Students prep for 8,000-mile, cross-country moped mission

The two-month long trip aims to raise awareness of global human trafficking.

Raya Zimmerman

While most University of Minnesota students are anticipating cram sessions for finals, one is instead preparing for a two-month excursion on his moped.

Jonathan StockelandâÄòs mission is to spread awareness about worldwide human trafficking and his primary means to do so entail a couple of tents, sleeping bags and his friend, Brady Mulder.

After serving in the Marine Corps for six years, Stockeland cultivated a passion to protect people and transferred to the University last fall to pursue a degree in law, criminology and deviance for that very reason.

âÄúIt was the fact that I was willing to die for something bigger than me, which is not necessarily American, but just for the guys around me,âÄù he said. âÄúIt makes me want to live beyond myself and to live for something greater.âÄù

Starting in Grand Rapids, Mich., on May 16, the two will travel through roughly 30 states at a maximum speed of 37 mph on back roads to spread awareness through public speaking and daily interactions with people. They plan to speak at roughly 10 churches nationwide and inform them of the need to be proactive to fight oppression and injustice in the world âÄî an undertaking they have dubbed the âÄúMoped Justice Mission.âÄù

Their mopeds will also have crates with signs attached to them displaying the message, âÄúMoped Justice Mission: U.S. tour May-July 2011âÄù and the Bible verse Isaiah 1:17.

âÄúThe reason for raising awareness is to make sure that if this is something you care about, if you have a passion for protecting people, goodness, you need to know about this,âÄù Stockeland said.

Mulder, a Bible and theology major at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Mich., was convinced to join Stockeland last summer after Stockeland racked up 1,600 miles round-trip on his moped between Minneapolis and Grand Rapids.

Although Mulder said he was at first reluctant to embark on the trip and that it started off as âÄújust a big dream,âÄù Stockeland was persistent in pursuing a trip with a poignant purpose.

âÄúWeâÄôre not doing it for ourselves âÄî thereâÄôs people in the world that are a lot worse off, like human trafficking victims,âÄù Mulder said. âÄúWeâÄôre relying on God and doing it for his glory.âÄù

There are 12.3 million people worldwide enslaved in forced labor, including child labor and sexual servitude, according to the U.N.

To finance the two-month trip, Stockeland sold his laptop and most of his possessions, and intends to sell his car.

Mulder sold one of his two cars and is raising money from his church.

The two will be camping, sleeping in ditches, fields and yards, and hope to be accepted into homes and churches.

Camping in some national forests is free, Mulder said.

âÄúIf once a week we could get a shower and do some laundry, that would be great,âÄù Stockeland said.

The trip is estimated to cost less than $1,000 for fuel and food, the travelers say. Stockeland said Wilberforce gets about 110 miles-per-gallon. Some details have yet to fall into place, as Mulder is still shopping for a moped.

âÄúMany people are like, âÄòMan, your buttâÄôs going to be sore! YouâÄôre crazy.âÄôâÄù Mulder said when he told people of the Moped Justice Mission. âÄúIâÄôve also received positive comeback, like, âÄòMay God bless you.âÄôâÄù

Stockeland said he has been asked why he has not pursued raising awareness about poverty and homelessness âÄî issues he says are more visible. He responded, âÄúPeople already know about that.

âÄúPeople think slavery ended with the emancipation and it hasnâÄôt,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs bigger now than it was in the Atlantic slave trade.âÄù

The pair is not affiliated with any organization, but Stockeland said part of raising awareness is supporting human rights organizations that combat social injustice.

âÄúWe donâÄôt know what the impact will be, but weâÄôll have to rely on God to open doors and progress will be made against the injustices in the world,âÄù Mulder said.