Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free and Unfettered

9:32 PM
"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

.:Matthew 6:25-34:.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Justice is what Love looks in public

10:41 AM
So I just back from a whirlwind trip to our nation's capital, Washington D.C. I experienced some pretty awesome things there! I went for the purpose of attending Not For Sale's Days of Advocacy. Not For Sale is an incredible organization dedicated to ending modern slavery and human trafficking. It began just a mere 18 months ago, with David Batstone, a professor, at the helm. They have put out a great book on the subject and been active in fighting human trafficking both domestically and internationally.

We began Wednesday with a 4 hour walking tour of the city and its history. We saw the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the White House, toured the National Archives, and the Capitol building. It kicked off the week well because it showed us the history that has taken place in this city and in this country, and now here we were, attempting to make history.

We gathered together at Georgetown University to begin the conference event. There was a 150 of us gathered from across the nation for the same cause....ending human trafficking. I met a college-age couple from Tampa, and the guy actually lived in Brandon! What are the chances!?! It was pretty awesome to be able to network with so many people who are passionate about the same cause I am.

After first meeting the hero himself, David Batstone, the first speaker was Ambassador Mark Lagon, who heads up the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking there in D.C. He challenged us in many ways, including to focus on confronting the demand and giving our community the "glasses" to see the problem for as it is. Because the only way someone cannot see the issue of trafficking in their community is because they aren't looking for it.

We then heard from Angel Santos, who is the C.E.O of the Ricky Martin Foundation. Ricky Martin, yes....the singer!, has started his foundation to focus on raising awareness on human trafficking in Central and South America. I think its so great when celebrities focus on a cause such as this.

We focused a little more on international trafficking and NFS' work in Cambodia and Peru, but the majority of the time was spent on domestic trafficking, right here in the U.S. A resource worth visiting is SlaveryMap, which is a map of the U.S. that abolitionists across the country have reported trafficking cases. This resource is ideal for raising awareness in communities and educating law enforcement.

Needless to say by the end of the first night, after 5 break-out sessions, I was overwhelmed with responsibility to my own community. Not only did I learn how to get the church involved, how to become a state director for NFS, and how to identify companies who don't use slaves in their labor, but also how to map slavery in my own backyard. So after all this, the real work had yet to begin...

Thursday morning began early (!) with a panel on how to be a smart activist. Great practical tips on becoming an abolitionist and putting together a team to help raise awareness. Then Tom Sheridan, of The Sheridan Group, quickly debriefed us on how to best lobby our congressman. It was great practical information on how to best meet with the staff of these powerful men and women. And we actually felt prepared!

So we were off to the Hill to meet with senators and representatives! I was with a group assigned to the Senators of NC and TX. Unfortunately, the staff from FL was not available, but no worries, I'll hunt them down. The purpose of our lobbying was to urge these senators to vote in favor of the reauthorization of the TVPA. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed in 2000 and is the first major legislature written to protect the victims of trafficking and prosecute the offenders. It must be reauthorized every 2 years, and it's behind in its reauthorization for 2007. It is essential to it pass in the lame duck session after the election. So we got the time to tell these staffers the urgency and bring home the local level of this crime. It was a fabulous experience, and I feel empowered to do this more and more. That's what so great about a democracy, eh?

Our time together culminated with an opening night showing of the film, "Call + Response", a musician's response to modern-day slavery. We walked to the theater in a candlelight vigil, passing out flyers on trafficking along the way. And the movie was incredible!! It features artists such as Switchfoot, Imogen Heap, Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Nickel Creek, Matis Yahu, and many more. Actors Ashley Judd, Julia Ormond, and Darryl Hannah talked about their involvement with trafficking. Even our own David Batstone was featured! It was powerful, informational, and inspirational. The British slave trade was abolished in just 20 years. The amount of money it would cost to end this atrocity, it would take the amount the U.S. spent on Valentine's Day last year. This is attainable and this is achievable. And I'm just doing my part to make it happen.