Monday, June 9, 2014

Use What You Have

This video has been circling the web for a few weeks now and it is truly inspiring. You usually see it with the title:
 
"What Would You Do If Someone Offered To Sell You A Baby For Fifty Bucks?
This Guy Took Pictures."
 
 


The guy is Tanner Wendell Stewert, a photographer from Seattle. 
In 2012, while in Bulgaria volunteering for the The A21 Campaign he began taking pictures of a baby that had captured his attention.  A conversation ensued and the man holding that baby offered to let Tanner buy his baby for a mere $50. 

That conversation is what led Tanner to start the Shoot The Skies project.  The goal was a 2013 daily photo project that would be turned into a book with every bit of money donated to or raised by this project to be given in its entirety to A21, and to fighting the war on trafficking.

A while back I attended a conference on human trafficking.  The goal was to bring together people from all types of organizations and stand united in the fight against trafficking.

They shared with us a verse that you probably wouldn't normally relate to this subject.
It was Judges 3:31 which reads:

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines
with an oxgoad. He too delivered Israel.

An oxgoad was an instrument used for driving the oxen.  It would have been eight feet long and pointed with a strong sharp iron head at one end.  It was the only thing he had.  So with no other weapon, Shamgar was able to stand strong and defeat 6oo enemy men in battle.  Shamgar used what he had and relied upon the Lord to sustain him.

In the same way, Tanner used what he had.  A talent.  A talent given by God and now being used to give back to God. 

So often we think we have to do something big for it to matter.  We become paralyzed by the thought that this is such a huge problem.  Instead, we should plan to:
  1. Use what you have.  Time, Talent or Treasure
  2. Start where you are.  Be bold and take that first step.  You will gain momentum from there.
  3. Do what you can.  You can't do it all.  But when we link arms and stand together we create change.
  4. Ask yourself "What is one thing I could do as an individual?"

To purchase Tanner's book please visit Shoot The Skies

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Would You Risk?

Here is another post inspired by our weekend service at church.  We heard different stories from the gospel of people who took a risk and the huge impact it had on those around them. 

Many times when you hear people speak on the subject of human trafficking you hear the warning not to get caught up in the numbers.  Tell the story not the stats they will say.

That is because these statistics are more than just numbers.  They represent real people.  Each and every one of them has a face and a name.  They have a story.  Each and every one of them matters to God.  Their story matters to God.

We can hear the statistics and become frozen with hopelessness.  We are unable to act because we can't possibly see how we could make a difference.

But let's focus on the numbers for just a minute.

The current estimates are that there are 30 million people in the world living in slavery.  The number is staggering.  It's hard to comprehend.  To give you an idea of just how many people we are talking about...

The largest NFL stadium is the FedExField. Home of the Washington Redskins.  Official seating capacity of 85,000. 

This stadium would have to sell out every night for 352 nights to reach 30,000,000 in attendance.  That's each and every night for almost an entire year. 

For me, that really puts the issue into perspective.

30 Million. 

The number is overwhelming. 






 BUT...

There are 2.2 Billion Christians in the world who can do something to save them.   The job is risky, but there are lives at stake.  People who are living in darkness.  Who have no hope. 

30 Million. The harvest is plentiful, but the risk takers are few.  People who need to know the meaning of freedom.  People who need to know the love and hope of Jesus Christ. 

Would you risk that God might use you?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Action Alert: Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act

Please Ask Senator Leahy to Consider the  
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act!
  
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) (S. 1738) provides funding and protections for victims of human trafficking here in the United States. It is the ONLY comprehensive legislation that provides funding for critical services victims need to heal and training for law enforcement so that they can better respond to victims and identify and prosecute traffickers.
 
We Need Your Help
On Friday May 30, please join national advocacy groups in calling Senator Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) office to let him know that you want him to put JVTA on the calendar for the Judiciary Committee. The House has already passed JVTA, so now we need Senator Leahy, as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, to take up the legislation in the Senate if we want it to actually become law!  
 
Call (202) 224-4242 and ask to speak with Emily Livingston.
 
Use the talking points below to guide your discussion:
  • I am an advocate calling to ask Senator Leahy to put the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S.1738) on the calendar so that it can be considered by the Judiciary Committee.
  • JVTA is the ONLY comprehensive human trafficking legislation that provides funding and resources so that child victims of trafficking can receive critical services they need to heal.
  • JVTA promotes interagency collaboration, which allows for law enforcement, child advocacy centers, social service agencies, healthcare providers, legal services programs, courts, and housing agencies to provide safety for child victims.
  • JVTA clarifies existing laws, making it clear that those that abuse and buy children for sex must be held accountable for the harm they cause by law enforcement and prosecutors.
  • Just last week, the House passed the JVTA unanimously on a 409-0 vote. We hope that the Senate can show similar support for our domestic victims of trafficking.
Background on Justice for Victims Trafficking Act
JVTA was originally introduced November 19, 2013 by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), the bill now has 20 bipartisan co-sponsors (13 R - 7D)!  The House passed an amended version of the bill by unanimous consent on May 20, 2014, but it has to be taken up in the Senate if we want this important legislation to become law.
 
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) addresses domestic sex trafficking in four critical ways:
  1. Creates a fund for domestic victims of trafficking using fines for certain enumerated crimes.
  2. Corrects administrative barrier within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) denying U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) access to services and support available to foreign victims of trafficking.
  3. Encourages cross-system collaboration between law enforcement, child welfare systems, juvenile justice officials, courts, and victim service organizations (and where applicable tribal authorities).
  4. Reduces demand for sex trafficking by calling on law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute buyers, not just pimps/exploiters. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Local Event: Discussion and Lunch Sunday June 1st

Human Trafficking: What you need to know and how you can help
Discussion and Lunch
Sunday June 1st from 1:00 - 2:30
Church of the Resurrection in the St. Gregory Room
935 W. Union Ave; Wheaton, IL

Human Trafficking is both a global and local tragedy today. Discover how God's people are ending exploitation in Chicagoland and beyond. Learn how YOU can make a difference.
 
Speakers include:
New Name leader Anne Polencheck,
Refuge for Women founder Ked Frank
Author Dawn Jewell of Rez.
 
Lunch provided. RSVP helpful, but drop-ins welcome. Please bring a small gift bag item for New Name's local outreach: a nice chocolate bar, small lotion, Caribou or Starbucks gift card ($5 or $10), lip gloss, or trendy jewelry item. Items are used in New Name's gift bags for outreach to locally exploited women.
 
More Information Here

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May We Risk: Compelled

When God first grabbed ahold of me on this issue I would find myself automatically linking bible verses or messages to how it related to human trafficking.  I would see bible verses I had read before, but suddenly I was looking at them with a different perspective.

I still find this happening now.  This past Sunday's message at church was no exception. 

As I listened to what it means to be so overtaken by Christ’s love that you’re compelled to take spiritual risks to reach others, I began to think of our outreach efforts to those who are or have been sexually exploited.  This message really captures the heartbeat of our ministry and what we do, how we see others and our mission of compassion towards them.

Is it risky?  Yes.  Do we sometimes fail?  Yes.  But we are a group of people who are overwhelmed by love, by grace and are inspired by faith to not sit on the sidelines.  We feel compelled to take a risk.

Reconciled People, Reconcile People
This is the heartbeat of our ministry.  We want these women to know there is a God who loves them.  For them to be drawn closer to Him and his plan for their life.  To be reconciled to a God who loves and cherishes them.  We want them to begin to see themselves through his eyes - a daughter of the Most High King. 

We Are Instinctively Curious
We ask more questions, we desire to dig deeper.  We want to learn their story and see how we can help. Our hearts long to connect the puzzle pieces and connect them to the resources that can best help them.

We Are Spirit Filled Story Hackers
We meet the girl right where she is, in her place of brokenness.  Our desire is to turn her story from one of fear and despair into one of hope and encouragement.  We long to shine the light of Christ into her dark world.  We want her to recognize there is a way out and to provide hope in a situation that may very well seem hopeless to her.

We Are Kingdom Ambassadors
Our mission is to represent everything that Jesus was for.


Photo: Christ's love compel us to not play it safe & watch others suffer. Who will you take a risk on?
#maywerisk
















To watch the message go Here

Monday, May 26, 2014

Local Event: Book Discussion of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Read the book on your own and join us for an informal discussion of our savior's redeeming love and how this story parallels modern day slavery.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. 
June 24th at 7pm
Willow Creek Church
220 Exchange Drive
Crystal Lake, IL 

Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea


A Story of Love That Won't Let Go - No Matter What!California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.

But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.

Purchase the book on Amazon for $8.46

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

House Passes 5 Bills To Combat Human Trafficking

The House on Tuesday passed five bills to boost law enforcement efforts against human trafficking.

Measures to combat human trafficking were already listed as part of the House's spring agenda, but they gained momentum amid reports of the abduction of Nigerian girls by extremist group Boko Haram.


"While this problem may seem thousands of miles away, this horror is inflicted on millions of families every year, including here in the United States," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

The human trafficking industry makes about $32 billion annually, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

  • H.R. 3530, which passed 409-0, would reauthorize a grant program for state and local governments to train law enforcement, prosecute human traffickers and provide support to victims. The bill would further allow state and local human trafficking task forces to obtain wiretap warrants to investigate human trafficking crimes. Additionally, it would increase penalties for traffickers who fail to file tax returns. Sex trafficking victims would be allowed to collect up to 15 percent of the fines levied against their abusers.  "Sex trafficking of minor children happens all over the world," said bill sponsor Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)."In the United States, there's not much help for minor sex trafficked victims."  "No children should be for sale in America, and this bill will help give law enforcement the tools to win convictions," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

  • H.R. 3610, passed by voice-vote and would require states to establish laws to discourage prosecuting against minors involved in sex trafficking, instead referring them to child protective services.  Members of both parties said that the victims of sex trafficking — especially minors — should not be treated as criminals.  "There's no such thing as a child prostitute. Children cannot consent to sex," Poe said.

  • H.R. 4225, passed 392-19, would make it a federal crime to knowingly sell advertising that offers commercial sex exploitation of trafficking victims.  "There is well established precedent for Congress to criminalize the advertising of illegal goods or services," Wagner said. "Surely the advertisement offering sex with children should also be subject to the same restrictions."  "It's common sense that if they're advertising the selling of a young child, it's sex trafficking," Maloney said. "This is something we can do that will literally save lives."  Free-speech groups including the American Civil Liberties Union raised concerns that the bill would unintentionally impose limitations on companies with vague definitions, however.

  • H.R. 4058, passed by voice-vote, would require states to establish policies to prevent sex trafficking of minors in foster care. Members said that foster children were particularly at risk to become victims of sex trafficking, and needed extra support.  "In order to help these youth from becoming victims, we need better information," Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) said. 

  • H.R. 4573, advance notice would be required of intended travel by registered American sex offenders to other countries. It would also allow the secretary of State to restrict travel of people convicted of sex crimes. The bill would further call on the president to negotiate reciprocal agreements with other countries.  "No single law will put an end to sex tourism or child sex trafficking, but every step we take strengthens our ability to prevent these crimes," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said.

Read more: (Source)