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End of Missions (Part 2)

Every Christian should live life with an open Bible and an open map. – William Carey

My great uncle was a missions pioneer. In his role as missions director at a large Christian university he began taking groups to Mexico on missions trips long before it was popular to do so. My dad was a teenager on one of those early trips with his uncle – an experience that forever defined the course of his life.

A week after he married my mom, he even took her along on one of those trips … on an unairconditioned school bus all the way from West Virginia to Mexico. And for the next couple weeks he stayed with the guys and she stayed with the girls. I’m not sure how their marriage survived.

My dad then followed in his uncle’s footsteps taking over that same missions director position and continuing to lead university students on missions trips all over the world. This was the life that I was born into. You could say that missions is in my blood … or so I thought.

Born in 1761, William Carey is known as the “father of modern missions”. His work inspired the missionary greats like Adonairum Judson, Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone.

But what I find interesting about Carey was his frustration with the church and what he perceived as their lack of missions interest. He argued that “Jesus’ Great Commission applied to all Christians of all times”, and he called out fellow believers of his day for ignoring this truth.

Looking back at Carey’s life and words make me question my own views on missions. Is missions really in my blood? Or have I simply made my vocation choice an excuse? And as a church, have we really come so far?

You see, I believe that we have all been taught from an early age what missions is supposed to be about. If you are like me then you grew up with the images of our own missionary greats lining our church halls – people who made great sacrifices to go to the ends of the earth.

Some of the best people I know are full-time missionaries on foreign soil and deserve to be honored and celebrated. But somehow in the process we have made it a choice to be a “missionary” instead of a commission applied to all Christians at all times.

We have made it a choice “to go” instead of a mandate to live “on mission” everyday.

To really simplify it, perhaps we are all called to be “missionaries” – we simply have a choice of where we live.

You see, the lines of missions are now blurred more than ever. It must be so much more than a choice to go on a trip once a year or a committee to serve on, or an annual conference to attend.

This is the Christian life that we have all been called to.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/missionaries/william-carey.html

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End of Missions (part 1)

Missions is not simply a choice to go on a trip once a year or a committee to be on at church … our work and perspective should go way beyond that. This is the Christian life that we have all been called to. 

 

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How Rescue Taught Me to Live

When the life of a baby is hanging in the balance, things become extremely clear and nothing else matters.

It does not matter how hot it is, or how far you had to hike. It does not matter how far you had to drive to even find this child. It doesn’t matter how thirsty you are or how much you desperately long for clean clothes and a good shower.

No, none of that matters. All that matters is getting that child the help they so desperately need and giving them a second chance at life.

There is something about “rescue” … the literal act of rescue … that simplifies life for me. “Rescue” helps me focus in on the one … and everything else simply fades away.

But what I have also found is that in some ways, “rescue” is easier “over there”- in those places where poverty is abundant, where the cares of the day are much more intense, but in some ways simpler and far less complicated. It’s literally life and death.

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Coming home – well, that is a different story. There are meetings, and deadlines …. practices and parties … grocery stores and laundry.

And before you know it, your life is so full that the people in our lives who desperately need to be rescued are hidden. There is simply no space or margins to even see them. Life is too complicated and most days nothing is clear or simple.

I heard a story on the news earlier this year about a group of castaways whose boat capsized at sea and they ended up washed up on the shore of a deserted island. They spelled out the word “HELP” in big letters on the beach with leaves and branches. The sign led to their rescue when a pilot spotted it from the air. This story caught my attention right away and in some way seemed so unrealistic. It sounded more like an episode from Gilligan’s Island instead of real life.

I wondered, today, with all of our progress and technology in the world, do people still cry out for help by spelling it out on the beach?

And then I thought that just like that pilot, we are all flying around in our planes. We are safe and already rescued ourselves. And if we are not careful, we will simply miss the signs.

We will fly from one destination to the other, in our hurried lives, forgetting why we were rescued in the first place – forgetting that we are on a rescue mission everyday – forgetting that we are rescued to rescue.

Rescuing babies from the mountains of Guatemala, and the slums of Uganda and Haiti has taught me so much about how to live here at home. Yes, you still have to live your life and do your daily tasks. We have to go to work and take care of our families.

But, when you view your life through the lens of “rescue” things can become quite clear. The truth is, we are on a rescue mission every day. And people all around us are crying out for help, spelling it out on the beaches of their life any way that they can.

We are rescued to rescue. That is why we are here and that is the good news that we have to share. The same God who rescued me can rescue you.

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Every Child Deserves the Opportunity to Thrive. That’s Why I Support Child Sponsorship.

A few years ago, Kevin Durant delivered a memorable speech when he received the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.

Durant looked towards the audience and smiled at his single-mother-of-two, and said, “You woke me up in the middle of the night in the summertime and made me run up the hill, made me do push ups, screamed at me from the sidelines of my games at 8 or 9 years old.”

He continued as tears filled his eyes, “we weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street, put clothes on our back, food on the table. You’re the real MVP.”

Every child needs — deserves — this type of love. Yet, not every child gets it. Instead, turmoil plagues the lives of millions of innocent children throughout the world.

Read the rest here.

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Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

A doctor travels far into a remote area of Thailand to visit a hill tribe where the people of the village anxiously await his arrival. Medical help of any kind rarely reaches this community and this doctor is offering free health care services. This is something they could have never dreamed of.

 

When the doctor arrives he lines all the teen girls up in the village. He examines them one by one. While the families wait nearby, thankful that their daughters are the recipients of such wonderful care, the doctor is secretly examining the girls to see which ones are still virgins. He then picks his favorite and tells the family he needs to take the young girl to Bangkok where she can receive more extensive medical care.

 

The family trusts this doctor who appears kind and benevolent and sends their daughter off … not knowing it could be the last time they would ever see her.

Once the doctor reaches Bangkok, he continues his residency at a local hospital – all while holding his new captive as his sex slave.

Shocking. Seriously disturbing. Infuriating.

These are just a few words that describe my feelings as I heard this true story.

 

It’s stories like this that can at times make me feel overwhelmed. It’s just too much for my head to get around … too much evil … too much darkness.

 

Even in my line of work, with all that I have seen and experienced over the years, there are still stories that get me. There are still issues that just seem too much. And at times, I just want to turn away and focus on something easier.

 

We have all heard this phrase, right? “God will never give us more than we can bear”. Seems like I have heard that all my life. My favorite variation of this phrase was reportedly from Mother Teresa, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

 

And, that has in some ways been my motto for many years. My work is hard and pushes my emotions at times to the point that I literally think I might snap. But, I always knew it would never be too much … or more than I could handle … or so I thought.

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But this year God has been teaching me that it is simply not true.

What I am learning is that God often, and in most cases does just that – gives us more than we could ever handle on our own.

The #2weeks2rescue campaign is bigger than anything I could ever do on my own. And to be honest, there might have been a small part of me that thought I was crazy trying to raise $66,000 in just two weeks.

But, I simply could not turn away. Not from stories like this one and the hundreds and thousands more – young girls desperate to be rescued.

It’s true. God has given me more than I can handle. But as my pastor recently said, “You will be given more than you can handle, but you will not be given more than He can handle through you.”

As I sit here with just 3 days left in this campaign, I am reminded that this is not about me, and it is not about you.

It’s about what God can do through all of us … together.

From the Field : Video Update

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Justice For All

The word “justice” has been intriguing me for some time now. It is often misunderstood, and it is a word that can bring both fear and hope. I think many people are confused about what justice means. Some think of it simply in legal terms as someone getting what they deserve, justice being served in a courtroom.

In fact, one of my favorite shows right now is a real-life documentary about a particular murder case. Maybe you are familiar with the current Netflix hit, “Making a Murderer”. There are two sides to this real life story about a man supposedly convicted of not one, but two murders. Some people claim he is innocent and the whole thing has been a conspiracy. Others, mainly those in the governmental legal system, clearly have decided he is guilty of the crimes. They believe that justice has been served. Whether he is in fact innocent or guilty, I’m not sure. But justice -true, pure, non-corrupt- like we see in the Bible is meant to bring hope and restoration.

As Christians we should desire to see justice carried out all over the world. This isn’t a desire for violence or retaliation, it’s a desire to put things back in order, to restore what has gone wrong.

In fact, the abandonment of justice produces insecurity and violence, deterioration in the quality of life, corrupt governments, and suffering of those who have the least.[1]

Imagine with me, if you will, a river. Not just any river, but a powerful river. This river is charging down from the top of a huge mountain. Imagine the force of the water breaking through boulders, trees, and debris at an unstoppable pace. Nothing can hold it back. Nothing can keep it from continuing its endless journey. This is what justice looks like in the Bible.

it’s a desire to put things back in order, to restore what has gone wrong

The book of Amos says that justice should “roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (5:24 NIV). So justice should continue always and never disappoint, grow tired, or weaken. Justice should roll. The rest of this passage tells us something else equally important:

I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions, I want nothing to do with your religion projects, Your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fundraising schemes, Your public relations and image making, I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music, When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

(Amos 5:23-24, The Message)

We go to church every week, we attend Christian conferences and events, and we sing our songs of praise. And all the while we forget to be a mighty flood of justice to those in need.

Justice is important to God and reflects his character. As Timothy Keller says, “God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice.’”[2] In fact, it has been said that when we deny justice, we are actually hiding God’s beauty from the world.”[3]

If justice is really all about making things right again, then justice is all about restoration. You don’t have to look far for a place to let justice roll: a hurting neighbor, a homeless man outside the grocery store, a couple going through a divorce, a friend mourning the loss of a loved one, a hungry child halfway around the world, or an entire country nearly destroyed by genocide. Opportunities for restoring hope through justice are all around us.

In order for justice to be served, we have to be willing to move from guilt to action. Jim Palmer says,

You’d have to be comatose not to feel God’s hurt and anger ooze from the pages of Scripture over the oppression of the weak and vulnerable…I can’t seem to get away from the fact that the main message of God to his people about injustice is to get off our rear ends and do something! This goes way deeper than feeling guilty about doing more; I’m trying to figure out how I got to the place where the things that break the heart of God are so marginal to mine. [4]

It is time once again for justice to roll like a mighty river. It is time for us to slow down long enough to see the world around us…to wake up to the real world.

Justice may not always come in the legal sense, but things can be made right again. Restoration can begin. Wrongs can be made right and hope can be restored. True justice can be served.

I heard it said recently that we are not saved from good works but we are saved for good works. And as God is sorting out all the brokenness in the world, He is calling us to help Him put things right- restore hope.

As Christ followers, isn’t that what our lives are really about? Jesus heals, rescues, restores, and redeems- that’s our one hope and the only story we have to share.

And isn’t that what justice is all about- a biblical form of justice? A justice that doesn’t just give people what they deserve but a justice that rights wrongs and restores hope.

You see if we are not living our lives Awake, restoring hope and pursuing justice… then I don’t think God cares that much about all this other stuff we are doing to make ourselves look good- our singing, our meetings, our conferences…no none of those things are bad in and of themselves, but without justice….they mean nothing.

That’s why pursuing justice is so important. We are offering people a glimpse of an eternal hope. Where justice thrives, so does hope.

[1] Isaiah ‪1:21-23: God’s Justice, NIV Bible

[2] Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, 4.

[3] Ibid.,9.

[4] Palmer, Divine Nobodies, 146.

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From the Field | The House of Palms

I’ll never forget pulling up to the House of Palms—World Help’s partner program in India—after traveling for miles through remote villages. The sun was just rising and it showered a soft, warm light over the property.

The House of Palms is in the heartland of Indian Banchara communities and is a safe haven for girls who would otherwise enter into the Banchara tradition of child prostitution. Through sponsorship, they now have a life-changing alternative as each girl receives an education that will transform her future.

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As we walked up to the building, girls of all ages ran to greet us, throwing bright marigold garlands over our shoulders and grinning from ear to ear.

Later at a reception ceremony, the girls recited Bible verses and treated us to traditional dances. Then they sang a song that seemed to explain everything…

“Because Jesus loves me, I can dance and sing.”

This was missing from the Banchara communities—the radical love of Christ that gives us freedom to live, move, and have our being. Instead, the Banchara are enslaved to demoralization and shame. The difference was like night and day.

While there, I spoke with 15-year-old Sanu who barely escaped the sex industry. The staff at House of Palms accepted her as their own family, and helped restore a sense of God-given value in her life. Since arriving, she’s become a Christ follower and has blossomed into a natural leader.

This remarkable young woman now wants to become a police officer to fight corruption and protect the Banchara. Take a minute to hear more of her courageous story.

Sanu is one of the fortunate ones to have escaped the Banchara’s 500-year tradition of child prostitution. Especially considering her mother and aunt have been involved in the trade since they were young teenagers. In fact, I spoke with Sanu’s aunt Pinky who told me the devastating story of how she entered the trade.

Pinky’s older sister was in the industry and helped provide for the family. After a while, she pressured Pinky to do the same. She could earn 10 times the amount as a sex worker than she could working as a field laborer.

Today, Pinky has spent half of her life in the sex trade and must sell herself every day to support her three young children. All the while, she runs the risk of contracting HIV and suffering abuse at the hands of her clients. She doesn’t have an education or any skills and worries about what she’ll do when she’s too old for the industry.

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 “The path to the sex industry is not straight for these women. It’s not one step. It’s taken step-by-step. It starts with exposure and abuse, then they try it once or twice, and then they’re stigmatized by their community and remain in the industry.” –Susheil, Community Development Coordinator.

I asked Pinky what her hope for the future was, and she said something that struck me.

“Hope is found in the next generation of children who are educated and don’t need to live this lifestyle.”

She understands that with the right resources, her children can be the generation to end the Banchara tradition. It’s not that these people are ignorant to the degradation of sex trafficking . . . It’s that poverty leaves them no choice.

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Word has spread among the Banchara about the House of Palms, and hundreds of parents are desperate to give their children an alternate lifestyle through education, far from the sex industry.

And yet this incredible facility is already bursting at the seams with students. World Help is currently working to expand the campus to accommodate an influx of at-risk children. Construction plans are in motion, but we simply can’t grow at the rate needed without help.

Please consider partnering with us to lift the Banchara from their cultural dependence on sex for survival. It starts by equipping Pinky’s children and giving more girls, like Sanu, the chance to dream about their future.

Togetherwe can share the radical love of Christ, give hope, and infuse joy. We can give these children a reason to sing and dance.

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From the Field | An Alternative for Banchara Girls

The Banchara are an impoverished tribal group that make up part of India’s lowest-caste system. But they’re known specifically for one thing: child prostitution.

I know. Your knee-jerk reaction after reading that was probably the same as mine. How can this be?

As appalling as it is, this practice is a 500-year-old tradition among the Banchara community. Customarily, the first daughter is groomed from a young age to enter the sex industry, typically when she reaches 12 years old. What started as a tradition, has now developed into a cultural norm; every Banchara girl falls victim to the pressures of joining the sex industry. It’s considered her duty to support the family. Some even build rooms outside of their homes where their daughters can work with clients.

These girls and young women are totally exploited, but abject poverty and social hierarchies lead them to believe there’s no other way to survive.

In their lifetimes, 50 percent of these women will contract HIV, and all of them will suffer physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Tradition excludes them from marrying within the community, which means they will literally have to rely on prostitution to survive . . . a life sentence of trauma.

 

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I spoke with a woman named Uma who was forced into the sex trade by her family when she was 14 years old. As the oldest girl with four brothers, she was seen as their financial security and a way to pay for the dowry for their wives, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000.

On average, Uma makes just $10 a day and will spend the rest of her life earning the money to pay these debts.

After 18 years in the industry, she’s also HIV-positive. She continues to work and risks infecting others, but without a husband or children to care for her, she sees no other choice. She has never had the luxury of dreaming of a better life.

Uma’s story was a dramatic contrast to that of Nilam’s, another young Banchara woman I met. Despite pressure from family and peers, Nilam’s parents vowed she wouldn’t enter the industry—an extremely rare decision among this community.

But the alternative was a difficult one. Nilam’s parents wouldn’t have a steady source of income like the rest of the Banchara families, and there was no guarantee they could pay for her schooling.

Then hope came in the form of sponsorship.

Through World Help’s partner program, the House of Palms, Nilam received an education and found safety from the pressures of the sex trade. In this loving environment, she also came to know Christ.

 

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Today, this bright young woman is in nursing school and wants to return to her community to provide physical, mental, and spiritual healing to victims of the sex trade—many of her own peers.

She told us she feels like she escaped a “living hell” when she sees what her childhood friends are still going through today.

Nilam’s escape from the sex industry is an example for families that rely on their daughters for income. Slowly but surely, they’re awakening to the long-term implications of education over prostitution.

And this kind of investment—this paradigm shift—is absolutely critical to transforming Banchara communities from the inside out.

“Where there used to be only darkness, there is now light. There is hope. Children growing up in the Banchara had no chance at another life, but now their home is here. There’s a light.” – Ramchand, National Indian Partner

I urge you to consider taking action for the sake of these young girls and women.

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You may be wondering . . . Where do I even start?

Start by impacting one life at a time with help and hope. Your gift of any amount today will allow us to do exactly that through immediate and preventative care. And by meeting physical needs, you also open doors for World Help to care for spiritual needs.

With every girl rescued, we step closer to the transformation of an entire communityThat’s what help and hope is all about.

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