Modern Day Abolition

SONY DSCNot long ago, men and women fought to end slavery in the United States and British Empire. Heroes like William Wilburforce, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas fought tirelessly against an unwitting society. Their efforts ended what we know as the trans-atlantic slave trade and improved the lives of millions of individuals.

Unfortunately, like many evils, slavery has manifest itself into another form. Be it sex slavery, labor trafficking, or white privilege, the devaluing of others still exists today and in many ways. There are more slaves today than there were during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and oftentimes slavery and trafficking go unnoticed. Hotels and internet chat rooms are the new auction blocks. Side streets and main street are the new cotton fields. Organizations like Slavery Footprint help you estimate the number of slaves working for you. For the record, mine was 43 – and that’s a conservative estimate.

Tonight, I am joining alongside 6 other women to fight child-slavery in our community. We will be discussing ways to raise awareness, educate children, and fight systemic injustice – all from my kitchen table, but we are fighting alongside thousands of other abolitionists through Love146. Love146 is an organization dedicated to abolishing child-slavery worldwide. They work alongside other incredible organizations like IJM to rescue, protect, and provide survivor care for girls and boys victimized by traffickers.

We are fighting to end child trafficking in our community and in the world. Will you join us?

The Dark Side of the Super Bowl

A repost from 2012:

As I sit here after the Super Bowl, watching the celebrations, regretting the last 2343 helpings of chips and dip, I can’t help but think about the dark-side of the Super Bowl. No, not watching Tom Brady lose (or Eli win, depending on which side you’re on), but the issue of human trafficking and sex-slavery that surrounds the Super Bowl.

Each year thousands of young GIRLS are brought into the Super Bowl host city to umm, service, the thousands of men pouring in to watch the Super Bowl. These are not grown women choosing to “take advantage” of the situation, (although, I can hardly call selling one’s body an advantage) but often girls as young as 13 who are illegally brought as prostitutes and forced to have sex with men.

This is the dark side of the Super Bowl. The issue that no one is talking about. While many fans are celebrating in the stadium, at bars, and in living rooms around the nation, thousands of young girls are in fear for their lives, begging to be set free from the hell they are living. Most of these girls are runaways who have been preyed upon by older guys and tricked into believing that they will be loved, cared for and protected only to wake up and realize they have been stripped of their identity, their clothes and their dignity. If they are uncooperative they face physical abuse, forced drugs and death. Sadly, many of these girls will be charged for prostitution rather than treated as victims that they are.

This is not just a problem in big cities. It happens all around the nation, in I dare say, millions of living rooms each day. That’s because the pornography industry is fueling the demand for young girls and perverting our idea of sexuality; devaluing it to a commodity readily traded just like cars, only the cars receive better treatment than the girls.

Sex sells. I learned this lesson at 15 when my soccer team hosted a car wash to raise money to travel to Germany. We had a number of beautiful girls on our team and they held signs on the side of the road while the cars turned in in droves. (There was another car wash across the street with guys and they left before lunch because not a single car turned into their lot). If I had to guess, I’d say at least 50% of all commercials have a beautiful woman selling something; men desire her, women want to be her. Toddlers are paraded around in skimpy outfits for beauty pageants, looking more like Miss America than a 3 year old – all in the name of beauty.

We cannot escape our sexuality. It is part of who we are. It is a gift from God. What we cannot do, however; is pervert it into something it’s not. A woman’s sexuality is not designed to please a man. It is designed to bring glory to God. In her sexuality we see a side of God that can only be seen in a woman. It is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, too many women (moms, teenagers, college students, school girls) have been robbed of the power and glory of their sexuality. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events in the world. Shouldn’t we take advantage of this opportunity and fight for the women who cannot fight for themselves? It starts at home. Pornography is not just a guy’s issue. It harms real women, with real lives. It is NOT just an image on a screen.

Amidst all the flashing light bulbs, confetti and crowds, let’s take a moment to remember and do something about the dark side of the Super Bowl.

For more information regarding human trafficking, sex-slavery, and how you can get involved, please check out these sites:

The Justice Department                                                                   International Justice Mission                                                                         Not for Sale                                                                                          Nefarious

My thoughts on Sandy Hook

By now, most everyone has learned of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Unspeakable emotions course through my mind as I try to comprehend the reality that children were murdered at school. In the coming days, more details will come to light – perhaps the shooter himself suffered unspeakable horrors, but that will not make our grief any less pointed.

There are legitimate questions being posed, as is always the case when our fragile and temporary existence is shattered. Where is God in all of this? How can something like this happen to innocent children? What do we do about it? How do we prevent this from happening again?

To the questions of what do we do and how can we prevent this from happening again, I have no answer. There is nothing about this situation that makes sense. Comfort feels far removed, a mere intellectual idea rather than a living thing. As is true in many situations, a great irony abounds. In this time when we celebrate the birth of Immanuel, God with us, we feel far removed from God or that He is far removed from us.

Yet, God is with us. The anger, sadness, and unspeakable grief that we feel is a reflection of God’s anger, sadness, and grief. Deep in our souls we know that this is not right. This is not how a perfect world should operate.

In a move that can only be described as miraculous, Jesus came down to meet us in this mess. This world where children, learning their A, B, C’s are killed; where millions of people die because of disease and famine; where women and children are sold into slavery for the pleasure of others. This is the world that God entered. This is the world that God died for.

In times of grief when God seems most far away, we often find him closest to us. Not born in a palace, but in a foul-smelling manger. Not exalted high as victor, but lifted up to die on a cross – closer identifying himself with us as broken, needy people rather than the most holy God that he is. Yet, he emerges victorious. We are assured that death has been defeated. We serve a King who grieves with us and has assured us of the coming redemption and restoration; when children are no longer buried, when tears no longer flow, and when senseless actions are put to death. This is our hope right now. We cling to the God who came as the most innocent of children and now lives as the mightiest of Kings.

…Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

What to do with a million dollars?

It all started with the question, What business would you start if you had a million dollars? K posed this question to me this summer and I almost immediately replied that I would start a human trafficking/sex slavery awareness and rehabilitation program. This issue has captured my heart and until recently, there was hardly given any attention to this reality:

  • A child is trafficked every 30 seconds. – UNICEF
  • The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery in the United States is 13 years old. – United States Department of Justice
  • Human Trafficking occurs in 161 out of 192 countries. – The United Nations
  • Pornography is a 96 billion dollar per year industry. – The Internet Filter Review
  • Human Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar per year industry. – The United Nations
  • Over 27 million people are enslaved around the world. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. – Kevin Bales; Free the Slaves

In light of this, the D family invited me to see the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls that was shown in Greenville this past Tuesday. In learning about this documentary, I was able to reconnect with my FRAD  (Freshman Resident Advisor), L, from my days at Furman because her husband was one of the people responsible for bringing the documentary here.

Side note: If you have not seen the documentary, please watch it. It is an incredible portrayal of the reality of the sex traffficking industry.

L invited me to their home for Secret Church the Friday before Nefarious. Secret Church is a gathering of believers world wide to worship, learn, and pray for the persecuted church. It usually lasts about 6-7 hours and is hosted by The Church at Brook Hills (Also known at David Platt’s Church). This time about 50,000 people world wide tuned in via simulcast to learn what the Bible says about Family, Marriage, and Sex. Full disclosure: I am a nerd. After 7 hours of intensive teaching, I left L’s house (at 2am) energized and with my mind racing. We took about 30 minutes to pray specifically and intensively for the church in Egypt. I got chills thinking that in one moment, 50,000 people were praying for a nation. Awesome. Needless to say, I will be attending or maybe hosting??? the next Secret Church on April 6 (Good Friday). I am also planning on hosting another showing of the most recent gathering, so if anyone is interested, let me know.

Isn’t it astounding that all of this came about because of 1 question this summer?