MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Two college students from Minnesota and Michigan will set out next month on a two-month moped excursion across the U.S. Their mission: spread awareness about worldwide human trafficking.
University of Minnesota student Jonathan Stockeland and Brady Mulder of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Mich. will travel the back roads of about 30 states at a top speed of 37 mph. They plan to share their message with local residents and before church congregations about the need to fight child labor and sex trafficking.
Stockeland, who is studying law, criminology and deviance, told the Minnesota Daily his passion for protecting people grew from six years of serving in the Marine Corps.
“It was the fact that I was willing to die for something bigger than me. … It makes me want to live beyond myself and to live for something greater,” he said.
WCCO’s Adam Carter Interviews Jonathan Stockeland
Stockeland said the idea for the trip came to him as he rode his moped from Grand Rapids, Mich. to the Twin Cities last year.
“Riding across Wisconsin — just sitting and reflecting — I realized my passion for fighting human trafficking and my joy in riding across the country on my moped. I just saw a connection there,” he said.
The two will set out May 16 from Michigan, their mopeds toting signs that bear Bible verses and “Moped Justice Mission: U.S. tour May-July 2011.” Stockeland persuaded Mulder to join him last summer by making the 1,600-mile round-trip between Minneapolis and Grand Rapids on his moped. Mulder, a Bible and theology major, was reluctant at first, but eventually came to realize his purpose in going on the trip.
“We’re not doing it for ourselves — there’s people in the world that are a lot worse off, like human trafficking victims,” Mulder said. “We’re relying on God and doing it for his glory.”
The United Nations estimates that there are 2.3 million victims of forced labor around the world.
Stockeland and Mulder estimate the trip will cost less than $1,000 for food and fuel. Stockeland said his moped gets 110 miles per gallon. Mulder still needs to get one.
“Even if it shot up to $5 a gallon, it would still be under $300 for the entire trip for 8,000 miles,” Stockeland said.
The two will sleep in ditches, yards, forests and — if they’re lucky — churches or homes. The two sold their cars to finance the trip, and are bringing only tents and sleeping bags.
Reactions to their plans have varied. Some people wondered why they’re not focusing on poverty or homelessness.
“People already know about that,” Stockeland said, adding that while most people think slavery has ended, “It’s bigger now than it was in the Atlantic slave trade.”
Mulder, who is also raising money from his church to finance the trip, said some have told him he’s crazy.
“I’ve also received some positive comeback,” he said, “like, ‘May God bless you.”‘
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