Written by Bethany Nolson
Slavery not only still exists in the world today, it is thriving. Currently, the International Labour Organization estimates that there are over 40.3 million people enslaved; more than at any other time in history. A quarter of these individuals are children and many are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Only one to two percent of these victims are ever rescued. Although we often image this as a faraway issue, sex trafficking is prevalent in Canada—in our own towns and communities.
I was shocked when I first became aware of the reality of sex trafficking both in Canada and around the world. I knew that God calls His people to seek justice for the oppressed and that I needed to respond. As I entered Grade Twelve, I began to pray that God would break my heart for what breaks His. This is a powerful, daunting prayer, and one that God answered. He began to open my eyes to the oppression faced by His beloved children. He affirmed that my discomfort with consumerism and our self-absorbed society was valid and He began to reveal himself to me as He provided opportunities to fight alongside Him for justice in this world.
PWAP Events was born out of the passion to see an end to sexual slavery and my discomfort with Canadian societal norms, such as individualism and consumerism. As my high school entered the prom season, I was disheartened by the amount of money that went into this one evening. Prom is an important milestone, but I knew the impact that this money could have if it was given to support those in need. Further, I knew that we, as a generation of young people, had the power and opportunity to make a difference in this world. I wanted to provide my peers with a chance to re-direct the focus from ourselves to others and have a tangible way to assist those facing exploitation. One day my mom said, “Bethany, I think we should host a prom with a purpose.” I could not get the idea out of my head and so we brought together a team of young leaders and adult advisors and in June 2014, we hosted our first “Prom with a Purpose.” From there, PWAP Events was born.
PWAP is a student-lead initiative that hosts fundraising and awareness events and galas. Our team is passionate about issues of injustice and believes that Christians are called to partner with God as He brings justice to the oppressed and exploited. PWAP raises funds and awareness around the issue of sex-trafficking and works to develop young leaders by providing valuable experience
s, education, and skills that can empower them to become advocates. Our prayer has always been that our generation would respond to God’s call for justice by bringing PWAP to their own communities. In 2019, God answered this prayer by providing a team that brought our event to Ottawa. To date, PWAP has hosted six events with two more planned in 2020, and together we have raised over $17,000 for International Justice Mission Canada, U-R Home, Bridge North, and Rahab Ministry.
God has been so faithful to PWAP and has always provided exactly what we need, often to the exact number of ticket sales, volunteers, and donations. He continually shows us that this is His event and that the battle against violence, oppression, and slavery is His fight. God is bringing justice into this broken world and He invites us to join Him in that mission. If you feel that God is calling you to seek justice, we invite you to engage with the work of PWAP and the organizations we support.
First, we would love to have you join as at one of PWAP’s spring 2020 events. The Art of Mercy will be held in Ottawa on March 14, and Unmasked, our Toronto event, will be on March 28. We would also be thrilled to partner with you and provide you with the tools and resources to host your own fundraising or awareness event in your community, school, or church. And finally, PWAP seeks financial donations both to our advocacy work and to the amazing frontline work of our organizations. God is fighting for justice in this world and what a blessing it is that He invites us to join him!