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Why an Austin church brought human trafficking awareness to its sanctuary

A church may be an unlikely place to see the effects of human trafficking, but one Austin pastor said he wants to send a message: be a church without walls.

AUSTIN, Texas — Signs reading "Human Trafficking Exhibit" point the way at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, but Senior Pastor Tom Grevlos said the exhibit opens the heart.

"I think it’s very important that we integrate faith and life," Grevlos said.

The “life” he’s bringing here is not usually seen inside holy walls. The exhibit “Artifacts of Human Trafficking” was created and curated by Amie Stone King.

"We really pride ourselves here at Shepard of the Hills as being a church without walls. As we go into this place, we see it as incumbent for us to leave this place. To be the church wherever we are at: in our church, in our homes, in our workplace, in our society. This is another way for us to truly heighten that understanding," Grevlos said.

"I wanted to do something to open the door and shine a light to the public where they could come in and not be afraid to talk about this darker subject," King said in 2018.


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The artwork and stories in the exhibit are designed to educate people about sex trafficking.

"So we can work together to help stop this exploitation," Grevlos said.

The KVUE Defenders told you how sex traffickers often get away with the crime. In 2017, Assistant District Attorney Abbey Fowler said jurors may hold the sins of the victim against the victim in court.

"They may have a lengthy criminal history or some of it may seem willing. There's times that juries don't like that or they won't believe that person because of that," Fowler said.

"It is an evil within our society and we need to be aware of it, not bury our heads in the sand with it. But also to be sensitive to the plight of people and the vulnerability of so many within our society," Grevlos said.

Artifacts of Human Trafficking Poster

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