Monday, June 29, 2009

Injustice Towards Children Has Broken My Heart!

While my plan was to go to the Enter Conference at New Life Church in Colorado Springs for training, challenge, and refreshing for my service as Worship Pastor, God had other plans in mind. One organization represented at the conference was iEmpathize. This group has a very powerful and shocking gallery of images and artifacts that speak very clearly the horrors of sex and slave trafficking world wide. As I made my way through the exhibit, God worked me over pretty hard. I was struck by the lack of respect for human life and the decency that should be afforded every child. I was sickened by the realization that our world has largely turned its back on the most innocent and helpless of victims.

The statistics are, of course, sobering.
  • It is believed that over 27 million poeple are enslaved aroound the world today.
  • UNICEF estimates that over 1.2 million children enter into the sex trade every year
  • Approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood to sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.
  • Up to 300,000 prostituted children live on the streets of the U.S.!
One display of the iEmpathize exhibit rocked me to the core. There was a small pair of shoes (pictured) that was found at a Brothel overseas. I was so broken by the small size of the shoes that I cannot get it out of my head. These shoes were smaller than Abigail's shoes (my 5 year old daughter). This experience has changed me - when I went to learn more about worship, God taught me more about the need of innocent victims in our world and He is calling me to be a voice; to do something about it. I don't know what yet, but God is all over me about this. My life must count for orphaned and exploited children in the world - it just must.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Just Learned About...

World Orphans is an incredible ministry with a great idea. I had always thought of adoption as THE answer for orphans in the world. I still believe that, where it is possible, it is the best answer for a child to be raised by a Christian mother and father and taught the ways of Jesus. The reality is that adoption cannot be the ONLY answer. There are simply too great a number of orphan children world wide to think they will all be adopted into a family. In fact, the vast majority of orphan kids are not even adoptable. The legal process breaks down when there are no parents to terminate parental rights, when there are no governmental agencies with information on the kids, when there are no orphanages to house them. So, every night, millions of kids go to sleep on sidewalks, under bridges, or in garbage piles, with no one to watch out for them.

Enter World Orphans. It is the goal of this ministry to have churches in the culture and community where the problem exists provide solutions for small groups of children. The idea is to have an indigenous church build a small orphan home on the church property. Children live in small, gender specific groups, of 10 - 20 children. The home is staffed by members of the church, often widows from the community, who raise the children in the knowledge of Christ. Check out more about how this works here. Paul Myhill, the President of World Orphans, has written an essay called The Mega Issue in which he seeks to solve a list of interlinking problem by rescuing orphans. The orphan problem is at the root of so many other issues. He writes:

Do you desire to assist the poor and crush poverty? – Rescue orphans.
Do you wish to combat HIV/AIDS and other heinous diseases? – Rescue orphans.
Do you hope to prevent pedophiles from abusing young children? – Rescue orphans.
Do you want to stamp out prostitution? – Rescue orphans.
Do you yearn for the end of drug dealing and addiction? – Rescue orphans.
Do you crave to uphold the worth and significance of women? – Rescue orphans.
Do you long to stop violent extremism and the placement of children into radical schools? – Rescue orphans.
Do you dream to crush illiteracy? – Rescue orphans.
Do you aspire to eliminate child labor? – Rescue orphans.
Do you seek to eradicate the recruitment of child soldiers and atrocities they are forced to commit? – Rescue orphans.

You see, the orphaned children in a particular society are the ones on whom predators prey. They are the week, the easily persuaded, the abused. They are also the ones who, as they grow, will perpetuate the problems listed for the next generation. But if the orphans are reescued, not only is the cycle broken, but those same children are raised in a christian home and sent back into their culture to make a difference. To let people know of the hope and love found in Christ; these will be trained up as an army of missionaries.

To accomplish these goals, World Orphans has a most admirable plan: To partner churches in the west with indigenous churches world wide. To give American churhces the chance to be a part of the solution, to invite them on mission through giving and going, to impact the eternity of the children for whom they provide and all of the people those children will touch in the future. What an incredible idea and a God given vision! Please follow the links to the World Orphans website and find out more about them; they have an incredible ministry.