Slavery in America: A Conversation with International Justice Mission

In honor of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, this is a repost of an interview held with International Justice MIssion staff member Lauren Johnson in early 2010. IJM currently is one of the world leaders in combatting slavery today. 


Last month I visited the International Justice Mission headquarters, not far from the Pentagon and just outside our nation’s capitol.  It was a beautiful day. The air was crisp and cool and the ground layered with the remnants of the recent snow storm.

Inside IJM headquarters - aka HQ -, you’ll find a quant, but inspirational photo gallery. The walls are lined with telling photographs of beautiful people who are part of IJM’s work abroad. Each face on each photo tells a different story of survival, of redemption and of justice at work.

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Learning to Pray for my Son

Recently I read Mark Batterson’s Praying Circles around the Lives of Your Children. In the book, Batterson shares some personal stories of praying for his family, specifically each of his children. He shares some helpful suggestions of ways all parents, regardless of life stage the children are in, can pray for their kids.


The 7 prayer tools he suggests are:


·         Praying the promises of God

·         Making prayer lists

·         Creating prayer mantras

·         Praying a hedge of protection

·         Forming prayer circles

·         Praying through the bible

·         Passing on blessings

Batterson believes prayers function as prophesies. Praying parents have the opportunity and privilege of scripting the future of their children with their prayers. I find this absolutely incredible. And weighty. And exciting. And daunting. And even more exciting.

I took away a few learning’s from the book that I’ve quickly adapted into my daily routine. For starters, Justice wakes every morning with a song of thanksgiving for the day that the Lord has made and we clap and say “yay” and rejoice in it together.
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Preston Yancey Q&A (Part 1)

Preston Yancey is a lifelong Texan raised Southern Baptist who fell in love with reading saints, crossing himself, and high church spirituality. He now makes his home within the Anglican tradition. He is a writer, painter, baker, and speaker. His debut book, Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again (Zondervan), chronicles his faith journey while in college—from the one he was raised to believe, to a faith he could call his own.

Michael Summers, a senior business major at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, interviewed Preston in a café near Baylor, Preston’s alma mater. Michael asked some great questions, which encouraged Preston to offer some thoughtful answers that are longer than the usual “sound bites” you normally encounter in Q&As. Your commitment to read the entire unedited interview will be well rewarded.

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Before Amen: Q&A with Max Lucado

In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child.

Max took some time to answer a few questions about his new book and the nature of prayer.

Q: Your new book, Before Amen, gives readers a simple way to incorporate prayer into their everyday life. But it’s more than just creating a prayer wish list for God, it’s about learning how to experience a heart connection with God.
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Dealing With an Attitude

Family bike rides are similar to a toddler’s birthday party. They can be fun and filled with great memories, or they can be a disaster with random family members melting down in the middle of it. Unfortunately, you never know which one you’re going to get – you’re in the middle of it and it’s too late to turn back.

We had great weather in Boise yesterday so we decided to attempt a long bike ride with the kids. Our plan was to bike out so many miles, stop, eat lunch and give everyone a break and then return home. Fortunately our kids have outgrown toddler meltdowns but we’re heading full swing into the pre-teen moodiness and know-it-all phase.

Oh mercy!

Mark led the way, followed by Noah and Anastasia with me bringing up the rear (I’m trying hard to be mature and ignore the many uses of a pun here). Noah began to fall behind (oh the potential puns). His legs were spinning fast but producing little speed.

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A Deeper Life of Worship: Why Liturgy Is Valuable

What is liturgy, and why is it valuable?

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...

“Liturgy” means a structure of worship, and every church has one, whether the people involved call it that or not. Every service has a structure: a characteristic ordering of the songs, Scripture readings, sermon, prayers, collection, and so on. In typical usage, though, “liturgy” is usually associated with particular traditions such as the Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches, which have structures for worship that include set prayers and responses for the participants.

For those who’ve never attended a liturgical church, think of it this way. Every Christian knows the Lord’s Prayer, and it’s often included in a worship service for the congregation to say together. Now imagine that the whole service is structured around a framework of prayers and responses like this, taken from Scripture or written by great saints of the church. That’s liturgical worship.

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We Belong Together

A year ago I was preparing to travel to Nicaragua.  In the last few weeks I've found myself recalling that trip and the people I met there. This is a reflection I wrote soon after returning:

I am at my writing desk, looking out my window at the bougainvillea and geraniums blooming in my yard. I hear toddlers calling my dog and watch her eagerly look for them, their little bodies and voices hidden behind the rose bushes. The kids in this neighborhood love her. She looks a bit wily right now with her summer haircut. They shaved off all her cute fluffy fur and she looks more like a svelte coyote, not so cute.

It reminds me of the dogs I saw in La Chureca, the dump in Managua, Nicaragua. There were dogs everywhere. They were scrawny and limping, ears drooping and noses rummaging through all the trash.  Right now my dog looks like she belongs there, but she doesn’t. I went with a group to visit the school in this dump community.  We took the kids out on a field trip to the zoo. The kids wore old, faded, stained clothes and shoes that were too big for them. They looked like they belong in a dump, but they don’t.  Nobody belongs in a dump among discarded, old, ruined trash. No one belongs there no matter how they look.

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Do You Really Want What You Pray For?

Do you ever find yourself praying away your circumstances? I do. However, when I look at my “wishes” I often find contradictory statements…  “Please let us have a bigger house so we won’t be so crowded.” Then…“If we had a smaller house it wouldn’t take me so long to clean it.” Or…“May I have a job that is more mentally challenging?” To…”I wish I had an easier job so I wouldn’t have to think so much.” and on and on it goes.

As I drove in to work this morning, my prayers were filled with petitions to God for Him to change a circumstance in my life. But my mind floundered. What would happen if He removed the circumstance? Would that solve the problem and bring me peace? Or would I be bored and complacent?

I thought about this and then Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to mind. If there was ever a woman tempted to wish away her circumstances, Mary was probably it….

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Advent Prayer Requests

Oh Jesus, come. The world groans for you.

The streets are bloody and the debts are rising. There are riots all around, anxieties about the future, 72-day marriages, 5th grader suicides, political stalemates, crashes of every sort, too-high heating bills, faucets that don’t work, pencils that smear instead of erase, milk that goes sour, teeth that get cavities, and cancer that keeps coming back.

Messiah, come.

Come and bring justice to the perpetrators of evil: The dictators who oppress, the pedophiles who abuse, the rich who swindle, the thieves and murderers and liars and cheaters and addicts… Basically, all of us. Judge us, refine us, renew us oh Lord. Cast our sins into the depths of the sea. Show your faithfulness to us oh God, as you did to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.

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I've Decided To Pray In Church Of All Places

As I have been contemplating prayer of late, I’ve found my times of prayer to be growing in both occasion and place.  I find myself before God in prayer as I face a decision that needs to be made, or to ask Him wisdom as I read His word.  Or I find myself offering bursts of praise as I see His hand in a sunrise, or asking Him for grace when I need help with a hard conversation.  But I have also realized there is one place where I’m pretty certain to not be praying:  church.

You’d think this is all mixed up, and you would have a point.  But our church doesn’t have a specific time for congregational prayer.  We have corporate prayer, but I can just listen to a pastor pray over the service or the congregation without doing much of anything other than listening to him pray over the service or the congregation.  We also have prayer over the Word, and prayer over our singing, but again, I find it far too easy to watch rather than pray.

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