The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 29, 2012

Sex trade lecture planned at church

— A former schoolteacher thrust into the neon glare of stopping international sex slavery will share details of her work Oct. 7 at Fairview Baptist Church.

The Rev. Dr. Lauran Bethell, who grew up in California and began her career teaching elementary school, is an international consultant working with faith-based and nongovernmental agencies to reduce the exploitation of women and children via human trafficking.

“Prostitution and human trafficking are huge problems in different parts of the world that affect thousands of children each year,” said the Rev. Michael McCoy, pastor at Fairview Baptist. “Lauran has made a stand against it and is making a difference to give these children a chance at a better life.”

Bethell’s mission includes more than two decades working on five of the world’s seven continents. She is based in The Netherlands and is a missionary with American Baptist Churches USA.

“Whether you are a church member somewhere or not, all are welcome to attend,” McCoy said. “Lauran’s testimonies will give a meaningful understanding of the reality of changing lives for the better in dark and cruel parts of the world.”

Bethell began her work as director of the New Life Center in Thailand. There, she started projects to help tribal girls obtain an education and vocational skills so they had alternatives to prostitution. The New Life Center has been featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the British Broadcasting Corp., Netherlands Public Broadcasting and in newspaper and magazine articles. Former first lady Hillary Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the center during Bethell’s tenure.

Her reach extended globally in 2001 when she began working as an international consultant. Bethell founded an international agency to coordinate efforts against human exploitation. Now known as the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution, it includes organizations from more than 35 countries. She founded Project Hope in Prague to help Bulgarian women out of prostitution.

Bethell received the Human Rights Award from former President Jimmy Carter in 2005 presented by the Baptist World Alliance. She has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress as members drafted and revised anti-trafficking legislation.

“My prayer is that her visit will open our eyes and hearts to become more sensitive to the needs of these young girls and women who are prisoners in their own country,” McCoy said.

The service will begin at 9:45 a.m., and the public is welcome. The church is on Seminole Road, just off W.Va. 12.