I’m Not Happy Today, Please Forgive My Bluntness

girl education 1

I’ve got one life, one chance, one opportunity

The world says, “Eat, drink and be merry”

One life, one chance, one opportunity

The church says, “Retreat, judge and be petty”

#Justice

 

One life, one chance, one possibility

Yet people are more concerned about their standing

Comfortable lives, self-absorbed priority

While history records, 60 million girls missing

#PreciousInHisSight #HalftheSky

 

Violated lives, the numbers are stunning

World’s exploiting children, sex for money

Church still talking about feelings and ethics

Yet 1 in 3 children under 5 do not officially exist

#everynewborn #birthregistration

 

Ego, insecurity, fame, it’s all the same

Christians with opinions, yet not in the game

Every 1.5 minutes, a woman dies from baby labor

And 18,000 children under 5 die every day

#savinglives

 

I’m not happy today, please forgive my bluntness

Too many meetings, addressing the superfluous

Too many feel good, please like me, teachings

While 80% of girls from Niger are married before 18

#endchildmarriagenow

 

Whose phone is the smartest, 1st world problems

While epidemic rages, rampant female genital mutilations

The rich become richer, the poor become statistics

Tell congress to end the back log of 400,000 untested rape kits

#endthebacklog #NoFGM

 

Girls forced to give birth too young, fistula’s the effect

They become untouchables and husbands and families reject

It comes down to justice, the prophets loudly declared

It comes down to “What’s so scary about smart girls?”

#BringBackOurGirls #fistula

The Day After

day-after-easter

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder what is going to happen?

This weekend thousands of churches put on their best show, with worship leaders showcasing their finest music and pastor’s doing their best to wax eloquently.

Lots of time, energy and resources were put into these services to make them the best they could be.

Many of the services came off in a spectacular way, but sadly, these kinds of services do not happen the rest of year.

This weekend hundreds of millions of people around the world went to church in light of the tradition of Easter.

Most people who would consider themselves Christians or believers of God made it a point to find a church and take time to hear and be reminded about the ramifications of the resurrection.

Many people, I am sure, enjoyed the music and were moved by the message, but sadly, they will probably not return next week, or the week after that, or the week after that.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the churches that took so much time and energy to present the Easter message in a spectacular way are working just as hard on this next weeks music and message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders know that their will be broken, hurting people showing up to their church this week who didn’t make it to church last week who need excellent moving music and a passionate, deeply thought out message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders realize that their will be some people returning this week after being moved and encouraged by last’s weeks Easter service.

I wonder what they will experience?

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the people who attended and were motivated by the Easter service will take the time to come back and learn more about God’s grace.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if that motivation will lead to different behavior?

Will they choose Grace over the prison of legalism?

Will they choose to forgive rather than remain in the dark room of bitterness?

Will they choose to serve others and turn away from the emptiness and dissatisfaction of consumerism?

Will they choose to work on their vices or will they fall back into destructive patterns that tear away at relationships?

Will they choose to be less fearful or will they play it safe, running as quickly as they can back to their comfort zone?

Will they choose to allow their heart to be broken for the poor or will they guard their heart, staying distracted by the busyness of their culture.

Will they choose to save an extra $1 or so a day and sponsor a child thus introducing them to their savior Jesus, removing them from extreme poverty, saving them from fatal diseases and protecting them from the horrors of child slavery or will they buy things they don’t really need to impressive people they don’t really like?

Will they choose to make a new habit of coming weekly to church to learn new things, to make new friends and to grow new strength that can only happen by worshipping together?

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide do they really believe that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus do die for their sins and whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

The word “believe” that Jesus used is the Greek word “pisteuo” which means, “to trust in, to cling to, to rely on, to commit to.”

Over 80% of Americans believe intellectually about what Jesus did and said.

But Jesus says, to believe means to trust him with your life, and to rely on his Grace and to commit to his ways.

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide if they really believe(pisteuo).

It’s the day after Easter and these are my questions.

It’s the day after Easter and this is where the real work begins.

Violating Jesus

william-wilberforce

33% of American women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime and very few will ever report it.

The brilliance of women is astounding and motivating.

The oppression of women has led to a deeply broken world.

It is very clear that in our day young girls and women who are experiencing sexual violence and slavery through sex trafficking qualify in the words of Jesus as “the least of these.”

Which means when we rescue these girls, we are rescuing Jesus.

It also means that if we allow the violation of these girls to continue, we are also violating Jesus.

True words if we believe what Jesus said in Matthew 25.

It seems obvious that if women were liberated from these atrocities that we would be following the mission of Jesus as broken hearts would be healed and captives would be set free.

Sex trafficking and all the darkness that goes with it is our holocaust.

Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)

Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)

The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)

A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. (Polaris Project)

Fewer than 100 beds are available in the United States for underage victims. (Health and Human Services)

One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline)

An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery worldwide, meaning there are more slaves in the world than were taken from Africa during 300 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

More slaves are alive now than at any other time in history.

What will history say the church did about it? What will be our legacy?

We can change this.

And we can do this in our generation!

We have the resources.

Americans spent an all time high 53 billion dollars on their pets last year. I love my cat like most people do, but c’mon!

We have the talents to attack this problem both from the preventative side and the rescuing side.

But do we have the will?

A note to pastors and church leaders:

Your church cannot fight sex trafficking by putting an announcement about it in your bulletin or on you website.

Your church cannot fight sex trafficking by setting up a booth and having a once a year awareness campaign.

In order to do stop this atrocity, you must talk about it all the time.

We must convince followers of Jesus that we are ALL called to enter into the fray.

Pastor, your heart needs to break and you must lead the way by becoming an expert on this subject.

This should keep you up at night.

This will be difficult.

This will be messy.

This will be uncomfortable.

This will be hard.

This will be heart breaking.

But this will change you, and it will change your church.

This will be a new era of energy, purpose and blessing.

It will be scary and rewarding.

You will discover passionate gifted people at your church coming forward.

You will also lose people.

But the people you keep and the people you gain will be so generous you will never want to go back.

Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail which means the church is supposed to storm the gates of the hell of sex trafficking with justice, mercy, courage and humility.

We need an epidemic of churches storming the gates of hell and in order for this to happen pastors have to have the courage to tell their congregations to “Go to Hell” and pastors, you must go first!

May this be our legacy.

@CourageToBeYou @IJMHQ @half @kenburkey

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)
http://www.ijm.org

Supporting “Bridget’s Dream” (recovery program for locally trafficked women)
http://www.bridgetsdream.org

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)
http://www.openingdoorsinc.com

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.