The Freedom Challenge to Combat Modern Day Slavery

FC_Kili_LR-147Four years ago, forty-eight women from seven different countries gathered to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to declare freedom for victims of human trafficking. What started out in 2012 as a mountain climb has now expanded into a movement. Once known as the “Freedom Climb” made on behalf of victims of human trafficking and slavery, the new “Freedom Challenge” has expanded Operation Mobilization’s (OM) goal to include all types of physically challenging events in order to raise funds and awareness to the great social injustice of oppressed and enslaved women and children all around the world. “The goal of the Freedom Challenge is to try and help people to create their own physical challenge, whatever that may be. By challenging ourselves physically, we try and understand the challenge of the women and children that are stuck in slavery that suffer and struggle every day,” said Debbie Dingle, co-chair for the 2016 Freedom Challenge Luncheon. “We didn’t want to just limit our challenge to just climbing mountains. Now, we have expanded to running, hiking and so many other activities to bring attention and funding in order to raise awareness and help oppressed and enslaved women and children.”

Dingle became involved with the Freedom Climb at Mt. Kilimanjaro through her church, Advent Lutheran in Boca Raton. “I was challenged to do the climb at Mt. Kilimanjaro, and I didn’t want to do it. I prayed about it, and had a strong sense that I was being called for the challenge. I remember listening to the Matthew West song, “Do something.” That really moved me. I knew that I could no longer turn my head the other way; I had to stand up and do something.”


Freedom Challenge Luncheon

By expanding their reach, Operation Mobilization will be hosting the Freedom Challenge luncheon this year on January 22, 2016 at the Global Grille and Event Center in Ft. Lauderdale. The focus of the luncheon is to raise awareness of modern day slavery and to raise funds towards the cause. Currently, Operation Mobilization has over fifty projects in thirty countries, specifically doing something to fight human trafficking.

“This year, we will be featuring one of our unique projects in Costa Rica. This is a great way for men and women who come to the luncheon to hear firsthand how the funds we raise directly impact the lives of so many women and children that are oppressed and enslaved,” said Ginger Martin, co-chair for the 2016 Freedom Challenge Luncheon. One of the featured speakers Julie Paniagua, Operation Mobilization Field Leader for Costa Rica, will be presenting on the direct impact donors will have on the lives of these women. “This is such an incredible opportunity for people to not only find out how to participate in our ministry but also to challenge people to say, ‘We can all do something, we call all support this cause.’”

Other featured speakers at the luncheon will include Andrew Scott, USA President for Operation Mobilization (OM) and the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition who will present on localized misuses and the protection of our children.


The next challenge

The luncheon will also center on the Freedom Challenge’s next great climb, the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, featuring hiking and cycling for all experience levels. The expanse of the Freedom Climb now enables beginner, intermediate and advanced levels to participate. “The luncheon is pointing us towards Wyoming,” said Martin, “Climbers pay their own way, the goal being for each participant to raise five thousand dollars. The luncheon will provide a great opportunity not only to recruit people for the climb in Wyoming but also to help participants meet and exceed their fundraising goals.”

The heart of the Freedom Challenge ministry is to use physical challenge to enable people to understand the physical challenge of those who cannot speak for themselves. Martin recalls the message found in Proverbs 31:9: “Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Currently, there are thirty million people around the world trapped in modern day slavery, and the industry’s numbers become even more tragic. The business of modern day slavery is said to net somewhere around thirty-two billion dollars a year. Eighty percent of the people that are trafficked are women and children, and fifty percent of those are underage children, with the average age being 12-14.

“The numbers are heart breaking, but the good news is that we can do something about it. Whether you participate in a climb, contribute or choose to designate the Freedom Challenge as the beneficiary of whatever activity you choose, you can be a part of making a change for those caught in human trafficking.”

To find out more about the Freedom Challenge, contact Tina Yeager, USA Director, Freedom Challenge/Operation Mobilization USA at [email protected]. Tickets for the Freedom Challenge luncheon can be purchased at


Melissa ZelnikerPresser is a Jewish believer in Jesus who is chasing her God-sized dream of becoming a full-time writer. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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