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  • Whom Shall I Fear?

    Posted on October 29th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    The Lord is my light and my salvation –

    Whom shall I fear?

    The Lord is the stronghold of my life –

    Of whom shall I be afraid?

    Psalm 27:1

    I wanted to pause from my anti-slavery posts to give God praise.

    I said that human-traffickers prey on people who are desperate.  People are desperate because of the consequences of poverty, which include a lack of food, clothing, shelter, among other things.  The body of Christ is responsible for doing tangible acts of mercy and justice – and we are.  Last week, I visited Times Square Church (, which is providing funding to 100 smaller churches so that those smaller churches can feed their small congregations (  It was exciting and encouraging to hear about the very first small church that was able to provide food to its congregation.  We were shown a video, in which the pastor of the smaller church described how she’d been praying about ways that she could feed the hungry & depending on God to give her an answer.  He did answer – just not in the way she expected.

    My own church works with an organization called Young Life ( which shares the gospel with young people.  Through my church, I’m getting the opportunity to sponsor a young girl or boy going to camp.  So my point is that, you don’t have to be directly involved in the anti-human-trafficking movement to make a major difference.  Whenever you mentor a young person or send a child to camp, you are raising a hedge of protection around that young person.  Whenever you donate money to a local shelter, you’re protecting someone.  When you participate in your church’s efforts to feed & clothe people, you’re keeping someone safe.  You’re giving a person hope, and making it difficult for them to turn to prostitution, drug-dealing, a gang, or street life in order to survive.  God is glorified through the efforts of His people.

     Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance,

    the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

     For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

    I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

    I was a stranger and you invited me in,

    I needed clothes and you clothed me,

    I was sick and you looked after me,

    I was in prison and you came to visit me.

    Matthew 35:34-36

  • Train Up A Child

    Posted on October 22nd, 2012 rhonda No comments

    Train a child in the way he should go,

    And when he is old he will not turn from it.

    Proverbs 22:6

     The most riveting part of the anti-trafficking training I attended was hearing from survivors.  We heard testimonies from two young women who were trafficking survivors – both Americans.  Both were born in America.  One of them was actually prostituted out by her parents.  The other survivor, Ms. Holly Austin Smith (, now writes for the Washington Times.  During the training, she showed pictures of herself before she was enslaved.  They were all pictures of a young middle-class, average American girl engaged in everyday activities, like playing with the family dog.  While she showed the pictures, she spoke about all the things that could have been done to prevent her from being trafficked.  Essentially, she became vulnerable for a number of specific reasons.  If you go to her website, you can get her “10 Proactive Tips to Protect Your Child from Traffickers”.

     Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.  If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.  Exodus 22:22-23

     A speaker representing Convenant House ( spoke about how many teens are becoming vulnerable to trafficking just because they have no safe haven to run to.  Covenant House prided itself on its ability to take in any young person who showed up at their agency; but, due to budget cutbacks, they are now turning teens away.  Older youth (18 & 19 year olds) can potentially go to an adult homeless shelter; but some, for good reason, choose not to.  Pimps are aware of that fact.

    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:18

    In light of all the doom & gloom, it was entertaining & encouraging to hear from the middle school students who formed Project Stay Gold (, which they bill as a “student movement to abolish modern day slavery”.  When the students learned about the Triangle Trade from their social studies teacher, and then realized that there was a modern-day slave trade going on, they were motivated to do something.  They showed us little videos they created to raise awareness.  They are available for speaking engagements (but not too many, because they are in school).  They sold little rubber bracelets & t-shirts with “abolitionist” printed on them.  They were poised and articulate and concerned and active.  God bless ‘em!

     Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

    for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

    I tell you the truth,

    anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

    Luke 18:16-17

  • The Real Cost of Clothing

    Posted on October 20th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    One of those listening was a woman named Lydia,

    a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira,

    who was a worshipper of God. 

    The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

    Acts 16:14

    During the anti-human trafficking training I attended, we were shown a video illustrating the elements of trafficking.  The narrator said that the criminals are not the only ones who profit from slavery.  Certain industries benefit.  The owner of the motel used by sex slaves is making money, so he looks the other way.  The guy who rents out trailers on a seasonal basis to a trafficker (who needs to house the labor slaves he’s using to pick tomatoes) is getting his money.  So when he sees something a little strange – like the fact that no one ever leaves the trailer during their downtime – he doesn’t ask questions.

    Consumers also benefit.  Consumers of cheap labor, cheap products and cheap sex benefit financially.  At every stage in the chain of production, people try to lower costs so that there’s more profit at the final sale.  One way to cut costs is to pay people less & less – and then not pay them at all.  Slaves make a lot of clothing; and many of us are complicit in the slave trade just because of the clothes we wear.  I don’t know about men, but women like to brag about how little they paid for clothing.  When people compliment us about our clothing, we’ll say, “Thanks.  I got in on sale!”

    I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, so I’m always on the lookout for a bargain.  As much as I describe myself as an abolitionist, my complicity in the slave trade through the clothes I buy keeps me humble.  I talked to one of my peers at the training, who said that she tries to buy American.  Since people are trafficked inside the United States, it’s still possible to buy slave-made clothing, but she figures it lowers the possibility of something being slave-made.  I’ll also be careful of what I buy and who I buy it from.  As much as possible, I want a clean robe (Revelation 22:14).

    If you want to know more about human trafficking, log onto


    She makes linen garments and sells them,

    and supplies the merchants with sashes . . . .

    Give her the reward she has earned,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

    Proverbs 31:24 & 31

  • Love Your Neighbor

    Posted on October 18th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

    Reform your ways and your actions,

    and I will let you live in this place.

    Jeremiah 7:3

    I remember reading slave narratives while I was in college.  One of the conversations we had in our English class was a thoughtful consideration of all the ways in which slavery dehumanized the slave-owner.

    I had the privilege of attending a two-day training that was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (Region II) and the Freedom Network Training Institute.  The training topic was human trafficking, a.k.a., modern day slavery.  I’ll write more about what I learned in a future blog.  For now, suffice it to say that (1) there is a slave trade, (2) it exists inside and outside the United States, (3) it’s the second largest form of organized crime in the world and (4) it does not discriminate.  (For more information, go to the website of the Polaris Project,

    Traffickers prey on vulnerable people.  Slave traders target people who are unprotected and desperate.  When we started talking about all the ways that a person could fall victim to slavers, I felt slightly overwhelmed and discouraged.  Then I thought that one form of prevention is to get traffickers to consider their ways.  My understanding of a mature Christian life is to love God, ourselves, and other people.  The way it looks is that we obey God, and allow Him to tell us how to take care of ourselves and other people.  That’s what it means to be fully human, and it leads to shalom.

    Whenever we decide to ignore God and depend on ourselves, we run the risk of using other people and not living up to our God-given potential as human beings.

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and

    with all your mind and with all your strength. 

    The second is this:

    Love your neighbor as yourself. 

    There is no commandment greater than these.

    Mark 12:30-31

  • Rebuilding the Temple

    Posted on October 7th, 2012 rhonda No comments

     “Isn’t this the carpenter?”

    Mark 6:3

     Two or three years ago, Pastor taught us the importance of knowing what “season” we’re in.  He told us that if we took notes during church, we’d be able to read through them and discern a pattern, and know what God is saying to us.

    I believe God is rebuilding me to make me a more useful vessel for His Glory.  A week or two ago, I had a dream.  Since I rarely remember my dreams, I wrote about it:

    “ . . . I dreamed (or thought through) the importance of Jesus being a carpenter.  (“Isn’t this the carpenter?”, Mark 6:3; “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”, Matthew 13:55)  Carpenters make things out of wood, which comes from trees; and I’m aware that the people of God are sometimes referred to as trees.  (“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor”, Isaiah 61:3)  In the Old Testament, God referred to himself as a Potter who had the right to mold clay (people) in the way He saw fit.  King Solomon used the cedars of Lebanon to build a temple to God (I Kings 6).  In the New Testament, God’s people are His temple.  In the Old Testament, God plants; but a carpenter must chop down trees to have usable wood.

    So I’m thinking that God sent me that dream as a message to prepare me for the painful process of being “chopped down”.  In order for Jesus to sanctify me, or to make me into a vessel fit for his purposes, I have to go through the chopping process.  I have to let Him carve me with a sharp knife.  A tree that’s chopped down is a dead tree.  Is that me dying to myself so that I can “live” to be used for the Lord?”

    In May, I entered a new season.  I’m learning that in order to be a better temple, I have to get to a deeper level of surrender, service, and celebration.  The verbs sum up everything I have been hearing, or have been told, over the past 5 months.  I’ve been told to (1) surrender to God and stop trying to figure things out on my own, (2) serve in God’s church and be of service to other people and (3) celebrate God.

    “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel.  With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

    ‘He is good; His love to Israel endures forever.’

    And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”

    Ezra 3:11