A Chocolate Holiday

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It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us!  In all of our celebrating we must not forget those who are often used in slave labor to make the products we will be purchasing to give to our loved ones or place on our dinner tables.  It feels and often is nearly impossible to find items that are made completely without slave labor.  Yet, we can start in one simple area…chocolate.

According to the World Cocoa Foundation we consume 3 million tons of cocoa beans annually…68% of which is sourced from Africa, 17% from Asia/Oceania and 15% from Americas (Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia).  Simply put, that’s a lot of chocolate sourced on the backs of children, men and women who are paid nearly nothing (if anything) and live in horrible conditions, they are modern day slaves for our sweet tooth.

So during this upcoming holiday season, let’s take a step in the right direction of ending human trafficking and slavery and purchase our chocolate from companies who are sustainably sourcing their cocoa beans, using transparency in their supply chains, working to empower and create positive change in the communities they are sourcing from.  Here are some companies that are doing just that:

Lindt Chocolates 
http://www.lindt-spruengli.com/sustainability/sustainably-sourced/

Divine Chocolate Co.
http://www.divinechocolate.com/us/

The Endangered Species
http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18

You can also do a search on “Slave Free Chocolate,” for more options and don’t forget coffee too!

#untilallarefree #endmoderndayslavery

What ideas do you have to help fight slavery this holiday?  What are your favorite fair trade products?  Share with us!

 

a broken heart.

Today my heart feels broken.

Broken for the forgotten.

Broken for the hurting.

Broken for the abandoned.

Broken for the children who are currently being targeted by traffickers and no one knows it.

Broken for the people who go about life and do not know what is happening to the children within their zip codes.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and my prayer is that the community in my state…in my nation awakens to this issue and decides to be apart of a solution.

There are so many who are working to fight trafficking in the United States and globally, but we need more.  We need more people to have their hearts broken for these enslaved souls and take a stand to say, “Not in my community!”  As this month goes along I ask that you would educate yourself on this epidemic, share the knowledge (because knowledge is meant to be shared) and decide how you can help end human trafficking in your community.  There are thousands of broken hearts and souls trapped in slavery today in the United States and they need your heart to help end it.

WHAT CAN I DO?

**Educate yourself on this issue.  Then share the information.

Some great websites include sharedhope.org, polarisproject.org, exoduscry.org, you can also check out the “Love Doesn’t Exploit” page of this website for some information.

Books to read: The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores, Renting Lacy by Linda Smith, Made in the USA by Alisa Jordheim

**Decide to do something…anything…just refuse to do nothing

You can play a part, no matter how big or how small it is all important!  You can give financially (or raise money) to an organization that is fighting trafficking, you can volunteer your time at an organization or outreach, you can host a speaker at your church, library, coffee house, etc.  There are many things that can be done to help victims.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, but let’s not let it end there.  Your heart is needed.

Until every heart is free.

One Simple Act

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Reading the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, again has brought to my heart an encouragement of great proportions.  If so many could risk their lives to hide and save thousands of Jews, elderly, disabled, young men and others the Nazis deemed unworthy during that nefarious regime, we can surely do something to rescue those who are led away to captivity today.  We can certainly refuse to do nothing.  There is an estimated 27 million people enslaved in the world today and millions more who know nothing about it.  Millions of fellow human beings, who if they all did just one simple act, would make, at the very least, a profound dent on modern day slavery.  What is one simple act that every person could do?

*Participate in an activity that is raising funds to fight trafficking, especially if it is for a safe house for victims of human trafficking.

*Donate to safe houses, projects bringing awareness or organizations that are actively working with victims.

*Educate yourself on the evils of trafficking and then spread the news, the more who know the better.

*Encourage law makers to create laws to fight trafficking and protect victims.

Again, we can all refuse to do nothing because one simple act can mean everything to one trapped in captivity.  As Dr. Seuss once said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Check out A Light in the Night 5k/Fun Run, Walk to END Human Trafficking at alightinthenight.org

Because One is Too Many.

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One of my favorite parables told by Jesus in Luke 15 is the shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep in search of one.  It reflects His heart and character that He believes that one person is worth it.  It reflects that each life is precious and valuable.   To me it speaks the message that when there are more people entrapped in slavery now than ever in history, and it can be daunting to think about helping as many as you can, to focus on one at a time is a far greater encouragement.  We can all become weary and burned out, but when we carry the attitude that even just one is worth it because one is too many it can change everything.  Some food for thought:

*God would likely have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for one (Genesis 18).

*The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine for the one (Luke 15).

*Jesus would have died for one.

Can you imagine how many more lives would have been lost during the Nazi resistance, if people didn’t find it important to smuggle “just one more” out of the Nazi clutches?  Never think that one treasured life isn’t worth it.

As I prepare for outreaches this summer I know that even if one life is saved then it is all worth it.   If only one girl receives lifesaving information, then it is all worth it.  Because one person enslaved is too many.  You too can do something for just one.

Ways that you can fight human trafficking in your area:

*Support local task forces, join a coalition or group that is fighting trafficking
*Support organizations that are fighting trafficking, rescuing and aiding victims
*Volunteer at awareness events, fundraisers, etc.
*Educate yourself and spread awareness

You can make a tax deductible donation to help fund For Such a Time Ministries summer outreaches here.

Upcoming Events

Love doesn’t exploit.

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Characteristics of Love Series

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It ALWAYS protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7  (emphasis my own)

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and with more people enslaved now than ever in history we can safely say that we have a monstrous problem on our hands.  Human beings are buying and selling each other; men, women and little children.  While I say the word “human beings” I recognize what drives this industry…evil, pure evil.

Women and children are forced to sell their bodies (actually someone is selling it for them), forced to have abortions, and are becoming drug addicts just to try to mentally, emotionally and spiritually escape their daily horror.  There have been times when I have looked at what seems like an unconquerable situation, where heartache reigns and evil triumphs.  Then, I remember what love is and who love is and my heart is renewed within me.  Isaiah 61 promises that Christ came to set the captives free and God isn’t a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) and it also says that He has given us what we need to overcome.

We can have faith, we can have hope, but the greatest of these is love (1 Corin. 13:13) and love is the greatest thing we can give.  Remembering, that real love doesn’t exploit and it is the action of love that will bring an end to this atrocity.  Love will not buy sex, love will not sell another human being, love will rescue, love will heal, love will reach out and love will not exploit because it always protects.

Next time you see a picture in the news of a woman arrested for prostitution, don’t skip by the article, don’t skip by the picture.  Look at her, have compassion and pray for her (act in love).  Next time you hear about a prostitution ring (trafficking ring) being busted, don’t ignore it…thank God (the One who is love).

I also urge you to get involved, even if it’s only for January…do something because someone needs you…heck the world needs you.  Be the love someone needs because they matter.  Make a decision to protect…make a decision to love.

Characteristic of Love #6…love protects (it doesn’t exploit) 

Want to learn more about human trafficking and what you can do?

Contact Us

Sharedhope.org

Polarisproject.org

Exoduscry.com

Books about trafficking:

Renting Lacy by Linda Smith

Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore, Kimberly McOwen Yim

The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

Movies:
Nefarious, Merchant of Souls
Not My Life
Not For Sale
Born into Brothels
Half the Sky

He’ll show up.

Recently finishing up the coordination of an amazing training called Hands that Heal left me meditating on a fact about sex trafficking and exploitation…it cannot be done without Him.  Ok, so before I alienate or peeve non-christian abolitionists, I am referring to myself.  I have no desire to do this without Christ.  He gives me what I need to hear the stories, push through the set backs and to see the “unlovely” as they really are in His eyes…lovely.

Sometimes watching endless documentaries, listening to all the stories, reviewing statistics, listening to the dollar signs add up as to the financial cost of recovery and restoration can let the winds of discouragement and hopelessness settle in.  I view the winds of discouragement that whisper, “it is too much,” “she’ll just trigger and go back,” “the problem is too large,” like that of a quiet tornado.  It sneaks up, whirls around you and leaves a path of destruction and general feeling of hopelessness.

Yet, there is a greater wind that brings a refreshing, courage to go on, restores hope, and dismisses the discouragement…it is the wind of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:8

I even liken the work of restoring brokenness as what Nehemiah went through when trying to restore the wall of Jerusalem.  God gave him everything he needed.  People, supplies and courage.

Nehemiah 4 says starting in verse 10…

“…Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.  Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ ”

Let’s stop and see the similarities… “there are so many obstacles to reaching and restoring these women and children, including people becoming weary and enemies all around.”

Back to Nehemiah and the answer to all of this, vs. 20

“Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!”

God is the one who fights the fight.  He is the one who rescues, saves, and restores.  We are just hands, feet and mouth pieces…it is a partnership with The Healer.  The battle is won.  We must gain our direction, wisdom and strength from Him.  Evil can be too big for human hands alone, BUT because of who we are and who lives within us with can do all things through Christ.

God brings hope and love into the deep places of despair, it is who He is.  There is no place that God cannot reach, that God cannot pull people out from and there is no evil that God has not already conquered.  We must remember that God’s love never comes up short (for the victims of exploitation or for us), it always shows up and certainly never fails.  Worship and get into the presence of God for a refreshing wind…He’ll show up, He always does.

**All scripture references come from NIV

Awakening the Heart of the Warrior

She is someone’s daughter, sister, and niece.  She is someone who needs a warrior.

It is said that in the United States every 30 seconds a young woman becomes a victim of sex trafficking, it is estimated that 100,000-300,000 minors are at risk every year.  The average age for entry into sexual exploitation is 12 years old.  Trafficked victims are forced into prostitution, escort services, pornography, strip clubs and more.  Prostituted women and children are forced to make hundreds of dollars each night to fill quotas set by their traffickers and pimps.

When a young woman is brought into the sex trade she is often forced to watch pornography and is often forced to participate in the making of pornographic materials such as movies and photographs.  “…Pornographers, like other pimps, learn how to exploit economic and psychological vulnerabilities to coerce them to get into and stay in the sex industry.  Other times they threaten or use alcohol and drugs to induce compliance…”    www.covenanteyes.com

She is someone’s daughter, sister, niece who has often been manipulated because of her vulnerability, threatened by violence, controlled by the choice of her pimp or trafficker.  She is not there by choice.

To effectively fight sex trafficking and exploitation we need men of valor to awaken the warrior heart within themselves, within each man, the heart that was created by God to stand up and become protectors of the vulnerable.  She is someone who needs a warrior to value her life, to honor her with his actions, to stand and speak for her freedom.

A covenant warrior’s promise:

*Pledge to value all women, regardless of background and history
*Pledge to teach sons, nephews and those who look up to you how to value women and protect them
*Have accountability outlets (for internet, etc.) set up for men of all ages in your home
*Sow financially into organizations who are reaching out to victims, rescuing and restoring victims
*Find ways to bring public awareness to what is happening to the daughters of America.

They need warriors…they need you.  Take the pledge.