One Young Woman’s Efforts to Help Trafficking Victims

Katie MehrlichOne of the greatest joys of pastoral ministry is seeing the amazing ways that people respond to God’s move in their lives. We have a committed group of students working to raise awareness about human trafficking and to fight back against the injustice. Katie Mehrlich is a sophomore student leader in that organization. She is also insanely talented as a worship leader and song writer, and she leads a Bible study on campus for other students through CRU. I asked her recently to tell people about what she is doing now to make a difference for trafficking victims.

Katie, I know that you are really passionate about issues related to human trafficking around the world. How did you become passionate about this justice issue?
When I was 16 someone tried to buy be off of a street corner in inner city Philly just a few days after I had been in tears watching a girl sell herself to a man on that very same corner. After about 20 minutes of her being gone, I saw her face more vacant than before and back on the corner waiting to be sold again and it disturbed me. How could anyone feel like they weren’t worth more than that?
God sparked a passion in me. I saw how much someone trying to buy me affected those around me (it’s the only time I’d ever seen my best friend cry). I realized that this doesn’t just affect the people directly involved, but those who love the people involved as well. That’s another thing: I realized these people are not outcasts and rejects that have no family, friends, or futures, but people who are loved just as much as I am and have just as much worth as everyone else in the world.
I didn’t really know how to help fight for justice (it’s such an overwhelming concept sometimes!) until I was 19 and I walked into a UIndy Keys (University of Indianapolis’ student led anti-trafficking group) event during their human trafficking week of awareness. I heard one of the group’s founders, now a close friend, speak so passionately about fighting for justice that I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with inspiration. I got to volunteer at a Purchased fundraiser dinner on March 1, 2014, and since then I’ve been set on doing whatever I can to bring light to this dark, dark injustice. I saw so much passion from all involved with Purchased and saw that one person, with the strength of the One true God, really can make a tangible difference in this overwhelming issue.

You are trying to do something really practical to make a difference here in Indiana. Tell a little about what you are doing and what you hope to accomplish.
katie braceletAnne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
A few weeks ago, God lit a fire in me that made me think, “Katie, why don’t you DO something?” So I started making these bracelets.
The keys are symbolic of unlocking the silence of human trafficking and filling this world with a little more hope and justice through the love of God.
Each bracelet is $5 and the proceeds are going to be given to Restored, “a future aftercare facility for youth victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation” being started here in Indy. Because, yes; it happens right here. I plan to make the bracelets for as long as people want them, so please get the word out!

Is this the first time that you have started a project to make a difference on a justice issue or to impact people with your faith? What motivates you to take action on this particular issue?
This is the first time that I’ve done something like this. I’ve gone on many mission trips, volunteered for many events and causes, done many 5k walks and runs, and things of that nature, but nothing like this, really. I’ve been told I’m fairly crafty (usually I write songs…I’m also a big doodler! ). I love anything that lets me do artsy things, so this is really exciting for me!

Tell a little more about what Restored is and how you have been involved with that organization.
It’s really amazing how God works things out with the people He puts in your life. A few summers ago I actually worked in a coffee shop in my hometown with Tracy McDaniel (Head Care Coordinator for Human Trafficking Victims for The Julian Center and founder of Restored). We worked back in the kitchen a lot together and found we shared our faith!
Restored itself can best explain more about the organization so to quote their FaceBook page: “Through Christ’s love, we will encounter children who have been extorted through sex trafficking and exploitation by providing them an avenue to find restoration. Along with providing victim services, we will work to raise awareness and provide advocacy in hopes of ending human sex trafficking.”


If someone wants one of these bracelets to raise awareness about trafficking and to help raise funds for Restored, where can they contact you to purchase one?
Right now, I think the best way to contact me for a bracelet is by email:
mehrlichk (at) uindy.edu
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