Setting Fires to End Slavery: One Dress for a Year by Bethany Winz

I am so pleased to have a special young woman guest posting on Kindling today.  I think you will so glad to meet Bethany Winz, the daughter of a co-worker of mine."

Set yourself on fire and people will come for miles to watch you burn."

Though the author of this quote seems to be elusive (it is often wrongly attributed to John Wesley), its words ring with such truth. In January, 2011, I set myself on fire. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was God who set me on fire. It was a fire He had been preparing in my heart for years.

The fact that slavery still exists today is horrible beyond words. I first learned about it four years ago and the more I learned about it, the more passionate I became about seeing it end. My passion finally culminated on January 11, 2012 when I started wearing a certain black dress. My goal? To wear it for a whole year as a way to raise awareness about modern day slavery.It has given me just a tiny taste of waking up to the same reality day after day just as those in slavery do. But for me, my experience wouldn’t matter if it didn’t change things, so I decided to use my project as a platform to ask others to give to the fight against slavery. Now I’m nearing the end of my year and it’s been amazing to see what God has done. The fire is still burning strong, and it’s not just in my heart, either.

When I tell people about modern-day slavery, they’re likely to be indignant. We all agree that it’s not okay, but often people do little more than talk. Sometimes, though, when you come close to watch someone’s heart on fire, the fire spreads to your heart, too. Those are the fires that inspire me.

I’ve seen fires start in the friend who invited me for tea so that we could talk about an essay she was writing about human trafficking. It showed up in one of my best friends telling me that she’d done some research about modern-day slavery and she wanted to get involved. It was the girl I hadn’t seen in years who sent me a Facebook message mentioning her heart for women in sex trafficking and asking me if I had any ideas of things she could do.

I saw it in the young woman I met at camp who during October wore her own little black dress for 30 days to end slavery; the kid who gave his birthday money because ending slavery was more important than video games; and the family friend who had a birthday party and asked her friends to give to end slavery in her honor.

As God set me on fire, people did indeed gather to watch me burn. But as they got closer, the fire spread to their hearts, too. That has been the greatest gift of all during this year. When we allow God to kindle fires in our hearts, only He knows how far He will spread them.

See Bethany's first 300 days in One Year. One Dress. For Freedom.

What fires are burning in your heart? How have you helped start fires in the hearts of others?


Bethany Winz is a 17-year-old high school senior. She loves hot tea, good music, and justice. Join her journey of wearing the same dress for a year to raise awareness about and money to end human trafficking on her blog,