Sunday, April 14, 2013

But All the Cool Kids are Doing It

Some time ago, I found a blog written by "a Christian Missionary in Costa Rica."  She writes with honesty and passion.  Her thoughts are often deep and challenging. She writes about the need for social justice, her hate for poverty tourism and the need for us to be salt and light to our neighbors.  She talks openly about sex in ways that more Christians need to hear.  She appears to love her husband, her children and her Savior.  More than once I have been moved to tears.  

She also curses like a sailor.  

More than once I've wanted to offer her some Orbitz.  (You know, to clean up a dirty mouth.)  In my lifetime I've been known to drop a bomb or two, especially in tough or painful situations.  I am not claiming to be perfect here.  Neither am I claiming that using multiple cuss words in each of her blog posts makes her less than what she claims.  But for me, it does take away from her message.

It feels a little like she's trying so hard to "reach the world" that she's succumbing to it.  Like she believes that she can't effectively minister to anyone if she's too old school Church Lady.  That all the "cool kids" are doing it, so she better do it, too.  

Is this just me? Am I a total prude?  Is this a cultural thing that I'm unnecessarily turning into a spiritual thing?  What about James 3:10?  "And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!"  Is this what "cursing" means?  It's not like she's using Jesus or God's names in vain.  That's a no-brainer.  (Ten Commandments lay that out in black and white.)  But what about all those other four letter words?  

Why is "poop" okay to say in front of the kids but I have to cross out some of the letters when I write the word $h!t so that no one is offended?  It's okay to say ass when talking about a donkey but not your booty or the idiot who just spilled his beer on you at a ballgame. What's up with that?  

Are we as Christians too rigid in our "rules" on these things?  Or are we too lenient and neglecting the message of Ephesians 4:29.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

My gut tells me that Phillipians 4:8 holds the answer.  "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

What do you think?  

Friday, April 12, 2013

27 Million Souls

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ --Matthew 25:40

Today, in my warm house, in my safe little Midwestern town, my children were fed, bathed and held in the loving arms of their parents.  They can or are learning to read.  Yesterday we spent a couple of hours swimming in a heated, indoor pool.  They will be educated and the possibility held in their little lives is limitless.  Tonight they will snuggle deep under their covers, bellies full and hearts free, safe in their own beds, in their own house, surrounded by the love of their family.

Today, in India, Cambodia, here in the United States of America, and around the world, in not-so-safe neighborhoods, 2,880 children were sold into slavery, many by their own parents.  Many of the parents do this thinking it is the best way of survival for their child.  They are promised better lives, food to eat and a place to sleep.  Never would they imagine that what they are really doing was selling their little one into a life of prostitution or of forced labor.  But they do.  Their lives are so poor and so desperate that they sell them into what they hope is "a better life."  Obviously, not every story begins with such innocence, but enough do that it's worth telling.

Today, this day, I write this, there are over 27 million enslaved people in the world.  Read that again.  27 million.  That is more than during the Roman Empire.  It is more than during the American Civil War.  Slavery here didn't die in 1863.  Today, in 2013, there are over 200,000 people in bondage to slavery right here in the US.  Around 17,000 more will be trafficked into my homeland this year.

Here in the US one in three teenage runaways is lured into prostitution within the first 48 hours they leave home.  The Super Bowl attracts millions of fans to watch the Big Game and thousands more to those enslaved by the sex trade.

Is your heart broken yet?  Because mine is.  As I read through the statistics on this, I can't keep the tears from falling.  I look at my five year old, innocently playing catch or sitting on my lap learning to read, and can't imagine him being beaten for not working hard enough in a sweatshop, or worse, in a brothel.  I watch my beautiful eight year old daughter to whom modesty is so important and I am literally sick to my stomach thinking of the things little slave girls around the world are forced to do.

All of that sucks.  Your heart is breaking, but really, what can you do to stop any of it?  Here's the truth.  You can do a lot.  

You can pray.

You can tell someone.  Share this blog or even better, share the links at the end of it.  Awareness is the first step in any action.  People cannot, will not help if they don't know about this crisis.  End It Movement

You can sponsor a child, literally saving a life.  Provide food, water, education and maybe the family won't feel the need to sell them into "a better life."  World Vision

You can give.  There are a lot of organizations out there that are fighting this.  The links below will lead you to many of them.  Find out which one you can get behind and give.  Not Today Resources

You can fund a school.  Education is a way out for many.  Make it happen for a child who may otherwise not make it at all.

You can be politically active.  Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, non-affiliated.  It doesn't matter.  This should be an issue we all agree on.  In today's America, prostitutes are considered criminals, not victims.  However, the statistics beg to differ. Many are lured into prostitution after running away from abusive situations.  Twelve is the average age for this to begin.  Twelve years old.  Seventh grade.   Veronica's Voice

 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ 
-- Matthew 25:45

Want more info?  Don't take my word for it.  Check it out yourself.  Follow the links and educate yourself.
Veronica's Voice a Kansas City resource for those leaving life as prostitutes
Not Today Resources a new movie, out today in select cities, that addresses the plight of the Dalit people, the "Untouchables" of India
End It Movement a coalition dedicated to ending global slavery
World Vision a Christian organization dedicated to helping the poor around the world, including those who have been rescued from sexual exploitation