Thursday, January 31, 2013

National Freedom Day Eve: Easy Ways YOU Can Help Fight Slavery

On February 1st, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States constitution. It reads:

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
The ratification of this amendment began a long overdue journey in this country to abolish slavery and give all citizens the chance to experience freedom. To honor the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment, we celebrate Freedom Day on February 1st. Though we have come a long way with regards to abolishing slavery, let us not stop the fight. It is estimated that there are still 27 million slaves in this world.

Some of them work for you in factories & quarries thousands of miles away... and you don't even know it. Slaves who contribute to the shirts you wear, the diamonds on your jewelry, the seafood in your plate, the smartphones you can't leave the house without, the coffee you can't wake up without.

An organization called Slavery Footprint has a survey online that shows you just how connected you are to slaves. It's really easy and takes no time at all. Becoming aware is the first step towards action. Made in a Free World is another organization committed to end forced labor. It doesn't matter where you get plugged in, just do! There are countless more organizations.

In addition to forced labor abroad, many of the 27 million work not far from us in forced prostitution. Atlanta is among the top cities in the country and the world for human trafficking. About 12,400 men purchase sex each month in Georgia alone. Half of those men end up exploiting an adolescent girl. The average age of a child first used in prostitution ranges between 11 and 14, with some as young as 9. I talked about it in an earlier post, so I'll try not to be too repetitive. It is crucial, though, that we are aware of the extent to which this happens daily, and how much these girls need our help.

Wellspring Living is an Atlanta-based organization dedicated to ending sexual slavery, and provides a safe place for those who escape it. In fact, it is the only organization that provides a comprehensive program to meet the needs of these girls. For more information about their history and mission, visit their website. They have called on everyone who is a part of the movement to end slavery to wear white tomorrow for Freedom Day.

That's easy enough, right? Just wear white tomorrow! White symbolizes purity - the restored purity and protection needed by victims of sexual abuse. If you do nothing else, pick something white to wear tomorrow. It's a simple way to show you care and are in this fight.

Another easy way to help out is by voting for Wellspring to receive a technology grant. Milner is giving away $35,000 to the non-profit who receives the most votes. The first round of voting ends TONIGHT (January 31st!). Help make sure Wellspring makes it to the final round! About 200 girls freed from prostitution are on a wait list to get into Wellspring's program. Wellspring is trying to expand to accommodate more girls, and this grant would help tremendously. All you have to do is vote! Go! Cast your vote!

CSEC Lobby Day is a week from today. It's a day when many will gather in Atlanta to talk to our legislators and encourage them to help put an end to sexual slavery. Find out what district you live in and who your legislators are, and send them a note or an email. You don't have to even physically be at Lobby Day, though it is a great opportunity to put all this into action. If you're interested, find out more on Wellspring's blog, or register at StreetGrace.

Most importantly, though, pray. We can do all these things, go through all these actions, spread the word to the ends of the world and back, but we go nowhere if we're not giving it to God. He knows what needs to be done, and He hurts more than we do that people are enslaved. Pray to Him. Pray for the slaves. Pray for the ones oppressing and enslaving. Only God can fully mend the broken hearts of the slaves, and only He can break the hearts of the ones responsible.

Make the issue of slavery a priority. Let's end it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

In the summer of 2010, my wife, Kaitlin, worked as a camp counselor for Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, Georgia. We had been dating for over two years then, and being apart for nearly a whole summer was hard. She brought her cell phone, but was only allowed to use it one day a week, for a limited time. We appreciated these brief windows, and learned to use them well. It was during that summer that she (and later I) was introduced to a reality that is hard to swallow: that approximately 27 million people worldwide are enslaved. That human trafficking occurs more today than ever in history.

Girls forced into prostitution. Children forced to work in factories... some of which are or were affiliated with companies we buy from everyday. Millions of men, women, and children around the world stripped completely of their freedom. The worst part? It happens not far from our own backyards.

How does one even begin to process that kind of knowledge?

Every other week it seems, you hear on TV or the radio about a rapist or child molester, and it brings forth emotions of sadness, disgust, and anger. The pictures of the accused usually fit the stereotypical look we expect, and all you'll hear about is that one incident for days.

But these are not isolated incidents. This happens every day.

It is estimated that 100 girls are forced to do someone's sexual bidding every night... in Atlanta alone. These men are not the rough looking people you see in the news either. Approximately 23% of adult males in Georgia have purchased sex, half of which will exploit an under-aged girl. Most fit the description of the average Joe: church-going white male, married, has children. People you may see everyday and not suspect a thing.

I wish I was lying, but I'm not. I wish this didn't happen, but it does. So what can we do? We can start by being aware and spreading what we know. I love how Passion 2013 has gotten many people fired up about it, and we need to stay fired up. There are so many organizations founded to combat this issue, and we can help by supporting them. I'm not familiar with all of them, but you can find a list at One organization that I am familiar with is Wellspring Living.

Wellspring Living is an organization that not only raises awareness and actively lobbies for legislation to fight human trafficking, but they also provide safe homes for the girls taken out of sexual abuse and slavery. There program is unique in that they work with girls directly and help them recover, often saving them from being jailed for prostitution.

You can join them in this fight financially, through volunteering, shopping at one of their Wellspring Treasures locations, or by simply spreading the word. You can even help them influence our local representatives by participating in the CSEC Lobby Day on February 7th. Follow the link for details, it is a great opportunity! My wife, Kaitlin, participated last year and we're going to try to go again this year.

This is too great a crime to sit back do nothing.

It is a cause that demands radical urgency.

Millions of people need our help, many of whom are closer to you than you may think.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Authority in Christ

"When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to Jesus, 'Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!'
'Yes,' He told them, 'I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But do not rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.'"
-Luke 10:17-20

This morning in Sunday School, we were talking about remembering who we are in Christ, and what we have that the Isrealites didn't in the Old Testament. It was briefly mentioned that we have the authority of Christ and are His ambassadors. How often do we think of ourselves like that? The above passage in Luke is one of my favorites, and yet I haven't given it much thought in a while.

Its a power and authority that Satan would love for us to forget about... that He can be silenced by us just by mentioning the Lords name! That through Christ we have power over the Enemy, and not just some power, but complete authority. He cannot harm or touch us. He has to listen to us and obey us whenever we use Christ's name. He has no choice, no power, nothing. Christ defeated him at the cross and let's us share in that victory.

We are quick to forget though. We still fear and worry. Christ tells us here to not be afraid, that we have authority. He tells us that our names are written in Heaven! What a reason to rejoice and to not fear! No matter what happens in this world, Jesus has made a place for us! He has given us victory over the enemy. He has given us redemption, mercy, and grace. He calls us friends, and calls us Holy!
Let us never forget this no matter how we feel!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

By Grace Alone (A New Year Post)

I have started this post over completely so many times. I thought about blogging about Christmas, Thanksgiving, all the things I'm thankful for, random updates that I missed since my last post. Things that other people blog about, and therefore I somehow need to blog about. Nothing that I can think of, though, really compares to how grateful I feel towards God that I'm alive to see 2013 unfold.

On 12/12/12, I feel asleep at the wheel for just a moment, when a tanker merged onto the road I was driving on. I had enough time to brake a little but not enough to avoid impact. I hit the tanker in the side, but hit in just the right place to not get trapped underneath or cause the tanker to combust. I walked away with minor head trauma, and some cuts/bruise.

My car wasn't so lucky, but can be replaced. Ironically, the rental car company my insurance uses was located at 1212 Martha Berry Hwy. I kid you not. Google Enterprise in Rome, Georgia. Fun fact: they not only pick you up, but they drop you off. Which was convenient.

Anyway, just 17 days later, Kaitlin and I were driving back to our getaway cabin from a nice dinner at Bullfish Grill in Pigeon Forge. It was day 3 of 6 of our mini vacation. It was around 8 and snowing; while we enjoyed the snow, we also were eager to get back up the mountain before the snow could collect on the road and make the steep trip nearly impossible for Kaitlin's little Nissan Altima.

I was careful driving, but nothing really on our part could have avoided hitting the car who quickly tried to make a left turn across two lanes of traffic, clearly not noticing us at all. The accident was nearly head-on due to the angle of their turn. By the grace of the LORD, Kaitlin was not seriously injured. It is also by grace alone that I came out with only a broken tibia and fibula. Looking at the pictures, we both know we are lucky and protected by a loving God.

The doctor said it usually takes 3 months to heal, but we're just taking it one day at a time. It's discouraging and frustrating at times, but the LORD is with us. So, we welcome 2013, ready for all it has to offer. Looks like for the next few weeks, I'm going to have a lot of alone time with my God, and that's definitely a good thing. 

God bless you all, and Happy New Years.