Conference to focus on multiple international struggles, how to help

For Michele Dudley and others who fight against worldwide injustices like sex trafficking and extreme poverty, the hardest obstacle they face is getting information out about their work. They hope this week’s Ignite Justice Conference in south Charlotte goes a long way toward fixing that problem.

“It’s been a really great opportunity for people who are passionate; they now have a place they can come together and talk about it,” Dudley, one of the event’s organizers, said. The conference takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12, at the Forest Hill Church SouthPark campus.

“People are really excited about it,” Dudley said.  “I would say the registrations have been coming in slower than we hoped, but people who are in ministries in the area are so excited to share what they are passionate about.”

Dudley and Dr. Celestin Musekura, a keynote speaker at the conference, together realized people who want to get involved and help often don’t know where to look or who to contact.  To solve this problem, they began planning the conference.

“They want to do something but they just don’t know where to go or what to do, so that’s really what has been our purpose,” Dudley said.

Other keynote speakers were all selected from the book “Shared Strength,” which talks about intercultural partnerships.  After reading the book, Dudley reached out to some of the authors who she felt would be right for Ignite.  Most of the speakers have experienced one of the injustices covered at the conference.

“You see that there are people who have risen from these situations of horrible injustice, but in every case there has been someone who has been right there beside them,” Dudley said.

Dudley hopes to use the conference to bring in people to help those who are struggling and give them support needed to get out of tough situations.

Seventeen breakout sessions that cover many different topics will help ensure all participants receive information about  topics they are passionate about.  All breakout sessions are open to
anyone who attends the conference.

Around 35 organizations will be handing out information about the work they do in the local community or globally as the focus of the conference will not only be on global issues, but also how they affect the local community, Dudley said.

“We are trying to represent things people can do from small things to big things,” she said.

Breakout sessions will cover topics such as extreme poverty, sex trafficking, the sanctity of life, refugees and immigrants, orphan care and more.

In Dudley’s opinion, one of the most important breakout sessions will be held Saturday and will focus on how each individual can use their personal talents and gifts to help those facing injustice. David Johnson, who is an international humanitarian photographer, will lead the session.

Travis Greene, a Christian singer, will perform during the conference on Friday from 7:30 to 9 p.m.  There also will be a Fashion & Compassion Fair Trade Market at the conference where products made by women who escaped sex trafficking situations will be sold. The most notable products being sold are Freedom Necklaces, which are made by three different organizations all around the world.  The cross for the necklace comes from Ethiopia, the recycled paper beads are homemade by widows from Uganda and formerly exploited women living in the Charlotte area assemble the necklaces.  All profits from the necklaces go to the organizations that have a hand in making them.

People are encouraged to preregister for the event. It costs $75 to attend both days, or $49 for Friday and $29 for Saturday alone. Forest Hill Church’s SouthPark campus is located at 7224 Park Road.

Those interested in attending the conference can go to to register or for more information.

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