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On Thursday night, sleeping at my foster son’s house in Watertown, Mass., I experienced the bad part of humanity. As the police searched the neighborhood for the Boston Marathon bomber, locals questioned how anyone could do this to such a peaceful and joyful event such as the Boston Marathon.

We left Watertown before the lockdown began in the wee hours of April 19 to take part in a walk to raise money for people held in bondage and slavery. It was another reminder that there are some really bad people sharing our planet and that there are others who are trying to be change agents, despite overwhelming odds.

Pastor Heidi McGinnis, an ordained Presbyterian minister, has been trying to end slavery since the early 1990s. Back then, she went to what is now South Sudan and saw boys who had been former slaves and who had many wounds inflicted on them intentionally. One boy died in her arms, but as she told me, “He was sick, but he was free.” She went to South Sudan to bear witness to slavery and now works with Christian Solidarity International to let people know that slavery is still happening and is determined to put an end to it.

One day she got a call from a 13 year old. Pastor Heidi took her to lunch. Becca Bretz had just learned about genocide and slavery and wanted to do something about it. Pastor Heidi was impressed by this young girl’s energy and determination. Together, pastor Heidi and Becca Bretz developed a walk to end slavery.

It hasn’t been easy. Now a high-school student at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colo., Becca asked if she could put up fliers for her walk, but she was told she couldn’t put up the fliers because she was not doing it as part of a club in the school but as an individual.

Becca was not deterred, and together with pastor Heidi has raised about $20,000 to end slavery in just two years of walks. This June will mark their third walk to end slavery. With Becca and pastor Heidi’s organization skills, it promises to be even more successful. Her Free For $50 website promotes the walk and spreads the word about her work and her success.

One school, Marin Catholic High School, has taken note. Theology and global Studies teacher Joe Tassone took up the mantel. Saturday’s walk raised more than $10,000, all by students at Marin Catholic High School. They not only raised money, they made videos and posted them.

Mr. Tassone’s classes are active. That is how they put in practice the theology the students are learning.

Pastor Heidi brings young people into the fold. Her vision is to end slavery, end suffering and end persecution in all of its forms. She invited me to the walk with my foster son, a former slave who wants to help his brothers and sisters who are still in bondage. Pastor Heidi knows how to put her belief system into action. “God has my soul, and slaves have my heart,” she says.

Hearts like pastor Heidi’s might help to bring the end to both the evil of terrorism and the evil of slavery. It might help end human misery. If only we all had hearts like pastor Heidi.

 

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