Archive for the ‘Movement’ 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.

I witnessed one of the most scary, yet intriguing trends being brought up in adolescent America while I was in high school. I wasn’t just a witness to it, I was also hugely involved in it. It had the ability to tear friendships apart, to break the hearts of parents and make them wonder if they weren’t good enough while raising they’re child, to manipulate the person involved into thinking that everyone around them was the enemy and all they wanted was to report them to the school psychologist. The trend, was cutting.

Freshman year is a confusing time for anyone no doubt. Friendships from middle school sometime come to an abrupt end, new friends come into your life and life itself takes on a whole new meaning within you. It’s the year  most of us spent trying to understand ourselves better. Freshman year was also the year I saw cutting play a bigger role in our society than I ever did before.

Cutting shouldn’t be a trend. I remember knowing people who cut themselves because they thought it was cool and they wanted to fit in. Others of us did it because it was a way of escape from the mess going on inside our heads. Either way, it was becoming something bigger than we thought it ever could be. As it was having its way in my life, I saw what it was doing to others as well.

Once people found out about it, you became part of the gossip train. Some people thrived on that attention. They didn’t want that specific kind of attention, but having people know who they were gave them some sort of thrill. Those who were cutting for deeper reasons, the attention was a nightmare. Their one thing they had that they could control was now exposed to the world. The one secret they wanted to keep was out.

Either way, I saw cutting growing and growing into our society. It was once a well kept secret that nobody wanted to talk about, and soon it was all some people could talk about.

Cutting isn’t cool. Cutting is a serious problem. Cutting shouldn’t be the thing to be doing. Cutting can be dangerous. Either way you look at it, no matter what the intentions of the cutter are for doing it, they need help. Yes even those who wanted the attention; there’s still something there that needs to be exposed.

Cutting shouldn’t be an epidemic.

As most of you know, I started college this past Tuesday. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. The then some, being way too much reading on stuff I really don’t care about lol. But within the first two days of my glorious school adventures, I got asked the common question, “What do you want to do with your life when you get out of here?”. I always imagined being asked this question after realizing what it is I wanted to do. Before that, I’d give the oh so acceptable answer of “I’m not too sure”. So heading off on this new found motivation journey, I was so excited for someone to ask me what I wanted to do with my life. But, yeah there’s that ugly word that throws off sentences, when I was in fact asked that question, I found I was a little embarrassed to answer honestly.

Truth is, I want to be a youth Pastor. Just the idea that God can use me to reach a group of young people and help them give their lives to God and watch them transform into this whole new person they didn’t even know existed inside them, get’s me excited. To see this kid who didn’t even believe in God, or was unsure, to come around to loving God with all their heart and willing serving Him passionately is something I would love to see happen in front of my eyes. And to be a part of their life, a positive influence who’s there to keep them on the right path and to also be there to help them through things, is something that brings me joy just thinking about it.

When people approached me with the question of what I wanted to do with my life, I actually didn’t tell them any of that. In fact, I resorted back to the “I don’t know” response. It’s not that saying “I want to be a youth Pastor” is hard to blurt out, it’s the fact that Christianity, at least in my life, has always been something that people judge. I grew up being one of those people who sort of mocked Christians. I thought they were “Jesus freaks”, who pushed the religion on people. Thank God for my salvation lol. I found myself on the spot, of being the one who was being judged and it scared me. I’m not sure if it’s because I need everyone of my peers to like me, which in the past I would try my hardest to gain peer approval (not recommended might I add, be yourself kids!) or if it’s because I’m ashamed of my walk with Christ in the secular world.

I love God, I live my life for Him everyday the best that I can, there’s nothing more that I love than praising Him and giving Him honor and glory; yet when it comes to the world, I tone down the radical-ness of my faith, a lot. And it’s something I’m working on. Trust me. In high school, it felt like I was the only Christian in the whole building, and that made me feel out of place. But now, it’s different. I found that the campus has a club, a sort of Bible study group, for Christian students. I’m totally going to check it out and become involved and get surrounded by people who have the same beliefs and core values as I do. No longer feeling like the odd ball. So hopefully in the future when asked, I’ll answer proudly with “I want to be a youth Pastor”, instead of “I don’t know”

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.

The past couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about next Sunday November 7th. Our church has the great honor of having Rob Morris, the co- founder and president of the organization Love 146, come and speak about how we ourselves can get involved in ending child sex slavery in the world that exists today.

Today God really put it on my heart. I mean, He broke me while I was at work. For those of you who don’t know, I work at a Comfort Inn as a housekeeper. I was in the middle of my day, going about my business as usual, when God started speaking to me about the subject of child sex slavery. I remember looking at one of the beds for a brief moment, and envisioning a young child being forced to do unimaginable things. I don’t mean for that to come across as foul and profane, it wasn’t like that; I wasn’t having impure thoughts so you don’t got to go running to my Pastors or accountability person. I saw a young child lying on the bed, and a shadow of an older man standing next to them. That’s all I saw.

I started to wonder if this type of thing has ever occurred in the “safety” of our own little town, at my place of work. Every bed I made today, I saw something different. A bed wasn’t a bed to me, I saw things. I remember looking at the clock one time today, seeing the time change; remembering the statistic that two children every minute are bought in the sex slave ring that is ever so increasing in this country of ours. Our country was founded on seeking freedom; these young children are anything but free here. This Country of ours has become their darkest nightmare, their prison.

Then I began looking at that exact moment I was in. I was going about my business, my everyday routine with out a care in the world. And in that same moment, a child was being bought as a sex product, being dehumanized and slowly getting their innocence and self worth taken from them by someone who sees them only as a product; not a human. Even as I sit here in the safety of my room, typing out this blog for you to read in the safety of YOUR own home, it’s still happening.

A few months back, Pastor Carolyne Barnett from the LA Dream Center, spoke a little about it after the Press Play concert we held at our church. I’ll never forget her words. She said that we as humans turn away from subjects such as sex slavery because it’s “too hard to hear about, or too hard to handle”. Then, the greatest thing I have ever heard said by a Pastor (besides the “do SOMETHING” statement our Pastor said). She said that one day we will stand before God, and do you think He is going to accept our answer of “it was too hard to hear about, I couldn’t handle it”? Because He’s not.

That statement has stuck with me. I kept thinking about it all day today. We as Christians always say we want to make a change in the world, a Godly change. Yet we sit there, waiting. Waiting for the Church to take that first step. Well, I’ll tell you what you already know, but some of us have to be reminded time and time again. We are the church. Church is not a building, it’s a group of Christ followers. People.

So, we need to stop waiting for “the church” to step up and get involved. You want to make a change, do something. Step out of your box and live for Christ and do what God demands of us.

Isaiah 1:17-

Learn to do good.
Seek justice,
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.

That scripture has been fueling my life lately. I am so overly excited to hear Rob Morris speak next Sunday. God opened my eyes today and sparked a fire for change in this; I pray that this fire is sparked through out our church that weekend. The thought of a child being exploited is enough to keep you up at night. We need to get together and change this.

“If you struggle with self-injury, you are not “a cutter”. You are a person. You are not only your pain. You are not only wounds and scars. You are also better things. You are possibility and promise, hope and healing, daydreams, favorite books and favorite songs. You are the people that you love and the people who love you. You are hope and change and things worth fighting for. This is all your story and your story isn’t over.”– Jaime Tworkowski.

 

I found this quote not too long ago, and it has stuck with me. I love how Jaime puts those words together, to make something powerful; something so meaningful and important to someone who is suffering. We have a habit of sticking the label of “cutter” on someone whom we know is dealing with self injury, and it’s wrong. People make them out to be their flaw and their flaw becomes the only thing people see. They can’t get past the stigma, so whatever issue they are struggling with at that time is now made their identity.

Oh there’s “so and so” the cutter
Oh isn’t that______, the addict?
Oh I know them, they’re the suicidal one right?

I know it’s a name association process, or whatever the proper term is, but we shouldn’t be associating peoples personal struggles with who they are. Fact is, the persons struggle is never who they are. Truth? If you know someone, and have to place that “label” after their name, you don’t really care about them as deep as you might think, and chances are you don’t know them even half as well as you might think you do. I find it shallow actually. In the past I too have associated people with things I had heard about them, but now if I do hear something about them, before I even know them too, I make an effort to know them better. I don’t care who you are, you don’t deserve a label over you.

And if you are going through something that’s painful, Jaime T said it right. You are hope and change. Things don’t have to stay the way they are at this very moment. Believe in yourself, even when it’s most difficult to. If you can muster up even just a little faith in yourself that things will change, that the sun will once again shine even just a ray of light into your world; you will see that change, and that change is possible. I’m a psychology fan, and I remember learning, that smiling releases endorphins into your body, the chemicals that make you cheery; they’re also called the “feel good chemicals”. So when you’re down and out, just smile. I know that sounds lame, but it does work; if you want to be happy and have hope, you can.

this is all YOUR story, and your story ISN’T OVER