Thursday, March 13, 2014

X: the follow-up.

Last week, thousands of people infiltrated social media with red "X"s, standing for the 27 million + modern day slaves, proclaiming that they are in it to end it. The idea behind the End It Movement was to drag the monster out of the darkness and shine a light on slavery; to raise awareness, educate anyone willing to ask questions, and unite passionate people in a rally cry against this great and growing evil in our world. 

The response? People started talking. They asked questions. Countless added to the noise, enthusiastically volunteering their voice. Others expressed frustration by the movement's simplicity. After all, how can people expect to slap up a red "X" on their profile or on their hand for one day and expect dynamic, worldwide change? In the heart of both groups of people, the same question is wrestling its way out: "what now?".

This is my response.

But first, a warning. 
If you're hoping the follow-up is as simple as a red "X" in the start-up, it won't be. If you think that it will be without sacrifice, you are mistaken. If you are not willing to demonstrate initiative and intentionality, read no more. 

It's easy to ignore a problem simply because it does not touch you. 
Perhaps you choose to acknowledge it and go as far as to publicly stand against it, but a lack of depth will still remain if it is impersonal. 
We have the opportunity to respond and make it personal. To integrate our efforts into our surrounding communities, joining together in a staunch force against evil. 
Family as a community. Within our own families, we have the built-in foundation for education of each new generation. A sweet momma shared with me this week that something so valuable for her in the fight against sex slavery is raising her boys to know the power of pornography and the deathly grip that it can hold on your heart. To teach them that even when it appears to be separate from the young girls sold on the street, it's not. 
They are connected. 

The message of value and identity is not just for our young girls. Christ deeply values each child He has uniquely created; it took Him to the cross in the most beautiful and devastating display of love and redemption. There is no greater value than being identified with this Christ who came to save us. Let's talk more about creating a worldview based on identity in Him and filtering the sin-filled, tempting voices of the world through His Word. Then, let's watch as these conversations pour over into our other communities. 
Friends and neighbors as a community. The topic of sex slavery so quickly flows into a conversation of the gospel. How could it not? Let's use this opportunity not only to inform and bring awareness, but to share the only real and lasting solution: Jesus. 

Our community group here in Mexico City met last weekend with believing and unbelieving friends, neighbors, co-workers, and a host of others to watch a documentary that highlights sex slavery in Latin America. This created an environment ripe for conversation about why Jesus is so important. How without the gospel, we are without solution and fail to be equipped to rage this war. Now we are ready to talk about how we to engage the community directly surrounding us.
The broader community. The reality is that modern day slavery is not contained only to Thailand, to the red light district of Amsterdam, or to the dark corners of Latin American cities. It has spread itself across our world and now taken root in each of the 50 United States. If this is affecting our hometowns, then we should be searching for counter-slavery initiatives that already exist and ask how we can support their unique efforts in each of our backyards. Also consider searching for women's shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, or centers for kids at risk.  
The workplace as a community. How can you use your influence to push towards creative ideas and partnerships in the workplace? So often, companies are searching for reputable organizations to donate volunteer hours or financial resources. How can we fully utilize this opportunity? 
Church as a community. It's not uncommon for churches to have groups that they work alongside that are ready made partnering opportunities for members. But what if yours doesn't? Consider what might it look like to speak into your church culture and encourage outreach in this area. Recently, I attended a round table discussion at a Mexican church where key leaders and men on the front lines of rescuing and restoration efforts helped to facilitate discussion. They represented the state department, an inner city rescue home, small business ventures, and others. 

It is important to note, though, that it is not always the best fit to labor through the start up process of a brand new initiative when there may be neighboring churches that have experience in this area. In this case, consider what it might look like to hold hands with churches across your county and join in existing efforts. 
Worldwide believers and partnerships as a community. We need more prayer. More prayer that begs Jesus to change the trajectory that this evil projects. More prayer that cries out with agony for the broken young women that we interact with. More prayer that is rooted in unshakeable faith. 

Around the globe, there is an increasingly desperate need for people passionate about the gospel, anxious to see His name made known and aid in true justice. The need is for people who are willing to serve Christ with the talents that God has entrusted to them and hosts of people behind them, sending them out, urging them on, and supporting God's calling on their lives. 

Financial resources are what frees ministries and missionaries to do Kingdom work. Additionally, when you consider longterm support of rescued women, finances are required in an even more significant way as they are not one-time, but ongoing. 

We are talking about the second largest organized crime in the world. It can become daunting and overwhelming to the point that we turn cynical, doubtful, and continue without action. Without change. 

Let's start talking more about this. Let's be intentional in the communities and the spheres of influence around us. Let's witness together the radical transformation that comes from radical commitment to Jesus Christ and the gospel message. 

So, are you in? 
In the past six months, our ministry team has partnered with organizations on the front lines in Mexico City, raging a physical and spiritual war against the darkness of this present age. I've learned much, but I'm especially coming to understand that these issues are deep and complex. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the possibilities that exist in the fight against sex trafficking and modern day slavery. My hope is that it serves to spark conversation and form questions; we know about it, so let's talk about it. And when we talk about it, let's find out what we can do about it. 

Will you join us? Will you stand in community as an opposing force to the evil pressing in around us? Christ calls us to do this together. He calls us to bring hope and declare freedom from slavery in His mighty name. 

So, let's end it. 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, 
because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, 
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. 

Isaiah 61:1

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