THRIVE to address sex trafficking
Bayside Church has been combating human trafficking for the past two years, ever since an FBI agent and police officer walked into the office of outreach pastor Jim Holst.
“That always gets your attention pretty quick,” Holst said.
The law enforcement personnel were accompanied by Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage to Be You, Inc., a nonprofit Christian group intent on removing girls from sex trafficking and placing them in safe homes.
“She shared the issue and her desire to rescue these girls and provide them with help and hope,” Holst said.
Bayside Church in Granite Bay immediately got involved. Most recently, the church raised at least $250,000 — donations are still being tabulated — during Easter services to get one of 10 planned cottages built for survivors in Placer County.
Bayside will continue to spread awareness about human trafficking during its eighth annual THRIVE conference Thursday though Saturday, which aims to prepare and inspire ministry leaders, staffers and church volunteers.
THRIVE attendance has nearly doubled over the last three years, and people from 38 states and 12 countries are registered to attend this year’s conference. Organizers expect about 4,000 attendees.
The conference features internationally known speakers and has more than 100 breakout classes taught by experts on topics such as personal finances, fitness and marriage.
During the conference, A21 Campaign founder Christine Caine will speak about her efforts to fight human trafficking around the world.
Kim Bordisso, associate director of global outreach for Bayside Church, will lead a breakout session about the problem of sex trafficking locally and what she witnessed during her visits to Cambodia to work with Agape International Missions.
This Christian organization is attempting to end child sexual slavery in Cambodia, which is considered the second worst place in the world for trafficking, Bordisso said. But the Rocklin-based group has made progress.
“It’s incredible to see everything they’re doing,” she said.
They built a community center with a medical clinic, church and classrooms for teaching English and computer skills. Bordisso organizes teams to travel to Cambodia and assist Agape. These teams work with children in a country where the average age of a trafficked person is 7 years old, she said.
“We’re with them during the day and we know they’re going to be sold that night,” Bordisso said. “It’s intense … (but) you leave with a lot more hope than despair.”
During the THRIVE conference, attendees will also hear from evangelist Luis Palau, Olympic runner and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini and Christian author Margaret Feinberg.
The conference is a key ministry of Thriving Churches International (TCI), co-founded by Bayside Church senior pastor Ray Johnston in 2009 to help churches of any size thrive.
The event connects mentor churches with affiliate churches using a network of pastoral staff members, lay church leaders and others serving in ministry with coaching, conferences, consulting and printed materials.
About 87 percent of churches in America are stagnant or declining, according to a Bayside press release. THRIVE attempts to coach pastors, provide spiritual foundations and nourish volunteers to see a transformation in the effectiveness of churches.
Holst said Bayside Church will host THRIVE Released in August, which will focus solely on human trafficking.
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bayside Church’s THRIVE conference
When: Thursday, May 12 to Saturday, May 14
Where: Bayside Church campus, 8191 Sierra College Blvd. in Granite Bay
Cost: On-site tickets are $50 for studio seating. Main auditorium sold out.
Info: Call (916) 791-1244 or visit www.thriveconference.org.