Month: January 2017

Choosing Chains

blog_shackleschainsandfettersA life in chains is unimaginable from the vantage point of freedom. Nothing could be more horrific than to be taken by force from the life, land, and family you love. Even more inconceivable is that anyone would willingly choose a life in chains.

When faced with opposition to their desired mission among the enslaved of their time, Johann Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann asserted their willingness to become slaves themselves. If reaching slaves meant a life in chains, they would choose such a life. Their declaration? “We shall become slaves among the slaves.” The men were eventually granted passage as free men, yet still they chose to live humbly in a land of slavery to proclaim the gospel of freedom to those in bondage.

As I consider their selflessness, I have to ask myself if I’d willingly do the same. Does my love for others run deep enough that I would sacrifice my comfort and security for their freedom? These men got on a boat and traveled far to fulfill their calling. But we don’t need to get on a boat to find people in need of help, hope, love, and freedom. And we don’t have to travel far to be selfless.

As Mother Teresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” There are people among us who live in chains. Modern slavery is rampant in our own country. The enslaved reside in our own cities. Still, beyond that, there are people who live as slaves to fear, abuse, addiction, neglect, and more. How can we sacrifice, here and now, for the enslaved in our midst?

While the sacrifice of the Moravian missionaries was heroic beyond measure, we can follow their example of selflessness to free those in bondage right here, right now. We don’t have to wear literal chains to be enslaved to a cause. Our daily, selfless sacrifice can do more for the cause of freedom than we can ever imagine.
 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

True Love…is SELFLESS (from thislifeandbeyond’s series #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

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Love Grieves

Grieving from Google Images I used to be funny. Really, I did. You wouldn’t know it, because I usually couldn’t remember how the joke started, let alone the punch line. Still, I loved to laugh and to make people laugh. But somewhere along the way, I saw the world for what it is. Went on a few mission trips, saw the depths of poverty. Lived in the inner city surrounded by gang violence and drug addiction and children alone on the streets at one in the morning. Learned about human trafficking and saw it happening before my very eyes when I was powerless to intervene. And I stopped laughing so much.

Most specifically, I remember my first trip to Amsterdam. The first day, on a tour bus viewing some famous landmarks, knowing there were slaves in chains behind the façade. The tour guide made a casual remark about how free and happy their society was, noting with pride their legalization of prostitution. And I thought—doesn’t she know that the majority of these women are victims of human trafficking? Deceived into the lifestyle by the promise of good and reputable work. Torn from their families by a bold-faced lie. Abducted. Exploited. Enslaved.

In the evenings our church group went to the place where girls as young as 12 were imprisoned behind glass doors, in hopes of leading them to freedom. One of the girls we talked to broke down in tears because she wanted to get out of there but was afraid her pimp would beat her to death if she left. Most nights, I went back to my room and spent the night crying.

It’s not that I spend every day all mopey and depressed. If you know my kids, you know how impossible that would be. They’re a reminder of the good things in this world—those things worth fighting for. But knowing the evils I’ve seen exist in rampant measure around the world, there is always a heaviness burdening my heart. And I can’t let it go.

There is so much to be grateful for, and yet I’m reminded of how even Jesus wept. He sat on the hillside overlooking the city, longing to gather its people in his arms. Grieved over the hypocrisy of the religious and the brokenness of the sinners. He wept for the things of the world that are not as they should be, because humankind insists on living for self, which inevitably leads to suffering. True love grieves, knowing that life and love could be so much more than what they’ve become in human hands. True love hurts, torn by the sharp-edged pieces as we join in the struggle to mend our broken world. There’s a time for joy, yes. But there’s also a time to grieve. I still want my sense of humor back. But I never want to forget the pain that reminds me what true love is.

True Love…GRIEVES (from This Life & Beyond’s Series #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

Faith and Action

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Photo Credit: William Wilberforce Quotes (42 wallpapers) – Quotefancy

Every Voice

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No matter how small, no matter how average—every voice that rises in outcry against the injustice of modern slavery is one more voice in the battle for freedom.

 

Photo Credit: Prison Bars | Uploaded with Flickup on iPad | Bob Jagendorf | Flickr

Speak Up

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“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Photo Credit: From the stage #47 | From the Stage at JJ’s Blues club. This… | Flickr

One Small Voice

AJ_EndItI first heard about human trafficking when I was in college. An article I read detailed the horrors of children in Asia, harbored as slaves, kept in the same cages we use to transport our pets. The thought that something so appalling could happen in our world kept me awake at night, stole my appetite. Rendered me powerless.

But for me, it was just that. A thought. An article I read. Nothing compared to the reality that is slavery for 20 to 30 million people every day.

The fact that we even have a number for it staggers me. How can we have a statistic for the insurmountable injustice and not have done anything about the people behind those numbers? How do we even acquire these statistics? Go to the slave yards and houses, get the numbers, and leave the victims to suffer?

And what can average me do about it? Cry? Feel a tinge of regret that it’s happening then go on with my comfortable life?

Since reading that article, I’ve been overseas. Encountered street children in the Philippines. Spoken with victims of sex trafficking in the red light district of Holland. Seen children lined up “for sale” in Tijuana. And I’ve been here, in our own “back yard.” Driving home at midnight, stopping because there’s a girl on the corner who looks like she could be my niece. And she doesn’t want help because she fears for her life at the hands of her traffickers.

It happens here, you know. In the city and the suburbs.

And it makes me sick. Drives me to depression sometimes just thinking that slavery has never really been abolished, like they say. But that’s not enough! Feeling sick and depressed about something so awful is not gonna do anything.

So I told my sister I want to raise awareness, want to do something. I’m writing a book, starting a blog. But what can my one, little, average voice do? Especially when there’s so many voices out there, clamoring for attention. And my sister reminded me…we need all the voices we can get. No matter how small, no matter how average—every voice that rises in outcry against the injustice of modern slavery is one more voice in the battle for freedom.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Here’s Reality

Blog_PortalOfSorrow_SenegalReality shows have risen in popularity since they hit the airwaves years ago. Now it seems there’s a reality show for everything under the sun, from singing to cooking, to singing while cooking, to underwater basket weaving. We’ve become obsessed with watching people rise and fall, get promoted and eliminated, excel and fail. All while we sit in a recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a universal remote.

People’s successes entertain us as much as their sufferings, to the point we’ve become desensitized to what’s real and what’s not. Some shows are so obviously scripted it’s comical, while others aren’t so easy to dissect. As long as we’re entertained, we don’t mind if it’s fake.

But here’s a reality that’s not glamorous. There are an estimated 29.8 million slaves in this world, today, with $150 billion made each year from forced labor. Scary thing is, this is likely a low estimate. It’s really not possible to accurately document the number of slaves and the income their work generates due to the criminal nature of harboring slaves.

You’re not gonna find a reality show about this, unless it’s an undercover report. But it’s happening every day, in our own towns, to our own children. It’s the kind of suffering we don’t want to become desensitized to, and yet the statistics beg the question: who are the consumers? If billions are made on modern slave trade, just how desensitized are we as a society?

It’s one thing to watch with a callous heart as our least favorite contestant gets eliminated from our favorite program. It’s another thing for our hearts to remain callous when we hear very real statistics about very real people in the midst of very real suffering. If we don’t like the outcome of the latest cooking contest, we can easily flip the channel. But modern slavery stares us in our face, begging a response—seeking to re-sensitize our hearts to the cry for justice. We can’t change the channel on that.

 

Photo Credit: File:Portal of sorrow-senegal-01.jpg – Wikimedia Commons