It may be August, but for the youth group at Martelle Christian Church (Jones, IA) it’s time to think Christmas.
At summer camp in 2009, the MCC youth group learned about human trafficking, the millions of people currently enslaved, and the billions of dollars captors earn from victims.
“We were shocked by the horrific practice of kidnapping young girls and forcing them to work as prostitutes until they are so filled with disease they are literally thrown out,” explains Troy Titus, youth minister at the church. “I felt moved by God to do something.”
The group decided to raise money for Rapha House, an organization building safe houses, providing counseling, and offering vocational training to girls rescued from sex trafficking. However, Titus wanted to avoid traditional fund-raisers with huge markups and one-time donations.
The issue “is not going to go away with a single fund-raiser,” he says.
Instead, the group decided to offer a product people use every year. They connected with First Christmas, a company producing Nativity-themed wrapping paper.
“When I first spoke with the owner, I laughed as I told her I wanted her company to give up their profits so we could give the money to Rapha House,” Titus says. “[But] she said she was familiar with the sex slave trade and had hoped that someday their gift wrap would be used to help such a cause. I couldn’t believe it! That’s when I realized this was God’s idea, not mine, and he had been working on it long before I ever thought of it.”
Every December, 20 percent of First Christmas’s paper sales go to Youth 4 Rapha, the ministry at Martelle. Visit www.FirstChristmasgiftwrap.com for more information.