13 Yr. Old Prince has a Dream for Congo

Have you ever thought about what you might say if you drafted your own version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, I Have a Dream speech? What dreams do you have? What hopes do you have for yourself and for your community?

 

Prince lives in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Four years ago, Prince, who is one of many street kids born in a war zone and living on the streets, asked my friend Esther if she could help him go to school. Now 13 years old, Prince and his classmates recently studied the life of Martin Luther King Jr. This past November, Prince stood in front of his class and recited MLKJ’s I Have a Dream speech. As he finished, his classmates applauded and Esther told him he did a great job and that he could take a seat again.

 

Prince stood there in front of the class. He hesitated for only a moment and then said, “But that was MLKJ’s dream for America. I have a dream for Congo.”

 
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January: National Slavery Awareness Month

January is National Slavery Awareness Month. In fact, tomorrow, January 11th, is National Slavery Awareness Day. I know, I know. It's hard to believe slavery still exists today, especially in America where slavery was abolished back in Abe Lincolns day. Wiliam Wilberforce spent 26 years of his life to get the Slave Trade Act of 1807 in place abolishing England's slave trade.

Yet long after the days of the honest President and the philanthropist Willberforce, slavery or human trafficking is the second largest grossing industry in the world. National Geographic estimates there are roughly 27 million people are held captive as slaves around the world, approximately 1 million of those are living in the States. 

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DR Congo: Heaven has Come to Hell on Earth

It happened again. This time it was 33 women.  While people around the world celebrated the beginning of a new year and the hope of change in 2011, 33 women in Eastern Congo went through hell on earth as armed men took their turns raping and brutalizing their bodies, some in front of their children. Chaos erupted and sent residents of the village attacked on a running spree.

In Eastern Congo, in the surrounding areas of the city Goma, which sits along Lake Kivu on the boarder of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, rape is used as a weapon of war. This war has been raging in this area for 15 years. The result? Over 5 million violent deaths, countless rapes, a nonexistent education system and a lack of trusted, secure government officials. This is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII.

Fortunately, Jesus is alive and on the move in the midst of the devil’s playground in Congo. Fortunately God has eyes and sees what’s taking place. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is blowing through the land and working hard to bring the Kingdom of Heaven down on top of the evil that exists.

I know this because last night I had the honor and privilege of spending some time listening to dear friends of mine, Camille* and Esther Ntoto share stories of reconciliation, surrender, forgiveness, love, unity, resilience and modern day miracles all taking place right now in this land. The Ntoto’s live in Goma and see the struggles of their own people day in and day out. The devil never takes a day off unfortunately. But neither does God and he has the last word.

I sat and listened to Esther and Camille go on and on about stories of the Kingdom come to Earth and people transformed by the Word of God and by the power of the risen Christ. I felt a host of emotions as I soaked it all in. I was saddened by the reality of life for so many in Eastern Congo it made me physically hurt. At the same time, I was in awe of hearing of the ways God’s glory is shining through the darkness. It’s a weird concept to be hurt, angry and confused knowing that other people are experiencing such pain, despair and hell at it’s worst while also knowing and believing God’s kingdom work being done regardless.

The idea that the kingdom of God has come to Earth, even now before the return of Christ, is incomprehensible to me. Sure I believe it because I see evidence of it in my life as well as in others such as with the Ntoto’s. But the significance of that is humbling, overwhelming and in the words of the rainbow guy, intense!

So tonight I’m still heartbroken and a little tore up about the pure ugliness happening to the beautiful Congolese people. And I’m also praising God for his compassion, his caring acts of mercy and restoration and for friends like Esther and Camille who live out the hope they have received in Jesus and who are witnesses to Christ in a broken place in much need of healing.

I’m stripping the academics from the kingdom of heaven and reveling in its reality tonight. I’m longing to have both feet in the kingdom opposed to one in and one out in this world in this moment. I’m believing that God has already called Congo his nation and the Congolese his people and he will continue to usher in his will, his goodness and his plans of greatness into that land.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever. Amen
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Year End Book Review

It's been a good year of good readings. I'm not one to create lists but here it goes. The following books are in no particular order; just those that I have read over this past year and wanted to pass along to you.

1. Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan - This is a book I'll read again. Chan gives account to scripture after scripture reminding us of the powerful Holy Spirit while revealing the complacency of many Christians today who are too weak and too fearful to unashamedly follow the Holy Spirit. It's a convicting, challenging and an inspiring read.



2. Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World by Gary A. Huagen -  Haugen speaks with authority over injustice through the three parts of his book: Part I: Taking up the Challenge, Part 2: Hope Amid Despair: God's Four Affirmations About Justice and Part 3: Real-World Tools for Rescuing the Oppressed. Haugen not only presents the problem of evil in today's world but he also offers practical suggestions on how the every day Christian can participate in God's mission of justice.

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All I Want for Christmas

I spent my first Christmas under the tree…literally. Born on the eve of Christmas Eve, I came home from the hospital on the night before Christmas. My parents wrapped me up like a burrito and placed me under the tree that warm Christmas Eve night.  

On this much colder southern California Christmas season, I’m anticipating Christmas more than I think I ever have. I’m a horrible gift receiver. Case and point: recently I won a raffle at my company Christmas party for two free round trip airline tickets. After returning back to work on the Monday morning after the party, it took me the entire day to ask human resources for the tickets. I know; I’m a freak right?! There is just something about receiving a gift that makes me a bit anxious and nervous.  

Thinking to myself about why it was so difficult to receive that gift led me to consider receiving the gift of my eternal salvation in Christ. I don’t believe I’ve shared my story of coming to faith in Christ here on ConversantLife so I’ll give you a snapshot of that time in my life. 

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Have you Heard the new Freedom CD?

“To be honest, I don’t understand how anyone could not be excited about the work that IJM is doing. We feel that we are called to rescue,justice and mercy, and it moves our heart to see how effectively and passionately IJM exhibits all three. Since God broke our chains, we want to be involved in breaking the chains of others.”
— Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North, who contributed the new song “All I Have” to the compilation.

Tenth Avenue North is just one of the 40 artist you'll hear on Freedom, a new CD benefiting the work of International Justice Mission (IJM).  Every purchase of “Freedom” helps support IJM’s work tobring rescue, justice and long-term aftercare to victims of violence.The collection, which retails for only $5, also equips supporters to become advocates for the 27 million children, women and men held as slaves today. Each album includes a bonus DVD featuring IJM’sdocumentary At the End of Slavery,designed as a tool to introduce others to the reality of modern-dayslavery and the hope for a final end to this crime, and an introduction to Family Christian Stores’ James Fund in support of orphans and widows.

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Ugh! My Electronics are Hurting People

Two passions of mine collided this week in my email; Congo and ending slavery today. I received an urgent email message from Free The Slaves, an anti-human trafficking organization that I follow to stay updated on the movement here in the US and abroad. The subject of the email is Urgent Action - Help us stop Conflict Minerals from the DRC. According to Wikipedia, conflict minerals refers to minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congolese National Army and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. My email said minerals that come from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo turn up in electronics, in light bulbs, batteries and other everyday items. It would be hard to escape our connection to slavery and conflict in Congo. 

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Intentional Celebration

Three years after its release, I recently finished reading Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Sure, I'm behind in my reading, but I could not have chosen a better time to flip through its pages.

Over the past couple years I've gotten involved with the anti-slavery movement. If you've followed my posts you know that in this last year I have chosen to write on the topic a lot. 

Something I didn't expect happened along the way as I learned more and more about the problem of slavery in our world today. I became tired. I started to feel burdened with what I had learned and the burden was weighing me down. Does that ever happen to you? I was not doing a good job at balancing my day-to-day routine with work and family and also staying inspired and motivated to do my part to end slavery. It's like it just became too much and I didn't want to think about it anymore. 

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What does it mean to Suffer?

I don’t like missing out on anything. While I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, I most definitely like being around to watch when someone else is.

Last week I shared a bit about how I feel like I’m missing out on the action a little bit. I’m doing okay with it – what choice do I really have anyway – but there is still a part of me that is grieving the loss of excitement, adventure and the unpredictable.

This past week, my bible study group discussed suffering. Our bible study is sermon based so this past Sunday we heard a sermon on suffering.

The Pastor said the question is not why we suffer. No, as Christians we know we will suffer. Christ suffered and following him inevitably leads to suffering. Take a pass through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. The first century Christians rejoiced in suffering for Christ. It was an honor to suffer for the Name above all names. The question rather, is how long will we suffer?

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Could a Little Whistle End the World's Deadliest War?

In June of this year I highlighted NY Times jounalist Nicholas D. Kristof’s article Death by Gadget in this post.  Kristof did a great job of speaking the truth about the war in Eastern Congo and the driving force behind it. Yes that force is the demand for Congo’s minerals which are used to manufacture most electronics, Apple products included.

Since that post I’ve also posted a bit about an organization I am hearing more and more from called Falling Whistles.

Falling Whistles began because an American young man visiting Eastern Congo, ran into a few boys who had just ran away from the army they had been forced to join and who were now in hiding. This young American man listened to their stories of their kidnapping and the brutality they were forced to endure themselves and inflict on others. And then he heard something he could hardly believe was true.

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About
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.


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