Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passion 2012: Session 6 - Passion Panel Discussion

Update on the goal...at the beginning of session six, Louie Giglio invited the Lieutenant Governor and the Mayor of Atlanta onto the stage and presented them with a check for $100,000 dollars to fund the brand new SVU task force for child exploitation. The money will go to train police, send out educators to children in school, and provide restoration for the victims. How good is our God!?

The Mayor made the comment that when he walked by the Georgia Dome, he knew that there were 45,000 people in there and when there are other events at the dome there are always activities and people and rush and hurry...but today the Georgia Dome was quiet because the Spirit of God was in the building. It reminded him of Philippians 4:5b which says "The Lord is near." So even in a city where everything is going on outside...the Lord is being lifted up in the Georgia Dome. How true...and what a difference the presence of the Lord makes on a city.

Session six was really neat. Louie Giglio brought out several of his friends who are partners with the cause of ending slavery and we got to hear them talk about their ministry and their lives. I loved this because it just shows that you don't have to be 30 or 40 or 50 for your voice to be heard. Each of us right now at the age we are, whether it's 8 or 12 or 16 or 20 or 80...we all have a voice and we can use it to speak out and change the world! Right now, wherever you are.

This session was a little different, so it only follows that the post will be a bit different. It was a lot like a conversation so these are just some of the conversations and stories from the message...I can't say it any better than it was already said. Louie introduced Christine Caine(from Session 3), Courtney Dow, Saskia Wishart, and Justin Dillon. Each of them have done something to make a difference in this world and they all come from different walks ot life. Please check out the organizations they partner with:

Justin Dillon is a musician and filmmaker. He grew up listening to music that mattered...connecting music to movements. When he learned about human trafficking, he realized it was a movement that is to come. There has never been a movement without music. We have to sing the songs about freedom to release it as a contagion into the culture. This realization led to his film (Call+Response) and working with the state department. People remember stories, not statistics. If we are going to move this, we have to start telling our stories and advocating for the stories of others.

Courtney Dow was a music major at Auburn University. God intersected her path and turned her in a new direction. Her heart began to change in 5th grade when she came across a biography about Harriet Tubman - one of the major players of the Underground Railroad. Her heart burdened with shame that slavery had happened where Courtney came from in Atlanta. She thought that if she had lived in that time, she would have been a part of the Underground Railroad. So fwd...she moved to Thailand and worked for a while at United Nations but then realized that the body of Christ is not meant to sit in high-rise buildings, behind desks and read stories on computers about what other people are doing. Courtney decided she wanted to work on the street and began a partnership with a new organization called Night Light(2005). She got to work with women from all over who had been victims of sex trade and trafficking...including children as young as age four. She began to pray that God would do something.
Isaiah 58:6-12 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. 
 As Courtney began to understand how trafficking worked...she started working with an organization in Atlanta that worked with individuals in the sex industry. They looked to address the issue of trafficking by prevention, intervention, restoration, and education. They work with hundreds of kids and do outreach in brothels and strip clubs, they do restorative services, counseling and mentoring, as well as follow-up and education. We have to stop it at the source.

We have to realize that there is a real correlation between pornography and this thing called human trafficking that is breaking our hearts. Christine said that anyone who watches, looks at, or pays for pornography is basically encouraging the slave industry. If they didn't...there would be no need to sell people for sex.


So how do we go to the next level? How do we go from awareness to making a difference? Justin made the statement that enthusiasm does not equal accomplishment. Just feeling that something is wrong doesn't make it better. We live in an age where awareness or information is everywhere and just because you've taken in information does not mean anything has changed. Sometimes it actually makes us dull to the world's ills and we turn off. Just like every verse needs a chorus, every piece of awareness needs action. It can't just be actions that are one step. This generation has been given a movement to end slavery...it's big now...the opportunity to make a difference will go away if we don't connect action with awareness adn commitment with action. One action is not enough to change this.


Saskia dreamed of being a snowboarder and came from a party lifestyle in Vancouver. Growing up she was a 'child of wrath'...a rebellious child whose goal in life was to snowboard, cut hair and party. Until one friend said...you can keep living this dead end lifestyle or you can live your life for Jesus. A few months later when she hit rock-bottom...God lifted her out of the depths and set her free. She decided to go to YWAM in Colorado and set her life on a new course. When she returned home from Colorado, she decided to move to south Africa because of a boy...and even though things with him didn't work out...God had a plan. Instead of the 3 months she had originally planned on staying, she lived there for 3 years. During that time, she volunteered with an anti-human-trafficking organization and was floored by the reality of trafficking. Saskia is 22 years old today...she moved to Cape Town, South Africa when she was 19. She got involved with 'Not For Sale' and went on to complete an investigative training academy where she learned how to identify human trafficking. At the point after completion...she did this crazy thing...she went and did what she was trained to do. She took action. At 19 years old. Up until the time she took action, there had only been 8 cases of human trafficking...over the course of 2011, she identified over 45 cases and partnered together with law enforcement to check out a suspected case of human trafficking. It was a warehouse...there were girls behind bars with a padlock on the outside. In that moment, she took action and helped set 5 girls free and get them to safety.


Christine agreed and said that it is priceless, that moment, to see hope restored in rescued eyes. It's unreal and the one thing that every single one of us can do, the one piece that we bring as the church is the power of prayer. We can all be a part when we pray. She told the story about the time that there was a prompting on twitter to pray for the girls in the 'stan' nations...(Pakistan, Uzbekistan...etc)...and people began to pray. Three days later, a raid was done for the first time in the top north of Greece. 11 girls who had been trafficked from Uzbekistan were rescued. The girls told their rescuers, 'We had been praying to Allah, "Can you get us out of this hell-hole?" for one year and nothing happened. Three days ago, we remembered out Grandmother had told us about this God of Europe, and his name we think was Jesus. So we said, "Jesus, if you are real, then get us out of this hell-hole." That was the same day that the tweet went out, three days later 11 girls were rescued...many of those girls have now been water baptized and saved and now know not just a physical freedom, they now know eternal freedom. That's what we bring to the table...never forget the power of prayer.


Slavery and human trafficking aren't just about the sex trade...check out http://slaveryfootprint.org/ to find out more about free trade, goods, buying, and selling. Justin expounded on those things..when you hear 27 million, some are in the sex side of the industry, but many are in the labor side of the industry. The reason the labor side is important is because the church has always been about caring for the last and least of these - the people who make the products we use every day. You did not walk out of your house this morning without wearing something or using something or talking through something or eating something that has been touched by slavery. The way we consume today is a global village. Because it's so difficult to see, slavery is hidden deep within the supply chains of the items we use every day. It's hidden deep within the global infrastructure.


SlaveryFootprint.org is what happens when the State Department and people who care take action to humanize the reality of 27 million slaves...to help give an understanding. It's not just random numbers or made up data. It's real. It's accurate. If you understand how you are connected to those who are exploited to support your lifestyle...you'll do something about it. If you knew that it took an average of 3.2 slaves to make your smart phone...you might think twice about buying it...or at the very least, talk to the people you are buying it from and find out if they have created that product by forced labor.


Your dollar, where you spend it and where you don't spend it, has an impact. Your vote, where you use or don't use it, has an impact. Make your voice heard and raise your voice for those who need rescuing. $27 dollars per year is spent to figure out what you want to buy. The marketplace wants to know what you want to buy. All you have to do is tell them. If you want to purchase something that was not created using forced labor...tell them. Demand it. SlaveryFootprint has an application for your phone that can help you tell the marketplace and the distributors what you want...and we don't want items touched by slavery. You can raise your voice and tell the world. SlaveryFootprint hopes to raise 27 million consumer voices all saying that they want change now and the next time they go to the store, they'll be able to tell the difference. In order to raise your voice, you have to know your story...check out SlaveryFootprint.org to find out how many slaves work for you. When you know your story, it will break through into the culture. Spread the word and the world will change.


My story...I have 29 slaves working for me. That's 29 too many...and it breaks my heart to know that there is even one person enslaved to make my life comfortable. (2013 update...I have 28 slaves working for me...No, it's not a big change but it's a step in the right direction. Keep going...that number will go down.)


Courtney told the story of two young girls(graphic nature...be advised):

They met Amani on the street when she was 18...she was pregnant by her pimp/trafficker and they began to build a relationship with her. She had to return to work immediately after she gave birth. She had her baby in April of 2010 and turned 19 in August. In September, they found a partially nude body that had been raped and beaten to death, one block from where Courtney and others do outreach...it was Amani. 19 years old with a 5 month old baby.
Another girl...from the same area. The earliest she could remember being abused was 4 years old. She was abused by her mother who was addicted to drugs, by her boyfriends, and her father who had schizophrenia. She was taken out of the home after a while and put into foster care and institutions where her abuse continued. The last grade she finished was 4th grade. She was reunited with her father just in time for him to pass away when she was 11. She was brutally raped at 11 years old. She ran away and was in prostitution by the age of 13 and trafficked to Atlanta at 14. Courtney met her when she was 22, still stuck in the cycle of exploitation and oppression with 2 little girls to take care of. Last Easter...this young woman was saved and baptized...as was the father of her children. They were married, she took her GED and passed on the first try with only a 4th grade education!!! Now, she is in school and she just received the highest honors in her class. 

The difference is Jesus. He is the answer to this issue. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom!


Saskia mentioned a raid she had been on that didn't have a happy ending. Instead of recognizing that the girls were victims of international human trafficking, they were arrested for having illegal documents. Injustice happens in front of our faces at times. The translator prayed with those girls and some of them started crying. It was a difficult moment...we have to realize there are a lot of terrible things about human trafficking but there is also a lot of hope surrounding it. We don't know what happened to the girls but it is the grace of God that in that moment, by being faithful, and listening to the call that God gave them and the role that God gave them, they were able to minister to those young girls. We won't all be in a position working with the police or going on raids...but we all have a role to play in the movement for freedom. Whether it is in the way we buy our products or in school or business...we have a role to play. However that looks for you...take the step of action. If we all took that step...we will see a massive change in the issue of human trafficking!


Louie said that what he got out of everything that was said today...was that for once, the church might be ahead of the game. We might be making some real progress in this area because the church is awake! We can speak into the market, the judiciary system, and the world in the name of Jesus.


Keep praying for this issue...prayers don't have to be long and powerful. Pray out loud, pray specifically, raise your voice...be heard.


There are 27 million voices that have yet to be told. Some stories will end with rescue but most do not...unless we do something about it now. Stop listening to statistics and start changing them. 


Ignorance is not an excuse, indifference is not an option.


Slavery still exists. There is hope and sorrow in it all...that's the joy and pain in it...there's rescue today and there isn't. It's not a mystery why Passion is a part of this...it's not about causes and an event...our lives are to be lived as lives of worship. Worship isn't just meant to be sung...worship is about singing songs on the way to bring relief and life to those in need.


Passion has already made a statement. At the beginning of the day...before Session 5...attendees had brought 25,420 towels and 124,800 pairs of socks to give to the homeless in Atlanta. As for the giving towards the $1 million dollar goal...at the beginning of the day, Passion had raised $780,013 for freedom. But that was this morning...the new number...as it was being written out to be announced was going up by the thousands. As of the beginning of session 6...the number that had been given was $1,002,000(and counting). This is a whole new ball-game. A new generation rising up. This is what it looks like. Be encouraged.

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