Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 3: Free2Work

We finally have our Mac working again!! I'm so sorry for not posting for the last week. Hopefully I'll be able to be more consistent from here on out. So back to the grind...

A few months ago my mom asked me to go pick out a baby gift for someone. I know that she was secretly hoping that if I spent 30-minutes in the baby department, I would maybe start getting baby totally worked, but only for about 2 minutes until I heard a screaming child at the other end of the store. So. Not. Ready. Anyways, after I called Dan to make sure we were on the same page about not having kids for a long time, I got back to shopping with no sentimental attachment towards anything tiny. (I promise this story has a point). I ended up picking out a couple of cute little sundresses. And as the cashier put those tiny little clothes into a bag and I swiped my debit card, I unconsciously condoned the slave labor of thousands of little children. I don't know about you, but there are few things that bring innocence to mind more than baby clothes...I mean if monkeys in tutus and smiling cupcakes don't scream "care-free," I don't know what does. Maybe that's why no one suspects Carter's to be a company that condones slave labor. And they can get away with it simply because of the ignorance of their consumers, like me.

The Not For Sale campaign has organized a really simple system to inform consumers about the ethics behind the products they are purchasing. Here is a short 1-minute video explaining the issue a little further.

So here's the challenge. Get on your Iphone (unless you're like me and still don't have one, then just go to the website and you can find this here). Go to the App Store, and type in Free2work. You'll find several companies listed. Each one has been given a "grade" based on how well they have addressed forced and child labor. The irony of this challenge is that Apple actually received a "C"...not so great, Steve.

Look around your house and see what companies you've been supporting that maybe you don't want to support anymore. If we took a stand, these companies would have to make a change. There are going to be some that hurt, though. I'm probably going to have to write a whole post about the chocolate companies, because that's one product that I can't do without. Hershey's got a D+...really?? You're killing me!!

I know that it is unrealistic to ask everyone to completely stop purchasing anything from any of these companies (or is it?), but if we could even just make ourselves more aware of where our products are coming from we might be able to make a difference. Next time you're at the store, pull this app up and make sure you aren't supporting slave labor. Happy shopping!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wah Wah

Sorry, our comp is down! That's why I haven't been posting the last few days. It's too hard to write a long post with the Itouch, but once I get the Mac back I'll catch up! Hope you're having a joyful weekend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 2: Human Trafficking in the US

This is an interview with David Batstone, the author of Not For Sale, a book about the reality of human trafficking. It's only like 10 minutes long, so if you get a chance, watch it real quick. Not For Sale is one of the organizations I will mention on here probably pretty frequently, because they have found some simple ways for people to play a role in ensuring that slavery does not keep happening in our country. You'll be surprised exactly which companies we all support that are willingly selling products made from slave labor. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 1: All Things New

I thought it would be appropriate to start the first day off talking about a ministry that is near and dear to my heart right here in OKC.

I mentioned that it was last summer when the Lord really starting tugging at my heart about the issue of sex trafficking. For the first few months that I researched it, I felt completely helpless and really discouraged. I had spent hours reading statistics and looking up areas in the world that were most affected...turns out there isn't anywhere that's not affected by human trafficking, in case you were wondering.

At the time, Dan and I were living in Arkansas, and, even though I was so determined to play a role in ministering to these women and children, I was convinced that it was a ministry that Lord was preparing me to do several years down the road when we hopefully move overseas to work with my parents. I  didn't think that I would be able to get involved any time soon. That all changed when we moved to Oklahoma City.

I don't think it's coincidence that God moved us to a city with one of the highest rates of sex trafficking in the country. Because so many major highways merge in OKC, there is an extremely high rate of trafficking just miles from our home. Some people refer to OKC as the "crossroads for sex-trafficking" in the US. Dan and I have even been at a gas station/ truck stop where we've seen some of it going on's completely devastating.

Not too long after we moved here, I found out about an organization called All Things New in OKC. All Things New is a faith-based organization that "offers an unprecedented safe haven and rehabilitation for women and children who are victims of sex trafficking." I sent in my application thinking that I could maybe serve on the prayer team or do a couple hours of office work for them each week. As usual, God's plans were much bigger than mine!

A couple weeks after becoming an official volunteer, I emailed one of the directors to let her know that I was available to help any morning they might need me. Still thinking she would have me organize files or just shoot me a list of prayer requests, I was completely shocked when she asked me if I would be interested in doing one-on-one ministry with the women at the safe house! I had only been to one meeting, had zero actual experience, and no naturally I said "Sure, I'd love to!".

Let me reiterate that I am as unqualified as they come for this job when I'm standing in my own power. The first time I walked up to the door my hands were literally shaking, because I had no idea what to expect. If I hadn't been bathed in prayer by other women volunteering with All Things New and my friends and family, and if the Lord hadn't showered me with grace and mercy the entire I was there, I would have probably run out in the first 10 minutes. I obviously can't share a lot about my experience for privacy purposes. The main reason I shared this, though, is because:

1) I live in OKLAHOMA, not India, not Africa...Oklahoma. And there isn't a safe house big enough to hold the women and children in this state who have been victims of sex trafficking and need ministry. It is so much closer to you than you probably realize. In fact, "In 2009 the State Department reportat that the US is now the #1 destination for child sex trafficking in the world." Yes, you read that right!! And one of the main reasons it continues to happen is because most of us are completely unaware that it is even a problem. Tomorrow I'm going to post a video on here that shares some tips on identifying trafficking situations in your neighborhood.

2). I know a lot of you are prayer warriors, and I have witnessed first-hand the unmeasurable power that prayer has had on this ministry. Please pray for continued favor on All Things New and the men and women that the Lord has called to be a part of this organization. God has given everyone a lot of vision for what is to come with ATN, but like every ministry, it's only as effective as the prayers behind it.

Here is a link to their website. You should check it out if you have time. It is such a wonderful ministry!

3). When I started sharing with some of you about my passion to help these women and children, I was so encouraged by the number of people who have felt a similar calling. I just wanted to encourage you to look into some of the ministries that might be right in your are that you could get involved in. I was amazed at how many options there were to get involved with once I started doing a little research. I'll try to post some more ministry options in OK and TX in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you all again! I have been overwhelmed by all of the support I have received for the Love146 campaign!! You guys are amazing!! Have a wonderful night!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What is the Galatians 5:1 Project?

(Bear with me...they won't all be this long)

"It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free."
Galatians 5:1

Over the past few years, this has become one of my very favorite verses in scripture. Until recently, it served just as a sweet reminder that Jesus has already completed the work for my freedom. I don't have to wonder if I can be freed from struggles, sickness, or fears. It's all been dealt with (past tense), and Jesus has already claimed victory for me in every area of my life. All I have to do is choose to walk in freedom. And for me, that reassurance was where this verse ended...until last summer.

     Most of you probably know that my parents and 4 of my siblings spent three months at a missions school in Mozambique this summer. While they were there the Lord did an amazing work in each and every one of their hearts! My parents felt a call to serve full time overseas (they are now living in Asia and the Lord is establishing a great ministry with them), Matt fell in love with the people of Mozambique and came home with a new understanding of the Lord's heart, the restoration of Mason's hearing (something we believe will happen one day) became an even bigger prayer priority for our family, Molly accepted Jesus as her Savior and was baptized in the Indian Ocean (so cool!), and Madelyn was prophesied over by several people telling her that she would be play a huge part in ministering to women and children who had become sex trafficking victims....when my mom told me what had been spoken over Madelyn, it was the first time I felt the Lord tug at my heart about this issue.

A couple months after my parents had left for Africa, my mom and I were having our usual weekly Skype date and the Lord began to tug at my heart again, this time a little more strongly! After we had small talk about the weather and the kiddos, Mom asked me to pray about something specific. It was a prayer request that I believe that Lord has used to shape my future for maybe the rest of my life. She told me that one of the teams from their mission school had gone into a village a few miles from their base to preach the gospel, bring food, etc. As soon as they arrived they knew something was horribly wrong. As they started talking to the people there, they discovered that almost all of the children from that village had been sold to a neighboring village for $6 each. Before you pass judgement on the parents who agreed to take such a small price for their sons and daughters, know that they were probably led to believe that their children would be offered a better life. Most of them probably couldn't even afford to feed them, so they figured they would have a better chance somewhere else....sadly, that was not the case. After the team did some more researching, they found out that these children were being used as slaves in a ruby mine that this other village had recently found. As if that wasn't horrific enough, they eventually found out that on top of all of that, the girls were being used as prostitutes for the owners of the mine. Some of these children were barely old enough to be in school and their childhood was being stolen from them! I have never felt such a strong sense of urgency in my heart as I did when my mom started explaining exactly what was going on over there. She told me everything the team was doing to try to get these children back in a safe place, but it was going to be a really long road. I spent the next couple of days just sobbing, because for the first time in my life I wasn't able to numb myself to the true depravity in our world. 

That's where the first part of this blog name, "Rubies" came from. It's to honor the children who are still there in Mozambique working 12 hour days in horrible conditions while we sit in our air conditioned homes and complain about spotty phone reception and high gas prices. The second part "Red Lights" is in honor of the women and children specifically in the sex trafficking industry. Red lights used to be used to signify that a brothel was in the area. While most people believe that "red light districts" and brothels are not nearly as common as they used to be, you might be surprised to find out that there are 18,000 women and children being enslaved in this lifestyle just in the US. They are the women that most people think have chosen to sell their bodies to make money they couldn't make anywhere else. The sad reality is that most of these women (and I use the term loosely, because the average age to be introduced into the sex trade is 13 years old) never see a penny of what they make. Their pimps are able to enslave them in this environment by using emotional and/or physical threats and abuse. "Red light" is also in reference to my desire to help put a STOP to human trafficking through awareness and small contributions from normal people like you and me, which is what this blog is all about!

As I mentioned before, Galatians 5:1 took on a whole new meaning for me after my mom told me about those children in Mozambique. As I started receiving more revelation about the full message behind that verse, I realized that I had always read it as if it said: 

"It is for MY freedom, that Christ has set me free." 

But that's not what it says at all. I always thought of this verse as a free pass, something that pretty much excluded me from any responsibility, because the work was already finished. The beauty of grace is that I didn't have to do a thing to "earn" it. But the reality is that this verse carries a HUGE responsibility. Yes, Christ set me free for no other reason than that he loves me. I didn't have to do anything to gain that freedom other than accept it. But Christ not only set me free so that I would be free; He set me free so that I might lead others to freedom. I have a responsibility to bring justice to those who are oppressed! 

So that's what this blog is about. It is month-long journey that I'm asking you to be a part of. Hopefully each day I will present to you a new challenge, opportunity to give, or prayer request that will allow us to come together to play a role in ensuring that human trafficking does not keep happening! In the coming days, I'll share some more statistics and stories to give you a better understanding of exactly how big of a problem this is, not only in foreign countries, but also right here on American soil, quite possibly in your neighborhood!

I promise I won't ask you to make a career change, move overseas, or spend hours a day campaigning. This is all about making small changes to make a big difference. My hope is that if you can pick just a few of these things and do them for a month, you'll continue to play a role even after this 30-day challenge is complete. It won't be a comfortable journey. There are a lot of harsh truths about human trafficking. But I also hope that in the midst of the sadness that the Lord brings encouragement through this, because I believe with all my heart that he is raising up a generation that won't stand for human trafficking any longer! Love you all! See you tomorrow!