Ten Things Men and Boys Can Do to Stop Human Trafficking

Photo by Eric Parker
Here's a great post from over at the Ms. Blog Magazine by Jewel Woods.  I'm not familiar with Woods or the site, but I really like this list and encourage you to give it some thought.  I do know that the post is not written from a Biblical perspective, so there is opportunity here for Christ-followers to read, reflect, and recreate a list with a Christ-centered worldview.

When I was recently at the American Society of Missiology symposium on human trafficking, this was an issue that was raised front and center.  If we want to get serious about the problem of human trafficking, we must get serious about dealing with the demand.  While the government can legislate and NGOs can bring aid, rescue and aftercare, only the Church can deal meaningfully with the moral issue of man's demand for sex slaves.

I hope you will take the time to check out the full article at Ms. Blog Magazine, where Woods provides a lot of solid insight and explanation.  For now, let me just give you here top ten:

1. Challenge the glamorization of pimps in our culture.
2. Confront the belief that prostitution is a "victimless crime".
3. Stop patronizing strip clubs.
4. Don't consume pornography.
5. Tackle male chauvinism and sexism online.
6. End sex tourism.
7. Talk to men and boys about men's issues in male spaces.
8. Support anti-human trafficking policies.
9. Support creation of John Schools.
10. Raise sons and mentor boys to challenge oppression.

A great list, to be sure.  I would love someone out there to rethink this list and provide a Christocentric one.  Let me know if you have thoughts!


Ten Mission Priorities and Nine Urgent Needs

Photo by GlynLowe
By anyone's estimation, the task before us in world missions is a daunting one.  Even when one narrows it down to a single nation or city or if you look only one dimension of the gospel task like church planting, evangelism, or world hunger -- even then, it is very difficult to know where to begin.

Personally, I have been wrestling with the idea of priorities for some time.  How do we establish missionary priorities?  How does a mission agency, denomination, or church decide where to engage in missions first?  In coming days, I hope to share some thoughts on this and how we've made some specific application in Chicagoland.  For today, however, I wish to commend to you the work of a couple great missiological thinkers and friends who have attempted to create their own global mission priority lists.  Here they are with some commentary:

1. Mission Top Ten - by Tim Schultz
Tim provides a list of 10 nations or regions of the world most in need of "apostolic missionary work".  His list is heavily inspired by Operation World and includes places like Japan, Bangladesh, and Russia.  Tim also includes the United States especially because of diaspora movement which is bringing in large numbers of unreached peoples into the country.

2. Nine Urgent Needs for Additional Missionaries - by Doug Nichols
Doug has provided us with a different kind of priority list which focuses on various types or categories of peoples rather than specific geographical regions.  Here we see his call for more missionaries among unreached peoples, orphans, trafficking victims, Bibleless peoples and more.  Doug also lists diasporas as one of his top nine urgent needs.

You can find other lists like these around the web, but I have a great appreciation for these two examples.  Whether we are looking at the entire globe or a local city, missionary leaders must be able to look at their fields and prayerfully analyze them in this way.  Consider the following:

Who are the people groups who currently have the least access to the gospel?  Who have the fewest churches or believers?  Whom no one is trying to reach?

What parts (geographical) of your mission field are least-engaged?

In which parts of society are sin and Satan causing the most destruction?  How are people hurting?  How are they being oppressed?


Crayon Exegesis (Or Paint)

Photo by JD Hancock
And now for something completely different . . .

Actually, I was looking for some notes on an activity that I remember doing back in grad school a few times. I remember it being called "crayon exegesis" but it may have just been called "painting exegesis".  I will give credit to my friend and mentor, Rob Gallagher, but he may have ripped it off from someone else.  Who knows.  Anyhow, since I can't find it on the web anywhere else, I shall put it here.  Enjoy!

Instructions for Crayon (or let's make it finger paint) Exegesis:

1.  Set up -

  • Prayerfully choose a passage of Scripture ahead of time.  A narrative passage will usually work better for this exercise.  
  • Provide participants with printouts of the passage.  I recommend that the type face is as large as possible. Consider printing on larger sheets of paper like 11X17" or even larger if possible.
  • Provide participants with plenty of crayons, markers, or finger paint.  Colored pencils are boring.

2.  Begin your time together with prayer, worship, and one or two readings of the chosen passage.

3.  Explain to the participants that the purpose of this time is to reflect deeply upon this passage of Scripture, to begin to exegete it and to listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to them.

4.  Now begin to guide the group through a few readings of the text (alternatively, you may group the following into a single reading).  Be sure to insert prayer and silence as you go.  It is probably best to wait until the end before allowing any discussion.

First Reading - All participants will read silently and use the following colors to shade, highlight, or otherwise mark themes:

Red = passion, blood, anger, sacrifice
Orange = youth, immaturity, insanity
Yellow = happiness, friendship, ease
Green = Growth, nature

Second Reading - Again the participants will read the text and shade, highlight, or otherwise mark the following themes:

Blue = peace, serenity, quiet, purity
Purple = royalty, stature
Black = death, threat, darkness

Third Reading - Participants may now choose any other color and as they read silently through the passage again, mark the text with the following symbols whenever they observe:

Strength = I (vertical line)
Rest or Death = __ (horizontal line)
Growth or Nurturing = @ (swirl)
Action = / (forward slash for "advance" and backslash for "setback or failure")
Movement or Vibration = ~~ (wave)
Unity or Wholeness = O (circle)
Separation = Y (fork)

Final Reading - Leader should slowly read the passage aloud to give participants one last chance to reflect.  They may want to make additions based on the previous instructions.  They should also be encouraged to choose one last color and make any kinds of markings, drawings, short comments or phrases, or whatever they like.  

5. Supply participants with tape and post the creations all around the room.  Give everyone a few minutes to walk around and look at one another's pictures.  End with the following discussion followed by prayer for one another:

  • What new insights or observations did you see today in our passage?
  • What questions about the text do you have?
  • What do you hear God saying to you in His word today?


7 Things You Can Do to Help |

I'm really loving the G92 blog and their prophetic call to welcome the stranger.  Here's a terrific post from last week by Matt Soerens that provides some great and practical ideas for getting yourself and your church involved with meaningful ministry among immigrants and other diaspora peoples. Check it out here:  7 Things You Can Do to Help |


The Displacement of Syrians is Leading to a Massive Sex Trafficking Crisis

Lord, have mercy!

The Syrian refugee crisis is a global emergency.  May the United States, Canada, and many other nations step in immediately and provide humanitarian aid, security support, and resettlement.

The following videos will disturb you.  Here's what we've been saying.  The refugee crisis resulting from the violence in Syria has created an overwhelming refugee crisis.  The camps are overcrowded and growing every day.  Most of the refugees are women and children (like 75-80%).  They are vulnerable and now evil men are taking advantage of the situation.  Unless drastic action is taken immediately, we may be on the verge of one of the worst trafficking situations in history.

After watching, let me encourage you to share this post with others.  Also, if you are a church leader (or if you know a church leader) read and share my post on how churches should prepare for the coming Syrian "tidal wave".  Then, read and add your endorsement to my "Open Letter to Displaced Syrians".  Or you can check out all my posts on the Syrian crisis here.

Syria's Sex Slaves

The Price of Refuge


Video: A Four-Minute Summary of the Syrian Refugee Crisis

This was posted on the United Nations YouTube channel the other day.  It gives you a good summary of what I have been talking about the last few days.  Watch it and then check out my posts on the Syrian crisis from the past few days.


The Mother of Exiles

Photo by UNHCR UN Refugee Agency
Have you ever read the complete poem by Emma Lazarus entitled "The New Colossus"?  It is engraved upon the base of the Statue of Liberty.  I read it again the other day in light of the growing Syrian refugee crisis and was deeply moved.  In case you have never read it, take a moment now to reflect upon Lazarus' incredible words:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles

From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


An Open Letter to Displaced Syrians

Photo by JMC Photos

Dear friend,

I recognize that the odds of you reading this are not good.  You are tightly packed in refugee camps that are ill-equipped to provide you with adequate food, water, medicine, housing, and more.  I doubt that many of you have internet access.  Even if you did, it wouldn't be likely that you would discover my little blog.  Still, you are on my heart today and I wish to say something to you.  And, insha'Allah (God willing), this message might reach one or two of you.  Anyway, my message is simple:

I am a citizen of the United States of America and you are welcome here.

Today, I am praying that our government agrees to resettle many of you to our nation.  I want you to come.  I am deeply saddened by what you have had to endure and by the conditions that you are even now enduring.  I am not considered rich by my country's standards.  But, I have so much compared to you and I am willing to share.

I am willing to share my money, my time, my nation, and my life with you.  And, if the Lord opens the door for you to come as refugees to my country I promise to do everything in my power to welcome you.  I will greet as many of you as I can at the airport.  I will take you grocery shopping and to medical visits.  I will teach you English and help you adjust to life in the United States.  I will spend time with you as a friend and try to learn your language and culture.  I will learn to love your food.  I will listen to your stories if you are willing to tell them to me.  Not only this, but I will mobilize and equip as many people as I can to do the same.

Some of you will be concerned that I will try to convert you to Christianity. I should say first that I would never put it in those terms.  But, let me be as honest as possible.  The Lord Jesus (Isa al-Masih), has changed my life and has given me an overabundance of love, peace, and hope. It is impossible to keep this to myself.  I've not had to suffer like you.  But, when I have suffered, he has been a constant presence and help.  He has always saved me.  So, I will certainly pray for you in His name.  And I will tell you about His life.  And, if you desire to follow Him, I will teach you what I know about how to do that.  But, even if you don't. I will still love you and serve you with all my heart.  Indeed, I must do this because the love of the Lord Jesus compels me.  When I teach you English or pick you up at the airport or take you shopping or eat a meal in your home -- this will all be because of His love.

I cannot promise that every American will welcome you in this way.  Many will not.  Some will even be afraid of you.  But, I will not be.  I want you to come!

We have a famous statue in our country called "The Statue of Liberty".  You may have seen a picture at some point.  On the statue is an inscription which reads as follows:

Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, 
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

This is the heart of our country and also the heart of the Lord Jesus.  It has become my heart as well.  I hope you will come.  I hope America can become your home and I hope you will become my neighbors and friends, my brothers and sisters, my uncles and aunties.  

Blessings and peace to you,


Should Syrian Refugees be Fed to Polar Bears?

Photo by David
First, let me say that I feel somewhat embarrassed to be a citizen of the same country as many of the people who are voicing such racist and evil comments on the article I shared here last night.  Sometimes, I wonder really what has happened to this nation.  For years, I have been hearing from fellow Christ-followers about how our nation has drifted from it's original, godly foundations by the promotion of abortion rights, the degradation of marriage, and the like.  What must be understood however is that the growing, anti-immigrant sentiment in this nation is just as much a departure from the great American tradition as anything else.  Our hatred of aliens and foreigners is a moral collapse not less severe than anything evangelical Christians have spoken out against in recent memory.

To give you a taste, one commenter suggested that resettling Syrian refugees in the United States would mean bringing thousands of new terrorists into the country.  Another thought that this was simply a tactic of Barak Obama to get additional voters.  Another suggested instead that the 1.6 million Syrian refugees should rather be shipped to the North Pole to feed starving polar bears.  Still another believed that not only should we not accept Syrian refugees into the US but that we should send "our Mexicans" over there.

Sick. Disgusting. It is difficult to imagine lower forms of humanity.

Most disciples of the Lord Jesus are quite familiar with what he called the the second greatest command: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39).  We are also familiar with the story that Christ told to illustrate what obedience to this command looks like (Lk. 10:30ff).  What we are less aware of is the fact that the famous parable of "The Good Samaritan" is the tale of an immigrant who behaves in a more Christ-like way than the local religious elite.  I have little doubt that in the current American evangelical context, the Lord would make the hero either an undocumented Mexican or rather a Pakistani Muslim immigrant. And who would play the role of the priest, the Levite, the scribe?  Perhaps an evangelical pastor, a middle class suburbanite, or a congressman?  Perhaps someone a lot like you and I?

Do you know this command?

"Love the immigrant as yourself" (Lev. 19:34).

Jesus did.  Perhaps that has something to do with why he told the story the way he did.

My ancestor, Johannes Lorentz came to this nation in 1710 as a refugee from the region of Germany called the Palatinate.  Information suggests that he converted to Protestantism during his lifetime and consequently left his homeland with his family to escape persecution.  Originally arriving in New York, he later settled in New Jersey and established a life for himself, built a house, helped to plant a German-speaking church, and multiplied into many different branches of Lorentz, Lowrance, and Lorance clans throughout this nation.  This  is the classic American story.  But, sometimes I wonder if this is who we are anymore.

[Look for another post later today on the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as my post from last night.]


Obama Admin Considers Resettling Thousands of Syrian Refugees in U.S.

Photo by European Commission DG ECHO

Are you ready? I will immediately be adjusting our city plans in order to anticipate this.  You? (See below, but first some questions):


1. Syrian refugees will not have spent decades in refugee camps like the Bhutanese or the refugees from Burma. They will not be as far separated from the horrors of war. How can we bring hope and wholeness to them? How will we address emotional, physical, relational needs?

2. We have no idea what numbers to expect. It has felt like a ton of Bhutanese have been resettled. In reality, it has been just ove 60 thousand.  There are some 1.6 million Syrians externally displaced. The UN will need to determine how many total should be resettled. Then nations will volunteer to take different numbers.  Traditionally the US offers to take about 50% of the whole. However various factors will come into play. For example, the immigration reform debate could impact this. The Obama administration may not want to spend too much of its political capital on resettling refugees. Plus, most of these refugees will be Muslims. It is simple more difficult to get Americans to feel compassion for Muslims right now. (If you don't believe me, just look at the disgusting comments below the article I have linked to below)

3. What it sure is that this is just about the worst refugee crisis in history. If a thousand or ten thousand Syrian refugees suddenly came to your city, how would your church respond to their needs? Will you be ready?

Obama Admin Considers Resettling Thousands of Syrian Refugees in U.S.: "A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.
The State Department is "ready to consider the idea," an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.
The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations."


N.T. Wright: Reflections on Contextualization

Discovered this over on Chris Morton's Growth and Mission blog. Here is a great little video interview featuring N.T. Wright on the topic of contextualization (the video was produced by the great Kris Kandaih and his friends at the UK's Evangelical Alliance).

If you are looking for much depth on the topic of contextualization, this is not the video for you.  But, it isn't a bad place to begin.  If you want some more theological reflections on the reasons for contextualization, check out my own "Why Contextualize" series.  Let me know your thoughts on Wright's reflections below.

Interview with NT Wright (Part 2 - A relevant gospel) from Evangelical Alliance on Vimeo.


Singleness and Missions: Men v. Women

Photo by marsmetn tallahassee
My friend, Justin Long, has been doing some work on the issue of singleness in missions. What he is discovering won't be much of a surprise for many of you.  That is, that single women greatly outnumber single men in cross-cultural missions -- on the order of something like 6 to 1!

You can read Justin's first few posts on this phenomenon at The Long View here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

So, let me ask you.  Why do you think that so many more single women than single men are interested in being cross-cultural missionaries?