Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

If you know me, you know that I’m a big fan of wearing t-shirts for some of my favorite organizations. To Write Love on Her Arms. Love 146. I love what they stand for and the power behind their organizations in getting the word out about social issues that are near and dear to my heart. People ask me what they mean, assuming it’s just a band logo or something. Their reactions are usually one of shock. One for the subject matter, and one for how a young person cares so much about the lives of others.

But something really awesome happened when I was at Tampa airport, waiting for my flight home. I was wearing my t-shirt for the Stop The Traffick Freedom Drive. People actually stopped me and asked what the meaning behind it was. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. I found myself opening up conversations about human trafficking to complete strangers, and having them listen to what I was saying and genuinely seeming to be impacted by the things I was telling them was pretty surreal.

I had a few people ask me what stop the traffick meant, and when I told them what the Stop the Traffick Freedom Drive was all about, their reaction was eye opening. All of them were shocked, this one lady who worked at one of the gift shops I walked into actually almost cried.

After the first 3 people stopped me to ask what the shirt meant, I noticed that a lot of people I passed by that day in the airport took a couple seconds to read my shirt. I’m not the one to vibe on having all the attention on me, but seeing people take a few seconds to look and read my shirt as I walked through the airport was a really cool feeling.

Without really doing anything at all, except going about my business, I was somehow spreading the awareness of human trafficking to a crowd bigger than I ever could imagine talking to. That’s all it took. It was nothing radical or anything to purposely give attention to myself. All I did was wake up that morning and put on a comfy t-shirt that had a statement on the front of it.

As I was on the plane back home, I began thinking of the people who stopped me and talked to me about my shirt, and those who weren’t as bold, yet I saw looking at it and reading the message. Maybe they thought about it for a second, then went about their business. Hopefully those who engaged me in conversation took the message a little deeper.

Sometimes you don’t have to get out there and be this radical person who goes around doing things that make people stop you and ask questions. Sometimes all you have to do is wear a shirt with a statement on it. People, whether you realize it or not, see you. They see what you’re wearing and notice you.

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In 2 Kings there’s this really awesome story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. For those of you who don’t know the story, let me just break it down for you.

This lady in the town of Shunem always prepared a room for the prophet Elisha, so that when he passed through town he had a place to crash for the night. One day Elisha went to her and spoke over her life that in a year she would have a son. Now, this woman was up there in age so she didn’t see herself having a child. In fact, she objected the idea that Elisha had prophetically spoken over her life. But wouldn’t ya know it, when Elisha came back the next year she did in fact have a son. But unfortunately, her son ending up dying. When Elisha asked her what was wrong when she came to him she ended up saying to Elisha, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?… Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”.

This women had shut her heart off from the idea that she would receive the one thing she always wanted. But this story does something incredible. It shows the power and sincerity of Gods word. We all have things that we once so wanted in our life, but over time have given up on the idea that they would happen. The Shunammite woman had this area of her heart that she had shut off from God. When Elisha had told her she’d have a child she told him to not get her hopes up. I think a lot of the time we do the same thing with certain areas of our life. Especially with healing. If you’re experiencing a sickness in the family right now that looks hopeless then you know what I’m talking about. The person isn’t getting better, but worse. You’ve prayed and prayed to God that He’d do something in them that would slow down the progress, yet it seems like nothing is happening. Eventually, you get to this point of thinking “this person is going to die, I just have to accept it and keep moving.” The Shunammite woman did the same thing with the wish of having a child. It was the one thing her heart desired more than anything, but she slipped into the worldly mindset of giving up that we all tend to slip ourselves into.

But Gods not like that. He knows, better than anyone else, what it is that our heart longs for. We look at circumstances that appear to not have a way out or a positive outcome, but we need to remember that God is a provider. God is love, and He will give us our hearts desires if we’re faithful to Him. The Shunammite woman was faithful in her hospitality to Elisha. She didn’t have to give him his own room, but it was in her heart to serve the man of God and provide for him a shelter. She opened her home to him and let him stay there. I can’t even imagine that her thoughts while Elisha was staying there was “maybe if I give this man a room, then my God will give me my child”. I didn’t plan on talking about this for this entry, but I’ve realized that that previous statement is the way some of us serve God. We are more than willing to serve His people, but sometimes it’s because we know God rewards the faithful, so we anticipate the reward. When I first started serving God, that’s how I thought sometimes. But then God gave me a heart for serving and helping His people that it no longer became about a reward, but it was just how my heart is.

Those closed off areas of our hearts, is what God really wants you to talk to Him about. Sure, He already knows, but when you yourself approach God and tell Him for yourself, there’s just a more intimate relationship being built. I know every single one of us has an area of our heart that we’re hesitating to talk to God about, because our flesh is telling us that there’s no point in trying because the cause looks as good as dead. But God is the God of impossible. Don’t just look at the stories in the Bible of how He raised the womans son back to life as something that only could happen back then. This is a super cliche Christianese phrase but it’s true that Gods power and love is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So don’t give up on Him.

I spent this past Thursday night with my mom watching LMN (tha’ts: Lifetime Movie Network for those of you who are not familiar). The movie we watched was called Amish Grace. In summary, it’s based off of the true story of a man who went into a one room school house in Pennsylvania, shooting and killing the children in that school; then taking his own life.

No doubt as I sat there watching this, I cried like a little baby. It was intense. One of the main characters, Ida, is someone who we all can relate to. Her eldest daughter, Mary Beth, lost her life in the shooting. Throughout the movie, you see her struggle to forgive the man who took her daughter from her. The rest of the Amish community surrounds the family of the shooter, with love and acceptance. In one scene, three men from the Amish community arrive at the wife’s house and give their condolences for her loss as well and tell her that they hold no anger against her and her family for what her husband, Charlie, had done. That scene blew my mind. Here are these people, who just lost a good piece of their community from this mans rampage, yet they forgave.

Yet Ida is not so forgiving. We watch her go through the stages of grief in this movie. Yet the movie makes such an incredible point. Where Ida remains in her grief is the anger stage. You watch her go from this loving mother and wife, to a bitter woman who cannot find it in her to forgive. Her husband constantly tells her that it is her duty as a woman of God to forgive the man who killed her child and the children of her friends.

This movie really hit home with me. I watched this woman face the struggles of being able to forgive this man, and I saw so much of myself in Ida. I do not know if I could forgive someone who took my child from me in such a way.

You know, in Christianity a huge part of our faith is the whole forgiveness thing. It’s something people try and run away from when it’s their turn to have to deal out the forgiveness. I’ve been there. People have hurt me in the past, to the extent of just me seeing them placed me in tears and anxiety overcame my body. Does that sound intense? yeah of course it does. But I let that hurt fester in me for too long without properly dealing with it. They were people I told myself I would never be able to forgive. That’s the truth. I’m not able to forgive those people. But when I remember God and what He wants of me, I am. It wasn’t on my own I that I forgave them either. God placed them in my heart, said it was time to let go of the hurt. I stood there for a good five minutes arguing with Him about it too. I told Him there was no way I could do it. But He’s persistent in those moments we need Him most. I remember clearly Him saying to me “you’re really going to argue this one with me Jess? You need to let it go. Trust Me on this”. So finally I surrendered, said the prayer that the Pastor was saying for us to repeat, and then I broke. I felt that chain of un-forgiveness coming off of me. It was overwhelming.

So what does this have to do with Amish Grace? everything. This whole entire community of Amish people were able to forgive this man’s family and the man himself for walking into that school house and shooting. Forgiveness is something we MUST do as Christians.

Let. It. Go

Around our church, ever since abolitionist Rob Morris of Love 146 www.love146.org came to speak about child sex slavery, there has been an interest sparked in ending such a horrific thing. But what we don’t have in mind most of the time that in some parts of the world, prostitution is actually legal.

I’ve been finding myself researching sex slavery, human trafficking and prostitution lately. What I found absolutely blew me out of the water. In Canada, Europe (England, France, Wales and Denmark), South America, Israel, Australia, Asia and Iran just to name a select few places in the world, the business of prostitution is actually legal.

One of the most infamous places in the world for this is a town in Mexico, called Boystown. The government runs it and it is basically a town of nothing but brothels. You pay to get into Boystown, guards standing at the gates of course, then once your in you choose what you want. The Mexican government knows all about this disgusting business going on and they allow it to happen.

I think we forget about this fact when it comes to the fight against human trafficking and the sex slave trade. It’s such a high grossing business, that the money stands in front of the morals for some countries. It’s so sad if you think about it. That some governments tear down the worth of a human being, just to gain some money.

 

The United States is one of the few countries in the world, where prostitution is illegal, yet in June of 2010, the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report ranked the U.S in tier 1 (that being the highest on the list for human trafficking and modern day slavery). We are up there in the ranks, although prostitution, human  trafficking and modern day slavery is deemed to be  illegal. What’s wrong with that picture?

We need to all come together and make this change. We should get allies and convince other countries to place  the worth of the dollar aside and look at the worth of human life and integrity. If we don’t, and countries continue on having prostitution legalized, our fight to end this will continuously be an up hill battle.