Holding Up The Sky


There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Women hold up half the sky.” If that is the case then sadly, “The sky is falling!”

Conservative estimates state that over 60 million girls and women who should be alive are “missing” from our world because of violence and other gender discrimination.

In China, 39 thousand baby girls die every year because parents do not give them the same medical care as baby boys receive in their first year of life.

In India, a “bride burning”, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so he can remarry, takes place once every two hours.

Atrocities against women rarely are reported and even more rarely make the news.

When 5 thousand women and girls, in Pakistan, were doused in kerosene and set fire in front of their families because of a perceived disobedience, it didn’t make the news.

When a celebrity is caught having an affair, or changes the color of her hair it makes headlines, yet when 100,000 girls are routinely kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, it isn’t even considered newsworthy.

The best estimate is that an Indian girl dies from discrimination every four minutes. Where is the outrage!?

Author and Pulitzer prize winner Sheryl WuDunn writes, “The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.”

She goes on to give us our marching orders for this next generation, “In the 19th century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.”

The devaluing of women leads to all kinds of horrific situations.

The sex-trafficking trade is a global epidemic where young girls are being sold and kidnapped into brothels where their spirits are broken through humiliation, rape, threats and violence. “The Lancet”, a prominent medical journal in Britain, calculated that “1 million children are forced into prostitution every year and the total number of prostituted children are estimated to be 10 million.” Other experts think that is too low of a number.

And the epidemic is not just in a far and distant land.
In 2005, the Department of Justice reported there have been an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sex slaves in the U.S. since 2001.
In 2009, a University of Pennsylvania study estimated nearly 300,000 youth in the United States were at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses – “most of them runaways or thrown-aways,” said Ernie Allen, president of the NCMEC.

Young girls, precious in God’s sight, wonderfully and beautifully created, are raped, exposed to AIDS, and many are dieing because of the unrestrained lusts of the johns and the malicious greed of the pimps and brothel owners.

Experts state that there are far more women and girls shipped into brothels each year in the early 21st century than African slaves were shipped into slave plantations each year in the 18th or 19th century. And just as that slavery was ignored for far too long, so, it seems has this new horrific slavery of the 21st century.

Yet, news is getting out. The good news is there is a new awareness about this 21st century holocaust. And there are wonderful organizations and individuals going into these very dark places to not only raise awareness but to rescue and help these young girls find a new life. A life of healing, hope, dignity and purpose.

From the “International Justice Mission” (IJM), who is rescuing girls from brothels and prosecuting the offenders, to the global “Agape International Mission” (AIM), and the local “Bridget’s Dream”, who help rehabilitate rescued girls, showing them their true worth and value in God’s eyes.

These are wonderful, powerful, courageous, passionate organizations leading the way in trying to end this historic tragedy. But we need more awareness and participation.

There is another organization that needs to wake up to the opportunities to rescue these girls. This is the church.

During Jesus’ ministry here on earth, he looked at Peter and told him, “I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

In my opinion, Jesus never intended for the church to look like it does today. There is a lot of talk, a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion, a lot of judging, a lot of hiding, a lot of debate, a lot of inward focus, a lot of resources going to the “already convinced,” most programs designed to placate the “already convinced,” and a lot of empty buildings and wasted space except for an hour or two on Sundays.

Jesus always intended the church to be on the leading edge of rescuing people from hopelessness, brokenness, darkness and despair. This is not for the faint of heart.

The church should be doing everything possible to rescue these girls!

This is the mission of the church.
To literally storm the gates of brothels who are imprisoning young girls.

I want to be respectful to the church I grew up in. It taught me that God loves me and sent His only Son to save me. I really do appreciate their commitment to share that amazing truth with me.

But, my church was very benign. We sang songs, heard truths from the Bible, talked a lot about how evil the world was, and sent money to missionaries who were doing heroic things in very dark, desperate places. They were literally “storming the gates of hell.”

While they were “storming”, we were being told to stay as far away from hell as possible. So the church set up camp on a Christian cul-de-sac, so that we were safe from the evils of hell. The key mission was, “stay away from hell”, it is a scary place.

Once a year we would go on a church controlled, organized missions trip where we would do a “fly by” hell, and then as quickly as possible return home to our safe cul-de-sac. We would feel good about ourselves that we went on the trip, but quickly we reverted back to the philosophy of playing it safe, thinking that darkness was more powerful than light, hunkering down, waiting for Jesus to return.

We were not taught that Jesus literally meant, “I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” We missed so many opportunities to help people. We missed so many miracles because miracles happen when we storm the gates of hell.

When we “storm the gates” of modern day slavery, trafficking and “gendercide”, we not only rescue precious young girls, but we also can change our world, because statistics make it very clear that when women are given equal rights, that communities, villages, countries can be lifted out of poverty. Women are not the problem, they are the solution!

Sheryl WuDunn states that, “Evidence has mounted that helping women can be a successful poverty-fighting strategy anywhere in the world…investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world…investing in women is a “double-dividend” by elevating not only women but also their children and communities…Women are the key to ending hunger in Africa.”

Lawrence Summers wrote when he was chief economist of the World Bank, “The question is not whether countries can afford this investment in women, but whether countries can afford not to educate more girls.”

Sadly, the church I grew up in is closed today. Not because they were not good people, but because the mission was to play it safe. It was a mission to stay far away from where God was.

The power of God is waiting at the gates of hell. The power of God is waiting at the gates of those brothels. He is waiting for men and woman to proclaim, “We are the church and we are expansive with so much energy that the gates of hell will not be able to keep it out.” That is where the power is.

If a church wants to be powerful, then it needs to “Go to Hell!” That is not my opinion, but it comes straight from the Holy Scriptures..

Now is the time. This is our legacy. This is not an obligation but an opportunity!

At the church I go to, “storming the gates of hell” looks like this:

Sponsoring 1200+ children through “Compassion International” http://www.compassion.com

Giving backpacks and gift cards to the FBI, for girls who have been rescued from local trafficking.

Creating after school programs for at risk youth and children.

Supporting the “International Justice Mission” (IJM)

Supporting “Bridget’s Dream” (recovery program for locally trafficked women)

Supporting “Agape International Mission” (AIM) (recovery program for globally trafficked women) http://www.agapewebsite.org

Supporting “Courage Homes” (helping girls who have escaped trafficking both locally and globally) http://www.couragetobeyou.org

Supporting “The Landing” (helping at risk young people with their hurts, habits and hang-ups)

Supporting your local “Boys and Girls Club”

Supporting “Fair Trade”

Supporting “House of Acts” (urban after school programs) http://www.servesacramento.com

Investing in a local boy’s transition home

Supporting “Opening Doors” (partnering with and mentoring victims of international trafficking victims and refugees as they learn to live in the United States)

And there is so much more!

There are so many ways churches can be involved. If you want more information about how you can get involved with these amazing organizations go online and check them out or email my churches community care director Ginger Jacob at jacobg@gvcconline.net

I would also encourage you to read, “Half the Sky” by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn.

8 thoughts on “Holding Up The Sky

  1. I really appreciate the pointing out of all the amazing opportunities there are to get involved and be a part of the solution. It wasn’t until recently, about a year ago actually, that myself and some of the Hope House team members realized that the population we serve are also victims and / or at risk woman and children when it comes to sex trafficking. We were shocked to find out that the clientele we serve have been among those participating in trading “favors” for money, drugs or safety. The choices to do so come many places…mostly a deep desperation, unattended abuse and trauma and / or what they see as a lack of opportunity in the community. Much of the time it starts out as something that seems so innocent- a family member or friend. The sad truth is that it’s an epidemic that touches more people than you realize. Recently a Hope House mom shared that she knew without a doubt that without the church and the Hope House Program her daughter would have found her way to the life she, herself, once led on the streets and that her sons would end up learning how to deal in people as property.
    So, thank you Ken, for keeping this subject at the forefront and attacking it from every aspect…the young girls stolen from their homes, those sold by their families, those who feel there are no other options, those who engage in the buying and selling of human-beings, and those that turn the other way when they know it’s happening. I love GVCC…for taking a stand and saying we know there is evil out there and we know the answer is Jesus and there are a variety of ways to be part of storming the gates in His name!
    I’m in!

    • The Hope House plays such an important role at both rescuing women who have had to go down that path, but also saving women from ever getting into that situation. Hope House allows us to celebrate all the tragic stories that never happened because it provides a safe, loving, redeeming place to get back up on your feet again. Thank you Shannon and everyone involved in this amazing healing home!

  2. I am so proud of this Church, not turning a blind eye to the tragic things happening in the world. I so much want to be part of the solution. I want to get involved with anything I can do to fight against human trafficking. I know first hand what sexual abuse can do to you. but words mean nothing without action. Ken you have a gift of inspiring us to action. Thank God for your heart. you talk the talk, but more important you walk the walk. I have never seen a Church more dedicated to helping and loving people and I have been to a lot of Church’s. God Bless You!

    • If every church does their part, we truly can make this world a safer, better place! “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”

  3. I love all the research and facts you put into this. I am in awe that I am hearin gthis message being p;reached by a head pastor – to save women and girls around the world! I’ve said it many times, I love our church! Now, let us save women and girls!

  4. (responding to both Part I and II)

    I remember when I first realized that “gates” are defensive, which implied that the church was on the offensive–completely turned my viewpoint around!

    And the idea that we find Jesus in the poor, weak and needy should make us ask ourselves who they might be. Once we become aware that women and girls are disproportionately among them, it should not surprise us that serving women and girls, elevating their status, educating them and freeing them would bring with it the blessings of increased health, wealth, and happiness.

    The calculation is simple: God promises to bless us if we serve him. Jesus says if we serve the hungry, thirst, jailed, and naked, we have served him.

    Seems silly to ask if he meant it–lets go do it!

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