Granola Bars Help High School Students See New York’s Human Trafficking Problem in a Different Perspective

Students from Prestonwood Baptist Church in metro Dallas talk with a homeless woman on the streets of New York City. The conversation happened as part of a one-day challenge to “see” and engage with people who might be vulnerable to human trafficking and exploit.
Submitted photo

It all started with two granola bars and a challenge, and before the day was over, a group of high school students saw the world’s human trafficking problem from a whole different perspective.

The concept was simple.

The students, from metro Dallas, were spending the day in New York City learning how to combat human trafficking when Raleigh Sadler issued a challenge.

“Go buy a box of granola bars, and when you approach someone who seems isolated, have two of them in your hand,” said Sadler, executive director of the Let My People Go ministry. “Then offer them one of the bars and eat yours too — share that simple meal with them.”

And while doing it, ask about them — who they are and what brought them here, Sadler said.

“My goal was for them to engage the person in front of them,” said Sadler, who led a one-day pilot program involving students from Prestonwood Baptist Church in mid-July. In previous months, groups from dozens of churches across the nation have traveled to New York City to participate in a similar three-day experience with Let My People Go.

One of the key aims of Let My People Go is helping churches know how to engage the vulnerable, because vulnerable people often are the target of traffickers, Sadler said. In doing so, churches can help stop trafficking before it happens.

“I told the students, ‘I’m not asking you to do anything today other than listen to someone’s story,'” Sadler recounted. “God has given us a beautiful opportunity to love the people right in front of us. We have to be intentional to notice people where they are and reach out to them as people who have struggles just like we do.”

Jameson Barker, Prestonwood’s student discipleship minister, said the granola bar challenge was one of the most effective exercises his student group ever experienced in working with the homeless.

“So many people walk by and give the homeless money or food, but not many stop to find out who they are,” Barker said. “To see our students really own that assignment and do it on their own was amazing. So many have mentioned, ‘We could do this back at home.’ That’s been cool because they see the ease of sharing the Gospel and hearing someone’s story.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, Grace Thornton