Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Just in case you thought Australia was a nation exempt from the evils of human trafficking - think again. Here is one excerpt from an information piece on trafficking in Australia (read much more at: http://www.catwinternational.org/factbook/aus.php)
Prostitution grosses A$30 million annually. (Federal Police estimates, CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)
There are 3,000 children, some younger than 10, in the Australian sex industry, which includes brothels, escort work, street prostitution, pornography, sex for favors and stripping. (EPCAT report, Agence France-Presse, 13 April 1998)
59 of 2,992 prostitutes studied for a report conducted by EPCAT were between 10 and 12 years old. 15 were under 10 years old. Two-thirds were girls. (EPCAT report, Agence France-Presse, 13 April 1998)
Child prostitution in Australia was studied by ECPAT, which collected information from early 471 government and non-government agencies working with children. The study, the first of its kind, revealed a vicious cycle leading to child commercial sexual activities. Links were found between young people being sold and youth homelessness, dysfunctional family backgrounds and lack of self-esteem. The government and public should act immediately to provide housing, income security, education and advice to young people. Children are also sold to sex tourists. Parents have been found to sell their own children.
More than 1200 Victorian children are involved in prostitution - the highest rate in the nation.
320 Queensland children were involved in child prostitution.
More than 3100 Australian children aged 12-18 sold sex to survive.
Children younger than 10 were involved in organized pedophile rings.
Child pornography was not limited to the inner cities but was increasing in rural and regional areas.
The main reasons children were sold for sex were for accommodation, food, alcohol, clothes and drugs. (Sarah Hudson, "Child sex soaring," Herald Sun, 30 September 1998) and ("Children, 10, swapping sex for groceries, drugs," Courier Mail, 30 September 1998)
Monday, July 30, 2007
While Pope Benedict XVI has been criticized for some of his recent statements, here's a short speech he delivered on Sunday before the midday Angelus that is well worth reading. Noting that he is on vacation, he said, "I feel all the more intensely the impact of the sorrow of the news that comes to me about bloody altercations and episodes of violence that are occurring in so many parts of the world." The Pope went on:
War, with the mourning and destruction it brings, has always been rightly considered a calamity that contrasts with God's plan. He created everything for existence and, in particular, wants to make a family of the human race. In this moment it is not possible for me to not return to a significant date in history: August 1, 1917—almost exactly 90 years ago—my venerable predecessor, Benedict XV, published his celebrated "Nota Alle Potenze Belligeranti" (Note to the Warring Powers), asking them to put an end to the First World War (cf. ASS 9 , 417-420).
As that huge conflict raged, the Pope had the courage to affirm that it was a "useless bloodbath." This expression of his left a mark on history. It was a justified remark given the concrete situation in that summer of 1917, especially on the front here in this part of northern Italy. But those words, "useless bloodbath," have a larger, prophetic application to other conflicts that have destroyed countless human lives.
He concluded his remarks:
From this place of peace here in the north of Italy, where one feels even more vitally how unacceptable the "useless bloodbaths" are, I renew the call to follow with tenacity the way of law, to firmly renounce the arms race, to reject in general the temptation to face new situations with old systems.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I was able and priviledged to catch most of the UNOH conference well named 'fools for a revolution' this weekend. Great opportunity to be challenged and reminded of the Kingdom basics - here are a few classic moments:
1. Jackie Pullinger - "I don't have balance... I don't have boundaries - I'm tired and worn out and all of that is fine." Nice. For many reasons, this stuff is so offensive to Christians - but I think it's awesome.
"The opposite of patience isn't impatience it's unbelief."
she offered some great thoughts for Kingdom workers...
- for those who've been at it (persevering) but haven't seen fruit - keep believing and begin to get impatient for God to move...
- for those who are just starting... learn to be patient and God will move when He wants... you learn faithfulness and endurance.
2. Shane Claibourne - (I think it's really Tony Campolo but not sure) "I don't want to tip toe around the edges of life just to arrive at death safely." nice. me either... I'd rather do the hokey pokey through the middle of it! ;-)
3. Tim Costello - mentioning wesley and booth as the great forerunners of evangelical social justice... nice. nice. nice.
I was encouraged and built up - didn't hurt to meet many great legends, heros and warriors (fellow fighters) who were there too.
God is good and it's confirmed - I am a fool for revolution.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
ARRESTED FOR PEACE - Personal Reflections of Nonviolent Direct Action – Samuel Hill 5
This reflection focuses on the action in which I was involved. The entire week was full of peaceful prayer vigils, spectacular marches, protests at gates, street dramas, public meetings, art shows, community meals, an interactive Peace Embassy in the Plaza and so on.
After years of discipleship and following the way of a radical Jesus / After so many rallies and marches in opposition to war with my social justice comrades / After months of specific preparation, awareness raising, education, non-violent training, fundraising, planning meetings, media releases and lobbying of Parliamentarians in relation to Talisman Sabre War Games – I found myself sitting in the Rockhampton Police Watchhouse, after having being arrested for living out an alternative to war – for playing a peaceful game of Frisbee on beautiful Shoalwater Bay, located on the Great Barrier Reef that has been given permission by the Australian Government to be destroyed in order to practice and prepare for killing of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world.
Civil Disobedience: It had come time to engage in civil disobedience. It had come time to break an unjust law. For a nation living in mostly apathy or in a space of ‘what can I do’, this was one of the most significant and empowering act of democracy that I have ever engaged in – let alone extremely spiritual.Our ActionI was part of an affinity group of 5 Christians Activists. On Thursday 21st July we crossed the line and unlawfully entered Shoalwater Bay Military Base. Beginning with a 5.30am prayer meeting, we walked 2.5 hours through the rain and bush, to the rumbling sounds of war machines on the horizon and the imminent expectation of being discovered. We carried a peace flag reclaiming the land, a letter for the US and Australian Major General (see attached) a Frisbee and a belief that another world was possible.Samuel Hill AirbaseOur destination was Samuel Hill Airbase, a key logistical centre for the biggest war games in Australia’s history. While other affinity groups aimed to stay undetected for as long as possible to stop the war games, our affinity group aimed to deliberately walk right up to the main commanders to ask them to turn around and pursue life not death, creation not destruction as the way to a peaceful future. We never expected to even make it onto the restricted area, let alone as far as the main Airbase. However, a series of near miracles led us right to the airstrip, where we were to walk down the middle of Samuel Hill Airbase and play Frisbee with the soldiers. Walking down that airstrip will be something I will not forgot for the rest of my life. Not only were we awe-struck that we’d gotten this far, but for the first time in our lives we believed that ‘ordinary people’ like us with a simple Faith can live out our beliefs with no fear and confront the powers that seemingly shape this world in ways we do not want. I felt a deep connection with Jesus as we walked down the tarmac, knowing something inside me had changed forever as I deliberately broke the law to illustrate a higher law as Jesus had done many a time – the law of love for one another.
Frisbee on the Tarmac: There was something also deeply significant as we played a peaceful game of Frisbee in the middle of their war games. And something ironic about watching a harmless Frisbee fly through the air over the tarmac, where other flying objects, made for death and destruction fly in and out preparing to do the worst.
Dialogue with the Troops: Our interactions with the troops were a highlight. We had the privilege of spending 1.5 hours playing Frisbee, drinking coffee, eating, sharing stories and challenging one another while the QLD police made their way to arrest us. Although, amusingly we walked in on them watching Team America, which they were slightly embarrassed about. It was like a social event, as the base was shut down and all the other soldiers came over to see the commotion. The 5 of us mingled, chatting with about 30 troops. I spoke with one guy who shared his Iraqi memories with me. He spoke of the use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and his exposure to this deadly weapon. Another soldiers read our media statements (see attached) and we asked them to consider their vocation as we expressed worry for their safety. We talked about how to bring about peace, and of the most fulfilling role they all experienced in the military – the building of infrastructure and helping people. We applauded their courage, bravery and desire to do good, but we also challenged the method of murder by which they sought peace.
The Arrest: And so, we said our farewells as the QLD police speed us away, commenting that we were having too much fun. As we departed, we watched the tanks and soldiers in combat stop their games as we were taken through the base, and the fighter jets roared overhead…and it was still raining – my socks were very very wet.We were charged with Trespass on Commonwealth land – a very minor offence said the officers. A small sacrifice for following Jesus’ way. So small, that 40 more people of all different faiths were to do the very same thing after us with 20 or so getting charged (including one guy, for doing the hokey pokey across the line whilst being read his rights). Our trial date is 2nd August (mention) and will require us to travel back to Yeppoon QLD (If you would like to support us in any way we would be highly appreciative). Measurable ResultsAside from the spiritual impact and a personal obedience of living out a way of peace by crossing the line – what did we achieve? A lot, and not much at the same time.
Some Sample headlines across Australia, from Yeppoon, to Doveton, from Perth to Brisbane read :
Bomb Tests Opposed
Activists Play Peace Games with Captors After Arrest
Christian Activists Infiltrate War Games
Protestors Raise Stakes in War Games
While channels such as 9,10 and SBS showed short stories. Our action also caused the military to changes its stance of denial that 7 of our friends, including 66year-old grandmother June were camping within the base. While, the conversation went all the way to Parliament House where Brendan Nelson was questioned about why the military were continuing the live fire while civilians were in the base.Our actions helped inspire and give hope to the locals, who thanked us profusely for our sacrifice. Yet, they are the hero’s of this story. Long-term campaigners, who will continue to live in the area, as the bombs fall, their houses shudder and windows shatter, while they continue living in the shadow of a likely target, while the testing of new weapons continue, while nuclear warships and nuclear submarines circle their waters, while the denial of the use of depleted uranium continues, while the environment is destroyed and dangerous chemicals infiltrate their water supply and lands. While the Darumbol people’s land, their ancestors and lives continue to be destroyed. The people’s vision – that the land be returned to the Durmbol people and become a place of peace once again.
In a time where countries like Australia and the US have lifted the ante for war – Peace Convergence 2007 and our actions has lifted the ante for Peace. I urge us all to do the same. In an age of perpetual war, in an age of 30,000 nuclear weapons, its Nonviolence or Nonexistence. We can abolish war.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
We will ‘be’ homeless in order to:
identify (we want to know first hand some of the realities that face the homeless everyday).
solidarity (we want to align ourselves ‘with’ the homeless).
proximity (we want to tear down barriers/stereotypes and judgements that keep us apart).
voice (we want to create a means so people who find themselves homeless can speak for themselves).
awareness (we want others to pay attention to the problem in our cities and districts in order to affect change).
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Life is great for the average Australian. The latest technology, fashion and food, we have it all – more than any other generation. But just how great can life be when more than a billion people around the world live on less than $1 a day or when a child dies every three seconds from extreme poverty? Or when human trafficking keeps on growing???
We are launching some action steps towards creating a better world... the Amazing Grace movie launches DOWN UNDER on Thursday, April 26th - go see it... if you live in Melbourne we are planning a launch event... check out 2love for more details... http://www.2love.salvationarmy.org.au/main.asp
Also, some brave folks are going homeless during national homelessness awareness week (Aug. 6-12) through-out the Australian South Territory - The Salvation Army is tired of just talking policy... many solid folks are showing solidarity with the homeless by sharing their lives for a few days (with digital video cam to give them a voice), and offering some identification as we get creative about housing reform in this country... want to volunteer to highlite the plight of the homeless in your area? contact me.
There are many more initiatives to come... stay tuned - all suggestions are welcome!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
I saw Coldplay in concert in vancouver last year (thanks to a great friend)... and this song was powerful... in a dark stadium it was sung with just one solitary light hanging from the ceiling - as it was sung, I heard Jesus singing it to me... and the chorus line, "I will try to fix you" turn to "I will die to fix you."
That's some kind of love - let Him sing it over you. Oh, and coldplay was one of Annie's favourite bands...
so, this is another shout out to Annie - if I know her at all, I'm sure she's singing along.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The news doesn't stop from the frontlines in Vancouver... it's all out war there with death stalking my old friends on everyside - keep the prayer coverage up, let's get their back.
My good friend Annie has been declared dead in body this week (not sure the cause of death)... I reckon she's alive and well and singing with a pink guitar on a street made of gold. No doubt, she's also drinking Iced Vanilla Cappuccinos (hold the whip) by the dozen! I've got a hunch she's much more satisfied with her current living arrangements (she could never get those right here on earth)... and I can't stop seeing an image of her hoarding alot of art markers and admiring all the different kinds of paper...
Annie taught me some of the most important lessons of my Kingdom life:
1. Kiss the son (Psalm 2).
2. Jews and Christians are deeply connected.
3. Jesus is a friend of the poor.
4. Life should be lived to the full.
5. Everyone can give gifts.
6. Open-handedness/generosity is a way of life.
7. You can tell real Christians by their belly-buttons (who knew?!)
8. Academics are over-rated.
9. Injustice sucks.
10. Double-dipping IS allowed (always).
11. Kiss strangers... especially smelly ones.
12. If you're in a pysch ward - you might as well have some fun.
13. Don't let skill stop you from being a rock-star...
these are just a few... there are heaps more... (washing your hands is over-rated, no smoking signs are simply suggestions... etc...) but here's to Annie... who Jesus used to teach me that it's true what He said in Galilee, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." People are gifts... thank-you God for Annie.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
just reading 'a long way gone' Ishmael's account of his life as a child soldier. An excruciating experience just to read about it, but an important truth - what can we do to offer some comfort, create change - make a better world? God help us.
Monday, July 16, 2007
One of the things that God has graced Iris' ministry in Mozambique with is great power. Spiritual power that is. Although they are among the 'least' they have great signs of power among them: people get healed (many children)- completely healed of AIDS and HIV... they've seen people raised from the dead (hundreds of them actually), and the deaf hearing, blind seeing etc.. The Bible tells us to hunger after all the gifts of the Spirit, and Jesus told the disciples that they (and us) would do even greater things than He did... last night I heard a great message on receiving more of the presence and power of Holy Spirit in our lives. Left me hungry for more of God.
I started to wonder what stops us from receiving more of God? In my life it's usually a short list of barriers:
1. unbelief: I can let skepticism grow a root and I don't come to God believing that I'll receive.
2. unworthiness: I think I don't deserve power (I get confused about Grace and gifts).
3. satisfaction: I become satisfied with where I am... apathy makes me indifferent to God's power.
4. comfort: I know that God's power comes at a great price (reputation, humility, persecution) and I often choose comfort over presence.
5. pride: in the end - it all boils down to this. I don't want to look weak, silly or wierd... I want to be dignified and holy (not sure this is even an option).
I was reminded last night, that God's presence and power is what sets us apart - it's not just some 'special moment' we have with signs and wonders... it should be an everyday adventure with God as our guide, living full lives of supernatural power - and bringing a change to the world because we are bursting with God.
I say let's beat down the barriers and charge forward for more of God... "Son of David, have mercy on me."
Friday, July 13, 2007
I've been thinking alot about Mozambique these last few days.
I'm a huge fan of Heidi Baker who with Iris Ministries is changing the whole world from Mozambique... (click on bottom link to go to her website) but I also discovered that the country is one of the Partners In Mission countries for the Australian Southern Territory. (Every developed country is linked with several developing countries in the Salvation Army for partnering... a great idea, I think.)
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. Here's some of the BBC's overview "Between 1977 and 1992 up to a million Mozambicans died from fighting and famine in a war that ruined the economy and much of the countryside. The country has been left with a legacy of landmines and amputees.
A political settlement in 1992 was followed by stability and rapid economic growth for one of the world's poorest countries. However, it suffered serious setbacks when in 2000 and 2001 it was hit by floods which affected about a quarter of the population and destroyed much of its infrastructure.
In 2002, a severe drought hit many central and southern parts of the country, including previously flood-stricken areas. Poverty remains widespread, with more than 50% of Mozambicans living on less than $1 a day."
So, if we really meant business and wanted to partner with a country whose average person lives on less than a dollar a day - what would that partnership look like? These are the things that keep me up at night.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tonight in Vancouver is her memorial. I wrote this for it:
I've been away from the downtown eastside of Vancouver for several months and I miss it. I miss many things: places, smells, friends and family... I also miss Monica. There are things I know and love about Monica. She was:
Honest. Always honest. Sometimes brutally so.
Upfront. Monica didn't beat around the bush much... and didn't have a lot of time for that sort of thing.
Real. Monica was never fake. I always knew where she was at, whether I liked it or not.
Prayer ready. Monica was always asking for prayer, receiving prayer and offering up prayers.
Monica was beautiful. She was cool too. Her motorcycle rocked. She had attitude but was never above anyone.... never. She always rooted for the underdog. She had this tenacity about her... she was extremely disciplined in so many ways. She worked out like clock work - she's the only heroin addict I know that finished a master's degree while in the throws of an addiction. She was a finisher.
Monica was a lover. She loved quickly and openly. She's the only women I've married twice! Once in a church - the other on a roof. :-)
Monica was a mother. She loved Zeek and Jake... she prayed for and with them often. I've watched her worry and cry over them... and laugh with their joys. I've watched the pain of her journey with her boys.
Monica was down to earth. She was rooted in earthiness.
Monica was many things. To me she was a long time friend. I loved her. And I am deeply grieved at her passing. I'm going to miss her frank emails (with the red alert for expletitives). I'm going to miss watching her become all that God wanted her to be. I'm going to miss her triumphs. I'm going to miss praying with her on the phone at all hours of the day or night and exchanging emails of encouragement and advice. I'm going to miss her until I see her again... in a place where she will no longer be beaten down by circumstances and abused by addiction.
When I see her I've got many questions about the day she died. I need to talk with her long and hard. I'm sure she'll be frank, honest and real. But mostly, on the day we meet again, I'm going to hug her and tell her how much I missed her and how thankful I am that I got to be her friend. She brought a lot of colour to my world... and for her friendship and life - I am grateful. I pray that her efforts to better people's lives will bear fruit... and I pray in many ways that I will learn to be more like Monica... and that her friendship will live on in me.
I know Monica would want us to grieve in Hope... let's honour Monica by choosing to LIVE full lives of faith - believing Jesus when He says, "I am the way, the truth and the life". Monica knew and loved Jesus, let's follow her lead on that.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
If 1 can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand then the enemy must be shaking in his boots today with these two Warriors joining forces.
Yeah God and yeah for the Kingdom as we grow in love and strength. God bless Regan and Jeni. Wish I was there to witness the event.
Friday, July 6, 2007
I met with a social justice worker from the Uniting Church today - the Salvos will join the Australian premier of Amazing Grace - the movie of William Wilberforce's fight against the slavetrade. The beginning of many more partnerships to come, I'm sure. Check out their website
Thursday, July 5, 2007
I haven't said much about accountability these days (since my running blog about the Nike lounge)... but this month my 30 day experiment is to do something new everyday... now, being in a new country, new place, new neighbourhood and new friends - this shouldn't be too difficult.. but it is fun to notice all the newness.
I had a prophetic word for 614 Vancouver when I left... it was a season of 'new things' that they were to embrace... seems the word is as true for me as for them.
God is faithful.
And on the subject of new and accountable - the new car I drive here (on the new side of the road) beeps when you speed. I kid you not. How do I know? enough said. Although I like accountability, this is a pain - I'm assuming if I'm ever nailed for speeding it will be difficult to fight the law when your car alerts you that you're driving too fast... wow.
Although this feature reminds me of the Holy Spirit somewhat - I'm getting the manual to figure our how to turn it off (another new thing!). Here's to new things.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
bring on the Jesus redemption:
if we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and the truth is not in us... BUT if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from every wrong. (1 John 1:7).
We need that kind of cleansing in society... holiness in culture - what will it look like? and how long?
Monday, July 2, 2007
What a great day - celebrating the beginnings of the Sally Ann... a celebration that God can do supernatural things with very ordinary people. Yesterday I heard Commissioner Harris speak on Isaiah 51 (and was able to tell him that only a few weeks ago I heard the same scripture used as a prophetic word to the salvation army by Jim Cymbala)... a great reminder that we shouldn't forget.
The Booths are hereos - but they are simply real people who surrendered everything to God... the history of Williams surrender is legend as he worked in a pawn shop as a young person and knelt down one day declaring, "God shall have all there is of William Booth." The big deal is not that he said it, (lots of people have those moments) or that he spoke in third person (lots of people do that too) it's that he kept saying it... a later legend scene for William is one of his last public meetings, he's led out (because he's blind) and he says to his aid... "tell me there are sinners here in need of a savior." That was just William - Catherine is as legendary as they come... and the celebration of this day is a celebration of them together as 'parents' of our movement. She went out early (cancer) but on her death bed testified, "the waters are rising but so am I. I am not going under but over." The Booths didn't just start fights - they finished them.
A friend and I were speaking of the 'well' that is the Salvation Army (our heritage - our rock from which we were hewn), and the hunger that is present in these days (especially among young people) to rediscover the 'roots' of our movement... it's a great thing if we could 're-dig' the well that the Booths first found... I believe in that place is a great gusher ready to wash the world over (some might even think inside that well is a boundless ocean!). God grant it.
As I long to be more like Jesus I suspect I will resemble my 'parents' as well - I'm honoured to be in the famiy! God bless The Salvation Army.