Education with a Social Twist

Date Posted: 6/27/2013

True teachers like Jane Katz never retire. The more she researches human trafficking, the more of an advocate she becomes in the St. John's UMC community in Rockdale.

Jane’s passion for raising awareness of human trafficking injustices originated when she rented a video featuring the true story of a strong female character that blew the whistle on this modern day slavery issue within the U.S. military during President Clinton’s term. “I remember being shocked that the American military would be involved in such behavior,” recalls Jane Katz, longtime member of St. John’s UMC in Rockdale.  “Once I was aware of the issue in general, I heard that a Methodist church just 20 minutes from me was hosting a Human Trafficking Forum last year, and I attended and then learned how prevalent the issue was in Houston.”


Hearing Dennis Marks with Redeemed Ministries outline the statistics from Houston trafficking cases was even more of an eye opener. “Finding out more about this as a local issue really got my attention,” she adds, and she went to the Redeemed Ministries website to read articles and view recommended videos. Jane sees Dennis as a modern-day missionary in this difficult field, who works in human trafficking as a volunteer.


As a natural born educator, Jane cannot help but inform others of what she has learned recently. Retired from teaching in 2002, Jane has a long history of voluntarism within the conference, including Lay Leader, and her current role as mission chairperson. “Watching our Sunday School classes and congregation dwindle has been a reminder that we need to go outside to reach new families and ‘unbind’ the gospel,” she explains, “so the church created a series called Family Matters, with topics related to discipline, social media and human trafficking to better equip parents and families.”


All were well attended, thanks to radio and newspaper coverage helping raise awareness in the Rockdale community. “The radio station taped our human trafficking program and played excerpts on the air the next day,” notes Jane, “which thrilled me because I want everyone to be aware that this is happening at younger and younger ages – it leaves me speechless!”


Leadership Lessons

Jane believes leadership can be as simple as thinking something is important and wanting to share that with others in hopes of doing something about it. “ Thanks to the internet, you can educate yourself on just about anything,” she adds, “so there is no excuse for not being part of the solution to some kind of problem.”


Notes Jane, “God worked in our hearts as Dennis told stories of how human trafficking happens. Some of us were overwhelmed or shocked with what we learned. I was glad to see personnel from the local juvenile center and about a dozen youth attending. Surely, it will benefit our community to have these informed participants living among us.”


She is now busy planning the next series of topics and guest speakers for this popular outreach called Family Matters. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s so much to do right here that can make a difference.”