Human trafficking topic of summit

Program will offer tips on how to spot, stop abusers

A program on how to spot and stop human sex trafficking will be held this weekend in Altoona.

Regenerate, an awareness and action summit, will educate people on the problem and its prevention.

Rachael and Caleb Miller of Altoona are co-founders of the event, which will feature Rachael, a registered nurse, talking about “Faces of Sex Trafficking” in the morning session.

Steve Olivieri, founder of the Men of Integrity Foundation and pastor of Cornerstone Fellowship of Mill Run, will be “Addressing the Demand for Sex” in the afternoon. At the final session, Jen Spry will share how she was trafficked between the ages of 8 and 10, despite what appeared to be a normal childhood. Rachael said during that time, Spry came in contact with nurses, teachers, police, pastors and Sunday school teachers who missed the signs.

Now a national adviser on human trafficking and a forensic nurse, Spry will provide training on how to recognize victims of sex trafficking and how to respond.

The summit will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd. The cost is $20 for an individual or $35 for a couple, and people can register the day of the event.

Attendees are invited to attend any or all of the sessions with breaks provided for attendees to go off campus for meals. Nurses who attend the morning and evening sessions will qualify for 2 CEU units at each presentation.

The sessions will begin with worship, followed by the speaker and a time of prayer. Rachael said the times for worship and prayer will provide people with an opportunity to respond to God and to seek His heart.

She noted that churches are working together to make the summit happen with worship leaders representing three different congregations. They are Mason Stumpf from Element Church, Sierra White of Face to Face Church in Harrisburg and Roger Burgan of Vineyard Church. Altoona Alliance is hosting the event, and volunteers from various churches will serve as ushers, registration assistants and help in other ways throughout the day.

“We feel really blessed to receive such support from the community,” Rachael said.

The Millers, who attend Cornerstone Fellowship of Mill Run, are planning to be full-time missionaries to Cambodia next year, where they will do anti-sex trafficking work. They and their two children have traveled there earlier this year on a missions trip, and Rachael and Caleb have traveled to other Southeast Asia countries individually in the past. Rachael did missions work in China for a year and Caleb made two trips to Thailand for missions work. However, it is Cambodia that is known as a tourist destination for sex, Rachael said.

While human trafficking is happening worldwide, Rachael noted it is also happening locally. In July, human trafficking charges were brought against a man in Altoona, who is believed to be the first person charged with the offense in Blair County since the new law was enacted in 2014.

Although the victim in that case is under age 18, Rachael said adults are victims of human trafficking, as well, and the educational program will cover both age groups.

She said drug addiction is one of the factors behind the issue.

“Drug problems and sex trafficking go hand in hand,” she said. “One feeds the other. People sell people for money to buy drugs.”

Rachael noted that when she and Caleb speak in churches about Cambodia to raise money for their mission goals, many people in the pews have questions about human trafficking. The summit is a way to inform local residents about the issue and hopefully for people to get involved in fighting it.

“It’s a dark topic. We want people to see that there is hope. We can prevent and eliminate it,” she said.