Monday, January 28, 2013

A Fantastic Opportunity to be Educated, Inspired, and Connected


This special announcement was written by Glen Peterson, the office director of World Relief in Garden Grove, California.


 The Justice Conference Simulcast in Southern California impacting a generation for justice.

The Justice Conference will be simulcast at the Friends Church in Yorba Linda Friday, February 22 starting at 6:00 pm through Saturday, February 23. This annual event promotes dialogue around justice-related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights, featuring internationally acclaimed speakers.

You'll have the opportunity to hear world class speakers that include: Eugene Cho, Brenda Salter McNeil, Dr. Nicholas Wolterstroff, Gary Haugan (International Justice Mission), Sheryl WuDunn (Half the Sky), Dr. John Perkins, Chai Ling, Lynn Hybels, Ken Wytsma, Stephan Bauman, Richard Twiss, Lisa Sharon Harper, Leroy Barger, Noel Castellanos, Claire Diaz Ortiz, and Shane Claiborne.

A group of like-minded friends in Bend, Oregon, who dreamed of impacting a generation for justice founded The Justice Conference in 2010. The event has grown each year with 5,000 people expected this year at the Philadelphia site. The local simulcast of The Justice Conference is brought to Southern California by Friends Church in Yorba Linda, partnering with World Relief Garden Grove, First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, and The House at Whittier Area Community Church. Other participants include Solidarity, Fullerton; Mika CDC, Costa Mesa, World Vision, and more.

The Justice Conference has grown to become one of the largest international gatherings on social and biblical justice. The vision of the conference is to reach tens of thousands of people over the next decade through an annual gathering that educates, inspires and connects a generation to a shared concern for the vulnerable and oppressed. This is motivated by the driving value of the conference, a theology of justice, that an understanding of God should compel love for others and engagement in justice.

At World Relief, we believe that God is calling the broadest most diverse social network on the planet—the Church—to engage in the great causes or our day. This is why the inspirational and educational work of The Justice Conference is so important as we empower [people] to do the ministry God calls us to do in a fast changing world. 

The Justice Conference is a movement of students, teachers, business people, parents, artists, social entrepreneurs, pastors, advocates and academics all of whom are discovering the paradox that true life is found when we give our lives away on behalf of others. Organizations that minister in Southern California will be on hand to introduce opportunities for involvement as people are inspired by the conference speakers.

On Friday night, February 22 at 9:00 pm, the full-length feature film Not Today will be screened as part of the conference. Not Today tells the story of a privileged, 20-year-old, American tourist confronted by the reality of human trafficking in India.

 

This film exposes the problem of sex trafficking in our time. While presenting no easy answers, there are steps that communities can take to change lives. You can be among the first to see this high impact film that will be in theaters nationwide in April of this year.


Skip Lanfried, Global Freedom Pastor at Friends Church where both the simulcast and the screening will be held, said that "we believe that over the next few years we will continue to make a huge difference by bringing freedom to those in need locally and in India to the Dalit people (the Untouchables)! This freedom will happen as we empower tomorrow's generation with knowledge and resources so they might have hope and envision a new future. The Justice Conference is part of that strategy. Please join us for this life-changing event."

Registration for the simulcast of The Justice Conference is available here: https://thejusticeconference.wufoo.com/forms/simulcast-registration/

For more information contact: Glen Peterson, World Relief Garden Grove, gpeterson@wr.org or Skip Lanfried, slanfried@gmail.com



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Monday, January 21, 2013

What I Wish I Would Have Said

Sometimes I say things I shouldn't. That made the recent radio interview on KFI all the more of a challenge. I'm still rethinking some of it. But one point, I wish I could have elaborated on, was that "demand increases the need for more of a supply." But Bill Carroll didn't want to discuss that issue.

Still, I believe he got the point. He acknowledged that if a cocaine user buys cocaine from a drug trafficker--that the user could be considered part of the problem. It's common sense. The more cocaine users, the more traffickers can make money by supplying the drug. Cut the demand, and the financial gain diminishes. Cut demand enough and the problem is eliminated.

Instead of shutting down this conversation, I'd like to open it up. What if people get involved with eliminating the demand. It may take years, because it took years to get where we are now. But we have to start or the problem will continue to grow. Human trafficking is at epidemic levels, even in the United States. The more demand by a sex-obsessed culture, the more our girls are at risk. What factors play into this demand? Could it be that desensitized people demand increasing forms of erotica and porn? Many of the girls in porn films are being forced to act. I've met one survivor who was drugged and didn't even realize she was being filmed. One of my Facebook friends claimed she'd been raped and forced to perform for the camera, pretending she liked what was happening.

And what about the traffickers? They weren't born that way. They were once little boys who quite likely suffered abuse themselves. Instead of learning to value girls, how did they learn to manipulate them for their own personal gain? We need to explore these issues and talk about them. Sex advertises every type of product imaginable including hamburgers. It's portrayed as easy, casual, with no risks involved on everything from music videos to television shows, to steamy movies and novels. Pimps, prostitutes, and porn stars are glamorized and many of us have bought into the lies that these things aren't so bad. But deep down we all know there are risks and great pain involved. Shouldn't we be talking about it?

A shift in thinking needs to start taking place. How can we educate boys to respect girls from a young age? How can we teach girls to respect their own bodies? Would a biblical worldview make a difference? Jesus was the first one I know about, who treated women as though they were of great worth and even encouraged Mary to learn from Him. He first revealed Himself to a woman. And, the first person He saw when He rose from the dead was female. Do any other religions hold women in such high regard? Are there things we can learn from them?

Not only do young boys & girls need to learn about respect, but also they should be taught to recognize true love. We've almost lost the concept of genuine romance--love that requires commitment, that doesn't come and go, but stays through thick and thin. Even when a behavior is unacceptable, genuine love doesn't walk away--it speaks the truth and walks with a person, hopefully with both people learning and growing in the process. Real love certainly doesn't rape or berate, or manipulate the ways pimps do their girls. That's part of the problem, too. Girls are looking for love in all the wrong places and don't know how to recognize genuine love because they don't often see it demonstrated. One modern-day slave said her pimp must love her because after he beat her, at least he said he was sorry. No one else had ever done that before. She was only 10 years old when he turned her out into a life filled with pain. Many girls are afraid of these guys leaving them, because their fathers left their moms and them. And, then they were alone. So young girls stay in relationships even though they'll likely die within four years if they aren't rescued.

Genuine love offers the security of trust--trust that someone won't walk away, that someone will be faithful and will stick around during good times and bad. And, that kind of love needs to be demonstrated. How can we do that? What role can we play in the lives of girls at risk? Pimps know how to identify those most susceptible to the lies, so maybe we can learn that too. That will be the topic of my next post.

Meanwhile, let's get this discussion going. How can we transform our culture to diminish the demand? Do we need to start with ourselves? If so, in what way?


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Friday, January 11, 2013

Make Today the Day!

January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, but the whole month is intended to promote awareness of human trafficking in the United States. So whatever day you read this can be the day you commit to becoming more aware of what's happening in our neighborhoods. All month there are activities designed to increase awareness. Events to be aware of:
1/11--"Treasures" releases it's new web series X Girls  
            1/14—CASE Candlelight Vigil, Forgotten Children Drop-In Center 
            1/14-- 6:30 to 8:30 Harmony Dust from Treasures will be speaking at Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos, CA.
1/16—“Sex + Money” Film Screening at Loma Linda University
1/18Carissa Phelps event in Fontana
1/19—CASE Walk for Awareness
1/23—Identification & Assessment training in Twin Peaks (more info at http://sbcase.eventbrite.com)
1/25—“Nefarious” Film Screening with Traffick Free Pomona (more info at http://traffickfreepomona.org)
1/26—Taking Back the Track (Rachel’s House)
1/27—Chino Hills Walk (Chino Valley Church)
CASE = San Bernardino County's "Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation. They are doing a fantastic job at pulling together abolitionists from all walks of life to fight this travesty in San Bernardino County. Members of CASE include individuals from nonprofits, social services, law enforcement, health care and more. Go to sbcase.eventbrite.com to register for their events
The San Bernardino County DA's office has put together a fantastic documentary "Teenage $ex 4 Sale," that will be shown at a CADE (Christians Actively Demolishing Exploitation) meeting at River's Edge Church, in Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday, January 31st at 1:00 p.m. If you live in the Inland Empire and want to know what's happening in your own backyard, this would be one of the best ways to find out what's happening.
On a broader scale, especially for Orange County, several groups have partnered to host "Free Them," an art event with a cause on Friday, January 25th at Cottonwood Church starting at 7:00 p.m. with food, musicians, dancers, poets, artists, and more  For info email: ocfreethem@gmail.com

If you're new to the topic, please take a look at the previous posts and articles on this blog to learn more about what's happening. If you're from other states--trafficking occurs in all of them. These issues may take on other faces, but they exist in every state and around the world. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, that's one way to keep the awareness going so you can help make it a beautiful day in your neighborhood.

 Today's the day! What will you commit to do to increase your awareness of human trafficking? We'd love to know.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

National Prayer Call to End Human Trafficking

Want to pray with other Christians all over the United States that God will end the travesty of modern-day slavery? The National Highway of Prayer has brought together top abolitionists to lead this prayer time Saturday, 1/12/13. God hears our prayers and answers them. Hope you'll join in.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013, The Year to Get Involved

It's a new year. It's also January--National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

A newsletter from Plur Life Ministries made me more aware than ever of how important it is for everyone to know about risky behaviors practiced by our own daughters, nieces, and granddaughters--or maybe other teens right in our own neighborhoods.

On New Years Eve 2012, Rob & Colleen Myers led a team into "White Wonderland," a rave at Anaheim Convention Center that tens of thousands of young adults attended. Below are some excerpts (edited for brevity and clarity and used with permission) from their newsletter. See if you can spot the risky behavior traffickers are watching for--or maybe even a case of girls being trafficked.


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A text from Colleen: 11:50 p.m.  Our hearts just broke for the hundredth time . . . got to the side of a stage and gave bracelets to about 20 of the dancing girls about to go on stage wearing nothing on top except star stickers . . . up close they all looked alike . . . like clones . . . like they were purchased by someone who wanted all the same look . . . the two old men who were keeping them all together looked irritated as we hugged them and told them they are precious and valuable . . . we really need more moms to help us reach out to these girls . . . please pray for them. . . .

About 1:30, Colleen & Katie come out of the rave tired and worn down. Katie is limping from being on her feet so long. . . They hop in the Suburban to get some coffee. A very short break is interrupted by a girl alone on the street on the backside of the convention center. Once she is safely with her ride, we load Colleen and Katie up with another 1,500 kandi [bead bracelets] and by 2:a.m. they are back on the street passking out kandi to as many as they can. . . .

About 3:00 a.m., Colleen calls to say it's time to wrap it up and go home. . . . A few minutes later Colleen & Katie walk right past the Suburban with a young girl . . . they sat down on the curb about 30 feet in front of us. Dee had gotten separated from her boyfriend and was alone. So Colleen and Katie walked her back to the hotel drop off area. . . . I thought Colleen was out of Kandi, but she had one more. After several minutes of talking, I noticed Colleen was holding a bracelet and using it to share the Gospel. After she shared, Dee asked, "It's that easy? But isn't God mad at me?"

A few minutes later they were holding hands with heads bowed. Right there on the curb, Dee asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. . . . Dee now has a Bible and is going to need your prayers. . .

_______

Tickets for this party were $133 each. Multiply that times 60,000. Music. Dancing. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. A feast for the senses. And, just a small team of people from PlurLife Ministries offering peace, love, unity, and respect that lasts for eternity through Jesus Christ. More than 5,000 Kandi were given out and every single one was taken with gratitude.These beaded bracelets spell out the web site.

What is the potential for traffickers at an event like this? What's the potential for volunteers? How will you get involved in abolitionist efforts this year?