By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
About 700 people attended a ministry's program in Marshall County High School's gymnasium nearly two weeks ago when a South Central Tennessee woman warned against becoming a victim of human trafficking as she was 27 years ago.
Flown by handlers from Nashville to Washington, D.C., the 17-year-old and eight other girls were provided drugs, cocktails and "older men" with whom they spent two days, according to Tammy Reynolds, a leader of the Columbia-based Hope Is Coming ministry.
"We probably raised $500-600" on July 14 at MCHS for the outreach from New Life Church, Reynolds said, adding that she, her husband, Rick, and their associates are a resource for police when they find circumstances including the oldest profession.
Recently, Columbia Police called the ministry about an 18-year-old woman, Tammy Reynolds said. "She was staying with some lady. She was homeless and prostituting herself." Police took the girl to the ministry and she was driven to Knoxville where more help was available, Reynolds said: "The point being that the ministry deals with homeless people, too."
All Star Wrestling on Mooresville Highway, and the Right Care Clinics in Lynnville and Columbia sponsored the Hope Is Coming ministry's program at MCHS.
"Dylan Andre, one of the finalists in America's Got Talent performed," Reynolds said. "Austin Moody, a country music singer and Sinatti Pop, a rapper, also performed to support the event."
The event was held to raise awareness in Lewisburg and nearby Marshall County, she said.
"It's everywhere," Reynolds said of human trafficking. "It's profitable, $32 billion annually. It's more profitable than drugs. Young girls on the street are weak mentally and don't have a lot of self-esteem. They get addicted to drugs and can be controlled...
"Poverty is a huge driving factor..."