Students take a stand for freedom


From 5 p.m. on Monday, March 11, to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, a group of Calvin students could be found standing at various places around campus, cardboard signs reading ‘I stand for freedom’ clutched in their hands. For 27 hours, with each hour divided among several volunteers, these students took a stand to remind this campus of an issue that affects 27 million people around our world today — slavery.

“It’s important to be aware of what’s happening,” one of the volunteers, Maria Steblay, reported, “we’re living in an affluent time. We need to be aware of what’s going on, and that people have the ability to stop it.”

Currently, 27 million people, including 200,000 within our own borders, are living in subjugation. These millions of people, 50 percent of which are children, live as prostitutes, are forced into labor without decent pay, incarcerated without fair trial, and the list continues on. It’s a life they can’t escape without outside help.

That’s why Taylor Maxfield, campus leader of this stand, decided to take action upon learning of the International Justice Mission’s program, Stand for Freedom.

“I heard about this event when streaming the Passion conference,” Taylor said, “I thought instantly that Calvin should do this. I talked with some friends, and the International Justice Mission supported it, and it all came together. We want to raise awareness of slavery, so that we can make ending slavery a priority of the government.”

In addition to standing, there is also a petition online which will be sent to President Obama to help bring awareness of this issue to the government. Currently, the petition already has 2,000 more names than their intended goal of 72,000 people — definitely good news.

However, this problem is far from being resolved. It is easy for Americans to be blissfully unaware of what is going on, but the truth is, slavery has been going on for centuries, and it probably won’t be resolved for a few more. That’s why, these Calvin students felt like they wanted to help start the healing process.

“Ignorance may be blissful,” another participating volunteer, Bekah Deibler, stated, “but I believe we would be happier if we were working to redeem the world. Though this is a very Calvin-y answer, I do believe God commands us to work towards a better world.”

With this program, IJM hopes to raise money and awareness for the fight against slavery so they can begin to improve the condition of slaves around the globe. They are still far off from their goal of $270,000, but the numbers are continually rising.

“I first heard about sex-trafficking in middle school, and since then I’ve felt led to learn more about this and to help. I felt God pull me toward this,” said Taylor. “I think this whole idea is one of action. Standing is an action we can do to cause attention, so people notice us and become aware of what’s really going on.”