that, unfortunately, “People don’t see prayer as a ‘do.’ The first step is to pray. If your first step is not to pray, your interest will fade, because you’re just involved in an activity.”

As Oswald Chambers said, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there is nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

Along with prayer, the Orange Movement also hosted a partnered event with the non-profit Venture Expeditions. The resulting Hope for Dinner “exchanged” regular cafeteria meals for a typical Burmese meal of beans and rice, for the entirety of Orange Week. The money saved for each meal exchanged will provide 20 meals for refugees along the Thailand and Burma border. Amazingly, over 22,000 meals were raised by students and faculty. The meal drive is significant as a prevention measure, because when someone’s basic needs are met, the person is less vulnerable to becoming a victim.

Besides the inaugural Hope for Dinner, other fundraising events included a night of swing dancing lessons, the

Exchange for Change during Lent, a compelling film festival that included trafficking documentaries, and the annual Tulsa Color Run. The funds for these events went to the domestic violence shelter Dayspring Villa and towards buying more meals for refugees.

Next year the Orange Movement plans to continue their fight against human trafficking with education on preventative measures, in addition to adding new partnerships with local and global organizations that assist with aftercare for the victims.

If you would like to partner with the Orange Movement in the fight against human trafficking, the best thing you can do is pray for healing and redemption for both the victims and the abusers. For more information, visit Polaris Project.

If you would like to join the Orange Movement in providing Hope for Dinner, you can visit Hope for Dinner. To stay updated on what the Orange Movement is doing, visit the Orange Movement website or follow The Orange Movement on Facebook and Twitter.

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