14 Stats That Show the Devastating Reality of Modern-Day Slavery

Human trafficking is a silent industry giant. Across the world, millions of people are trafficked each year by complex systems of criminal organizations, relatives, abusive partners and corrupt migrant smugglers. Modern-day slavery may not look obvious. Some of the most vulnerable victims are lured into slavery through the promise of jobs and fair wages. Unfortunately, the criminals who pose as employers often seize the paperwork of the victims they capture, who are often far from home and their families, not allowing them to return.

Modern-day slavery affects women and children the most. Clearly, this epidemic isn’t going anywhere without people across the world taking action against allowing it to thrive in our local communities. Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day and here are 14 facts that you might not know about this issue as it exists in our world in 2017:
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How Youth Like Me Learn Expressive Individualism

Kids today are growing up in a compulsively connected world. Information is incessant, smartphones are ubiquitous, and with a click or a tap young people have 24/7 access to a never-ending digital conversation.

Of course, such connectivity comes at a cost. Much of this information is pumped out by an agenda-driven media with a message of their own—a message that sounds good, nice even, but is inherently poisonous. It is becoming louder, stronger, and constant. And young people are drinking it in.

This is the message of expressive individualism—the belief, Tim Keller explains, that “identity comes through self-expression, through discovering one’s most authentic desires and being free to be one’s authentic self.”

This is the follow-your-heart, believe-in-yourself, chase-your-dreams, Disney-Hallmark-MTV gospel. It is the catechism of our culture. It is what our youth are learning. You are the creator of your identity. You are free—even obligated—to be whomever or whatever makes you feel good, no matter what anyone says.

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Human Trafficking and a Dress

When I first heard about Dressember I was skeptical…I even laughed. “How can wearing a dress stop human trafficking?” I asked. Quickly, however, I had a change of heart. The more I learned about human trafficking the more I realized I could not stand still, and Dressember provided a simple way to advocate for something much greater than a dress.

Dressember exists “to inspire and empower a global community” and “to face one of the greatest injustices of our time.”

How does it do this? Well, for each of  the 31 days of Dressember, thousands of women across the globe wear a dress. By doing so they raise awareness, start the conversation about the reality of human trafficking, and raise money for the International Justice Mission and A21, which are two organizations that seek to fight modern day slavery.

Modern day slavery includes slave labor (such as brick kilns and mines) sex slavery (in brothels and on the internet). The conditions are often brutal and harsh, and many die in captivity. Their captors often beat them, abuse them, and prevent them from gaining an education. Ages of slaves range from children to the elderly, including 22% of those in the sex trade being minors.

I have now participated in Dressember twice. The first time I remember thinking that it would be easy, but in reality it was a burden. Sure, it was annoying to not wear pants, but what was the most burdensome thing about it was that it was a constant reminder of those who are in slavery. Every time I put on a dress I thought about the reality that 45 million people are held against their will. I thought about the girl that was being sold for sex at that very moment. I couldn’t get the image of brick laborers working 18 hours a day without pay out of my head. Wearing a dress was a daily reminder for me, and it made me aware of the injustice that millions of people live in.

Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil if for good men to do nothing.”

So where does that leave us? How can we contribute?  I will finish with 3 things to consider.

  1. Educate yourself and start the conversation about human trafficking. The more I researched and learned about human trafficking, the more I realized how great of an issue it is. Find websites, like ijm.org, that contain information and facts. Read books about the issue of human trafficking. Learn about the victims and their stories. Educate yourself.
  2. Spend yourself. Give to worthy organizations like Dressember, IJM, and A21 that make a difference .  Volunteer at local human trafficking safe homes and organizations that are around you. You will be surprised about how many opportunities there actually are! (P.S. if you feel led to give to my Dressember page, you can do so  here)
  3. Pray for those involved and their salvation. The victims need freedom in every capacity of their lives. Pray that they will feel the love of God even amidst such evil. Pray for their restoration. Pray for healing. I also challenge you to pray for the captors, that they will see the evil that they are doing and turn from the darkness of slavery.  Lastly, pray for those who see human trafficking yet choose to say nothing. Pray that they will not turn a blind eye because it is convenient, but that they will stand up for the oppressed.

Thank you for reading this and I hope this proves to be helpful. Remember that “The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit“. (Psalm 34:18)

 -Hope Campbell

 

 

4 Ideas Changing Church for the Better

It’s not about the lights or the coffee station.

Diversity Friends Meeting Coffee Shop Brainstorming Concept
Many young people are drawn to churches that are more like family rooms than theaters and that invite young people not just to share beliefs, but to share life. Rachel Held Evans said it well in Searching for Sunday—millennials “aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity … we’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity … No coffee shops or fog machines required.”

Or as one 20-something in our study reflected, it’s one thing to watch a worship performance—anyone can do that online. In contrast, “The internet can’t help you move to your new apartment. Only a close community will do that.”

We agree.
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Executing Grace

In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, Shane Claiborne,  the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty.

The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for convicted prisoners? In this thought-provoking work, Shane Claiborne explores the issue of the death penalty and the contrast between punitive justice and restorative justice, questioning our notions of fairness, revenge, and absolution.

Using an historical lens to frame his argument, Claiborne draws on testimonials and examples from Scripture to show how the death penalty is not the ideal of justice that many believe. Not only is a life lost, so too, is the possibility of mercy and grace. In Executing Grace, he reminds us of the divine power of forgiveness, and evokes the fundamental truth of the Gospel—that no one, even a criminal, is beyond redemption.

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT WORSHIP SONGS

worship

Why do we sing in church?

Is it because it’s fun? Because it’s tradition? Because it feels good?

It may be all of these things for some of us, but this is not why we do it. We sing in church because the New Testament commands us to.

Twice.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Ephesians 5:18-21

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”

– Colossians 3:16

From these two brief passages we learn at least five key truths about God’s intentions for our musical worship:

  1. Every member is commanded to sing out loud, not just a select few.
  2. We are to be taught and admonished through our congregational singing.
  3. We are to sing various types of songs.
  4. Our singing is to be motivated by gratitude to God for who he is and what he’s done.
  5. Our singing in this way is an expression of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

With these five truths in mind, the worship leader can choose songs with intentionality, aiming to help the congregation obey Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. Below are 5 guidelines that will help in that process.

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