CNN Announces Launch of The Freedom Project

Tony Maddox, CNN International Executive Vice President and managing director was quoted today saying, “It’s our journalism-based assertion that this [human trafficking] is the greatest uncovered news story of today, and CNN plans to rip the lid off.”

 

CNN’s effort to “rip the lid off” begins with the official launch of The Freedom Project. The site will include regular features such as tracking the numbers of people currently enslaved, solutions to the issues and success stories of survivors and organizations committed to ending the world’s problem of human trafficking.

 
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I am a Human Being

There is a lot of crap in the world today, no doubt about it. Sin is everywhere and people are hurting. There is no denying it. Tonight I gave a presentation on Human Trafficking to some cool local college students. As they discovered, this issue is dark. The only hope I see in it all, is the light of Christ which reveals itself in those who know Christ on the personal level. As Moses' face radiated after seeing God, so do Christ's followers radiate light where there is darkness. This video is what light looks like when shone over the dark. I am a human being. I am loved. I am a work of art. I am precious. I am created with purpose. I am no different than any other person God has created. Here is a man who gets what it means to be a created human being and live with purpose. It's awesome really what one person can do. This guy could be you. 

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Release of The Cape Town Commitment

Rev Dr Doug Birdsall, Executive Chair of The Lausanne Movement, said: 'In advance of the Congress we gathered a group of senior theologians, drawn from each continent, to compile a clear and engaging declaration of belief. With this as our basis, we wrestled with some of the toughest issues imaginable - within the Church, in global mission strategy, and in the public arena. The Cape Town Commitment's Call to Action, coming out of those discussions in South Africa, is our roadmap for the next ten years.'

Dr. Birdsall is quoted here referencing The Cape Town Commitment, the third document of its kind. Before the Cape Town Commitment,   The Manila Manifesto  was written after a global Lausanne movement conference was conducted in Manila, Philippines in 1989.  Prior to the Manila gathering, the first global conference was held in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Out of that gathering, where some 2,300 people attended representing 150 nations came the first document of its kind called The Lausanne Covenant

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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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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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