What I'm Doing on My Summer Vacation: Run Free

June 10, 2013

Courtney, Kate, Danielle, Nicole, Kate and Sara
This week we are highlighting Venture Expeditions' Run Free on our summer vacation series. 

And, this isn't just any run: these five friends (Sara Menning, Danielle Towner, Courtney Passa, Nicole Penner and Kate Rabago) are literally running across the state of Minnesota -- from west to east - to raise money and awareness about Human Trafficking.

What are you doing?
The runs begins Saturday, June 22, on the western edge of Minnesota in Dawton. It will finish on July 5th as they cross the Stillwater bridge into Wisconsin. That is a whopping 204 miles. On foot. For many, many days.

Who or what does the event benefit?  
Run Free is Venture Expeditions’ avenue to prevent and stop human trafficking. They have three avenues: prevention, rescue, and aftercare. This year, they are mainly focusing on prevention on the Thai/Burmese border (“Myanmar”). Through their Just+Hope Campaign and the Venture Projects in SE Asia, they will distribute meals to families in Internally Displaced People Camps who literally have to choose between selling one child and feeding the rest or watching all their children die of starvation. International Justice Commission and Eden Women’s Ministry in China will also benefit from this fundraiser.  
A few statistics:
   An estimated 27 million adults & 13 million children worldwide are victims of human trafficking.
   There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history.
   Approximately 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex.
   80% of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, some are as young as six years old.
An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture & neglect.

All of this is to say, watch this video. It’s just over 40 minutes long. Prepare yourself. This is what is happening in Burma/Myanmar.
How did your involvement in this event come about?

Danielle Towner: "I believe in Venture [Expeditions'] mission and responding to the Gospel; I just never thought they would overlap. God had other plans." 

When Danielle heard a friend speak about her own experience with Run Free the year before, she was inspired: "I started thinking about [it], mostly wondering who else from the group would be inspired to do it. Not me. One day I went out for a run and was nearly begging God to help me learn how to love running – not really sure why that was my prayer, but it was.

"I felt Him tell me that I would if I ran for something bigger than myself. Then Run Free popped into my head. I tried to shake it but I couldn’t. I brought it up in a conversation with Nicole P. and although I was 100% serious about doing it, I tried to casually bring it up into conversation. Much to my surprise, she immediately said she wanted to do it, too. Confirmation.

"There are several great causes that an adventure like this could support. Trafficking is an atrocity and has captured my attention and my heart, but the bottom line for me is obedience to God and a response to His gospel. I’m running to make Him famous. I’m trying to live according to Isaiah 1:17 – Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
Sara Menning: "Venture Expeditions did a 5k in October as a fundraiser for Breaking Free. I had done plenty of 5ks, but had never run all 3.1 miles....my goal in October was just to run all three miles.

"Danielle asked me if I wanted to run across the state with her and I laughed in her face. I tried to get up and run later that week and discovered my motivation was gone. I couldn’t run for myself only. I had a day off, so I decided that if I could run for a whole hour, focusing on others the whole time, I would give Danielle’s invitation more thought." 

"I put in 'Machine Gun Preacher,' got on the treadmill, and did it. As I was running, I heard God say to me, 'If you decide to do this, I will be with you.' And He has been.

"From the time I sat on my family room floor, brooding over the decision to commit to this run or not, I have chosen to believe that this year, God is going to use Run Free MN to make it clear that impossibility can become reality. Intentional, hard work is needed to overcome difficulties, and it is true that with such action we can accomplish great thing, but we are finite. We lack. We cannot force others to join or believe us. Some things will always be out of our human grasp.

"Still, we can breathe, 'alleluia' and rejoice. The creator God, high commander of angel armies, has set into motion the ancient war machines of love and justice. The sacrifice and resurrection of His son has conquered all death and malice, and He will come through."     
Kate Rabago: "I started, because my heart was broken about these women who are broken. I have been through my own hardships, but nothing to this gratitude, so this is my way of doing something bigger than myself.  
Nicole Penner: "I am running across MN to show how serious I am about wanting to end modern day slavery. I started this because I wanted to give the Lord my workouts and once I heard about Venture I knew that’s what God had called me to do."
 What can we do?

There are several things you can do.

- Simply become more aware of human trafficking around the world and, honestly, right here in Central Minnesota. You can read about the plight of the Karen refugees here Or, get involved in our local fight against trafficking by joining Sara and Danielle at Students Against Sex Trafficking and Sexploitation.

- Check out Run Free's website. It has a lot of the nitty-gritty details on this year's run, other projects, and the mission of Venture Expeditions.

- Check out Venture Expeditions 2014 Events page. There are a myriad of ways to get involved! 

- Donate to Venture Expedition here.

- Pray. For Sara, Danielle, Kate, Courtney, and Nicole as they run across Minnesota. For the people who say "yes" and go willingly into dark places to pull young girls and boys out of brothels, out of slavery. For the organizations who provide aftercare and the training to help establish a new life for survivors. And, for all of us to open our eyes and ears to see and hear the need and to respond boldly in whatever way we are called by God. Amen.  

1 comment

  1. What a great commitment these girls have made for such a heart-wrenching cause. Thanks for letting us know about it.