Friday, December 25, 2009
Well, snow is a beautiful thing. It really is. My son is now calling himself, 'snow boy' and is demonstrating his new persona by being in the snow as much as possible... what does he like so much?
it's cold. it's white. it's fun. it's packable (makes snowballs), snowmen, you can stomp and destroy ice, you can skate and tobaggan (both of those are fun yet to come)... in short, it's really super cool.
There are things about it that I like - it's pure.. it's like a beautiful pure covering over the dark, dreary winter... it's bright and clean and lovely. It reminds me of the song 'whiter than snow, yes whiter than snow, Lord wash me and I will be whiter than snow.' I'm praying that my own life will be blanketed by Jesus - a covering of purity and cleanliness that makes me brighter and fun. Plus, with Jesus you don't have to shovel! ;-)
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I received an email today from Surrender wishing me a holy christmas by reminding me of the realities of Jesus' birth as a refugee in poverty. I also wrote an article a few weeks ago for JAC (journal of aggressive Christianity) about the reality of Mary being poor, young and a women... God's recipe it would seem for world changing events is through unlikely characters.
As we all seem to eventual succumb to the force of 'normal' gravity - it sometimes takes some deep reflection to resolve again to live like Jesus. A hero of mine recently held my newborn son, looked deeply at him and sighed as she commented, 'to think, that Jesus came just like this. Incredible.' Incredibly foolish some would argue. But, who can really understand the mind of God - so rich in love that He 'emptied' himself of power and glory to embrace humanity and reveal His message of Good News up close and personal. What love. Oh come, oh come, Immanuel. Christ in me, the hope of Glory. I'm reflecting deeply this Christmas season on the refugee child, the emptied one, the humble King, Jesus - and then, I'm hoping to be more like Him. Here's wishing you a normal defying Christmas as you do the same.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
A glimpse of a great weekend of celebration in the Australian Southern Territory. A great coming together of the end and the beginning with the Tribute to General Burrows and the launch of many new officers who can only pray and hope to live so fully dedicated to God for the salvation of the world! Go God!
Monday, December 14, 2009
So, an interesting news commentary on the release of Barbie in a Burka.
Comments are even more intriguing as people suggest an accompanying Ken with a bag of stones or G.I. Joe with his head cut off etc... seems it's a controversal move by the toy maker giant Mattel.
That said, I'm sure there is money to be made which is how those decisions are driven - not by moral conclusions.
I wonder what it says. Of course, I've seen some pretty scary looking Barbie's practically undressed and looking like they belong in the sex industry not in a little girls closet... I wonder what is worse?
Last time I spoke to a Muslim extremist young women she suggested that her Burka was freeing for her and her friends... she didn't have to worry about being judged and gawked at because of how she looked. Another Islamic women likens the Burka to a jail sentence... I've just this week spoken to a woman who worked in prostitution for years and considered it liberating and I've met countless others whose lives have paid a steep price for that women's so called freedom.
So what does it say?
It at least says that we live in a very complex world. It at least says, that to navigate it will require copious amounts of wisdom and grace. It at least says that the Muslim world is a commercial market that the west is courting at the same time it's declared 'war'. It at least says that women everywhere are still women and little girls everywhere need to learn what the value and worth and dignity of a woman is. I wish it would say that every woman was made in the very image of God and is beautiful not just because of what's on the outside - whether it's a cover-up or a half-naked display but because of their intrinsic worth - because of what they are on the inside. Oh how I wish every girl knew that... if only there was a market for that kind of message!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I was a part of The Salvation Army presenters at the world parliament of religions held in Melbourne this past week.
It was an interesting experience - and one that was full of controversy. I thought all of that was over with the Sexpo stall... but it seems that the dialogue among other faith groups has some Christians worried.
The tension of course is that the dialogue is a crack of liberalism opening us up to potential doctrinal compromise and that we may stray from our evangelical beliefs and Jesus centric gospel. On the other hand, to be present at places where people are already searching for truth is a tradition that goes back to the apostle Paul as he made his way through religious gatherings of pagan worship and dialogued with them about who Jesus really is.
this tradition is deeply embeded into the christian faith - to speak with people openly about the person of Jesus and our experience of His transforming power is not only an opportunity but an obligation.
What was really interesting was the session that I was able to do on Human Trafficking (Stop The Traffik), shared with the Catholics, was jammed packed. Standing room and over-flowing with people, all kinds of different people from different lands, faiths and backgrounds... wanting to know how they can help stop human trafficking.
This leads me to a truth that I'm discovering more and more... justice is the great vehicle of unity... our faith is made clear by our works... our worship is made true by our journey into God's heart for justice.. and that message (which Jesus always proclaimed) is as popular today as ever before. People may not be hungry for dry doctrine and semantics... but they are hungry for justice.
At the end of the presentation, a person came up to me and said 'thank God for the Salvos, the people who can finally bring some practical reality to religion!'. Hmmm. that's something to think about.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Today was the finale of our local inner city corps plant Christmas family camp. It was incredible. We had dreamed of doing an extravagant display of God's love for the weekend - and we did. It was evident by some of the comments... one little boy on returning answered his dad who asked, 'how was it?" with this: 'it was paradise!'. Wow.
But he may be on to something... what is paradise? Jesus suggested that heaven was here - in us - right now... that if we love (as He does) we can actually taste heaven on earth. And that's what we were banqueting on this weekend... heaven. Paradise came through sacrificial love in so many ways - kindness, giving, serving, singing, planning, swimming, eating.... a feast of earthly stuff laced with eternity. Good times.
This morning (at the beach) we contemplated the essentials of the Christmas story - camping out on why God would choose to come to earth as a defenseless, innocent, unarmed baby... we had the help of my own son (only 7 weeks old) as a demostration of just how helpless Jesus had made himself... WHY would he do that? He could have come with fire, an earthquake, a dragon, a pirate... anything would seem to be easier, better, more practical than a helpless little babe? Or would it?
The real question is what was he trying to say? Jesus said it best when he grew into a man... "the son of man has not come to condemn the world but that through him the world might be saved.... for God so LOVED the world." You see, if he was trying to reveal his power or his strength or his majesty - he would have come another way. But he was trying instead, to display the greatest revelation of Himself to us - LOVE. And this weekend, for me, was another demonstration of the incarnation of God's love in His people. Heaven on earth. So our little friend was right on the money, it was paradise.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Well, the Salvos are in the thick of the fight this weekend.
As we gather to celebrate a hero (General Eva Burrows) and commission some fresh warriors to the front we are also taking a stand at the largest Sexpo in Australia (70,000 people expected) and get this, they are simply in the venue next door!
There's been alot of media interest and a lot of colourful, online chatter about our venture. And, to be honest - I understand the tension.
I'm not a fan of the sex industry. As a matter of fact I believe that the results of their efforts (whether they realise it or not) are women and children and men enslaved, exploited and diminished. Society ends up paying a huge bill - not to mention the cost to the next generation. To be so completely convinced of the evil nature of such an 'industry' makes it difficult to be present in it. Except one thing.
My participation is rooted in the belief that light belongs in the darkness. It's the same reason why we visit brothels and pubs and rooming houses and dark alleys and houses condemned. It's the exact same reason why we take groceries to swatters and serve up soup to violent youth in the early hours of the morning. It's not to approve of their behaviour - it's to offer a way out.
I don't believe we have the luxury to stand on the sidelines and wag our disapproving fingers without getting our sleeves rolled up and dirt under our finger nails. One of the best titles Jesus has is 'friend of sinners'. He's with them. And I'm with Him - so what choice have I got? He hates sin - but he loves people... and somehow, we have to do the same.
So in the messiness and tension of this weekend, a celebration of saints and an invasion of Justice - I see Jesus. And like Joshua's vision before Jericho He isn't taking a side - He's taking over! May He be glorified and may we all be transformed through our obedience to His call. God's kingdom come.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Great article in the Age...
Today is White Ribbon Day, a perfect opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do. And the first step is to acknowledge that the poor behaviour towards women that seems so prevalent among our footy stars is a reflection of Australia's bad behaviour in general.
At least one in three Australian women at some stage experiences violence at the hands of a man. Violence outstrips obesity, smoking, drink-driving and breast cancer as the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women in the prime of life. These women are our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our girlfriends, our colleagues and our friends. And whether we are aware of it or not, every one of us knows a woman who has suffered the appalling effects of violence.
By virtue of being raised a man in our society, most men will have contributed to the problem in some way over the years. I can think of countless times in my own life when I've laughed at sexist jokes, for example, even when I felt uncomfortable, just because I felt too small to speak up. Or when I've seen friends or colleagues disparage their partners and been too embarrassed to say anything.
I've known people who were living in situations of abuse and had no idea what to do, and consequently did very little. And I admit that at times in my life, I've behaved in ways that fell somewhere on the spectrum between insensitive and scurrilous, ways that have been hurtful to women I love, and excused that behaviour on the basis that, well, that's what men are like, and it didn't really mean anything anyway.
But it does mean something. Every time I behave that way, I am supporting the belief that men have rights and privileges greater than those of women, or that somehow men have a special place in the world that isn't shared by women. It doesn't mean that I beat my wife. But for many men, that belief is the basis of the notion that it's OK to beat your wife, that it's OK to run your partner down, or to treat women merely as objects of sex. Because those forms of abuse are all based on the notion of male power and privilege.
And it's that notion we need to change if we are ever to change the statistics. Until now, we have tended to deal with violence against women after the fact, through our police, our courts, our hospitals and women's refuges. It's a constant mop-up operation. read the rest
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I used to run for calorie control - that's how I started. Then one day, after running for some time, my watch broke. I almost didn't bother going for the run - thinking that if I wasn't counting and comparing and adding up the calories burned that it wouldn't count.. I went anyway and somewhere on that run it happened. I started to love the run. Not just the benefits, but the actual running... I started to hear the music (you know, chariots of fire) - I started to see the scenery and fall in love with the creator - I started to pray... not contrived or a list memorized - just free form praise and thanks and vent and well, time spent with my love. It's sweet. Now, it's a discipline that drives my prayer life... so the last few months have been difficult finding a new rhythm. Today I got the clear from the doctor that I can run again... and so I did. It wasn't a full stride, olympic venture.. just a short run, studded with some walks - but it was an old friend, a healthy reminder of the way God made me and a good time with God.
Somehow, these bodies of ours are connected to our soul - for me, this is good news. And today I'm celebrating the outdoors, the sweat, the burn and the time with Jesus. Hebrews 12 is a good text to consider...
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saw Chicago (the musical) last night. Good times.
Great music... some provocative ideas to be sure - but a fantastic parody on the shortcomings of the legal system and celebrity culture. It got me to thinking... the reality of celebrity culture eats away at equality and fair-play... most of us buy into the myth that WE are the exception - not anyone else. We are fine when we are getting special treatment but cry 'foul' when someone else receives a hand. In the end, it boils down to our sinful nature. We are inherently selfish- the only way to deal with it and the reality that makes 'un-grace' a constant companion in our culture is to repent (change our MIND, and the direction of our lives) and ask Jesus to make us new. He can. His life was a celebration of making ordinary people special - it was an extravagant display of grace... he poured it out - even on me. The last post (by U2) is a lyrical reminder of what Love has done to us, the world... opening our smallness to His greatness... giving us a way into the humungous nature of God's love...
I'm going to try and practise Grace like that today - I'm going to defy celebrity culture and recognize the divine calling of EVERY person, I'm going to try to celebrate the possible and advocate for those who have been forgotten - and, all. that. Jazz...
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced
Enraged by Taliban oppression Malalai Joya became a women’s rights activist, and after the US-led invasion, took on the new regime as an MP. But speaking out has come at a cost. She tells Johann Hari why death threats won’t stop her exposing ugly truths about Afghanistan. read the whole story
She's got some serious guts. Speaking of women with guts - check out this australian woman who dares to challenge current consumer culture for the protection of our young girls. Here's a sample of the article challenging the sexualisation of young girls:
'[The] pre-pubescent girls in this ad ... are portrayed as music video skanks,' the mother of three writes scathingly at mamamia.com.au.
Freedman quickly explained why her blood boiled so quickly at the sight of the ad. She was in the midst of reading Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist. It is a sombre new look at 'how we are eroding what was once the sacred space of childhood with a bombardment of appalling imagery and sexually suggestive ideas'.
The effects of such advertising on girls is well documented. In addition to Tankard Reist's book, recent books on the subject include The Lolita Effect by M. Gigi Durham, So Sexy So Soon by Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne and What's Happening to Our Girls? Too Much, Too Soon — How Our Kids are Overstimulated, Oversold and Oversexed by Australian researcher Maggie Hamilton.
Let's work together to make a better world for our children.
Speaking of which - you may want to check out the Asia Pacific Breakthrough Summit - a rare event being held on December 2nd and 3rd to generate commitments and mobilize resources towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 3 and 5.
To compliment and support the conference proceedings taking place indoors, we will be hosting a free outdoors public event in Federation Square on Wednesday December 2nd. The focus of this event is education and grass roots action and will link faith communities, schools and the general community in our efforts.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It is now high time to apply to the 2010 session of Saved2save Training School, starting in January 2010.
S2S can be viewed as a training resource for the front-line people, the pioneers in God’s Kingdom. We are looking for those who, beside their ordinary work, want to give their time towards building God’s Kingdom. find all the info at this website
I highly recommend it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Amanda Hart posed for the Herald Sun who featured an article on our decision to run a stall at sexpo in Melbourne later this month. After about 6 radio interviews I'm getting the idea that it's a hot topic. If you have the time please go the Herald Sun article and enter your opinion on their online pole about if it's appropriate for the Salvos to be present at Sexpo. Just for the record we are operating a stall at Sexpo for two reasons:
1. We want to stop human trafficking. We will be featuring Stop The Traffik and awareness and education around human traffickng for sex. What better way and to who better than sexpo to spread the word!
2. Jesus. Where people are gathering who are hungry for meaning, purpose, intimacy, love and an alternative lifestyle - what better crowd to offer the answer? Jesus is the only way to fill our empty souls... Jesus loves porn stars is a New Testament with a testimony... check it out at triple X church...
In many ways this reminds me of some Holiness debates going on these days.
The purity of holiness is not contaminated by being 'in' the world... that's where it belongs. Light belongs in the darkness... holiness is infectious and as a holy people we can enter into 'unholy' places without fear and without compromise and bring a holy Jesus with us... who can transform us from the inside out.
Years ago a drunk man stumbling into a drop in I was running in an inner city asked if the 's's' on my uniform meant 'sexy soldier'... now, I think he may have been on to something! ;-)
If you want to join our efforts we welcome any prayer support you could offer on the last weekend of November.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
20 years today that the Berlin Wall was torn down... East and West Germany were finally united after years of oppression and separation. it's incredible what has happened in history. Like the iron curtain many people found it impossible to believe that communism (at least the eastern block sort) could so suddenly collapse... read some classic escape stories here for evidence of people's desperate plea for freedom. I was privileged to be in East Germany shortly after the wall was removed - it was still very clearly a different world at the time - economics and social segregation had created it's own wall. The same was true in Russia.. again, I spent almost a year there shortly after the fall of communism.. yet the residue of communism existed still - fear, oppression, judgement, etc..
All this leads me to wonder about the residue of the enemy in our lives. We were walled in by fear, death and sin... and Jesus really knocks down that wall and invites us out and Him in... a free world... but I wonder about the marks... the scars... if we are technically free - but afraid to enter the fullness of that freedom. I want all the walls removed. Let's live in a spacious land like God promised... let the only scars remaining be the ones on His body for us. And let wholeness, freedom and peace (shalom) reign in and through us... tear down the wall.
I'm praying that a united Germany would be free from the spiritual and social walls of it's past and enter into the fullness of God's spacious and abundant life through Jesus.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We Christians profess to have in the Gospel of Christ a mighty lever which, rightly and universally applied, would lift the entire burden of sin and misery from the shoulders (that is from the souls) of our fellow man - a total remedy for all the moral and spiritual woes of humanity. We all profess to believe this - Christians have professed to believe this for generations - and yet look at the world, look at so-called "Christian England and America." The great majority in these nations utterly ignore God, not even making a pretense of remembering Him even one day a week. And then look at the rest of the world. I have often become so depressed with this view of things that I have felt as if my heart would break. I don't know how other Christians feel, but I can truly say that "My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Thy law." (Psalm 119:136) And because it seems to me that this dispensation compared with what God intended it to be, has been, and still is, as great a failure as the one that preceded it...
just a taste of Aggressive Christianity (a book of messages from Catherine Booth - a Christian hero). read more here.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
well, I can't really get past it. I've tried to relax a bit a just enjoy the fun of melbourne cup day celebrations... but I find it an incredible source of discomfort... last year Australian's spent 217 million dollars on Cup day. 217 million dollars on cup day. two hundred and seventeen million dollars on cup day!! now, at the same time there is a boat of impoverished and very hungry indonesians off the coast of Australia and we aren't sure that we have the resources to help them. Wow. They are now embarking on a hunger strike to try and get the attention of our nation but someone obviously forgot to tell them that we are awfully busy right now... betting on horses and buying extravagant clothes and hats and drinking ourselves into oblivion - too blinded by our own excess and greed that we can't help a boatload of poor people... God help us. God help us. God help us.
If Jesus' parables are right we are in some serious trouble on the other side of eternity. God help us.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Some of the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers onboard Australian Customs ship the Oceanic Viking have threatened to kill themselves rather than go to Indonesia.
Speaking to the ABC from a phone hidden from customs officers, the asylum seekers pleaded with Australia to give them a new home. read the rest here...
Asylum Seekers and how we receive them will remain a major justice issue in our future (and our past). Jesus once asked a question about who our neighbour is... I think these situations are opportunities to answer him. How's your hospitality these days? Ever consider hosting an asylum seeker family in your corps/church? You may be surprised to learn that The salvation Army's history is well rooted and experienced in helping migrants find new opportunities and possibilities - including community and support and new family... perhaps we could be digging that old well for new opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those in need... just thinking.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
An exciting conference in Melbourne this weekend (if you are anywhere near please consider going) called Go For Souls.
The ever energetic and passionate Cadet James Thompson takes the lead as we press in to surrender to God's ultimate plan for salvation for the whole world. And not just theoretically... but in reality. People will have the opportunity to be trained to bring God's amazing plan of salvation to the world... don't you want to be part of the change that we so desperately need in the world? Evangelism and justice are deep friends. You cannot change external realities and expect them to last without an inner change... and that inner change is only possible through Jesus and His redemption. Don't you want to help spread the news? Need some training, encouragement and opportunity? Check it out this weekend and then be the change you want to see.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I've been amused lately at the amount of people who haven't known I'm pregnant. It's kind of funny. I suppose it's a result of an attempt to leave it off the main discussion online - which is often the main way to communicate across the world etc.. In three days, Judah will be born. Judah means praise - and is the name of a nation, a lion, a celebration, a tribe and a baby. Praise is by definition something that 'bursts forth' - it is a bubbling over of response to a Holy God. It's not a controlled thing.. it's an overflow thing... it's like laughing out loud at funny stuff... I think evangelism should be like that too. It's an overflow.
Pregnancy is like that. Despite an attempt to hide it even - it gets out. It shows. It 'bubbles over'. And Holy Spirit is like that - in each Christian there is a promise of an overflow... a bubbling of godliness and power. Today I was praying for some friends and saw them wrapped in bubble wrap... it was a very sweet picture of joy and overflow. I'm praying for that today. The joy of the Lord is our strength. I'm praying for overflow in more than one way - but I'm praying that Good News will travel fast.. around the whole earth in fact and that Judah or Praise will erupt in every people group, in every nation so that Jesus might be fully known.
Told anyone some good news lately?
Friday, October 9, 2009
Like an arrow in the bow of a warrior
Strong and brave and ready for use
Like a choir of angelic songs
Singing praise and glory to You
Holy is the Lion of Judah
Lying down beside the Lamb
Justice and Love like a banner
That will cover the land
Judah, praise be to our God
The One who is Mighty To Save
Judah, worthy is the Lamb
You are fearfully, you are wonderfully made
Like a nation, preparing for war
Proving all Your promises true
Like a lion, roaring with fire
Releasing and redeeming with Truth
Like a baby, held safe in my arms
Crying out for Love and for You
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This guy is the example we need to see - to be reminded that all of us have solutions in front of us... what kind of change do you want to see? why not set out to discover how you can be the solution instead of lamenting the problems.
By Faith Karimi
(CNN) -- William Kamkwamba dreamed of powering his village with the only resource that was freely available to him.
His native Malawi had gone through one of its worst droughts seven years ago, killing thousands. His family and others were surviving on one meal a day. The red soil in his Masitala hometown was parched, leaving his father, a farmer, without any income.
But amid all the shortages, one thing was still abundant.
"I wanted to do something to help and change things," he said. "Then I said to myself, 'If they can make electricity out of wind, I can try, too.'"
read the whole story here.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I've been thinking about the image in revelation of the lion laying down with the lamb.
recently my son and I watched the new disney production called 'earth' that follows around some animals in their attempts to survive the harsh realities of nature - particularly with global warming throwing off a natural rhythm. There were many sad parts in the film - and there was a tremendous beauty as well.
that said, the lions in this film were all too thrilled to attack prey and eat them - all because of their survival instinct.
Revelation suggests that this animosity - this natural inclination to attack and eat each other will be gone and there will be enough for everyone and everything... no more violence necessary.
But I was also thinking that the reality of that kind of world means a perfect mixture of justice and love. And that the lion in scripture often represents Jesus coming with Justice and the Lamb often represents Jesus coming and laying down his life in love. The image of the lion and the lamb lying down together struck me the other day as a representation of the perfection and completion of God's plan... righteousness and justice... a perfect picture of justice and redemption.
May justice and love unite and lay down together - creating a perfect world. Now that's something to roar about!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
that you might use them for your purposes
I gave them for a moment then withdrew them
for the work was hard.
You asked for my mouth
to speak out against injustice.
I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.
You asked for my eyes
to see the pain of poverty.
I closed them for I did not want to see.
You asked for my life
that you might work through me .
I gave you a small part that I might not get 'too involved'.
Lord, forgive me for calculated efforts to serve you
only when it is convenient for me to do so, and
only in those places where it is safe to do so,
and only with those who make it easy to do so.
Father, forgive me
send me out
as a usable instrument,
that I may take seriously the meaning of your cross."
© Joe Seramane, South Africa, from Lifelines, Christian Aid, 1987
Statement of the Issue
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Reliable reports show that millions of people around the world are subjected to it. The techniques used by traffickers and the forms in which trafficking is manifested are various, but what is common to them all is the exploitation of some people by other people. Those who are victimized include babies, children, teenagers, women and men.
The following statement created by the United Nations and adopted by many others, is both a definition of human trafficking and a clear call to action:
"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. "
Statement of Position
The Salvation Army is deeply committed to fighting human trafficking however it may be manifested. We seek to exercise care in restoring the freedom and dignity of those affected.
Human trafficking is contrary to the principles of freedom and dignity. The exploitation
of human beings dehumanizes the individuals who are trafficked, rewards the inhumanity of the traffickers, and weakens the moral and social fabric of society at large.
Restoring dignity to persons who have been exploited is not easy, and the danger of paternalizing trafficked victims in the name of aiding them must be kept in view.
Traffickers need to be stopped and held accountable, but they also need those who will help them to a transformation of heart and mind.
The Salvation Army is opposed to the corrupt abuse of power against other human beings that is inherent in trafficking for personal economic gain. We therefore have the responsibility, both individually and collectively, to work for the liberation of those who have been enslaved in this manner, and to establish the legal and social mechanisms by which human trafficking can be stopped.
Biblical and Theological Background
Humankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26 ). All people are valuable to
God, holding a special place in God’s creation (Psalm 8:5). The Bible teaches that nobody should be exploited or damaged. Psalm 10 describes the wickedness of those who entrap others and the Psalmist calls on God to intervene. This Psalm is as relevant now as it was when it was written many years before the birth of Jesus.
Isaiah 42:22 says, ‘But this is a people plundered and looted all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, “Send them back.”’
Joel 3:3 says, ‘They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink.’
Jesus taught that no one should live in physical or spiritual bondage. He said, ‘The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’’ (Luke 4: 18 – 19). He was quoting Isaiah 61: 1 – 2. Later in Isaiah 61 are these words, ‘I, the Lord, love justice! But I hate robbery and injustice.’ (v. 8).
Consequently, Christians are called upon to work for the elimination of all forms of human trafficking.
Since its inception, The Salvation Army has sought to reduce the worldwide phenomenon of abuse of individuals or groups of people for personal gain, now defined by the United Nations as human trafficking. It has established places of refuge for victims, sought legal changes that would both prevent trafficking and punish those involved, and it has created alternatives for those vulnerable to trafficking. Through its constituent territories, corps, centres and individual members, The Salvation Army continues to plan and undertake culturally and biblically appropriate responses which will help to eliminate the development or continuation of any form of human trafficking.
The Salvation Army recognises that there is a great deal of sex trafficking, and that the majority of those trafficked for sex are women and girls. It rejects this commodification of women in any circumstance – including pornography, prostitution and sex tourism - and works both to eliminate human trafficking for this purpose and to create alternatives for women who would otherwise be forced into prostitution.
The Salvation Army will work against any activity that trafficks people for the sale of human organs.
The Salvation Army seeks to develop strategies and methods which assist trafficked people
to re-enter and make a home in their chosen place of residence.
Often the incidence of human trafficking is hidden within a society. The Salvation Army
takes an active role in researching where human trafficking is occurring and aims to raise public awareness as a result.
The Salvation Army calls upon all legislators in local, national or international jurisdictions to create laws and enforcement mechanisms which criminalize trafficking and which will punish those engaged in such activities.
The Salvation Army also encourages all law enforcement agencies to actively prosecute
perpetrators of human trafficking and to work with other government and community
organizations to free people from any present or future coercion or threat.
Human trafficking flourishes because there is a demand for the services trafficked people are forced to provide. The Salvation Army therefore undertakes education and awareness raising activities so that those who use products or services supplied by trafficked people are confronted with
the human misery, suffering and injustice created by their continuing use of these services or
The Salvation Army recognizes that there are a number of credible organizations
working locally and globally on the issues of human trafficking. The Salvation Army encourages cooperation and networking with these agencies to achieve the elimination of human trafficking and to provide support to trafficked people.
The Salvation Army calls upon Salvationists and other Christians worldwide to seek God’s face and pray.
United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Definition of “human trafficking”, at Annex II, Article 3, paragraph (a) (http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/a_res_55/res5525e.pdf)
humantrafficking.org: A web resource for fighting human trafficking (www.humantrafficking.org)
United Nations Global Initiative To Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) (http://www.ungift.org/)
The Salvation Army, ‘Opposing and Preventing Global Sexual Trafficking’ (www.salvationarmy.org/ihq)
The views expressed in this international positional statement constitute the official position of The Salvation Army on the issue addressed, and they may not be modified or adapted in any way without the express written permission of International Headquarters.
(Approved Draft: 14 September 2009)
Friday, September 25, 2009
features Perri Winter from Aus... great video to promo a great event. If you can - plan to be there. March 2010 - Melbourne.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Cornel West is featured a few times in the Call and Response rockumentary - which you really ought to check out and ask your local theatre to host a screening and invite some friends - it has the potential to help change the world and empower a generation. Cornel explains that the black artists that emerged out of slavery in and morphed into blues and have so influenced and shaped the rock n roll genre were a people who understood about 'the funk'. What is the funk? Cornel suggests it's the muck and the mire of life... we are born in a mess and we go to a mess when we die... that's the 'funk' - but the real gift of the African American experience is that instead of avoiding the funk and never talking about it and pretending not to know about it etc... there is an embracing of the beauty within the funk... that in the muck and the mire or hardship, struggle and injustice is a glimpse of beauty, truth and justice. I think I get it. I'd like to get it more - I'd like to (like Mother Theresa) be able to spot God and His grace in even disturbing disguises... to get to the funk in order to emerge dirty but broken and changed. To find the beauty in the broken (also a solid worship song by Starfield).
Anyway, if you haven't checked out Call and response - do it... it's a great tool for urging people forward to change the circumstances of the current slave trade... why not check out the website and then PRAY this weekend for the abolition of sex-trafficking - then be the answer to the prayer... you may just find beauty in the funk.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I was with someone who got a tattoo of SHALOM (like the picture above) on their lower back. SHALOM is the hebrew word for PEACE... as I've been praying this morning with the rest of the Army world... I've been thinking about that tattoo... I mean - imagine that our whole lives were rooted in shalom - which is more than the absence of conflict but the presence of the fullness of God in all things... we'd be so full we wouldn't have room for violence. Fullness is what Peace looks like in the end... violence comes through war and through inaction, poverty - it looks like assault and withdrawal.. we can perpetuate violence by doing nothing at all... I'd like to live a life marked by SHALOM... not just in ink (although that does cross my mind!) but on my heart, on my actions, in my everyday. SHALOM for everyday.
Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers... that is an action term (ironically we understand it better when we say troublemakers)... makers of peace are those who actively pursuing bringing peace to the world. Jesus would know - that was the announcement of His coming - the good news that Christ was born was deeply connected to Peace On Earth. I want to see the fullness of that angelic proclamation. He is the prince of Peace... peace with God, peace with others - the recipe for peace making is found in the greatest commandments.. to love God and to love others... that recipe is peace in the making.
Today, as you join us in personal and corporate prayer - perhaps that's a decent question: are you a peace maker?
Today is the day that the General of The Salvation Army has declared a global day of prayer for peace. War is a major cause of global poverty and it's effects are felt most intensely by women and children. Jesus had a bunch of stuff to say and social reformers through-out history have also stood for radical change.
One of those reformers is young but has a great take on the early church's resistance to fight for the state, in honor of a much higher goal (allegiance to Christ). It's worth checking out Jesus for President (has a strong American perspective - but is still important).
Another brand new book - a study on Gandhi's methods regarding non-violence and the effectiveness of that route of change in the world is also worth a peek. Gandhi and Beyond
SONG: Jesus Christ is Waiting
Jesus Christ is waiting, waiting in the streets;
no one is his neighbour, all alone he eats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am lonely too.
Make me, friend or stranger,
fit to wait on you.
Jesus Christ is raging, raging in the streets,
where injustice spirals
and real hope retreats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am angry too.
In the Kingdom’s causes
Let me rage with you.
Jesus Christ is healing,
healing in the streets;
Curing those who suffer,
touching those he greets.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I have passion too.
Let my care be active, healing just like you.
Jesus Christ is dancing, dancing in the streets,
where each sign of hatred
He, with love, defeats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, we should triumph too.
On suspicion’s graveyard
let us dance with you.
Jesus Christ is calling, calling in the streets,
‘Who will join my journey?
I will guide their feet.’
Listen, Lord Jesus, let my fears be few.
Walk one step before me; I will follow you.
(Text: John Bell, alt. Tune: Now the Green Blade Rises
Iona Community, Scotland GIA publications)
Prayer for the Peace:
One: We have chosen to be here, forming one body out of many.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: With us are those we see and those who share our vision
but are scattered across creation.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: We share a vision arising from differing experiences—men and women, gay and straight, rich and poor, of many races, creeds and cultures that are one with us in this moment.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: We have chosen to be here in a time of war when we have called for peace.
All: We have chosen to be here in a time of injustice when we have called for liberation.
One: We have chosen to be here in a time of fear when we have called for hope.
All: We have chosen to be here in a time of action as a sign of faith.
One: We have chosen to be here in a time of darkness as a sign of light.
All: We are one in the Spirit; we are one in Christ.
One: Creating and healing and transforming God,
God who makes one of all those
sharing in the hope of faith,
remind us that we are more
than the people in this room
and more than the present time
that we may be your instrument
for peace and justice
in the present time and for all time.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I've recently read the old book (last published in 1940's) Social Evils The Army has Challenged... each chapter has a specific story and strategy around some campaigns that changed the world. It's incredible. STAY TUNED FOR A REPUBLISHED VERSION!!
The story that has captured me (all of them are challenging) is the Japanese Brothel Invasions (early 1900's). Basically, short story version is that the army organised in 'bands' of Salvationists would burst through the doors of brothels where women were kept involuntarily (debt bondage) and they would make an announcement that any woman who wanted to leave could enter the center of the circle of Salvationists. Women who wanted out would get in the centre of the circle and the salvationists would leave... on their way out of course they would be attacked and beaten by the brothel owners and hired goons. Because the women were in the centre of the circle - the 'bad guys' had to get through all the Salvationists first - in order to get to them. They rescued 70 women in the space of a few months in that fashion... a few months later they changed the laws and 15,000 women walked out themselves. In the first week of the campaign business dropped by estimates of 2000 less 'sex buyers' a night... truly we delivered a blow to the darkness.
This inclusive circle of aggressive love is still the way of rescue, support and sacrificial love that represents God so well... it's still the way that God works on the earth - who have you invited into your sphere of protection lately? What blows have you taken for those who have already had far to many to bear themselves? How 'bout a new venture of light invading dark places this week?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Everyday, if we have eyes and ears we will sense and see and hear that God is full of love... poured out. Hope you can experience all of what God has for you today.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Also check out the truth isn't sexy campaign for a glimpse of the amazing work of the human trafficking taskforce in British Columbia - congrats guys!!
Here is some exciting news from Canada! Why do I think it's exciting that a pro-prostitution lobby in Vancouver is making a public protest about The Salvation Army's anti-trafficking campaign and that they plan to protest our International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for Victims of Sexual Trafficking being held later this month? Because I take this as a sure sign that by prayer & fasting we are unleashing the forces of God engaged in the unseen battle "against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12)."
We must be doing something right to be getting this type of response! So, with all the more sincerity and passion let's pray and fast, even now, for the victims of sexual trafficking and the commercial sex industry, as well as for The Salvation Army in Canada and their efforts. Please also lift up those who are protesting, in particular Ms. Davis.
Lastly, please keep in mind that sex trafficking doesn't exist in a vacuum. There is a normalized sex industry that generates the demand for females (and some males) for sexual use. Moreover, countless numbers of women in prostitution are victims of sexual trafficking -- just because they may not appear to be forced on the surface does not mean that they are not victims of extreme psychological coercion and physical brutality. Moreover, I think we can all agree that the sex industry is harmful to all persons who come within it's radius -- prostituting persons, pimps & madams, and sex buyers. They all need our prayers, and most especially our love as modeled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Pro-prostitution lobby wages war on Salvation Army
Protesters will target prayer vigils
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Name the greatest threat to Vancouver prostitutes toiling on street corners and in storefront brothels:
A) pimps B) abusive, disease-carrying johns C) an apathetic public D) the Salvation Army
According to Vancouver's pro-prostitution lobby, the answer is D, the Salvation Army.
Tell them what they've won, Regis...
The Salvation Army launched its local anti-human trafficking campaign last September after working on global sex trade issues for years. The charitable organization joins a growing movement of feminist and church groups who fear a spike in trafficking as the 2010 Winter Olympics draw near.
Human trafficking is among the world's fastest growing criminal industries, rivalling the illegal arms industry and drug trade in scope and impact. According to the U.S. State Department, approximately 800,000 victims are trafficked annually across international borders. Victims include women and children from Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.
In Vancouver, where brothels bloom like dandelions in some neighbourhoods, the magnitude of the problem is unknown. Due to a lack of law enforcement, Vancouver's sex trade industry--fuelled by domestic and international trafficking--remains a mystery.
Like most other anti-trafficking campaigns, the Salvation Army campaign targets the demand side of prostitution--pimps and johns. Last month the Salvation Army hung posters, depicting young women being beaten and abused, above urinals in downtown bars.
"This is a bold step for the Salvation Army," says Brian Venables, a Salvation Army spokesperson and chief architect of the campaign. "We've stepped out of the shadows and said this isn't going to happen anymore, and we're going to do what we can to stop it."
The pro-prostitution lobby is not amused.
The Salvation Army received several threatening emails about the campaign, but Venables says the criticism is misguided. "Our campaign is not against or about prostitution, it's about people who are forced into sex slavery," he says. "The issue is about those who don't have a choice."
But according to Susan Davis, a vocal member of Vancouver's pro-prostitution lobby, anti-trafficking campaigns are dangerous. Such campaigns, she says, prompt law enforcement to raid massage parlours--which she describes as "safe work places"--and drive the industry underground.
However, according to the city's licensing department, no massage parlours have been shut down this year.
Davis, a 41-year-old career prostitute, also claims that "Vancouver police are raiding Asian massage parlours" in a "racist and anti-immigrant" assault on the industry.
While the VPD cited "ongoing investigations," no massage parlours have been raided this year.
In fact, more than 50 de facto brothels--officially known as health enhancement centres--operate in Vancouver. Countless other unlicensed establishments operate with tacit approval from city hall.
Davis also attacked UBC law professor Ben Perrin, Canada's foremost expert on human trafficking. (The Salvation Army crafts its campaign on information complied by Perrin and others. The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada and the U.S. State Department have confirmed Perrin's findings.) Perrin, she says, uses "fear mongering" and "demonization" to promote his anti-trafficking agenda.
Perrin dismisses the attack, noting Davis unsuccessfully lobbied in 2007 for legalized brothels in Vancouver. "This a pro-brothel lobby group," he says, "whose business is threatened by individuals who try to help people exit the sex trade and who try to confront exploitive pimps and traffickers."
Davis plans to mobilize other pro-prostitution activists and protest the Salvation Army's upcoming day of prayer, scheduled at churches and Salvation Army sites for Sept. 27.
She also targets Salvation Army volunteers who will visit Downtown Eastside street corners to pray for the anguished and abused. Davis plans to produce pamphlets warning street prostitutes about the Salvation Army threat. The pamphlets, she says, will be distributed by the publicly funded Mobile Access Project--also known as the MAP van. MAP van spokesperson Kate Gibson says she was unaware of Davis's plans but didn't rule out distributing the pamphlets.
"There's potential for a violent clash between sex workers and Salvation Army people, who have no comprehension of the way that we live," says Davis. "They assume we need rescue when in fact what we need is rights."
Davis may not need rescue. The vocal members of Vancouver's pro-prostitution lobby claim to live charmed lives.
But considering the widespread misery and abuse associated with the sex trade, her opposition to the Salvation Army campaign is desperate and her intentions are small.
Nevertheless, when she waves her placard in protest outside a Salvation Army church, she'll be included in those prayers--whether she likes it or not. (Amen to that! - Lisa)
© Vancouver Courier 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I spent the day with several people who exhibit a lot of courage. Courage is a place of strength that often we don't even find till we visit a place of weakness. It struck me today as I reviewed the events that people who make great decisions, even when they are hard and not the 'easy way' but the 'best way' are exhibiting signs of God's presence. I was testifying to one friend that I couldn't have made the life changes in my life without the strength of God - who filled me with courage to face the things I needed to and to keep walking forward... even sometimes falling forward. That's the power of God which is much greater than me. Just to say I was very thankful to God today for the signs of courage in ordinary people: courage to make good decisions, stop bad behaviours, challenge existing prejudices, choose life, search for God, tell the truth, start again, and many more. I'm so thankful that we don't journey alone. And I'm praying for more courage to live a bold life of fullness every day.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I heard Jordan Belfort, known as "the wolf of wall street" at 614 today.
His bio: Over the last twenty years, Belfort has soared to the highest financial heights, earning over $50 million a year as the notorious Wolf of Wall Street—and then sunk to the lowest societal-lows, succumbing to a massive drug addiction and doing twenty-two months in a Federal prison camp, for stock-fraud.
Today, his life represents the ultimate redemption story. After barely surviving his rise and fall as an American Entrepreneurial Icon, he is now twelve-years-sober and a world-renowned motivational speaker, who assists both people and organizations in breaking through whatever barriers hold them back from achieving success.
Jordan Belfort’s two bestselling books have been published in forty-three countries and translated into eighteen different languages. He is a frequent guest-commentator on CNN, CNBC, Headlines News and the BBC. His life-story is currently being turned into a major motion picture by Warner Brothers, with Leonardo Dicaprio set to play Belfort and Martin Scorsese set to direct. Filming is to begin in 2010.
He's a very interesting and inspiring communicator - although not like I'm used too... he's not for the faint-hearted or for the overly religious... he tends to tell it like it is in graphic Jersey boy speak. There were many things he spoke about that are true... not completely whole (because Jesus is the only way to get to the wholeness part) but true none the less. One thing that stuck out were the beliefs that we carry around about ourselves. These can often be negative beliefs... like 'I'm ugly'. He suggested that the belief can't be broken from the top (like a table) you have to look at the situations that informed those beliefs... and you have to deal with those (in other words - attack the legs that hold up the belief). This is true. I believe Jesus can dismantle the legs of our beliefs when they aren't true and likewise we can build new beliefs based on the truth of who Jesus is and who He says we are. 'I am a child of God' is one strong belief that is essential for success.
Bottom line is that all truth comes from God. But Jesus is not just truth but the fulfillment of all Truth. So as much as Jordan is fantastic - I'm hip to know and love the God who can cross Jordan and bring me into the promise land! Bring it on.
Monday, September 7, 2009
spent a couple of hours last night with fellow worshippers pondering the book of revelation as Rich Swingle (guest from new York) unpacked the whole of the book in a dramatic one person play. Incredible performance and a great spirit of worship on the whole crowd. Revelation has always been a difficult book for me... but the themes of God's love, ultimate justice and accountability mixed with Jesus' invitation in the gospel to pray and seek God's kingdom COME now as it is in heaven is amazing to think about. A bunch of us took the opportunity to symbolically accept the sign of the cross on our forheads in oil as a testimony that we were absolutely submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. Instead of fear - that awesome book should inspire true believers to love. Perfect love drives out all fear. Do you have this revelation??
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I've been hanging with some people over these last couple of weeks who have been studying the glory of God.
Interesting stuff actually.
The theophanies are occasions where God has been seen - notable examples in Scripture are Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Joshua, Isaiah, technically anyone who encountered Christ, and Saul and John on Patmos in revelation.
years ago I started a habit called Praying The Bible which was taking these scriptures and praying them out loud to God - actually using them as ways of training myself to picture God and address Him. It's a powerful way to pray - and if I am honest it also helps to infuse my prayer life with energy - the Word gives life... even to my feeble attempts to pray. I like that.
Tonight we are going to try it in a small group - should be fun! And we are also going to contemplate Christ some more. Christ is the image of the invisible God (John 1) - He is the longest theophany ever... 2 Corinthians 4:6 says it like this, "For God who said, 'let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Ravi Zacharius broke it down not only in scripture but in culture... the romans loved glory, the hebrews loved light and the greeks loved knowledge... all of the hunger of every civilization in the world can be met by the face of Christ.
That's some good news. Why not take some time to contemplate Christ today... I marked a youtube video of Heidi Baker (well worth googling) speaking of having a theophany of the Christ and seeing into His eyes - as she saw Him and all the love He had in His eyes she realised that she could reflect that light to the orphans of Mozambique. Now she is 'the mother' of thousands of unwanted children who have all been touched by His love. Worth a bit of reflection I'd say.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
More evidence today that Holy Spirit is a woman - I was struck by the notion that being pregnant is not something that Jesus was able to experience... that thought was quickly replaced by the reality of Holy Spirit's experience in that department... the re-birthing of every Christian as well as the birth of the church and the groaning pains of all creation itself as they wait in 'labour' until the fullness of time. Wow. She really can relate the the experience of pregnancy and all this to say that over the centuries, mostly the early church saints referred to Holy Spirit as a she because of the clearly feminine characteristics in her role... a helper, convicter, mover and a shaker, nuturer, comforter, birther, teacher etc... not to mention the fact that the Trinity is 'complete' and the gender roles independant of each other are not.
Anyway, just struck me today as very obvious in the birthing department - and I can testify the labour of expectant hope and the groaning for the fullness of time. I wonder if she is also fat and tired?! ;-)
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
A few pictures from the frontlines of Vancouver. The intensity of Faytene (warrior woman) leading The CRY and The War College meeting to pray for the city and nation - to offer a WAR CRY that would be heard in heaven and earth alike. Let the foundations shake and God's kingdom come! It's not too late to consider a year of hard-core mission training in the downtown eastside of Vancouver with The War College. If you can hack it - it will leave you as putty in the hands of the Living God.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I was privileged to be part of the Compassion child advocates conference at the Goldcoast this weekend. It's exciting to realise that God is speaking similar things to all different parts of the same body. Typically, compassion has emphasized the need to sponsor children from developing world situations - and that sponsorship is primarily a financial one. This is an important thing. Re-distribution of wealth is a major justice issue in the world and an important part of the christian journey as well. Sponsoring a child is the very least we can do. The other things they began to speak about though are the deeper things - or as scripture likes to suggest - the weightier things... legislation to protect our children from being completely sexualized (see Melinda Tankard Reist's new book blogged about earlier!) and how that factors into making children (around the world) a product instead of a dignified life... poverty relief that is also rooted in advocacy at a political level (see Micah Challenge). And justice as a lifestyle - rather than simply adding things to our existing comfortable lives, justice is about changing and shifting our lives to be part of what God wants to do in the world. These are some significant changes in perspective and scope. Pray for Compassion and while you are at it pray that God would work those same deep, weighty truths of scripture into not only your mind but your life. All the way through.
Friday, August 21, 2009
We embark on our first training day for brothel visitors and those interested in getting involved in a team tomorrow. The ones who have already started continue to be amazed at the way God is creating opportunities to really get to know women who have found themselves in this dark industry. The whole thing started with one Jesus following woman who wanted to be a good neighbour to a brothel in her neighbourhood... and actually, if you give it a good think almost all the complex social systems of protection for the poor, the abolition of slavery in the UK and the civil rights movement are rooted in the simple teachings of Jesus regarding the greatest commandments... to love God and to love others (followed by the good Samaritan story... featuring a GOOD neighbour). Good neighbours find themselves having to face things they'd rather not see - hassles, dirt, work and despair but they meet these needs with hope, freedom, relationship and love... and as Scripture tells us the truth of the matter is that love is the most powerful force in the world.. never to be undone or overcome... the Love of God is the ultimate weapon for Good.
Here's a decent question for today - are you a good neighbour?