Friday, June 29, 2012

{SCS} Getting Started: The Book

I probably should have started the whole {SCS} series with this post, but instead it'll be the last post of the first full week. I've been hearing so much negativity lately on Facebook and other social media. There is so much anger in the area of politics and theology, it can be a major turn off. And I know I can be guilty of being negative or coming across as an angry activist, shaking my fist at the sky. So I thought today it would be beneficial for all of us to just take a deep breath and reflect on what "The Book" tells us about Justice.

"A righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern" - Proverbs 29:7

"I know the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." - Psalm 140:12

"Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow" - Issiah 1:17

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:15-18

Creative Commons Photo Credit: Incase (Flikr)
I could keep going. This is just a snapshot of all the verses in the Bible about caring for the poor and proclaiming justice. There are hundreds of verses like these. Its a cornerstone of the faith and life of the follower of Jesus. My prayer is we set aside the negativity and focus on what we can do together. Buying 'slave free' isn't about being altruistic or trendy, its about justice. We can make a difference, but we have to work together. And for those of you who follow Jesus or have a moderate amount of respect of the Bible, there's a plethora of verses to spur you on towards justice. And there are millions of people waiting for us to proclaim justice.  Read them, reflect on them, and then act on them. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{SCS} Getting Started: Community Trade

The picture above is of my favorite spot in Atlanta. Its one of the city's best kept secrets, in my humble opinion. I took this picture on the porch of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Shop. Its just inside the perimeter, nestled on the Chattahoochee River inside an apartment complex. Its my favorite place to write, dream, and socialize. I was just there planning strategy for an awareness event on Monday night. I've already been there twice this month with plans to go at least two more times.... so I guess you could say I'm a frequent patron.
But Land of a Thousand Hills on the Chattahoochee is more than a coffee shop with good coffee and a great view. It is a place you can go to take part in changing the world. This company, founded by a local Atlana guy Jonathan, is changing the way we drink coffee, one cup at a time. Land of a Thousand Hills and their three coffee shops (Cumming, Roswell and Atlanta/Vinings) start their coffee process from the moment the beans are harvested through a model they call "Community Trade". They work directly with the coffee farmers, ensuring they receive a fair wage and that their community is taken care of. This company's hope is that through this business model, people will be taken care of and communities can build peace. You can read all about them on their website. (And you can order coffee too!)
There are other organizations that participate in models like Land of a Thousand Hills. The Go Fish Clothing and Jewelry Company was created out of its founder's frequent mission trips around the world. They work directly with artisans to ensure there is a fair price being paid for all products the company sells. I met the founders of Kanzi Crafts last year at a festival. They work with East African artisans to provide sustainable employment, and even give back an additional portion of the proceeds to support ministries in the region.
There are many more organizations who participate in direct trade or community type trading as a business model. Many of these organizations are faith based or attached to a ministry. They may not be fair trade certified (I have been told certification can be expensive for a small business) but they are working to end poverty through sustainable business models. And in many ways, these models work deeper than some fair trade models. They are about direct partnership, truly building a lasting relationship that hollistically helps the community. It's about relationships, which can be a lost art in modern business practices in the western world. And they are driven by people whose passions are for the people they serve, which is a mission I can get behind one hundred percent.

Monday, June 25, 2012

{SCS} Getting Started: Fair Trade Basics

You probably have heard the term 'fair trade'. (not to be confused with 'Free trade' which I hear a lot) If you spend any time with me you probably have heard the term so many times you're sick of it. (I apologize for that.... my only excuse is that I'm a talker and I'm passionate)

But what does 'Fair Trade' really mean? What are the basics of this interesting business sector that is growing exponentially in our nation? I wasn't fully able to explain it myself, so I did some research.

Photo credit: Fair Trade USA
At its core, the definition of fair trade is pretty self explanatory: it means that the product has been traded fairly. The producers, suppliers and companies all were active participants in the product's journey to the store shelf. For example, the coffee grower in Rwanda that harvested the beans for your Green Mountain fair trade coffee was included in the trading process and was paid a fair price for his beans. The little logo you see on some products (note the picture) at the grocery store is regulated by Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade USA is a third party entity that certifies companies' products and ethics. Fair Trade USA has nine guiding principles that help them determine if a product is, in fact, traded fairly. You can check out their website for the nine principles.

Another organization that certifies fair trade companies is The World Fair Trade Organization. They are similar to Fair Trade USA, but are a global entity and have been around a lot longer. The awesome Fair Trade store Ten Thousand Villages is one of the founding members of this organization. All participants agree to adhere to ten principles of fair trade, which are the following (commentary is mine):

1. Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers: ie: identify people who are in poverty, create opportunity for them.
2. Transparency and Honesty: tell the truth about your supplies
3. Fair Trading practices: don't increase your profit at the expense of the actual producers of the product. Don't take advantage. 
4. Payment of a fair price: don't cheat people. Pay a living wage price for the products.
5. Ensuring no child labor or forced labor: This one is really self explanatory. Don't use children or slaves to make your products. 
6. Commitment to non discrimination, gender equality and freedom of association: also self explanatory. Don't discriminate. Treat everyone equally. 
7. Ensure good working conditions: No sweatshops. No unsanitary conditions. Adhere to local and international laws relating to safety in working environments. 
8. Promote capacity building: give your workers opportunities, see that they grow professionally. Help them succeed. 
9. Promote Fair Trade: use your business as a platform to encourage others to participate in fair trade practices. 
10. Respect for the environment: Don't intentionally and knowingly deplete our world of natural resources. Conserve when you can. 

The funny thing to me after reading all these principles is that they are common sense. Most people I know would agree that they would want those principles applied to their workplace. The sad thing is that this is not the case in US owned companies around the world. Fair Trade has risen from the desire to include all participants in trade. Its designed to avoid exploitation of the vulnerable. Its a great model. It's not perfect, but a third party regulation helps consumers feel confident that they are purchasing products that help people.

When you purchase fair trade coffee, that extra couple dollars you spend helps send that coffee farmer's child to school. When you put down the Hershey's and spend an extra 75 cents on a fair trade chocolate bar, you could be helping a single mom buy medicine for her children. It certainly makes my chocolate taste much sweeter.

Do you know of a fair trade company or supplier? I'm making a list of fair trade products and companies and would love your input. Leave your comments below, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

To be continued...

So, last week I posted about my 'prayer problems'. You can read the original post here for the background. To summarize, I was challenged by my terrible prayer life and decided to use my long commute to really focus on prayer. I specifically asked for two things throughout the week: a job for Brent and then an 'unspoken' that I can't write about on the blog. So I did it. I prayed daily, crying out to the Lord, asking Him to come through for us. And guess what?

Nothing happened. 

By Wednesday, I was discouraged. I was heading to a meeting and I found myself feeling extremely sad. What was going on? Why hadn't anything happened? I didn't want to give up on God, and to lose faith that He would come through for us, but it was discouraging. I had hoped that this week would be 'the week' that God swept through and 'fixed' everything for us.

I finished off my week focusing on prayer with church this morning and evening. I was listening to Louie talk about the last night of Jesus' life and the events that occurred after he prayed to the Lord before his arrest and death. Louie re-caped the chapter before and said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. He reminded us that Jesus prayed to His Father: 'Not my will, but your will be done'.

Whoa. Jesus, the creator of the universe, turned over his desires and plans to God, his Father, and surrendered his will. 

Jesus, who commands the Angels, and is seated at the right hand of God, gave up his will. He begged God to take the cup from him, but he surrendered his desires. Jesus took on our sin, our shame. All the intense pain I have ever experienced, every nasty word I have said about someone else- He took it.  All the murders, lies, cheating and scandals that caused pain- Jesus took it all on. And He did it without complaining. Louie went on to say that praying for something "if it's God's will" is not a cop out. I think that was a hang up of mine, that maybe my faith wasn't strong enough if I was always leaning on God's will. But if Jesus said it, it certainly can't be a cop out. He is God, after all.

Jesus painted this sunset, but humbled himself to die for our sins.
I was immediately humbled as the reality of those words sank in. I had devoted my week to being in God's presence as much as possible. I prayed a lot, I focused on God a lot. But even though in my prayers I half heartedly said "Your will God, of course", I don't think I really meant it. And because I was so fixated on asking God for specific things, I didn't notice the little ways God provided and answered prayer. Throughout this past week, my conversations about Jesus quadrupled over previous weeks. God extended me a 'deadline' of sorts on something that I was dreading. And Brent got several job leads.

So my prayer week is evolving into a prayer journey. My prayer focus is "to be continued" as this week, I'm praying some more, every morning on my way to work, and the theme is "Your will, not mine". I have so little faith, so I think I need to repeat to God constantly that I want His will. Hopefully the consistency will allow me to better live it out.

 Most of you reading this probably don't struggle with faith and prayer like I do. But maybe you do, and I hope I can encourage you. You are not alone, you are never alone. God is listening to us, even when we can't feel it. He loves us so much that He died a horrific and humiliating death for our sins. And He just wants us to trust Him and walk with Him. Nothing you can say is too much for God. He already knows what you're feeling, so just tell Him. Even if there are tears or anger, just tell Him. He knows, and He cares. Its way easier said than done, but I'm going to do my best to live out the grace I don't deserve, one prayer and one action at a time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

{SCS} Getting started: Leaving a footprint

I love long walks on the beach. I've found that a solitary walk down a quiet shoreline is therapeutic and good for my soul. I live five hours away from a beach, but I typically am able to get away about once a year and can enjoy those long walks. I really enjoy looking at the footprints I leave behind on the sand. Its amazing to think that much like our fingerprints, no two footprints are alike. God made each of us unique, down to our feet. Sometimes, I stare at my footprints until the waves come and wash them away. The water erases the marks left on the sand by my feet, removing evidence that I was there.

 Footprints in the sand aren't the only kind of footprints we leave on this Earth. We also have a slavery footprint. The awesome people at Slavery Footprint have developed a fantastic interactive website that allows you to figure out roughly how many slaves work for you. They have an algorithm and methodology to determine your result, based on hard facts they retrieved from reputable sources. I'm telling you, the masterminds of Slavery Footprint are smart. I haven't met them personally, but I'm pretty sure I'd like them.

I'm a problem solver. When I learn of a problem, the first thing I do is start brainstorming solutions.  I'm sure it annoys people sometimes. But before I attempt to solve a problem, I have to know where to start. I need to have the facts. So to get started on our socially conscious summer, I think its important to know what we're working with, and Slavery Footprint is a simple way to get things started.

I have 52 slaves working for me. I'm working to reduce that number.  Go here to find out your slavery footprint and to see what you can do to reduce your number. Feel free to leave your number in the comments box. We can work together to end this. Because just like the waves in the sand, our slavery footprints can be washed away too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

{SCS} Getting started: Slaves, really?

Happy Summer everyone! I hope you enjoyed the longest day of the year! We're kicking off the {SCS} series today on this lovely summer evening. So let's get started. Let's talk about slaves.

Really, slaves? That's not a happy topic for this pretty summer evening.

Yes, slaves.

We can call them sweatshop workers, we can call them prostitutes. Maybe street kids, runaways, or illegal immigrants. Maybe even migrant workers, housekeepers, or waitresses. We give all sorts of names to the people who are enslaved in our world. Slavery is ugly and we'd like to think it doesn't happen anymore, especially in our country. Because we all know that the United States in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The free, right? Everyone is free in our country.

Unfortunately, everyone is not free in our country.

Yes, slavery does exist. It is a huge social problem. This social problem is what is driving me to write this Socially Conscious summer series. Each of us has the opportunity to help end slavery. It's as involved as volunteering with abolitionist organizations, or as simple as buying fair trade coffee instead of Folgers. You can download an app to your phone to check companies' ethics policies. You can lobby your elected officials. We're going to explore all of this, but we need to start at the basics. And what is more basic than the facts?

- There are about 27 million slaves in our world today.

- Of these, 12.3 million are in forced labor

- Half of those enslaved are children

- There are between 100,000 - 300,000 children trapped in prostitution in the United States. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds.

- There are around 17,000 people trafficked into the United States each year. I'd venture to say less than 1,000 get rescued each year (my own conjecture, not cited) So we can all do the math, there could be over 100,000 enslaved individuals in our country.

I'd invite you to check out the statistics from the Polaris Project for more detailed information. This is just a snapshot of the information that is out there. You can also check out Not for Sale, The Freedom Center, Wellspring Living, Seattle Against Slavery, or GEMS.

That's all for today. I just wanted to give you some statistics and resources. I don't mean to be a downer, I just wanted to get started with the facts. We'll move into a lot more positive and interesting stuff soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome the Stranger

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." Lev 19:34
Kiddos in Southern Sudan






Tomorrow is World Refugee Day. Groups and organizations around the world will gather to remember the plight of the refugee. Refugees are those who have fled from their home country as a result of violence, persecution, or natural disaster. The words listed above are everyday realities for so many refugees in our world. 

I've met many refugees in my years of traveling, working, and volunteering. Their stories have touched me and inspired me. From Tibetan women weaving purses on looms to young Sudanese girls finding restoration through sports, I've been amazed. I've stood on hills in Southern Sudan with a former refugee and attempted to imagine the world through her eyes. I've listened to the story of a 16 year old girl as she detailed the day she witnessed her mother's murder. I've driven by 'tent cities' filled with people who were displaced by disaster or poverty. Refugees often are a picture of tragedy and loss in our world. 

Kiddos in Clarkston

But through my years of work with this population, a new picture has emerged for me. I've met incredible people who have found new life in the United States and in other countries. I have met business owners, college graduates, and healthy families. I feel privileged to have been able to 'welcome the stranger' into the United States through several different organizations. I remind myself that the Bible commands us to welcome the stranger into our land. Refugees come here searching for a fresh start, and I feel honored to have been able to help them meet their needs as they adjust to their new life. I'd like to add some new words to the picture of refugees.






I hope you take a moment tomorrow to think about the refugees in our country and around the world. Say a prayer for those in danger and the families starting fresh in new countries. And maybe take a moment to look up a great organization serving refugees like World Relief, or the International Rescue Committee. We can each do our part to welcome these future Americans into our home, in the spirit of our country's tradition. It's a rewarding and humbling experience. 

Happy World Refugee Day!

Monday, June 18, 2012

prayer problems

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". - Phil. 4:6-7

"Pray without ceasing" - 1 Thes 5:17

I don't pray nearly enough. My prayer life is pretty terrible. I mean, God and I have conversations and discussions, and goodness I complain enough to him, but I don't pray enough. I don't spend time meditating on His goodness, promises and Word. I don't speak to Him enough about the big stuff and the little stuff. People ask me to pray for things, or I volunteer to pray for someone, and unless I do it right then and there, I usually forget. And in the name of transparency, I just forget about God. I go about my day, trying to solve my problems on my own, and I simply forget that I'm supposed to be running stuff by the Creator of the Universe. I go to church on Sunday, where usually I'm moved to tears during worship where I'm reminded of the beauty of just being in the presence of the Lord. I feel guilty, and I promise to do better.

But then I go back to my old ways.

I've found that when I don't pray enough, my stress level rises. When I don't pray enough, my attitude is bad and I usually have to apologize to my husband, friends or co workers. There are more tears, frustrations and confusions when I don't pray enough. I question God a lot more, even though in essence I'm supposed to be trusting in Him. I am impatient and peace is gone from my heart.

When I'm hit with the realization that my prayer life is seriously lacking, I usually reflect on why. Why is this such a recurrent issue for me? What is causing this. And ultimately, I think my struggle is due to a lack of faith. I think deep down, I question that God can and will do great things in my life. I've always struggled with faith, probably due to my strong independent nature and problem solver mentality. But the times I've had the most faith were when I spent the most time in prayer. Its interesting, isn't it? The thing I'm lacking is keeping me from praying consistently, but when I pray consistently I grow in my areas of weakness. God is incredible in that way, isn't he?

So I'm making a commitment. I have a 45 minute commute to work every morning. Usually I listen to talk radio and the news, and am flooded with bad news right when I start my day. For the rest of this week, I'm going to pray on my way to work. No talk radio, maybe some worship music, but a lot of prayer. And I'm praying for two specific things this week. My husband needs a job. I'm praying that the Lord provides a new step in that direction for him. I'm going to ask for Brent a job this week, but I'll accept if that's not what God wants. The other is a personal desire in my heart that I don't feel  like I should broadcast on the Internet. But I'm going to ask specifically for this too. I don't think it is possible, but then I remind myself that all things are possible with the Lord. And even if it isn't possible for me right now, maybe its something that will happen in the future. And who knows, maybe a miracle will happen. God can do it, I just have to remind myself of that a lot.

I wonder if I'm the only one who has 'prayer problems'. Do you have things you aren't praying for because you're afraid of disappointment? Or do you just not pray sometimes like me, even though you know you should? Or do you forget? I hope my musings have helped you realize that you're not alone. I hope we can all share these shortfalls more often so we can help each other along this journey with Jesus.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lessons from a broken keychain

I was meeting with a colleague yesterday about a fantastic new outreach initiative our organization is tackling. It was a meeting filled with dreams, good ideas, and innovation. After we wrapped up, I reached in my purse and pulled out my keys.
My broken key chain

And broke my key-chain.

No big deal, right? It's just a key-chain.


This was not just a key-chain. It was a symbol of one of the greatest adventures of my life. This key chain was given to me by a friend while I served in Aceh, Indonesia, in 2005. It was crafted by a woman, a survivor of the deadly tsunami. She lived in an IDP (internally displaced people) camp on the outskirts of Banda Aceh. A community organization had taught the women in this camp how to make beaded key-chains, jewelry, etc as an income generating activity.

When I picked up these keys, I was reminded of my great adventure in Indonesia. I remembered my friends there, the impact the trip had on my life, and the long term difference I was able to make among groups who had experienced one of the most horrific traumas imaginable. I remember fiddling with the key-chain  on numerous occasions, wondering how it had survived the years of abuse at my hands.  It has been attached to keys for five different vehicles, three different offices, and three different homes. It's been thrown around purses and has traveled around the world. Pretty impressive resume for a key-chain, huh?
Banda Aceh days

I was sad when it broke, but I was also reminded of how I'm getting old! Next week will mark seven years from the day I set foot on Indonesian soil for that life altering trip. I grew tremendously as a person during those six months. You can read more about my growth time in Indonesia here if you are interested.

After the key chain broke, I reflected on my life over the past seven years and was reminded of three valuable lessons related to this small trinket on my keys:

Growth sometimes comes through trials. My time in Indonesia was difficult and trying, but I grew emotionally, and spiritually. I've been going through a trial recently, and the key chain reminded me that if I let it, this trial will result in growth as well. James 1:2 reminds us that trials lead to perseverance, which helps to sharpen and perfect us.

Maturity comes through time. I remember things I did and said at the age of 20. It's embarrassing to think about. But maturity comes through time. We can't jump from milk to sushi in the matter of a day. (Yes, sushi. I love sushi) The last seven years have been a time of maturing, and I'm so thankful for that. (I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes at my reflections of being 27 vs 20, but hey, it feels like a LONG Time to me)

God is constant. Things break. People leave us. Jobs get lost. But God is constant. My key-chain broke after seven years, but God has been around through this whole time. I'm not close with some people I considered my best friends seven years ago, but God has seen me through interpersonal pain and the advent of new friendships. My husband lost his job in January, but God is where our family's true value lies.

If you're experiencing loss, trials, or pain right now, I hope you remember that God is constant and that these things take time. I'd love to hear about any trinkets you have that remind you of a different time in your life. And I'd love to pray for you if you're going through a tough time of testing or waiting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

{SCS2012} Preview

School is not free in India, not all can afford it
In 2007 I spent six weeks in Mumbai, India for a school internship/humanitarian trip. I spent those six weeks serving in two slum communities in the city. Much of our time was spent in the organization's school, but I also spent time in different homes, drinking tea and spending time with the amazing women in the community. One day, a young boy came to the door of one of the small huts. Our interpreter explained that he was 11 years old and worked at the factory down the street. He had come to the hut to collect some shoe straps the woman had woven for the factory. Our interpreter went on to explain that the boy had worked at the factory for several years and had recently been given the new task of collecting the shoe straps. There were dozens of children who worked in the factory.

The idea of child labor was appalling to me. I felt that the boy should have been in school. But I soon learned that for many children in India, school was not an option. They spent their days in factories, making pennies an hour. Some made no money at all, as they were trapped in debt bondage with no end. These children are robbed of their childhood, of the opportunity to go to school, to play, and to develop into adults naturally. And they are making our clothes, shoes, and accessories. They are picking our produce, harvesting our coffee and cocoa beans.

As a Christian, I believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. He loves each of us the same. So if personally would not want my own (future) children and the children in my life right now to work in factories, why should I stand back in silence while other children are forced to do so? It didn't seem right to me, so I began to explore the concept of socially conscious goods after my time in India. And for several years, it was extremely difficult to live a lifestyle free of slave or child labor. It was discouraging to know that I could not guarantee that I wasn't inadvertently contributing to slavery with the products I bought. I did what I could, but I felt that it was not enough.
All children should be able to go to school

But things are changing. Organizations are popping up that fight slavery and sweatshop labor. Companies are creating ethics departments to ensure they are keeping slave produced products off their shelves. There is more public outcry and media attention now. Fair trade products are easier to find and they cost less than they did when I first started purchasing them. People are paying attention, and more consumers want to live a socially conscious lifestyle.

I'm beginning to realize that a socially conscious lifestyle is more than what clothes I buy and what coffee I drink. I believe there are many creative ways we can contribute to our economy without contributing to slavery. So this summer, I'm going to explore what it means to live a socially conscious lifestyle. There will be guest bloggers, news stories,  and companies featured. I hope to keep things as positive and uplifting as possible. Its easy to get bogged down by the bad news in our world. Slavery is bad news, but there are so many people and groups contributing to the solution to this problem. I want to feature them, and to feature practical ways we can all work together to use our money to end exploitation.

I'm excited about this feature. I've put a lot of time into the research and plan for this summer, I want it to be educational and fun. The first post should be coming in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you. Constructive criticism, feedback of all types, and suggestions are welcome. I'm looking at this series from one frame of reference, but each of you bring a different frame to the table, and I want to see things from your eyes as well.  I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

{archives} We live in a world...

Author's note: This post was written on June 24, 2009

We live in a world where one 5 year old gets a birthday party worth hundreds of dollars, and another 5 year old doesn't get to eat everyday. We live in a world where one 26 year old lobbies and protests and participates in freedom's process, and another gets gunned down for walking down the street during a protest. We live in a world where one 9 month old gets held and kissed and loved every waking moment of their day, while another never feels the loving touch of another. Some 16 year olds spend their days in a safe classroom environment, while others spend their days worrying if the latest man who raped them had HIV.

Some 8 year old children play and learn and grow, while others labor in sweatshops as modern day slaves. Some mothers get to worry if their child's private school is the perfect fit, while others worry that their child's complete lack of education will continue a vicious poverty cycle. Some womens fashion concerns are to make sure their outfits match and are in season, while others worry that if their wrist shows they will be stoned in the street. Some children have bedrooms, bathrooms and playrooms all to themselves, while others sleep on street corners each night. Some little girls have daddy's who love and value and cherish their daughters, while some little girls feel unwanted because their birth as a girl brought shame to their family.

We live in a world where some people sin by killing and enslaving, and where others sin equally by turning a blind eye to painful realities. We live in a world where some take and deplete and steal blatantly, and where others selfishly gain and hoard in the name of capitalism. Our world is home to those who kill because of religion and stereotype because of skin color. It houses the materialistic, the chauvanistic, and the legalistic. It is home to the privileged and wealthy, as well as a home to the poor and forgotten.

Many of our world's residents have no voice, but you and I have voices that can change reality for the voiceless. Millions in our world feel unloved, but the Christ Follower has an abundance of love to share. Our God, our Savior desires to pour out HIS mercy and love onto the sinner, the forgotten, the privileged, and the enslaved. He desires selfless deeds from His children to cry out for the voiceless, to care for the orphan, to comfort the grieving, and to free the slave.

My prayer for myself, and for the rest of us, is that we will forget the notion that we are powerless and cannot make a difference. I pray that our hearts do not forget the painful afflictions of our worlds residents that we hear about everyday. I pray that we boldly go and proclaim the name of Jesus AS WE SERVE. I pray for supernatural and physical freedom to be claimed by the captive, and for supernatural and physical healing to envelop the sick. I pray for homes for the oprhaned, and for freedom to the oppressed. I pray for blinded eyes to see, and for deaf ears to hear who is Faithful and True. That is my prayer for our world.