Saturday, April 25, 2009

the collective SHOUT...

so at the anti-slavery organization i work for, love146, we have this term we call the collective shout. it is one of the things that we think needs to happen for this horror to end. we define it as one voice added to another added to another getting a bit louder and a bit stronger until all that is heard everywhere is "ABOLITION & RESTORATION."

my voice joined this shout about 4 years ago. sometimes i have screamed it and others i have whispered it but ever since i heard stories of children being forced into sexual slavery i haven't really been silent about it.

well this last week i didn't shout, or whisper but tweeted to bring abolition. for those that don't know twitter is this strange social networking site where you can "tweet" to your friends about what you are doing, ask them what they are doing and share "thoughts" (the catch is that each "tweet" can only be 140 characters). i signed up to have a twitter account for the first time on wednesday afternoon (you can follow me if i stick with it at @believe146). why?

hugh jackman, aka wolverine from x-men, sent out a twitter about 10 days ago that said he would give $100,000 to a person's favorite charity IF they would have to convince him of course by using 140 characters or less. so in the last week hugh received thousands upon thousands of tweets from all of these amazing people highlighting some of the most amazing work that is going on in the world today.

we decided to join in and tweet for love & abolition. kind of last min and a bit of an experiment for us, we jumped in with a strategy to get people to tweet hugh at 1:46 EST for a couple of days. we were AMAZED. hundreds upon hundreds of people tweeted and tweeted and tweeted. shouted and shouted. love146 was followed that day by thousands upon thousands of people. we had spikes in our web site. clever slogans came and made their appeal to mr jackman. people tweeted for us all through the night. the "twitter voice" for abolition was much much louder than we were expecting. we were shocked. a collective shout could be heard.

i sat in the office friday listening to the ryan seacrest morning show (were hugh would announce the winner). and...we didn't get it...two amazing organizations ended up splitting the prize because hugh couldn't decide between the two (charity water & operation of hope). both organizations i am extremely grateful exist and got some $ friday ... kids need clean water and deserve a beautiful, sparkling smile...

although grateful that the kingdom is being built through this there was this feeling of "shucks" and a sense of just being bummed out. the work of abolition is hard. it isn't cut and dry like digging a well and watching thousands of people get clean water from it. YES we have stories of hope and restoration. we have seen children who shouldn't smile ever again play, dance and embody joy in the flesh. but the fight to end this feels tricky and SO much is required. we need a people who challenge current systems and structures, who change the way they spend money, who challenge sexual addiction, pornography and the reason why we place so little value on a child. we need business men & women to be a voice to their co-workers, families to radically engage the foster care system. we need a social movement and change where all take a stand and shout, scream, tweet and live "ABOLITION." it can be done. i am sure of it now but the road is long and i am beginning to see that it requires much more than even i want to give sometimes...oh, jesus, help me, help us. sustain me, sustain us!

i read this quote the other day and i wanted to pass it along to all of you who shouted with us this week AND who have shouted with us over the years and will continue to do so even if hugh jackman isn't doing some charity giveaway! i found it in a book, the impossible will take a little while (a collection of short essays, poems, etc all with a focus towards social justice, social change and hope). in one of the essays a women is telling a story about a conversation she had with her friend. her friend works in suicide prevention and had been walking alongside someone for awhile who had just completed suicide. sad, frustrated and "bummed out" (much more so than i was on friday!!) her friend looked at her and made this statement:

"you know i cannot save them. i am not here to save anyone or save this world. all i can do-what i am called to do- is plant myself at the gates of Hope. sometimes they come in;sometimes they walk by. but i stand there everyday and i call out til my lungs are sore with calling and beckon and urge them toward beautiful life and love"

here's to some sore lungs and staying planted at the gates of Hope...even if mr jackman didn't send his $100,000 through the gates... PEACE & ABOLITION!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

...justice and praise...

tuesday night i found myself in a youth group outside NYC. i was there with the president of the anti-slavery organization i work with to present to a group of students about what is going on in our world today and what they could do about it. my weeks have been filled looking at the ins and outs of this horrid scene that exists today WHILE traveling to different speaking venues with one of my mentors watching him "pitch" our orgainization to churches. really it has been amazing if i sit and think about it. i have heard the same message about a thousand times now and each time i am looking at it from the lense "how can i share this story? how can i engage the church to respond to this injustice?" what an awesome opportunity...

well i stood there in an all too familiar place. the room was PACKED with kids. filled with a diverse group. much more racially diverse than any crowd i probably have sat in. it was absolutly beautiful. kids scurried in, the music started and the youth pastor proceeded to call the kids that weren't "in to it" to the front of the room to teach everyone else how to clap. the kids would blush and then ham it up. some things never change in youth ministry! :) the room was crazy! i am sure if you have ever sat in a youth group with loud guitars and funky, messy, beautiful teens you know just what i am talking about.

i felt a wee-bit akward in the room, the music was familiar and yet my heart felt far from it. i prayed for the group that god would be preparing their hearts to hear his message that night. that they would see this issue and know how close it was to the heart of god and that kids would become empowered to respond. a few songs went by and i found myself sitting down "reading" my bible to avoid singing. another song went by and i forced myself to stand again to sing...and then a chorus hit me... (maybe a pre-chorus but who cares right!?!?)

...let JUSTICE and PRAISE become my embrace...

my eyes welled up just a tad but my heart was vision has gone arry these weeks...maybe these months...probably these years. in the midst of this seach for justice and peace (that god is TOTALLY for), i have managed to forget the tension that justice rests upon...praise, light, life...of course there have been moments when i have praised god and others over the years but they are becoming few and far between. it is beginning to feel "uncomfortable." and rather in all things giving thanks and praise in most things i have given critique with an occasional horray.

as i sit here on this good friday i am remembering the cross, the justice, sacrifice, judgment, that came down upon jesus. that it was the cross that was needed to make right. yes it was a huge display of god's unending mercy for us but it was this place where he screamed "enough, IT IS FINISHED." and died. so much of what i long for is god to arise and bring justice. for his bride to awake and bring justice into the world...which IS his hope too...

sunday is a few days away and the resurecction is coming. i often wonder what the resurecction actually looked like. my hunch it was this big fat moment of complete praise in hevean and inside a little tomb on earth. a reminder of who it is that we seek and how amazing he is. goodness, light, life at a full in one moment. oh, what my heart longs for forever... why we seek justice... care for the poor... clean up the earth... take orphans, widows and the oppressed under our wing... the other tension is praise.

on tuesday, i had a moment of remembrence. and longed to be a person that was known for embracing justice and maybe that's where love is, where the two intersect...

jesus, may justice and praise become my embrace to love you from the inside out.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

musings on prayer

"the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (james 5:16)

i have been thinking a lot about prayer. yes, probably because i am now responsible for putting out a monthly prayer letter to those we call our "prayer partners" (you can sign up here if you are into that praying thing). it is focused on bringing people up to speed with our projects and asking them to petition the throne of god for his favor to rest on them. "magically" the sermon kimbal and i watched the other day "happened" to have a focus on prayer (you can check that out here if you are into that watching sermons on-line thing). pastor boyd had an in depth sermon focused on many of the questions i struggle with. faith, prayer, and how that interacts with massive injustice occurring on our planet. he talks about how he often gets confused and sometimes frustrated unsure of the place that prayer holds in bringing the kingdom come on earth.

i understand his frustration. it is hard. sometimes i feel like i pray for something and god responds. people need a job and out of the blue a job comes their way. a couple prays for the child they long for and somehow god responds and they end up with a beautiful child (who i might add is hilarious right now. he is into dancing. and does the cutest little butt shake thing. i'll have to post that soon). jesus prayed for healing and people walked away healed. and yet...

yet there are moments when we pray and pray and don't get the job we need, or the child that we are longing for...and then you throw in a massive injustice like the sexual slavery and exploitation of children and mix that with "ask and you shall receive"...and i wonder what role prayer plays. i know that hundreds of people pray for abolition. and remains. in many cases it grows. and i wind up confused and frustrated and wondering what the heck is going on.

we as followers of jesus are told to pray always, in all situations and that our father listens AND responds. that the father we pray to longs for life, love and justice to flow over this earth like water the sea... we are reminded often that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective... and yet... there is this question in my heart that aches, "is it?!?!"

now i out of all people have been given proof time and time again that there is something to this prayer thing. proof that so many long to see that indeed god listens and responds. but somehow that faith doesn't seem quite big enough. my "proof" doesn't feel like a sufficient match to all the unanswered prayers, especially the ones that i am certain jesus longs answer (ones that come from the hearts of girls and boys caged in a brothel or the subtle cry from those literally starving to death).

i don't intend to answer many, if any, questions that are brewing in my mind HOWEVER the 3 points in the sermon i mentioned above seemed to nudge me to keep praying...

1. prayer isn't magic but warfare- when i pray i am not saying the right words at the right time with the right magic scriptures read all mixed together to bring about the will of god. i am actually engaging in an act of warfare. (something my pacifist heart loves to think about!) it is an active response, an active movement, and active pushing on the side of the kingdom.

2. faith isn't magic but vision- vision to see the kingdom of god and then continue to pray and believe (causing more warfare prayer-ness) that it actually has the ability to come. not a name it and claim it but a see it and keep fighting for it. jesus saw the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. he had the faith, or correct vision to see it and fight for it until death.

3. somehow, someway the kingdom will come- this has always been spoken to me. from a "god is totally in control" to a "god is the bad.a. that will win cuz he is so awesome" mentality. accross the spectrum of faith, we are given the promise that life, love and justice will come...that the kingdom will come. it hardly makes sense to me but something in me feels at peace. a longing peace...

with those three points in mind...i want to be one who prays. and i want to encourage more of us to pray. i want us to see a world that is free and push on our knees until it comes to pass...

our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. thy kingdom come. they will be done on earth as it is in heaven. give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever... (the prayer of a very righteous man...powerful and effective...come jesus.)