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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Together we can change the world

Bestselling author Max Lucado has done many things to put God's Word into action over the years and has inspired many others to do the same. This year, in commemoration of Max's 25th year of inspirational writing, he has made it his personal goal to help World Vision raise up sponsors for 25,000 children, in conjunction with this fall's Make a Difference Tour.

One hundred percent of Max's royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion.

Christians and Adoption

I have a confession.  I was a little ambivalent about attending my first Christian adoption conference.

I read a lot of blogs.  (Too many blogs). Some of them are very critical of adoption.  I am an advocate for adoption, but I read with interest because I also think the system needs massive reform, and because I think it’s good to get the perspective of others.  Usually I have a pretty high tolerance for listening to viewpoints that differ from my own.


One of the things that has been heavily criticized in the adoption blog world is the Christian movement of “orphan care”.  The group of missionaries in Haiti that tried to take a group of children to the Dominican only fueled the sentiment that pro-adoption Christians are wreckless, short-sighted, and self-serving.  I like to think I remain objective when reading stuff like this, but I admit I entered this conference with some skepticism. 

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Pepsi Refresh Results & GAD? Update

So after three months in the competition, thousands of votes from you and all our friends, we are officially out of the Pepsi Refresh Competition:( At the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank all you who stuck by us these past few months and put up with our repetitive messages. Our supporters are incredible, everywhere I went people were letting me know that they were voting for us daily. It was so encouraging to see everyone's support. Honestly, thank you!!!!

The focus right now is to finish this film. It is close to done and we have been doing a number of test screenings in St. Louis and getting excellent feedback and encouragement, but have also seen that we still have a little ways to go.

As far as Sundance, we submitted the film by Sept 25th deadline and we don't hear back if we are accepted into the competition or not until early December . Many of the festivals require that you premiere your film at their festival, so it will be a while before we do a public premiere with red carpets and all, but we do hope to do one of those someday. First, we are going to be entering the film into a number of the major festivals. It will be long process but sure to be a rewarding one and hopefully a way to secure some form of distribution.
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So what's the scenaRIO ...

Today's my first day back. For the past week, I was in Rio de Janeiro working with two organizations -- one focused on church planting and the other on social justice. In a profound way, both are working for the Kingdom of God. 

Restore Brazil is an organization run by Jay Bauman, who is both a prolific leader as he is a social media nut. You can find him on Twitter at @baumanjay and on his blog. Please check out his organization, Restore Brazil.

Rio de Paz is an unabashed human rights organization run by Antonio Carlos Costa. They work for human rights for prisoners and social justice for the poor living in the favela. They're organization focuses on three main plagues of Rio: violence, poverty, corruption. Antonio is also has a strong social media presence, albeit, in Portugese.

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Operation Narnia

Operation Christmas Child is partnering with the upcoming film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, set for release on Dec. 10. Through this partnership, Narnia fans will be encouraged to participate in the world’s largest Christmas project by packing shoe box gifts that will make a difference in the lives of needy children.

In Narnia, it was always winter and never Christmas until Aslan arrived with hope. In the same way, simple shoe box gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items can bring hope to children around the world by reminding them they are loved and not forgotten.

“We’re very excited to participate in the upcoming release of the movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” said Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse. “We want children around the world to know the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus Christ—and the joy ­­­­­­­­­­­­­and hope that this brings.”

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Should we give to beggars?

A good friend of mine did his Ph.D on the question of the Church's relationship to homelessness, and now runs a homeless ministry down in Atlanta. In his latest blog post, he addresses the question he is asked most: Should I give money to a homeless person? His response is thoughtful, engaging and addresses primarily how we need to think about these questions in the first place. Go check out his post here, and let me know your thoughts.

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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Meet Yves

While I sleep at night, a war rages on in Congo. When I rise from my desk at work to grab a drink of water, men, women and children are thirsty in Congo. While I sit in traffic on my daily commute, Congolese children sit and wait in hiding, hoping the merciless rebels pass them by. 

Congo is special to me. I was in the country in 2003. I met the locals. I ate the food. I poorly attemped to speak the language. I met beautiful children. Congo is in great need. The Congolese have suffered for generations. It's time for the country called "the heart of darkness" to experience the light of Christ. 

An organization called Fallen Whistles is working hard to help those of not in Congo not forget the world's most deadliest and violent war going on right now in Eastern Congo. Stories are a powerful tool in bridging the gap between the not so personal and the personal. Congo and the Congolese people are worth becoming personal. Their lives are too valuable for the world to continue to turn away to such devastation. 

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So Much to Fix- Let's Get Started

It has been one of those weeks.  Everything around me seems to need fixing.  First the shower backed up and then my car broke down.  My bike had a flat and the gaping hole in my front yard reminded me of the patio that still needed to be put together.  I spent Saturday morning figuring out the car situation and checking in on the plumber's ETA.  Then some friends came over to help lay pavers for the new patio.  Over coffee and egg sandwiches we fixed the big hole one brick at a time.  With so much still broken around me it felt good to get one thing taken care of, to have one thing fixed.

As we look around the situation in our country it is easy to see that many things are broken.  When it comes to immigration one quickly notices that a lot is severely broken.  Wouldn't it feel good to even get one thiing fixed? This coming week we as a nation have the opportunity to fix at least one thing for thousands of young people.  The Dream Act is being considered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill.  Senators will be voting this week.  The Dream Act is a bill that provides a conditional path to citizenship for young people who were educated and raised in the United States and yet have no way of legally working.  Currently there are around 65,000 "Dreamers" living in the US.  These students go to college or serve in our military and desperately want to fully participate as Americans. 

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