Monday, July 29, 2013

Fighting Sex Trafficking in a Small Way

A news headline released today reads “FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raid

And another:
Fresno girl rescued in national child-sex trafficking sweep

That’s right. Today's headlines: Human & sex trafficking literally in our backyard.

Heart breaking and gut wrenching. But can I be honest? I am paralyzed with what I’m supposed to do about it. Or at least I was . . .

Last year I read that majority of sex trafficking victims are between the ages of 12-16. 80% are from foster care homes. SO my response to my husband was “let’s buy a huge house and foster as many young girls as we can”. Because that will solve the problem, right?

I realized that there are many non-profits out there fighting to help victims of modern day slavery. But what about me? What am I supposed to do? And I literally asked the LORD “What If I never start a non-profit, will I still be able to help? What if I help in a quiet, small way, will you be pleased? Will that be good enough?” It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true!

Because in today’s Christian Culture if you’re not doing something big and loud, your challenged with the feeling of not doing enough.

And that’s when the LORD opened my eyes to the need right before me, right where I already was.

I teach in South Central Fresno. I was working with a lot of 6th graders toward the end of this past school year. I was standing before a class of over thirty 11-13 year olds when I realized, THIS IS IT. THEY ARE THE STATISTIC. I’m looking at a group of kids who are entering the age when most children become victims of sex trafficking. I’m looking at children who already know school is hard, failure is an option, and the opportunity to take the bait is just around the corner.

Or quite frankly, already in their neighborhood. Young men starting to groom young girls. Girls craving the attention. And no one to watch out for them. And I’m watching it all happen.

I realized I may never start a non-profit or foster every single girl between the ages of 12-16 in Fresno County, but I can do something. It’s no accident that I work where I work, with whom I work, and I know I was put in these kids lives for a reason.

So here’s my little part I’m doing to help fight sex trafficking in my city, prevent teen pregnancy, high school drop out, etc.

I’m spending time with six 12 year old girls about to go into 7th grade.
That’s it.

One day a week, I hangout with 7th graders. All my former students. I pick them up on Fridays and we get lunch, or grab Jamba Juice, or go to movies, and talk about life. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, nothing big. Just 6 small relationships that take up part of a Friday afternoon.

I may never start a non-profit organization, but I will be intentional right where the LORD has placed me. I will be a friend and a mentor, I will show them a different way of life, and be a listening ear. And I will PRAY FOR THEM, A LOT. They’re going into 7th grade, with more freedom and less supervision. And I want them to know God wants more for their life than what the world (or the hood) has to offer.

Some of these girls don’t have father figures, some have parents who work long hours in the fields, some are being raised by older siblings. I don’t know who influences their life, but I DO know I want to be one of them. I want them to have a different kind of life. And I certainly don’t want to read about these girls becoming a statistic in a newspaper article.

I write that as tears well up in my eyes, because it could happen. It is happening. And I want to be faithful to do my little part to stop it.

Have you ever considered your part? Are there things around that you can get involved in today? Are there burdens on your heart and injustices that you want to fight? Do you get overwhelmed, feeling like you can’t do enough? Whether it’s big or small, have you considered doing something?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It Never Starts There . . .

I’m sitting here preparing to teach a class tomorrow for ladies who are a part of a program called “Samaritan Women” through the Fresno Rescue Mission. Samaritan women is a program for women who are coming out of incarceration or drug addiction and are trying to get their lives back on track.

And to me, there is no greater place to start, no better 3 chapters of the bible to teach when talking to women who have messed up, than the Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew 5-7, Jesus lays out his longest sermon, his most detailed lesson, on what a disciple is and how to inherit the kingdom.

Many of these women in the program have done terrible things in the past (which is how they ended up in jail). And many of these women have had terrible things done to them. So when they first enter this program, much of their heart is unlearning things they’ve been taught all of their life and relearning God and His kind of life.

You can see the struggle to embrace forgiveness. You can see the unbelief in their hearts to hear about a Redeemer who is strong and a Shepherd that is good. About a God who is sovereign, and grace that is offered freely, and an abundant life that is given.

They know their past. They know God has seen them on their best day and on their worst day. And the offer of free salvation seems too good to be true. Until you start showing them the upside down Kingdom of Jesus.

It occurred to me as I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus never tells us to start our relationship with Him in perfection.

He tells us it starts in poverty.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

He never tells us eternal life starts with our own righteousness, but by seeking Him and His righteousness.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

He doesn’t tell us it starts by keeping the law, He tells us He fulfills the law.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

It can’t be in keeping the law. Because his law tells us not to murder, and Moses, David, and Paul were all murderers! That’s right! Men who wrote majority of the bible, some of my favorite authors, were murderers. Murderers who inherited the Kingdom.

And I can’t wait to tell them that! If you think what you have done is too far for God to forgive, know that not only does he let murderers into the kingdom, he lets them write the Book ON the kingdom.

These women have not committed murder (though one did stab her husband in the face, and somehow he survived) but they did do things that broke the law. They understand what it’s like to be broken beyond repair. They understand what it’s like to be bound by shame, guilt, and sin.

And I can’t wait to tell them they don’t have to be for one minute longer.


And just as Jesus told his disciples during his sermon that day, you do not have to be “good enough” to inherit the kingdom. You just have to be poor and humble and repentant.

"For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:16-17)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Not All Christians are Homophobic

Not all Christians are homophobic.
Not all are moral police.
Not all are republican.
Not all own guns.
Not all are right wing. Or left wing.
Some don't even have wings.

Some are just as appalled by the big church buildings too.
Some are writers, artists, and thinkers.
Some are beer drinkers. (#rhyme)
Some have tattoos.
Some even let their kids go to public school.
A few are even liberal vegetarians who long for immigration reform and social justice.

Unfortunately, the news just portrays the loudest Christians like the ones who protest people’s funerals and write words of hate on posters and yell at people.

And I realize that because I call myself a Christian, I am immediately labeled that way.


And so I’m asking from any of you who think that way of me, please don’t.
Please don’t label me, just as I won’t label you.
Please don’t place me into a box of a few big and loud voices, when there are thousands of others who I really associate with but their voices are just quiet and small.

I’m sorry for the way others have portrayed Jesus and the church.
I fear the voices you may hear most often are those who call themselves Christians without really following Christ.

Please give us grace as we try to follow the Greatest Teacher that ever lived, who had compassion on us, rescued us, and renewed us. We are not perfect, we are just followers. We are figuring things out along the way.

We are learning what it’s like to love without condition.
And sometimes we mess up.

That's why we are so fond of grace. And ask for some from you too.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why I Never Used to Read Women Authors

Until recently, I really didn’t read any women authors at all. I just couldn’t. I’m not the kind of gal who would read a book written on how to “get it all done” or “be a better housewife in 5 days” or “dieting for Jesus”, etc.

I just couldn’t.

I couldn’t read topical stuff about homemaking, baking, laundry, self-help, positive thinking, or “how to organize your life” books that were disguised as “Christian literature”. And that’s what I thought a lot of women’s Christian writing was all about.

And I wanted the meat! (Which is ironic because I’m a vegetarian).

I wanted the good stuff. The stuff that makes me think, study, seek, move, act, and love God more. I want to read stuff that makes me understand the bible more, that deepens my understanding of God, that refines me, shapes me, challenges me, and encourages me.

And it seems like there is a rise in Christian women who write well beyond the daily grind of life. They write UP. They write about God. They write about theology, knowing Christ more. They write with honesty about trust, doubt, fear, insecurity, joy all in relation to their greatest relationship, Jesus.


Women writing about Imago Dei, leadership, teaching, biblical literacy, doubt, fear, discipleship . . . THE GOOD STUFF!

See for yourself. Here are some of my favorite women writers and bible teachers sharing their gifts and spurring other women on to do the same.

Jen Wilkin (on biblical literacy) “The Next Beth Moore”

Sarah Bessey (on women in leadership) “In Which Jezebel Gives Way to Deborah”

Jennie Allen (starting a new movement of women who want to change the world)
"If Gathering"

Jen Hatmaker (on social justice and reaching the lost) “And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak”

Kelly Minter (on serving Jesus in the quiet and small) “Quiet and Small, It’s Okay”

Ann Voskamp (on women rising up to live like God is real) “The Esther Generation”

Lisa-Jo Baker (on comparing, competing, and insecurity) “The [un]Truth About Cliques”

Jo Saxton (on women leading in the church) "You Can't Be What You Can't See"