Friday, June 19, 2009

Help IJM Abolish Child Trafficking

Recording artist Sara Groves and husband Troy Groves meet with their Member
of Congress to Advocate for the Child Protection Compact Act.

I received an interesting e-mail yesterday afternoon from International Justice Mission. It's an organization that I'm passionate about, so I try to keep my readers (all 10 of you, haha) abreast of current IJM happenings and specifically, to let you know how you can be involved with this amazing ministry.

IJM's Justice Campaigns Department is currently coordinating an effort to pass a bill called the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009. According to the IJM website, the legislation is "designed to increase U.S. support to eradicate child trafficking in countries that have the will to end the crime but lack resources." (You can read the bill summary here.) Those of you who are familiar with IJM's work abroad know that this is one of the primary ways IJM seeks to bring the Biblical concept of justice to the two-thirds world. By providing foreign government and police officials with the necessary training and support, IJM has successfully begun a revolution of justice in Asia, Africa, and Central/South America. Additionally, equipping foreign nationals to lead the efforts maximizes IJM's influence and resources.

But the point of yesterday's e-mail wasn't just to inform supporters about the bill or to ask for their prayer support. Rather, it was to mobilize action on the part of the Western Church. IJM is asking Christians to be willing to speak personally with members of Congress. Boldness is called for. Sometimes being part of the justice revolution can feel so painfully out of reach, but IJM is taking the steps to make this small act of courage accessible to the average-Joe Christian. They'll schedule the appointment. They'll even train you (over the phone unless you happen to live in D.C.) how to speak candidly with your Member of Congress about the modern day slave trade and how this bill can help eradicate it in our generation. Sign me up!!

If you are moved by the plight of thousands of young women and girls sold into brothels every year, or by the widow and her starving children whose land has been seized by someone more powerful, or by Indian children in bondage at a brick factory, then I urge you to join with IJM (and with me!) in this endeavor. You can sign up for a meeting here. To read IJM stories of liberation, check out the casework bulletin. (A note of forewarning: these stories are not for the faint of heart! They will leave you moved and deeply convicted to get involved.)

"I take courage—I determine to forget all my other fears, and I march forward with a firmer step in the full assurance that my cause will bear me out, and that I shall be able to justify upon the clearest principles, every resolution in my hand, the avowed end of which is, the total abolition of the slave trade."
William Wilberforce, British Parliamentarian, slave trade abolitionist, and Christian hero

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lenny Kravitz and Celibacy

As I was listening to the radio on my way to work this morning, I heard a plug for an article about Lenny Kravitz. The DJ mentioned that Kratvitz's father, an agnostic Jew, came to know Christ toward the end of his life (y'all know I love a story that includes a Jewish family loving Jesus). What's amazing about the article, written for a UK based paper, is that the reporter was able to talk candidly with Kravitz about a decision he made in 2005 to abstain from sex until he remarries. Obviously, this is a radical choice for anyone, celebrity or not, but especially for this rock icon known for plenty of drug use (he's resolved to quit that, too...).

Here's the hook:

"No one nailed the rock idol act like Lenny Kravitz. Love god, guitar hero, wild thing, he lived the life – multiple women, homes and Grammys. Then he revealed last year that he had been celibate since 2005. The Telegraph visits him at his Bahamian retreat and discovers the roots of his newfound purity."

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

myMISSIONfulfilled Bible Studies, Part II

The second part of my two-part Bible study for myMISSIONfulfilled has just aired. You can read it here. (Read Part I of the study here.) Writing Part II was a convicting adventure for me--I hope the passage challenges you as well!

Thanks for reading and for supporting the site!

With love,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Food for the Hungry in Myanmar

Since I've often mentioned Food for the Hungry here, I thought I'd point you to a post Matt shared with me on John Piper's blog about FH's involvement in Myanmar. Desiring God ministries is helping to mobilize FH support in the area devastated by last year's cyclone, and you can be involved by contributing financially (and by praying!). Read the post.

As a side note, I thought it was interesting that Piper mentions the rat population in Asia as one of the contributing factors to hunger and poverty. I have just finished reading founder of Gospel for Asia K.P. Yohannan's book Revolution in World Missions. (I kept remarking to myself in the margins that "Brother K.P." and Piper would be bff...) Yohannan explains that the problem of hunger in Asia is, above all, a spiritual one. He writes:

"Most people know of the 'sacred cows' that roam free, eating tons of grain while nearby people starve. But a lesser-known and more sinister culprit is another animal protected by religious belief--the rat. According to those who believe in reincarnation, the rat must be protected as a likely recipient for a reincarnated soul on its way up the ladder of spiritual Nirvana. Although many Asians reject this and seek to poison rats, large-scale efforts of extermination have been thwarted by religious outcry. Rats eat or spoil 20 percent of India's food grain every year...Clearly, the agony we see in the faces of those starving children and beggars is actually caused by centuries of religious slavery."

(A tangent to my tangent: I remember having a similar thought about Japan when I wandered through a temple with my host family four years ago. Suddenly I realized that for a nation that claims it is not religious, Japan is actually steeped in idolatry. The presence of Shinto and Bhuddist temples and household shrines prove it. But in Japan, this bondage has brought a harvest of materialism and nationalism rather than poverty...)

I'll be writing more about Yohannan and Gospel for Asia in a coming post...but I thought I'd leave you with that lovely vision of Asian rats today. It has made me, for one, prayerful about how I can contribute to the spiritual and physical needs in Asia. And I'm so thankful for men like Piper and Yohannan who expose the needs to our materially and spiritually saturated American culture...and cause my heart to be a little heavy over my addiction to the saturation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An RV and Unwasted Lives

I met the most amazing couple today at the office. While Mr. J. was seeing the doctor, his wife chatted with me about their life here in Franklin--and everywhere else. They retired from a small town in northern Indiana a few years ago. A desire for increased mobility prompted them to sell their house and buy a motor home in its stead. Now that they've lightened their load, they travel all over the U.S. volunteering for various ministries. This year they helped their Alma Mater refinish its cross country course, made several trips to Louisiana to help with hurricane relief, and traveled internationally to serve with a ministry called TCM in Vienna, Austria.

Talking with them reminded me of John Piper's commentary on the American dream of retirement. In Don't Waste Your Life (one of my all-time favorite Piper books) he writes: "I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader's Digest: A couple 'took early retirement from their jobs in the northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Guda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells...' Picture them before Christ on the great day of judgment. 'Look, Lord. See my shells.' That is a tragedy."

What a stark contrast between the tragic picture Piper paints and the beautiful one lived out by Mr. and Mrs. J! In a few months they will be heading back to Vienna for a three month stint with Taking Christ to the Millions Institute International (TCM), a seminary that trains Eastern Europeans for ministry in their home countries. Pastors and missionaries of all ages come for two weeks at a time to take intensive ministry and theology courses. Because the students come from closed countries where boldly proclaiming the gospel means real hardship, TCM wants Haus Edelweiss, the chalet that houses the school (see picture above), to be a place of rest and retreat. The 500 volunteers who come throughout each school year clean their rooms and cook their meals so that the students can focus on their classes. You can learn more about the program (and find out how you can help!) here.

I loved listening to Mrs. J. talk about her experience serving with TCM last year and how thrilled she and her husband are to be going back. She told me about one man in his 20s. When she was cleaning his room on the day he left, she noticed that he had left behind all of his study materials--notebooks, pens, class handouts. When Mrs. J. rushed to the bus to give him his things, he shook his head and explained that he was not allowed to bring any of them back into his country. He had done his best to memorize the material presented in each lecture over the two week period.

When Mrs. J. finished the story, I was in tears right there at the office. This nameless man from Eastern Europe, a devoted disciple and seminary student, had absolutely shamed me. How often do I take for granted the privelage that it is to be able to read God's word so openly? How lightly do I take my own seminary classes, often skimming the reading or listening half-heartedly to lectures? I am laid low by the plight of these Eastern Europeans who labor for the Gospel in their countries. And I've fallen in love with the mission of TCM. (It helps of course, that the ministry is located in a city I dearly love! Anyone want to organzie a volunteer trip?!)

Most of all, I'm challenged by the example of this dear retired couple who have refused to be slowed down by their age or conquered by the lures of retirement. They live as vagabons, leveraging their possessions, time, and resources for the good of the Kingdom. They make themselves available to go wherever God might send them.

"Whatever you do, find the God-honoring, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life."
--John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bible Studies for myMISSIONfulfilled

This month marked my first shot at writing the Bible studies for, and it was a truly worshipful experience! The first one hit the site today and you can read it here. Stay tuned for the second one, to appear later this month.

Thanks for reading!