Perpetual Hope

perpetualhope.001Christmas is known as the season of perpetual hope. Hope, a simple four letter word that carries so much meaning and something that so many are desperate for…sometimes the only thing people have to hold onto. The only thing they can see to hold on to.

I was thinking the other day about the word perpetual. Dictionary.com defines perpetual as:

  1. continuing or enduring forever; everlasting
  2. lasting an indefinitely long time
  3. continuing or continued without intermission or interruption, ceaseless
  4. blooming almost continuously throughout the season or year.

So perpetual hope means a hope that doesn’t cease, it continues without interruption, it’s everlasting…then really a “season” of perpetual hope is an oxymoron…there is no season for hope, but it is to continue without ending. Hope is essential to our lives even the Word of God says in Proverbs 13:12 that,” Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

What is it that you are hoping for this season? Let your heart not be sick in the waiting and let us also keep in our hearts those who have a hope of freedom and pray that 2016 will bring just that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

One Simple Act

AFrankQuote

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.

oneistoomany

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

The Journey of Forgiveness.

forgive.001

Recently, as I sat in worship I was pondering the greatness of God’s love for me, what little we can actually comprehend, and I went back to about 14 years ago.  It was a painful time in my life, but the love of God was ever present and ever pursuing me.  The key to much of my freedom over the years hasn’t just been receiving the forgiveness of Christ, but forgiving those who wounded me deeply…even forgiving myself.

I think about the women I work with, beautiful, precious and brokenhearted.  For some, the greatest steps of healing they will walk through will be to forgive those who exploited, abused and wounded them deeply.  While those will be some of the hardest steps to make they will also be some of the most freeing.  I love the quote floating around about how keeping unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, because it is true.  Nothing binds so much as unforgiveness.  Maybe that is why the journey of forgiving seems daunting, painful and at times unattainable, because it is possibly one of the most freeing journeys to make.

Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’”  That seems to fit with Jesus’ final words on the cross, “It is finished.”

The cross doesn’t just represent freedom, but forgiveness.

Jesus made that journey over 2000 years ago.  It was the hardest journey anyone would ever have to make.  He took each step strengthened by the power of His Father and the Holy Spirit and His passionate love for us.  His journey of forgiveness paved the way so that we could make that same journey of forgiveness that leads to freedom.  Remember that love keeps no record of wrongs…that means forgiveness is an act of love.  Jesus went through the ultimate act of love…He forgave and still does today.    I don’t believe that forgiveness is so much about loving those who hurt you, but more about loving yourself enough to let go.

Let’s follow that lead and walk in the freedom He intends.  Take the journey that leads to a whole heart.  During this month of “love,” make a decision to love yourself a little better…you are worth it.

Love doesn’t exploit.

lovedoesn'texploit.001

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

The Weight of Grace

reflection.001

Dictionary.com defines grace in many ways, one of them being the manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.  It also defines it as elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action.

Lets face it, sin is ugly, it’s consequences are ugly and not exactly what we would call lovely, in reality it disgraces.  Even though that is the goal of evil, to disgrace the human heart, Jesus came and bore the weight of disgrace to bring grace.

In reaching out to women who are (or have been) sexually exploited I see one common theme…disgrace.  That is probably the one word to best describe what evil has done to them.  Yet, my heart rejoices, not because of what they have been through, but what Jesus has done and what He will do in their lives.  My heart jumps at the thought of the passion Jesus has for these women and how He longs to reveal to them that He has removed their disgrace.

Jesus bore the weight of our sin, He bore the weight of our disgrace and rendered it powerless.  In other words, what Christ did on the cross reversed the curse. Jesus returned our grace, He returned favor, and possibly most important to the heart of a woman…He returned beauty.

Not sure about you, but I quite humbly, in the presence of God, feel quite lovely.  Knowing that Jesus died bearing my disgrace so that I could live here on earth (not just in heaven) in grace.  You see, what Jesus did was not just for the hereafter, but for the here and now.  If you are living today feeling disgraced, ashamed, discouraged, unlovely or unloved – please know that there is One who sees you, sees your pain, sees the disgrace of your past, but sees you not as you see yourself.  He sees forgiven, He sees holy, He sees lovely…He sees grace because He carried the weight of it like no one else ever could.

So from now on when you look in the mirror, ask God to see yourself as He sees you…ask to see the grace.  I guarantee your heart will forever be changed.

 

*Image from Flickr

Help Wanted

You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.  -William Wilberforce

Today, we have more laws against trafficking and slavery and yet as a global community we have more slaves now, than we have ever had in our history and because of that we can only fight it… as a community.

Saturday we came together as a community to fight an evil that we need each other to fight.  We came together to provide resources of life-saving information for victims of sex trafficking to hotels and places where victims are likely to turn up.  It was an outreach to help hotels and other locations become better equipped in the fight against trafficking.

Without fail there always seems to be someone who asks “is really this happening here?” This outreach was no different.  So while we were able to reach over 50 hotels, have an 82% success rate, and are believing for the rescue of girls, we still encounter one obstacle that as a community we must overcome.

It is not just ignorance of this issue altogether, but the ignorance that this is happening in our zip code, that helps to keep this injustice moving forward.  Traffickers count on our ignorance, heck should I be so bold as to say that in a roundabout way they are making money off of it.   Don’t get me wrong, demand is the greatest perpetuator of exploitation, but when the community begins to see what is happening in their sphere of influence and takes a united stand we will see more of a steady decline of injustice.  We can all do something and we should all refuse to do nothing.

Help Wanted: A Community of Freedom Fighters.