Wings and Play Therapy…A Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking

Today is the National Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking.  As I blogged earlier, this is also the Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Two former Convoy of Hope intern friends, Glori Ann and Krissi are working in various places around the world with those who’ve been affected by the tragedy. They inspire me…a bit of their stories:

gloriGlori Ann loves kids and helping people. After earning her Master’s degree, she served in the summer and fall of 2008 in places like El Salvador, Moldova, Armenia and the Republic of Georgia. She’s heading to Southeast Asia to work alongside an organization that helps rescue women and their children from the sex industry. She’ll use skills in areas like play therapy to help these children heal and find hope.

She’s leaving comfort and what she knows, to head to a place of wonder and challenge.  She’s still raising funds to get there.

 Krissi is in California preparing to head to the other side of the world. She’ll work in a village with a tragically high rate of innocent children abused in ways that shock the conscience. She’ll help them and others who’ve been hurt.

She wrote a song about how those imprisoned by the tragedy can be free. Here’s Wings:

She hopes to head out in the next few months…after she gets her funds raised.

People like Glori Ann and Krissi are my heroes. Today, the Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking, I wanted to let you know about them.

Coffee is better than cow poop

In Armenia just over a year ago, we worked with some wonderful people in the plateaus of the Caucasus Mountains. These Yezide Kurds are amongst the poorest people groups of the region. Those we met are hard working, wonderful people who earn very, very little money. We felt bad knowing they heat their homes and cook their food with bricks made of dried cow poop.  This photo shows a mound of hay which the animals can eat during the winter and mounds of cow poop to use in cooking/heating.

pilesopoop

Their region provides very little wood for fires and they use the resources available to them.

A pastor with whom we worked said if he and the people of his church could help their neighbors utilize something besides the norm for their fuel it would make a huge difference.

Chad, one of Convoy of Hope’s former interns, is in Armenia right now. Among his various projects, he’s helping these Yezide Kurds use something much better than cow poop to use as fuel. Coffee.

armeniachad

Java Logs are bricks made of coffee ground.  They’re not a new thing, but they are in the plateaus of the Caucas Mountains. Chad’s using local resources, including coffee grounds from area hotels and restaurants to test java logs with these great people.

He’s still working on the best local resource for the wax that helps keep the java logs together, but from what I’ve heard from him, overall things are going well.  Pray for the right wax combination and source so the project can spread across the area…

I love innovation.

What are some innovative things you’ve seen to help people where you live or around the world?

Convoy of Hope…loving the impact

I love being a part of the Convoy of Hope team. Today our social media guy loaded our first official YouTube video. It’s a thank you to anyone who’s prayed for, contributed to, volunteered with, or encouraged Convoy of Hope and what’s happening around the world.

Here’s the video:

More and more people are seeing the needs around the world and I love that many are responding through Convoy of Hope.  Hal and the rest of the leadership are wonderful people who are full of integrity. I love it here…

waterpurification

Thank you Mr. President (& my sister)

A few months ago, with our Convoy of Hope interns, I spent time in the home of a woman who sold her daughter to gypsies in order to pay for food for her younger children. The team and I were profoundly affected.

Human slavery.

Slumdog Millionaire helped bring the issue to the attention of millions of people.  The movie won the Oscar for Best Picture last year.  In the film, beautiful children were enslaved by evil men.  In portions of the movie, their enslavement meant they begged on the streets for money they couldn’t keep. At other times, it meant allowing others to gain pleasure at the expense of the innocent. 

freedom

Kids should be free and safe and nutured…they should fly kites and enjoy life. And of course, no adult should be subjected to slavery of any form.

But slavery exists today all over the world…sexual slavery, slave labor and more.  It exists in my country and on every continent.

Today, our President proclaimed January 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Thank you Mr. President. Seriously. Great job on this proclamation.

I used to think that slavery and human trafficking were confined to the largest cities in lands far away. Unfortunately, it’s everywhere. A few months ago, I was in the midwest sharing about various things including human trafficking.  A woman spoke up about the trafficking she was beginning to witness in a town down the road from her…here in the United States. As she got to know the poverty stricken area better and better, she saw it more and more clearly.

I’m thankful for organizations like Project Rescue. Their Homes of Hope around the world provide a place of hope for women and their children who’ve been victims of sexual slavery.  They also have other places that reach out to those who’ve escaped slavery. 

I’m thankful for f.r.e.e. international where Michael and the gang are helping victims here in the USA. 

I’m thankful for Elizabeth.  Her compassionate heart, combined with various connections combined with a visit to Project Rescue as part of our Convoy of Hope Internship program.  She now helps with the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. She’s passionate about the cause and has done a ton to raise awareness where she lives in Columbia, Mo.  I love that.

What a great awareness raising proclamation. May we realize a bit of what’s happening. May we do something about it!

My sister is doing something about it.  She wrote and produced a kid’s worship CD/DVD.  It’s called “One Life.”  The kids at her church, Hammond (IN) First Assembly sing with her.  What’s cool is that 25% of the proceeds will go to help Project Rescue.  She and these kids (and those who purchase the project) are a part of helping victims of human trafficking. I think that’s pretty cool.

onelife

May God help the victims of human trafficking and slavery tonight…

People existing on the margins of survival

I came across this story today. Heartbreaking.  It’s about the people of Peru who raise alpacas high in the Andes Mountains. The weather is getting colder each winter and they’re having to make tough decisions about their animals, their farms and their families.

I’m skeptical about the reasons behind climate change (not sure man’s behind it) but I’m not skeptical that the climate does change and has for years. I also know it affects people.

People like those in these highlands are affected. The article refers to them as “people existing on the margins of survival”.

I was in the highlands a few years ago on a OneHope trip and met this little guy.  I won’t forget him.

Peruvian highlands

I won’t forget his hands or his cheeks. We were about 10,000 feet elevation when I took this photo. His hands were very, very, very dry as were his cheeks. Everyone’s were.  It hurts them just like it would hurt us…affecting sleep, comfort level and more. More is at stake though as the elements take their tole on those exisiting on the margins of survival. A few miles from this photo we met people walking their alpacas.

The article linked above mentioned that people are now debating whether or not to use their meager resources to save their children or their animals! I cannot imagine.

I don’t know the solution.

“They should move!  Why would anyone live that high!!”  Except many generations have lived in the same area and it’s all they know…

“Why wouldn’t they save their kids…they’re humans!”  I AGREE…except they understand that with no animals there’s no food so there’s starvation for all.

What’s the solution? I don’t know. I like to use this site to raise awareness sometimes…and to help us remember to pray for those exisiting on the margins of survival. God is creative and He gives great ideas to those who listen. May these hurting people and those who influence them hear from Him.  May they find new life in Him!

Here’s a closer shot of his hands, with encouragement to pray for him and those affected, and with a challenge to be a part of the solution for those on the margins.

hurtinghands

Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration

hopelivesbookSince joining the Convoy of Hope team, I’ve been amazed at the surprises I’ve encountered in the scriptures regarding God’s heart for the poor.  I’ve grown up in the church, but missed some pretty important lessons from the 2000+ verses where He shares how He feels about those in need.

Our interns and I discuss His heart for the poor and our passions to help them during each training session.  We talk, watch videos, hear from great people and read.  The most engaging book we’ve read on compassion and His heart is Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration by Amber Van Schooneveld. 

 


The book challenges without sending anyone on guilt trips, and encourages without letting anyone off the hook. I especially appreciate the ways Amber connects life in our own context with ways we can help others in need around the world.   It’s a book for those who drink Starbucks, update their facebooks, don’t necessarily feel called to live in the jungle but who care deeply about Jesus and others.

I got in touch with Amber and she was gracious enough to share via Skype with our fall team on the last day of the term.  It was fun.
I thought I’d pass on my thoughts on this great book.  There is companion curriculum for small groups (or youth groups). 

hopelives

Primal review and reflections

battersonJesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. In his latest book, Primal, Mark Batterson takes readers on a journey to a deeper discovery of understanding just what the command means. It’s a journey to the core of Christianity, and indeed, it’s Primal.

I don’t know Mark (just met him in line to get a hot dog at a conference once), but I listen to his podcasts.  He writes like he speaks.  As I read I hear his voice in my version of an audiobook.  His words aren’t so much a theological dissertation as they are a practical account of his thoughts on each of these important areas.  He combines stories, examples from science and history, and insightful commentary.  I got a great new perspective on a command I’ve heard my entire life.

Consider these thoughts:                                       

 “A child dies from drinking contaminated water every twenty-one seconds.  Are you okay with this? That question can be and must be asked of all suffering and every injustice. Are you okay with this?”

 “The more of God’s creation I experience, the more I am convinced of this: awed silence in the presence of divine beauty is a form of worship that is often deeper and truer than sung words.”

 “I’d rather have one God idea than a thousand good ideas.”

 “Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.”

 

 The highlight for me:

 The entire book is engaging, but I’m most thankful for his thoughts on loving God with our hearts.

 I’m on my way home from an emotionally intense trip to Bangladesh and Nepal, two of the world’s most fascinating yet poverty stricken countries.  While there are many ways we love Him with our hearts, Mark spends good time communicating God’s heart for the poor.  Loving God means loving what He loves and caring like He cares.  The words inspired me, and I’m thankful for their impact on all who will read them.   

 Conclusion:

This is a great book.  I suggest it as the first book for you in 2010.  It’s relevant, challenging, inspiring, thought provoking and practical.

 The message to me?  Let’s love deeply, dwell in awestruck wonder, think creative God given ideas, and work really, really hard for Him. 

 

Lastly, thank you Mark for sipping coffee at Ebenezer’s with our fall ’09 Convoy of Hope interns and now for stopping by this site on your blog tour…

Some thoughts from this side of the world

Yesterday I left the world’s densest country* to head to the world’s highest.  It’s been a wild ride full of wonder, intense poverty, beautiful people, and opportunities to serve.

 

I’m here strategizing the work our interns will do during the spring ’10 Convoy of Hope internship term.  So many places with so much need.  Opportunity.  Impact?

opportunity(1)

We’ll work with little girls who live in the slums but who are finding a way out with help from people who love them.

opportunity (2)

We’ll work in a very special orphanage where the lives of children are changed forever.**

opportunity (3)

We’ll connect with churches that are making a difference and do our best to encourage with a sweet partnership.

I’m actually pretty overwhelmed by this trip…and excited by the opportunity.  More thoughts from here a bit later…

 

 

*For those keeping score, it’s the densest except for city states like Vatican City, etc. 

rice

Thanksgiving: Moldovan style

mihthanksIn Moldova, Thanksgiving isn’t so much a day on the calendar, as it is something they make sure they do.  Each church I’ve seen has an annual “Thanksgiving” service.  It’s not on a certain date, but is during the harvest.  Everyone (and that’s pretty much a literal statement) in Moldova has a garden…it’s where they get their food.  Without the food from their garden, it would be tough to get enough food to eat.  Gardens grow and man gives thanks.

 

The churches have people bring some of their best produce to the altar of the church where they display it for all to see.  There’s then  a service with music, stories, preaching (sometimes by numerous people) and more music.  They thank God for what He’s provided, then they share what’s been brought with the people present.

troyHere’s Troy Darrin from last year’s service in Mihaileni.  That’s some BIG cabbage!

 

We got to be a part of numerous Thanksgiving services this year, like at this one in Beltsi (say it like, “Belts”):

I miss Moldova!beltsi

Thankful…

Here’s my official “Things I’m thankful for” post. 

Most nights as the day ends, I say to my wife, “Life is good.”  It is.  I’m a blessed man.  Here are some reasons why…

A God who sent His Son

A Son who gave His life and loves

A fabulous family…wife, little girl, parents, sibling, niece, nephews, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, in-laws, and even my sister’s in-laws.  Wonderful people.

Some really, really good and faithful friends I get to see regularly, and fabulous friends I’ve made around the world.   I miss them!

An army of prayer and financial supporters who partner with this opportunity with Convoy of Hope.

A church I love with a pastor who leads well.

Opportunities to serve at Mt. Sinai, Park Crest, OneHope, and now Convoy of Hope

Coffee…my wife just gave me some from Alterra Coffee Roasters, my favorite.

Music.  Johnny Cash & more.

cash

Health.

Nachos and other great food.

Slippers on a cool day.

The opportunity to mobilize people through the Convoy of Hope Internship.

Technology.  The internet is fun.

Freedom.

Billy Graham.

A sabbath day every now and then.

My life.

 

It’s not a complete list, but these are some things for which I’m thankful. 
Happy Thanksgiving!