One man is taking strides to help others on his birthday. Pastor of the Gathering Church in Albemarle Paul Jenkins is turning 50 this weekend and to prepare, he’s training to run 50 miles and raising $50,000 along the way.
“About a year and a half ago I thought, if I'm going to turn 50, it’d be cool to do something kind of big so I thought I’d run 50 miles,” said Jenkins.
The pastor thought back to a mission trip in India, where he and his wife met a girl as young as ten who shed light on the horrible world of sex trafficking.
“When she approached us she was selling jewelry or whatever and realized that she was selling for somebody else people that we are helping said she couldn't keep any of that money that if she didn't meet a quota good no trouble I'm kind of broke my heart to see somebody that young look just like a woman tons of makeup.”
With her story in mind, Jenkins decided to donate to three different groups that prevent or rescue girls and women around the world from prostitution. One of those groups, justice ministries, helps victims in our own backyard…
“Anytime a city has a situation where a lot of men can be brought in from outside, traffickers see that as good business,” said Mark Blackwell, Executive Director, Justice Ministries. “That with all the highways transportation opportunities to come through Charlotte makes us an area that trafficking is common.”
“Justice Ministries does a lot helping women after they've been rescued just with medical, giving them education, getting them back on their feet,” said Jenkins, who will be running the 50 miles this Saturday, March 19, near the Stanly County YMCA in Albemarle.
“Getting someone out and then giving them immediate shelter and paying for a plane ticket, those kinds of things add up so it’s very common for us to spend $1,000 per client,” said Blackwell. He says human sex trafficking is a problem that’s often overlooked in the Queen City. “That could be you. That could be your daughter. It could be a loved one.”
“You tell people here and they’re like “That happens on the other side of the globe,” but it's happening right next door, you know, in Mecklenburg County,” said Jenkins.
Hoping to change that, he has decided to give for his birthday, rather than to receive, and his gift is the gift of freedom for women across Mecklenburg County and the globe.
For more info on how to be part of that gift and donate to Jenkins’ cause, go to his website: pauljenkins.tv/50for50. He’ll be updating his progress in real time on Saturday. Jenkins is also welcoming anyone who wants to run alongside him to do so at the Stanly County YMCA on First Street in Albemarle. His run will culminate with a party afterwards.