Haiti: Six Months Later

The world seemed to stand still for a moment 6 months ago when a powerful earthquake rumbled its way through the tiny country of Haiti and destroying everything in its path. My friend Stuart was there. You can read and see more of Stuart in Haiti during that time here. Newspapers wrote about it and Stuart witnessed that God is very active in Haiti among the Haitian survivors. Below is a recent article Stuart wrote for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, student magazine Contact. (Stuart and I became friends while students at the seminary). How cool it would be if the country known for so long now as the poorest in the western hemisphere, will now and forever be known as God's country!

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What is the Gospel?

Five years ago at this time, I was in Moldova.  On reflecting on that time, I rememered this blog I wrote a couple years ago. How would you answer the question "What is the Gospel?"

I spent 6 weeks in the country of Moldova during the summer of 2005. Moldova is a former Soviet State that now finds itself struggling to survive in the aftermath of the fall of communism. With 80% of its population living in poverty and 2/3 of the remaining 20% living out of the country simply to find work, Moldova is a country with great need. I spent a lot of time there with young people and almost every youth I talked to, desired to leave Moldova. When asked why they did not want to stay to change the way things were being done, they almost always answered, “It is hopeless to try.” Unfortunately, the state of mass hopelessness does exist in Moldova. I saw it in the lives of those living in the urban city of Chisinau, as well as those families struggling to make a living in the rural farm lands nearby. I have never seen a more hopeless people than when in Moldova.

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Could the iPhone be Fueling a War in Africa?

NY Times journalist, Nicholas D. Kristof, wrote an article published in today’s paper he titled Death by Gadget. It’s a timely article in light of the release of the latest iPhone. Would you believe that by purchasing the iPhone and most electronics, for that matter,  you might be funding one of the deadliest wars in history?

Kristof has this to say about the conflict in Congo:

I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.
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World Refugee Day

Yesterday was World Refugee Day.

Reuters AlertNet, a humanitarian news source, has, over the past couple months, been covering stories of the worlds displaced individuals. According to John Holmes, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 27.1 million people were displaced within their own countries in 2009 and it’s looking as if we see an even high number in 2010. There were 43.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world in 2009 - the highest number since the mid-1990s. All over the world (US included) people are torn from their homes due to natural disasters, war, conflict, human trafficking, loss of income, etc.

The video here is about a tribe in northern Columbia that is right now facing the possibility of being uprooted from their home due to threatening conflict.

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The World Cup at Night

ESPN has a done an impressive job of heightening the concerns of human trafficking centered around the current World Cup games in S. Africa. This series of videos (there are 3) they have released are worthy of view. Please check them out and learn about the after hours when the games end for the day. It's unbelievable what is taking place there.

Check out the videos here.

Is Ignorance Really Bliss? I'm Not So Sure

As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.” I can’t help but wonder though, “is it really?”

I used to pride myself on my travels to developing countries. I felt cultured and well rounded; experienced ya know?

I had tea with the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I helped build 6 homes in 4 days in Tecate, Mexico. I spent 6 weeks in the Eastern European country Moldova by myself. In Romanian I hung out with gypsy children and sewer kids. In Malawi I held abandoned infants and walked miles through villages with teenager head of households. In South Africa I watched the sun rise while on Safari.

I’ve gained a lot through those travels. I learned a lot. I grew a lot as a person and as a person who believes in the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for those times spent in foreign lands and among foreign people. I have witnessed both pain and joy within every people group I have been among.

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Reading Acts

In June 2004, I moved to the beautiful North Shore of Massachusetts from the South West coast of California. I knew one person who was living there at the time and I did not know her well. Jamie had been in the area less than a year herself. We had met at a mutual friend’s house only 6 months earlier. As is the case with any move, I was feeling a bit homesick those first few months in my new state.  

I remember whining to Jamie about my feelings of loneliness and about how I didn’t know what to do with so much time on my hands. And I did have a lot of free time. I went from socialite, party hopper in California to loner in a state where the people had quirky accents and who frowned upon SUV’s, which of course I drove. I was feeling like an outsider for the first time in my life.  
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Slavery in America: Prostitutes or Slaves?

When I first began writing about slavery in America, I identified the different types of slavery that exist today. In posts past, I have talked a bit about domestic slavery, bonded labor slavery, I've brought attention to some organizations who are combating slavery today and I have mentioned just briefly what the Bible has to say about injustice and slavery. There is however, a component to modern day slavery that I have been somewhat hesitant to write on. Hesitant because I am really unqualified to speak about it intelligently and because it's an area where there remains in debate.

By the title of this blog you know I am talking about the sexual exploitation of children happening in America that unfortunately makes up a vast majority of the prostitution in our city streets. 

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Not For Sale: A Book Review

I am not for sale
You are not for sale
No one should be for sale

These are the final words found in the book Not For Sale. Author David Batstone takes the readers on a journey around the world as he unveils the reality of slavery on 5 continents.

Batstone successfully communicated the massive and global crisis of the modern day slave trade while at the same time, narrowing it down into the lives of individuals; both those who are slavery survivors and those who have dedicated their lives to the rescue of slaves.

Batstone tells the story of Srey Neang, a Cambodian girl who was sold into sex slavery and eventually rescued by Swiss born Pierre Tami. And then there is Maya and her husband Ajay, one of five couples who were deceived into forced bondage labor in Southeast Asia. Batstone continues with stories of children solders under the wicked power of rebel leader Joseph Kony. He also tells the stories of a World Vision refugee camp that is home to thousands of ex-child solders and sex slaves. He then moves on to South America where he unearths the problem of thousands of children who find themselves on the streets of Lima, Peru and in the most vulnerable state, making it far too easy for perpetrators to snatch them up.
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The Importance of the Rule of Law

The May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs – one of the world’s most respected and widely read international policy journals – features an article co-authored by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros, an IJM-friend and Federal Prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The article, entitled “And Justice for All: Enforcing Human Rights for the World’s Poor,” is dedicated to discussing IJM’s “collaborative casework” model – working with local law enforcement to enhance public justice systems – and is supported by powerful casework examples.

The article is available for purchase on the Foreign Affairs website and is really helpful in understanding the importance of the rule of law when it comes to ending slavery. Here is a summary of the article:

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I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.