By Gordon Govier

The Price of Life in Michigan


UPDATE: The preliminary report indicates 254 students became new followers of Jesus during the University of Michigan Price of Life Invitational. A total of 419 students and volunteers were trained in evangelism. For more information, check this report by David Ruark.

The University of Michigan’s Price of Life Invitational asked the question, “What if U of M’s iconic football stadium, The Big House, was filled with trafficked children?” The capacity of The Big House, the largest stadium in the U.S., is almost 110,000. That number is comparable to the number of children currently enslaved in the U.S.

The week of October 19-24, 2014, the Price of Life Invitational was held on the University of Michigan campus to draw attention to the issue of human trafficking, and to mobilize a response towards the goal of eliminating it. In other words, the goal was to empty The Big House. More than 70 organizations partnered with InterVarsity to sponsor over 30 events throughout the week.

“InterVarsity developed this model of justice and gospel oriented campus saturation outreaches and sponsors the Price of Life Invitational to help people explore what God might have to do with injustice and how faith could empower the search for justice,” said Dave Paladino, the Price of Life director. “Our goals are to engage 5,000 people in and around U of M’s campus in significant conversations about human trafficking and raise awareness about human trafficking to 30,000 people in the state of Michigan and see 200 commit their lives to Jesus.”

InterVarsity has been involved in more than a dozen Price of Life Invitationals over the last decade, last year most prominently in New York City. Participants include lawmakers from both political parties who are interested in enacting tougher laws to fight human trafficking. Additional organizations involved include other campus ministries, local Ann Arbor churches, and international humanitarian organizations.  

The kick-off rally was held Sunday afternoon at the central campus bell tower, featuring trafficking survivor Danielle Douglass and InterVarsity's National Evangelist York Moore. As she spoke, Danielle said, “It wasn’t until I got connected to InterVarsity and the Price of Life that I connected my survival as a trafficking victim to God and I’m so excited to be following Jesus.” Danielle had  become a follower of Jesus at York's invitation at a meeting just before the rally started.

Other Price of Life Invitational speakers include professor Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School; Kelly Carter, Michigan Assistant Attorney General; E. Christopher Johnson, CEO and co-founder of the Center for Justice Rights and Dignity; Ron Soodalter, author of The Slave Next Door; Greta Uehling, a lecturer on international studies at the University of Michigan and hundreds of trained and dedicated students and InterVarsity staff.

The final event of the week on Friday evening at the Michigan Theater included a celebration with musical artists and rappers Tedashii, KB, and NF; a testimony from a survivor of human trafficking; and a gospel proclamation and invitation by InterVarsity staff member and Urbana 12 speaker Ram Sridharan. During the week hundreds of InterVarsity students and other students engaged the campus community with interactive displays that connect justice and the gospel, and invited them to respond to Jesus.

“We hope to saturate the campus with this issue for Jesus' sake,” said InterVarsity Regional Director Fred Bailey. “While combating modern slavery, we are also explicitly connecting the gospel of Jesus and justice, helping people explore and respond to what God says and does regarding injustice, and how God’s heart and our faith drive the search for justice.” 


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