Pushing through the Awkward in Friendship

Our small group met at a Pizza place for discussion over the book Messy Beautiful Friendship last night. Ya’ll we do book clubs all wrong. We meet every few weeks and discuss about 64 chapters at a time. It’s ridiculous but somehow it works for us and we like it.

Last night we discussed hospitality. Christine Hoover talks about “back door” friends. You know – the kind that don’t have to knock but just come on in. Maybe you grew up with back door friends. Our family did. Mrs. Flora lived next door with her husband and three sons. She had a signature knock with an added “yoo-hoo” but the knock meant nothing. She was just letting us know it was her coming through our back door. Our families, along with others on our street, were the best of friends going to each others homes often for dinner and parties. Sometimes it was pot luck sometimes not. Planned and unplanned visits. But there was a lot of “company” that didn’t feel like “company” growing up.

So our group started talking about how things seem different now. A lot less back door neighbor type friendships. We are mostly a group of 30 &40 year olds. Times have changed since growing up with backdoor friends. We are busy now. It used to be that the kids were little and under foot and no time to get the house ready for people to come over. Now the kids are older but we don’t want to miss time with them before they head off to college.

We talked about how it’s really easier to huddle in our own families than open our doors to other families. It takes planning and initiative to have others in our homes. And honestly sometimes it takes pushing through awkwardness as well. The awkwardness of not always having a perfectly cleaned home.

I hosted something in my home recently and when everyone left and I was working in the room we’d all been in and something caught my eye. It was dangling in midair. It was a pine straw needle at least 7 inches long. As I got closer I realized Charlotte’s web was taking residency in the corner of our dining room. Not only that but I could’ve written the names of everyone at the table in the layer of dust on the secretary in the corner of the room. I’m not even kidding. It was that bad. Of course nobody said anything about it but I KNOW people had to have seen it. I don’t even want to know what others might have noticed as they’ve come to our home over the years. These are just a few of the awkward things we’ll have to push through in order to build community with those around us. But it’s worth it. Because as we set aside our desire for things to be “perfect” we discover the beauty of real friendship and it takes us places we’d never experience without pushing through the awkward.

Our group started laughing at the fact that nobody offered up their homes to meet in for our discussion on hospitality. We all had really good reasons for not meeting in our homes. It’s Summer. I’m going out of town and super busy. My kids are leaving for the Army. I don’t get off work until late. I hardly know some of you people…..legit reasons. Like we totally get each other.

But guess what. We all decided we want to push through the awkward for the sake of beautiful friendship and we changed our plans for our next two meetings. Instead of meeting at the Japanese Restaurant like planned we’re meeting in our homes.We put out the “the house may not be clean” disclaimer and when one of us said, “it may be sub sandwiches for dinner because we leave out of the country a few days later” someone quickly offered and said, “Nope, you provide the plates and cups and we’ll bring the food. It may be chicken from the store but we got the food covered.” And I have no doubt we’ll enjoy our time together in our homes where we do life with our families and hopeful with each other a little more often.

And friends, this is what learning and growing with each other looks like.

 

 

A great view on SmartPhones and Kids by Craig Gross

 

(I’m on a mass email list from Craig Gross and his ministry and received this email today. I copied and pasted since there is no blog post to the same information. All Craig’s social media contact information is in this post so you can decide to follow him if you want. He’s been helpful in guiding our family in some of our decisions and I think you might find his stuff good and helpful as well.)

Hi Melody,I got this email today.

I get this at least once a month, so thought I would just post it (and note, this is exactly what was written):

“My 11-year old daughter wants a phone and my Ex-wife wants her to get one. Only 26% of kids her age have one and they’re mostly all rich kids in Orange County.

I wanna find ways to protect her from seeing big c**ks as much as possible.

Help me Craig!”

Here is my response to this email and so many others. (It’s also what I have done with my kids, who are 11 and 14 years old):

1. First of all, if you are worried about your kids having an emergency and not having a phone, then head down to Walmart or 7-Eleven and get a pay as you go flip phone. Those will work great if your kids need to call you.

You can’t use the “My kids needs a smartphone” line because of emergencies.Not needed.

2. If you want to get your kids an iPhone or Android, don’t ever give it to your pre-teen or better yet 9-year old out of the box as it comes from the store.

3. Don’t give your kids a device you are unfamiliar with and don’t know how to use yourself.

4. Don’t allow your kids to play an app, watch a movie or binge on a show on Netflix that you are unfamiliar or unaware of.

5. Parents still must be parents and that is a hard one, I know.

Most parents are clueless and cave into the pressure from their kids. Then kids get into trouble on devices because they are acting like kids, but playing with devices designed for adults.

6. A lot of parents have an old iPhone 4 or 5 sitting in their junk drawer and when the times comes will give that one to their kid. That is an okay idea, but you need to keep reading.

iPhones and Androids have parental control settings built into the phone.

Use these before you try and buy an app or search for another option. The best options are now built into the phone.

For iPhones head to Settings -> General -> Restrictions and then enable restrictions with a four digit passcode that you don’t give to your kid. This puts you in charge.

Both my kids have phones and have these restrictions:

– I have turned Safari OFF – I don’t need or want them searching the web or wasting time online with their phone. They can use the computer at home to do that.

– Installing Apps turned OFF – I don’t allow them access to the iTunes store to purchase or get free waste-of-time apps. If they want something, I look at it and if I allow, I will enter the passcode and download.

My rule is they can have productive apps but only 3 games on their phones. I am not going to have my kids playing games on a phone all day. I can’t stand grown ass men and women playing candy crush or words with friends on their devices all day long. WASTE OF TIME!

Whenever I board a plane with my kids, I have them look at the first class section and ask them to find a person in the first class that is on their phone playing games. Never. Successful people today don’t waste time playing these games.

Go to the middle seat in the back of the plane and see that dude who is 35 playing some Game of War game. I don’t want my kids to be that guy/girl. It’s not about the money you make, but the time you waste with your life.

Worse than that, people on their phones all day long can’t talk to people in person.

I don’t need my kids growing up with their heads in a screen and not experiencing the life and people in front of them.

I wrote some more reasons why I don’t let me kids play on their phones when their friends are over here. You can read that HERE.

– Deleting Apps turned OFF – I don’t let me kids delete things on their phones. This applies to text messages, emails, and apps. This is more of a life lesson for kids online.

Snapchat and Instagram stories tell you things delete in 24 hours, but ask Draymond Green if you can still see his penis online? The internet keeps a history, and so does your Ex-boyfriend or future employers.

Everything you do online doesn’t disappear.

Even Hillary Clinton couldn’t delete her emails forever yet kids are growing up thinking things they do will just disappear or be deleted. That kind of thinking is the furthermost thing from the truth.

If my kids send a text message or email to a friend, my kids know that they better be okay with the whole school seeing it because nothing is private.

– No Social Media apps on their phones – This could be old school. That’s okay. I don’t need my kids on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or anything else right now.

Over time I will loosen up there, but how many stories do I hear every day of kids and adults making stupid decisions on social and wasting a ton of time?

If my kids want to get on social, they do it on my phone. I also am aware of who they follow and activities on their accounts. When we are on a trip, I will allow my 14-year old to download and post updates and I have started to allow more access to Instagram with him at the house.

As far as your home goes. There is one device I recommend to anyone with kids still at home. It is called CIRCLE. You can read all about it HERE. It will cost you a one-time fee of $99 and it is amazing!

Last thing, Check out www.xxxchurch.com/parents. You can get a free book I wrote called Touchy Subjects and read more about things you might not know anything about. If you are a pastor and want to host a parents night at your church, we have a free video available for download HERE.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am doing a parents talk at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita at 2 pm on May 21st. If you are close, come on out.

That’s all I’ve got!

Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s all doable, you just have to be willing to jump in.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CIRCLE
Craig Gross
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How we’re handling The Shack and Beauty & The Beast as a family.

Hi friends – this post is to share where we’re coming from on two movies Christians are talking about right now. We might land in different places on one or both of the topics and it’s okay to do that. It’s the beauty of respect within community.

I read the Shack when it first came out but have not seen the movie. I’ve watched a few interviews with the author to better understand where he’s coming from. The story is fiction. My main concern with this book/movie is that some people are watching it and drawing conclusions about God based on this author’s representation. And his representation is heretical. On numerous accounts. One overriding theme is Universalism. Basically that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God. The author asserts there is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because all people will make it to heaven. The real heresy of the book/movie is modalism in the portrayal of God.

My husband told me in talking about these things, “I’ve always seen the problem with the Shack being a (probably) good guy trying to help God out by taking it upon himself to explain God better to people. The problem is you have to be very careful to line your explanations up with Scripture.”

This is an author who claims to be a Christian (not saying he isn’t) writing a fiction story but supposedly with truths based on scripture and to help people have a better understanding of God. I think as Christians we have to be extremely careful in the things we portray as truth – even in fiction stories. Some argue that people aren’t walking away with a new understanding of God as a result of this movie. I disagree. I think it is shaping people’s thoughts about God.

There’s a huge danger in forming our own thoughts about who God is. We don’t get to do that as God’s creation. He is our Creator and He tells us who he is all through the Bible. It’s right in front of us. I believe we experience our Creator God in different ways and explaining that to others might be difficult at times. But God will never contradict his nature and who he says he is in scripture. Never. And I believe the Shack, although fiction, is taking dangerous steps in helping people form an idea of God that isn’t true. This is what modern day idolatry looks like.

With this said I personally am not opposed to seeing the movie. In fact I thought about taking our teenage son who is becoming more grounded in his Christian worldview to see the movie and discuss afterwards the areas of heresy. It would be good practice in discerning truth from heresy. However I’m not sure the time is right. I think there’s a time to purposefully examine heresy with the intent of being able to recognize and discern truth….and for the purpose of knowing what our world is hearing and swallowing. But it can be a slippery slope (a good ole’ churchy term) to go down that path. It should come at a time when there are solid biblical principles already established and rooted in ones soul and a deep love for Christ. I thank God that our son and daughter are being exposed to excellent Biblical training at home, at school,  in church and youth group. I’m seeing the fruit of this in their life right now. They have a desire to know, love and follow Jesus but they are both still tender in the faith. As for me and Randy – we don’t have a desire to watch the movie. We’re both afraid we might throw up in our popcorn bucket. Sorry for that visual.

So why are we not going to see the Shack but we are going to see Beauty and the Beast – The Disney movie with the first gay character in it? Here’s why. Disney has never claimed to be a Christian company producing Christian movies with Christian themes. They represent the world and the world is not concerned with portraying Biblical truths. We are exposed to worldly, non-biblical truths every single day unless we live under a rock. We put money towards secular establishments every single day. To see a movie with a gay character in it is not condoning or supporting homosexuality. And I don’t think it’s dangerous because having a continual conversation with our kids about a godly lifestyle and a Christian worldview should be happening all the time.

So how are we handling this with our kids? We’re talking about it. Talking about the fact that we’re disappointed that Disney is choosing a gay character in Beauty and the Beast. But also that we can’t expect the world to act like Christians. We have ongoing discussions about homosexuality openly. We believe  scripture teaches clearly against a lifestyle of homosexuality but that God still loves that person and so should we.

So we’ll be heading to Beauty and The Beast this weekend but we won’t be looking down on anyone who is choosing to see The Shack instead. Or staying at home under a rock.

 

 

 

Seductive Senior Pictures

I’ve started this post a million times not wanting to tread on sensitive ground yet want to talk about something that has been concerning to me.

I’ll just get it out there.

I’m concerned about all the seductive senior pictures I’m seeing in facebook land.

Girlzzzzzz…….some of you are pulling off sexy really well but what you’re doing is dangerous. You’re setting yourself up for harm later on.

Before your eyes roll all the way in the back of your head just listen for a few more paragraphs please. I care about you. Enough to say this stuff because we both know it’s kind of awkward to talk about.

There are some way cool trends in Senior pictures lately. The possibilities are endless. You can choose a location that makes you feel most in your element – an urban setting, a park or beach, sports field, or performing arts center. Really cool stuff.

And while there are some amazingly creative options in photography there will be choices you need to make.

I know this seems like a peripheral issue compared to the big things in your life right now like boyfriends, getting your license and making college plans. But this little issue can set you up for some bigger issues down the road.

I want to encourage you to make wise choices in how you pose and what outfits you wear for your Senior pictures. Your countenance and facial expressions – you know what I mean. All these things have a part in the message you’re sending in your picture. Even if you feel that your photo session is not something that represents you typically – it is still you in those pictures. You are sending a message whether you realize it or not.

When your time comes to dress and pose for Senior pictures think about this – if someone had to describe your picture at first glance in one word what would it be? And do you really want it to be “sultry, provocative and sexy”? Because that’s the word I would use to describe quite a few of the Senior portraits I’ve seen.

Of course people may interpret things differently than we intend. And we can’t be all about what others think of us. But we do need to be responsible in the message we send by how we conduct ourselves. And this includes how we dress.

There’s a time and place to look and feel sexy. And I promise you it’s not in your Senior pictures or on Prom night. There’s unique treasure and delight in saving all the sexy for one special person in the future. Your husband.

If you know me at all then you know I’m not suggesting you throw on a pair of polyester culottes with a  turtleneck and wrap your hair tight in a granny bun and sport some white reeboks & tube socks for your photo shoot. No, please don’t even. We’d all throw up.

Know this about yourself – God made you beautiful. You’re already chosen and accepted by Him. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to one up your friends. It’s not necessary to dress a certain way to impress your boyfriend. You can trade in provocative and sultry for confident in Christ and already accepted.

Don’t get sucked into current trends of our culture that block out who you really are. Some girls don’t know who they are in Christ. But some do know and they are falling into an easy trap that we must all guard ourselves against.

As Christ followers we are different. We will look different – even in the little-big things like Senior pictures.

Sometimes we do things and look back on them and realize we’d do it differently next time. Our God gives us grace and we need to give grace to others as well. So if you’re one who has learned or is learning the hard way – don’t walk in shame. Don’t feel condemned. But be encouraged to do differently now and to encourage others on a right track. This is what the body of Christ does for each other.

Good luck girls to finishing out your school year. May you radiate Jesus Christ, your creator. May He fill you with a satisfaction in Him alone so that when you go to pose for Senior pictures it’s really not a big deal. It’s just someone snapping a pic of who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Writing Letters

Oh don’t get me wrong – I love sending and receiving an encouraging text, sweet phone call and real live conversations. They are convenient and a wonderful part of daily life. But I’m old school enough to still be sad that the hand written letter continues to fade ever so fast.

That and because I love any excuse to go to Barnes & Noble I bought the kids note cards and had them write letters to two people of their choice while sitting at Starbucks. Mitchell has more beautifuler handwriting than I do and Sophie is to the point in one or two sentences but hey she gets her point across. So there we sat putting the discipline of hand writing a note into practice.

What was so cool is that when we came home I had this sitting in the mailbox. A handwritten note from my best friend’s daughter. Apparently she’s teaching the old fashion art of handwritten notes as well to her daughter who’s a little younger than Sophie. What I love is that they let her do it all by herself because take a gander at the address under my name. She had a lot of trust in the postman. He didn’t need a zip code. The Piedmont Triad area as she accurately puts it – very smart girl – covers about 48 counties. Oh how I will treasure this handwritten, self addressed note forever. How did it get to us? Well, her Daddy put it in an envelope and readdressed it for her.

IMG_3497

Here’s to the hand written note – toasting with my #2 pencil and paper in hand.

Why your child is not my friend

It started four years ago – I’d get Facebook friend requests either from young girls I was mentoring or friends of our son. Not because I’m a cool Mom but maybe because their parents said something like, “Fine, Mr. Fourth Grader, you can have a Facebook account but you have to be friends with the Preacher’s Wife.” They might not even know my name but you know being friends with a Preacher’s Wife makes having an underage Facebook account alright. Ha! I’m kidding. But seriously, I’d get these friend requests and I didn’t know what to do with it.

I didn’t know what to do with it because they were 10 & 11 year olds and this is what Facebook clearly states about having an account at that age:

13 years old

Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

If your underage child created an account on Facebook, you can show them how to delete their account.

If you’d like to report an account belonging to someone under 13, please fill out this form. Note that we’ll promptly delete the account of any child under the age of 13 that’s reported to us through this form.

I liked the idea of being friends with my kids friends on Facebook because you can tell a little about a person from Facebook. I want to get to know my kids friends and Facebook would give me a tiny glimpse into that. Plus it’s just fun to celebrate with people ya know? I love seeing pictures of my kids friends on Facebook.

But my dilemma remained. I decided I wouldn’t friend anyone under the required age of Facebook. And not so much because I was “boycotting” but I didn’t think it would be fair for me to be friends with my kids friends and not allow my own kids to have a Facebook account because of their age.

I continued to decline friend requests – my kids don’t even know this. If they asked me I would tell them. But I don’t want them to get a judgey attitude towards their friends because they have a Facebook account. Or to hate me because I won’t let them have one although it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t judge their parents for allowing them to have one. That’s their choice. And honestly in some ways I wish my kids had a Facebook or Instagram account before they were 13 so they could have more experience navigating social media. But the simple principle is this: play by the rules even when everyone around you doesn’t. It’s hard to teach our kids to stand up for what is right when we help them go around what is right even in the small things. Especially in the small things.

So please don’t be offended if I don’t friend your child on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t like your kid. Because truth is I really do – a lot. And I promise I won’t be offended or judge you for making a personal choice I am not making for my kids. And we can still be friends – in real life.

 

Homecoming Court: a platform to teach about true identity

It happens every year – homecoming court. I love it and I hate it. I hate that young girls especially tend to place so much value on a like, a share, a comment or in the case of homecoming – a vote. Each girl secretly hopes to be chosen as class representative even if she is too scared to walk the court or doesn’t want to be in the spot light. She still wants to be the one picked. To dress up in a beautiful dress and be escorted by a boy also chosen by classmates. It might be awkward and nerve-wracking but still it’s a desire by many girls. Not all but many.

I’m not one of these parents who thinks every girl and boy should be on the homecoming court or there should be no homecoming court at all. No, that’s just weird. I don’t think all kids need a ribbon for participating. As long as we live on this earth, have jobs and live in community we will experience competition and levels of achievement. We should always strive to do our best with what God has given us and rest in the contentment that comes in pointing it all back to Him.

But lets be honest and say it’s not always easy to do that. To desire something – an accomplishment or position – and not get it. We can be quick to internalize false judgements about ourselves as we equate votes (or lack of votes) with value.

So as you approach Homecoming season (or Basketball, Football, etc) with your girl or boy – whether he/she desires to be on the Homecoming Court or not consider talking about these things with them beforehand.

You are already CHOSEN by God – I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

You are already ACCEPTED by God – Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

You are GIFTED by God – Romans 12:6 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

You are QUALIFIED by God – Colossians 1:12 – Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

It might also do us well to remember these identifying truths of our own standing in Christ. As believers in Jesus Christ we already have every.thing we need. Our relationship with Jesus provides an inheritance far greater than the most beautifulestest homecoming dress, most prestigious badge of honor, the most points in a game, or the largest instagram following. When we understand our true identity we are quick to forego the craving for positions and titles and are more quick to serve and come alongside others for a greater purpose.

These are not spiritual props to be viewed as “ribbons for everyone” but this is a believers core identity. It’s who we are through and through whether we know it or not. And these are just a few of a long list of inheritance factors. Want to know more of who you are in Christ? Then check out theseA -Z cards from my friend Cindy Bultema. I use these cards a lot as a reminder to both me and my kids of who God says we are.

So today, let’s celebrate that we’ve already been voted on and chosen by the King of Kings.

It simply can’t get any better than that!

 

 

31 Days: Day 20 – A Halloween Outreach

Oh how I love Halloween. It’s so much fun to dress up and as an adult you can dress up without being considered totally cray cray. I have a Nun costume and was dared by our outreach ministry team to wear it and make an announcement for our upcoming outreach on Halloween night but I declined. As much as I love to dress up I just am not feeling the costume on Sunday morning for some reason. Apparently I’m getting old because since when have I ever turned down a dress-up opportunity. Ha!

The outreach we’re doing Halloween night is awesome. It’s your basic Trunk or Treat but with tables instead of car trunks and it takes place at the community park instead of our church parking lot. Why do we do this? Because we want to punch holes in the darkness and this particular park carries darkness with it even in the day time. So we’ll set up 8′ tables in the park, decorate them and hand out tons of candy. We turn the small playground area into an obstacle course and have luminaries decorating the pathway. This year we’re setting up a photo booth for families/kids to have their picture taken and then will email the picture to them right then (if the logistics work). At the end of the trail of treats there will be a “dark room” and this is where groups of about 15-20 people will listen to a 3 minute presentation of how were were all born into darkness but that a way was provided for us to enter into light. We use dark lights and special effects to help tell the good news. At the end we give all the kids a glow necklace. It’s a fast and furious night but we feel it’s worth the chaos and the effort.

Our first year doing this was last year and we had no idea how many people would come. We gave out 500 necklaces to children only even though the adults wanted them too. We just didn’t have enough to go around. This year we’ve ordered double the amount of everything. We’re also doubling the dark room so the line will move quickly. People waited over an hour last year and we want to help things go quicker if they come back. We’ll see. You just never know with outreach. We just have to do what God calls us to and leave the results up to Him.

So whether you’re punching holes in the darkness on your church property or in your community park know that God will light the way for us!

 

31 Days: Day 11 – Reaching out in church

Outreach doesn’t have to take place outside the walls of our church or church family although that’s where we normally tend to place outreach. We have plenty of opportunities within our own church walls to get outside of ourselves and focus on loving those around us.

One of the first things I think about is new people visiting church. For those of us who have been churchin’ it for lightyears we don’t think twice about going to church. But for some people it’s a very hard thing. They’re uncomfortable or afraid they won’t fit in. They keep showing up but it takes more guts than anyone realizes.

So one of the things we can do to reach out within the church walls is to simply introduce ourselves and offer a warm welcome to people we don’t know. And then at some point ask if you can sit with them or invite them to sit with you. It’s okay that you’re not sitting in your “regular seat” – you know, the one you assigned yourself 54 years ago.  I’m a big believer in moving around for your church seat. It seems crazy but you actually can get to know people just by sitting next to them if you attempt to reach out in the slightest. We might be surprised at how much it can mean to simply sit with someone.

Another great way to reach out within our own church walls is by having people over. This is becoming a lost art in our busy and fast paced culture. I will be sharing some great resources in the days to come about this topic of hospitality as a means of outreach. The Lord has put two books in my lap in the last two months that have changed the way I think about this topic. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. I’ll be giving one of the books away and hope you’ll come back for a chance to win a copy.

So as you go to church tomorrow maybe just maybe think twice about planting yourself in the same pew chair you’ve sat in for the last 6 months. What if you looked for a new face. And then sat with them and introduced yourself to them. Who knows what doors God might open through your intentional seating assignment.

31 Days: Day 10 – Human Trafficking Outreach

My eyes were first opened to the reality of human trafficking (sex slavery, modern slavery) when I attended a conference in Atlanta. A copy of  “The White Umbrella” was given to everyone in attendance. For the next several weeks I read a chapter every day in carpool line and it broke my heart. It scared me and it made me overwhelmingly aware of the reality of human trafficking all around us, not just in other countries. My eyes were beginning to open. This video also had an impact on my tiny glimpse of seeing more into human trafficking.

Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. However boys are not excluded and this man’s story is sad but incredibly powerful.

So what’s one to do when this seems like such a HUGE issue and it takes more than just you or me to do something about it in terms of making a difference. I think the first thing we can do is to educate ourselves on these hard topics. And it won’t be easy. It’s hard to read “The White Umbrella” and other articles of human trafficking. Reading about the pain of others, especially kids, rips a Mama’s heart out and you can’t help but think of your own children. The easy thing is to turn our heads, close our ears and let someone else read that stuff. Let the non-profits deal with it. But these people – the marginalized, the victims of abuse, the abandoned are at the very heart of Jesus. So when we take time to read these true stories we are reading about people who are precious and dear to Jesus. We are stepping into his heart for people.

But just reading and understanding what’s going on in the world of human trafficking isn’t enough to make a difference. We must take the next step and pray for these children. To take them to our God who sees and knows everything. Who cares. Who listens. We can spend a lot of time dwelling on how and why He could let this happen or we can trust He is who He says He is. He is faithful and good and all knowing. Of course we don’t understand why these things happen other than it’s a devastating part of living in a fallen world with sin. Or we can trust that our God loves and cares for each one of these victims. We don’t know their names but we can take them to the One who does. Prayer makes a difference. If you can pray you can make a difference.

After education ourselves and praying for the victims of human trafficking we may see that the Holy Spirit is calling us to go further in involvement. At that point we can look into organizations and ministries in our area that help with rescuing children, women and men out of modern slavery. You can give financially or you can volunteer to help.

I love what Atlanta Dream Center is doing on the weekends through “Princess Night”. Also the author of The White Umbrella has put feet to her prayers and burden through Wellspring Living. These are both places in the Atlanta area and they function on both paid staff and volunteers. I have a few friends who go onto the streets of downtown Atlanta on the weekends to tell prostitutes that Jesus loves them and there’s a way out of their industry (slavery) if they’re ready. They work with Wellspring and are trained before going out so they are cautious and fully aware of safety measures. They have a team of people praying for both safety and for God to rescue women out of slavery on these nights of outreach.

This article made my heart smile although I was uncomfortable with some of it too and I think that exposes my own still struggling legalistic heart.

So yeah, I can talk about the neat & tidy outreach like visiting the elderly, mentoring, and spontaneous giving and those things are important but getting involved in something like human trafficking is truly serving in the trenches. It involves risk and being uncomfortable. It’s not neat and tidy by any means. “Risky and in the trenches” doesn’t mean it’s any greater of any outreach. Because outreach is sending a message to others that Jesus fully loves and he is enough. You can do that while sharing and showing that message to a prostitute as much as you can with a 90 year old toothless granny or your neighbor next door. The Holy Spirit is our guide and as we pray and ask him to show us outreach opportunities he will open our eyes and help us along the way.

Father, you are our Revealer. You expose the deep dark things that are hidden. Today we pray for those that are being held in captive and have become accustomed to a way of life they think they can never leave. Rescue them Abba Father. Send someone to share a message of hope. To show a different way. To provide everything they need to leave. Give those girls the courage and faith to step out and trust the ones trying to help them. Reveal, rescue and redeem these victims O Lord. In your powerful name I ask these things, Amen.