Sunday, January 31, 2010

30 Days of Justice: JOY in Cambodia

3:00 AM
Today's cause is very personal to me. Because it is me! For those of you who have just started following my blog, or those of you who know me all to well, I wanted to take the time today to focus on what exactly I'm doing with my life in the coming year.

It all started with a question 4 years ago....Human trafficking? What's that? I found the answers, and my life was forever changed. As I began researching and reading about this injustice, I knew that I would be devoting my life to end it. I didn't know how, or where, or for how long, but I knew it was part of me now. After much reading and prayers, God really started to lay Southeast Asia on my heart, and more specifically Cambodia. I thought that was strange, because I've never known anyone to go there, I never really think about it, and it just seemed odd. But it was confirmed within me over and over again that Cambodia was where I should go.

So I started looking into it. And wouldn't you know, one of the first sites I searched was YWAM, and one of the first job postings I found was for “Prostitute Recovery Staff”. I read the description and thought that is exactly what I want to do! The White Doves base was a home for girls who wanted to leave a life of prostitution and find healing. Through Bible study, counseling, education, and honest work, they find the freedom they've been searching for. Long story short, I emailed them, said I wanted that job and how do I get it. They suggested I visit first, which I whole-heartedly agreed with. So began planning my first solo trip to Asia. In August 2009, with my $2,000 plane ticket in hand, I left for my dream country of Cambodia. I went in with no real expectations, but it wasn't anything like I expected. I fell in love with the country, the people and the ministry. And that's why when I returned, I knew I was destined to go back. For more a detailed account of my time there, read past blog posts here.

In September 2010, I will began my Discipleship Training School with YWAM. I'm excited because it's a Compassion & Justice themed school, and I can't wait to soak in some great teaching during that time. The overseas outreach location hasn't been determined yet, but I'm for Asia. The cost for this school is around $6,000. Final cost will be set once the location is chosen. After my DTS, I am able to became YWAM staff at the White Doves base in Siem Reap. When I talked to the director, Martin, while I was there, I asked him specifically what would have when/if I returned. And he basically said, do what you are good at. Who doesn't love that as a job description! One of my favorite things I did with the girls was teach English. So I'm hoping to continue that when I return. I have so much to do in preparation for this new adventure, such as learning Khmer and teaching myself how to prepare some Cambodian food.

One area where I need the most help is financially. Both the school and the position in Cambodia are support-based, meaning I have to raise it all. Maybe most people would find that overwhelming, and sometimes I do, but mostly I find it exciting. Because not only is it a chance for God to show up and rock my world, it's also a chance for people like you to be part of this dream. It's a chance for people who have jobs, spouses, kids, and mortgages who can't fly around the world to rescue girls from sex trafficking, to be a part in fighting it. It's a chance for people to be part of a miracle. And that IS exciting.

If you'd like to donate to this opportunity you either use the PayPal link at the top left of my blog, or mail a check (made out to YWAM) to myself. If you wish to do that, contact me for my address. You can also become my Facebook fan here. Thank you for listening to me share my heart about my future plans.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Youth With a Mission

3:31 AM
Some of Jesus' last words are “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." [Matthew 2819-20]. And one missions organization has been doing just that for over 50 years.

Youth With A Mission began in 1960 as a way to get young people to “know God and make Him known”. Today, YWAMers are no longer just youth, but people of all ages and generations. They live in over 150 nations and they like to work with partners in multi-cultural teams, celebrating the diversity of our different experiences, languages, and perspectives. They come from many different Christian traditions and they love to get together and worship God using our different expressions. They are all committed to growing in our understanding of who Jesus is and how He wants us to love and serve the people of the world. I am a YWAMer as well.

YWAM offers one of the best trainings for missionaries, called Discipleship Training School [DTS]. These schools are all over the world, in all different locations, with several specialized focuses. The format is 3 months of lecture, and 3 months of outreach. A YWAM missionary can attend a standard DTS, or one a bit more focused, like Worship, Compassion & Justice, or Sports centered. These specialized school programs allow students to be equipped to meet unique mission field experiences.

You can get involved with YWAM for just a few months, or a lifetime. By completing a DTS, you are able to serve at different YWAM bases, as you feel God leading. The base I visited this past summer was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is my goal to become a staff member of that base and work towards rescuing and restoring young Cambodian women seeking to leave of life of prostitution.. But...more on that tomorrow!

If you've felt the call to go overseas and see God work, start with YWAM. Or even if you want to stay in country, and help those around you find a YWAM base nearby. I know there are literally hundreds of Christian missionary sending organizations, and YWAM is just one. There are so many more reputable organizations doing amazing work for the kingdom. I chose to profile YWAM because they are who I am currently serving with, and maybe they could be someone you could serve with too.


Friday, January 29, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Chab Dai

3:37 AM
Prostitution. Human trafficking. Commercial sexual exploitation. Sex Tourism. Forced labor & migration. Sexual abuse of boys. Child labor. Statelessness. These issues and more are plaguing Cambodia. And when you just read the list, it seems overwhelming. How can these injustices be eliminated? How can we fix this? What can just one organization do? And the truth is, one organization isn't going to do it. It's going to take individuals reaching out to other individuals and organizations reaching out to other organizations to solve this crisis. And that is exactly why Chab Dai exists in Cambodia.

The vision behind Chab Dai (literally “joining hands” in Khmer) was founded in Cambodia in 2005. Chab Dai aims to bring an end to trafficking and sexual exploitation through coalition building, community prevention, advocacy and research. Chab Dai is a network for relief organizations to partner and join efforts in ending the cycles of violence and abuse of the Khmer people.

Cambodia is a sending, receiving and transit country for trafficking. Cambodians are most commonly trafficked for the purpose of commercial sex, begging, domestic work, fishing, construction and adoption. Trafficking in Cambodia is a problem intimately linked to the sex industry. Millions across the globe are regularly sold or manipulated into the commercial sex industry where they are used in various forms of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) such as prostitution, pornography, nude dancing or other forms of sexual abuse. Conservative estimates indicate that the annual global profits from CSE come to more than US $33.9 billion. One study estimates that the lowest statistics for the number of prostituted persons in Cambodia is between 40,000 and 50,000, and the highest is 100,000. According to this study, 30-35% of those in brothels are sexually exploited minors. Child sex tourism has received increasing international media attention as a pressing social problem in Cambodia. Sex tourism in Asia has increased dramatically in recent years and Cambodia is considered one of its top destinations. Most of today’s organized sex tours originate from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, Japan and South Korea. However, the internet has pushed the industry to a new level. It is estimated that US-based websites advertising sex tourism bring in over $150 million each per year. According to a UN study on child labor, nearly 1.5 million Cambodian children between the ages of 7 and 17 are engaging in child labor. This represents an estimated 40% of the country’s 7 to 17 year olds, and is considered to be a very conservative estimate.

Instead of seeing defeat in these numbers, Chab Dai sees opportunity. Opportunity to make a difference in this country and save lives.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

30 Days of Justice: The Somaly Mam Foundation

3:08 AM
Often when we hear about sex slavery, it's a concept. It's a statistic. Then one day, a real live person comes along, and makes it personal. That's what happened to me with Somaly Mam. I had been reading anything I could get my hands on about human trafficking, and I ran across a book called The Road of Lost Innocence. It was written by a former Cambodian child prostitute who now ran her own non-profit to rescue girls caught in that lifestyle. Her story was detailed, tragic, and heartbreaking. It really put a face on this injustice for me. Forced to work in a brothel along with other children, Somaly was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing she would meet that same fate, Somaly heroically escaped her captors and set about building a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under Somaly's leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach that ensures victims not only escape their plight, but have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of The Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, Somaly has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. The foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across South East Asia, where the trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice. The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs global awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of sexual slavery and focus on getting the public and governments involved in the fight to abolish modern day slavery.

I can't even begin to explain how moved I was by Somaly Mam's story. It was through her book that my heart began to burden for Cambodia. I had only known of the country's war torn history and violent revolutions that eliminated an entire generation. I had no idea that they were suffering from this tragedy as well. Cambodia filled my heart and my head, and I began looking to ways I could get. How I could do something.

“Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead. Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go.” - Brooke Fraser, Albertine.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

30 Days of Justice: The Spring

3:45 AM
Domestic violence is the single leading cause of injury to women in this country.

What a scary and terrifying experience it would be to be victimized in your own home and by someone you loved. I can't even image the torture and pain these women have experienced. Just as I can't begin to fathom the problem, I have even less of an idea of how to solve it. Thankfully, there are some people who are doing some good, right here in Hillsborough County.

The mission of The Spring of Tampa Bay is to prevent domestic violence, protect victims and promote change in lives, families, and communities. The vision is “to be a premier provider of domestic violence services and a positive force for social change, creating a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude towards domestic violence in Hillsborough County.

Since 1977, The Spring has provided sanctuary and services to more than 50,000 abused adults and their children in Hillsborough County. One of the largest programs in the nation, The Spring is the largest of Florida's 42 certified domestic violence shelters and the first in the United States to have an accredited school on site for resident children. The Spring has provided leadership in both legal and legislative initiatives that provide protections for victims, and prepared law enforcement and the judiciary with statutes to arrest and prosecute abusers. The Spring is Hillsborough County’s only certified domestic violence prevention and emergency shelter agency.

During 2008-2009:

• Sheltered 1,287 unduplicated women and men, including 744 children, providing 29,733 nights of shelter. Children attend child care and Hillsborough County Alternative School at shelter.

• Outreach Program provided 9,881 days of service to individuals who did not need shelter.

• All received individualized services that include counseling, safety planning, housing, benefits, legal assistance and relocation, if necessary.

•Community education sessions reached 14,000 individuals in corporations, healthcare, and schools.

The Spring exists to restore peace to violent families. The Spring provides a continuum of services to help individuals, with the goal of preventing domestic violence and helping those who are victims of violence. These services range from primary prevention to crisis services. Transitional housing and support services are also available, to ensure that the victims who seek services at The Spring truly have the opportunity for lasting change in their lives. The Spring provides specialized services for all victims to aid them in rebuilding their lives.

My heart is uplifted by the work that The Spring is doing for my city. I pray that many more come alongside and reach out to the thousands touched by domestic violence every year.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

30 Days of Justice: The World Race

3:54 AM
Ever dream of traveling the world? I know I do! One of my life goals is to visit all 7 continents. One missions organization has combined both the allure of world travel and the passion of serving others. Participants of Adventures in Missions' World Race will travel to 11 different countries in 11 months.

This type of missions experience is incredible for those who know God is calling them to the mission field, but not sure where. It gives you the opportunity to serve in first, second and third world countries, and see where God is drawing you. Each country has a different theme of ministry as well. You could be building a church in Peru, playing with kids at an orphanage in India, praying with prostitutes in Thailand, or digging wells in Africa. There will even be time for teams to pray to seek God to find where exactly He is leading them into ministry.

The World Race not only allows you to see all different types of ministry and cultures, but also a chance to increase dependence of God. From raising to support, to traveling from country to country with all your possessions on your back, to spending 24 hours a day with the same group of people for 11 months, every opportunity is a chance to grow your faith. As you read through the World Racer blogs, the stories not only tell of the changes happening within the country, but also the change within themselves.

And the trip isn't called the World Race for no reason. Taking inspiration from CBS' Amazing Race, World Race teams will compete within each country for points. As they arrive in each new country, they will be presented with challenges ranging from physical activities (climbing some big things!) to cultural activities (eating some gross things!). This competition allows Racers to immerse in the country they are about to spend a month ministering to, as well as increase team unity among each other. At the end of the 11 months, the overall winner is declared from the cumulative total of points. 2006 Racer, Ryan Stewart, has published a photo book, documenting his trip that you can purchase here.

The World Race isn't for everyone. But if you love excitement and adventure, serving God and spreading His Word, this may be the trip for you. It will take you out of your comfort zone. It will push you further with God than you've been before. It will broaden your worldview. It will open your eyes to the needs of a suffering world. It will ruin you for anything ordinary. Sound like fun?


Monday, January 25, 2010

30 Days of Justice: IMPACT

3:17 AM
It's a dirty word to some people. It's an outdated concept to others. But most just think it's completely unrealistic. Abstinence, that is. It conjures up images of stuffy old women or religious men who think sex is wrong. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I know this, because still at the age of 27, I am abstinent. For me, abstinence is the healthiest decision I can make with my body. I know that I am not at risk for STD or unplanned pregnancy. I know the guys I date aren't with me for a shot at some action. I know that I am not giving myself fully and completely to someone that I haven't made a lifelong commitment. And what's to keep him from walking out the door once we've had sex? And I know that the guy I will one day marry, will see my standards not as a challenge or an objective, but something of value. These reasons and more is why I do the job that I do.

At IMPACT, we encourage teens to live healthy lifestyles, which includes abstaining from pre-marital sex, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. If you believe the media, you'd think we're asking high schoolers to fly. But in reality, more than half of high school students are not having sex. Our program seeks to educate students on the realities of sex, possible consequences in engaging in sex as a teen, and the benefits of waiting to have sex in a committed marriage. We do 5 day classroom presentations which cover those topics as well as STD's, goal setting, personal strengths, love languages, defining love and infatuation, refusal skills, setting limits, personality profiles and more. We believe that students are capable of making these decisions, and need the correct information to do so.

In addition to classroom presentations, IMPACT offers the Teen IMPACT program. Once students decide to commit to this countercultural way of life, they sign a contract, and they are officially Teen IMPACT-ers. Within Teen IMPACT, we offer monthly club meetings (in-school and out-of-school), quarterly fun events, and retreats twice a year. We do this to encourage teens in their commitment. We know how hard it is to abstain from these things. And we want to see students succeed. So by equipping them with knowledge and skills, we are helping them follow through with these decisions. We also offer a Summer Staff program, in which we hire high school students for 8 weeks of the summer. We train them in skits, dramas, and presentations which teach the healthy lifestyle message, and they perform 3 day presentations to boys & girls clubs, rec centers, YMCA's, and youth groups all summer. I get to drive a really awesome 15-passenger van full of teen all around town to these locations! Jealous?? This Summer Staff program not only allows benefits the students we present to, but also the ones we hire. It helps solidify their commitment, and instills leadership qualities in them. But don't take my word, take theirs...

IMPACT also offers a Parent Program, in which we educate parents on how to talk to their teens about sex, and making good choices. It can often be a tough subject to bring up, and IMPACT provides facts, talking points, and examples on how to make that conversation a productive one.

So that's what I do with my days. I know that I don't change the mind of every student I talk to. I know there are students mocking me in their desks and going home to have sex. And that's their decision. But they can't say no one ever told them the truth. And even if only student is effected, then I've done my job. And what a great job it is!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Pregnancy Resource Centers

3:53 AM

I am so blessed to work for not one, but two pregnancy resource centers. These centers exist to assist girls who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. I work for both Lifecare of Brandon and A Woman's Place. Both of these pro-life centers help educate women on the choices they have when confronted with this life-altering decision. Regardless of whether they choose to parent, put their baby up for adoption or even get an abortion, these centers walk alongside the clients and point them towards a loving God. Here's just one story from these centers:

Abortion is one of those concepts that is easy to take a stand against, easy to form an opinion on, and easy to speak out about, but when you are faced with a crisis pregnancy it’s a different story. When you have to face your peers, your parents, your church, your boss…it’s easy to grasp on to the lies that the world throws around about abortion and hold onto them as truth. I know, because that was me. I believed the lie that if I ended it early enough, it wasn’t really a big deal. I believed the lie that it was the only choice – the only thing I could do. I believed the lie that my friends and family would hate me and that I would lose everything if I had a baby. I let fear, guilt, and shame drive my decision – and then I believed the lie that I was unforgiveable and alone. For two years I struggled with my choices, longing to accept God’s forgiveness but not sure how, bawling through every sermon on abortion and hardly able to even say the word. Then God brought me to Surrendering the Secret. This small Bible Study was full of women who had similar stories, and together we began the journey of healing from the heartbreak of abortion. I met women who have held on to this secret for 20 years or more and never told a soul! They just suffer with grief and sorrow, guilt and shame while pasting a smile on their faces and trying to live life. I want to tell you that there is a better way. You can accept God’s forgiveness and begin to heal. You can be released from secrecy and shame and begin to heal. I did, and God has brought me full circle. Now I volunteer and work for Life Impact Network, fighting for the Sanctity of Human Life every day. - Jen P.

Surrendering the Secret is offered at both LifeCare and A Woman's Place, and it encourages women to process and heal from the decision to abort a baby. Other services offered include: Birth of a Family classes, Women of Worth, Childbirth, and TLC [a program to let the moms earn “Mommy Dollars” so they can shop in the Baby Boutique for their baby need's]. Woven Basket, the adoption agency of A Woman's Place, also helps women with the decision of adoption, and walks them through the process. And my job with the prevention department of these centers helps teens realize the importance of healthy life decisions, but more on that tomorrow!

I could write pages and pages about the amazing work these centers are doing in their areas of Hillsborough County. A Woman's Place is strategically located next door to an abortion clinic, and the amazing testimonies that have come through those doors are truly an “only God” moment. And LifeCare is one of the most respected and loving places in all of Brandon, and the women who have made that center possible are walking miracles themselves. If you know someone who is in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, or just unsure of their options, direct them to one of these amazing centers. And together let us celebrate the Sanctity of Life today.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Faceless

3:38 AM
If you have been following my blog for any of my 30 Days of Justice series, you should be somewhat aware of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. Today I wanted to highlight yet another organization doing awesome work to combat this injustice.

Faceless International, co-founded by Stephen Christian of Anberlin, aims to defend the plight of exploited people worldwide who have gone faceless and unknown for far too long. They exist to raise awareness about social issues happening throughout the global community. They provide first hand experience and education through trips around the world and solution-based opportunities through regional resources. Along with this desire to put a face on the faceless, they want to empower us. They have partnered with several in the music industry to allow them to use their obvious talent. But they want everyone to use their talents as well. Whether it be an artistic talent, an organizational talent, or a caring heart-we all have the ability to make known the faceless. We all have the ability to be the change. Faceless is here to give you the opportunity to be a voice. They would love to have you use your gifts on one of their trips as we learn about the faceless around the world. But Faceless would also like to connect you with other quality organizations that are here in our own country putting a face on the faceless that get ignored everyday.

On their website, you can find information about trips within the United States that focus on human trafficking awareness. They also do international outreach to places like India. Learn about action steps you can take to make a difference in this cause, whether you have 3 minutes to spare, or 2 weeks, $4 or $1000. Any donation, big or small, can save a life. So check out Faceless and all they have to offer, and begin to discover to make known the faceless in your life.


Friday, January 22, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Reject Apathy

3:44 AM
ap⋅a⋅thy (n) absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement; lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting. A lot of us are apathetic about a lot of things. I'm apathetic about sports and making my bed. I just don't care for either. I know some people who are apathetic towards reading, movies, shopping, politics, or religion. But as Christians, God calls out of apathy. He challenges us to live lives of purpose and meaning. I think the word “apathy” sadly defines most of our generation. We are apathetic about news, current events, and so much more. When the top internet searches on any given day are “Gorillaz”, “Miley Cyrus”, or “Tara Reid” and the Twitter trending topics are “Jersey Shore” and “Justin Bieber”, it's obvious as to what most of the world is talking about. But this isn't the way things have to be. We can choose as a generation, as a people, and as a country to reject apathy, and express great passion, emotion and excitement for the things that matter in our world.

That is exactly why Relevant Magazine has launched Reject Apathy. It's a voice, in the midst of chaos, bringing awareness to issues affecting our globe. Unjust war, creation care, loss of innocents, preventable disease and poverty are just a view of the topics that Reject Apathy discusses regularly. With literally hundreds of blogs, features and spotlights on these engaging topics, readers will be sure to find injustices and movements that will cause them to reject the apathy in their own lives and do something about it. Combining the incredible visual talent of Relevant Magazine, Reject Apathy has it's own digital magazine which allows readers to email articles to friends and share on social networking pages. Create some buzz, spread the word, and reject apathy to make a difference in our world. The world can be changed when Christians rise up, commit to living counterculturally and sacrificially, and choose to reject apathy.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Current

3:55 AM
College is a great time in life. You are figuring out who you are gonna be and what you are gonna do. You feel like you have so much responsibility and pressure on you all the time, and then you get out of college and realize you had no idea, and long to go back to college again. Another great thing about college is that its when you are discovering and/or solidifying what you believe in. Whether a religion, a movement, a cause, or a faith, it's when you are finally out on your own that these things take hold. That's why it's so essential to have organizations on college campuses to reach out to the seeking college student.

Current is that organization at the University of South Florida. Current is a movement of young adults who seek to grow in faith and awareness of global injustice. They passionately engage these issues by giving their resources and time, and regularly going to places and people affected by them to help meet their needs. Their mission is to engage the current by growing, giving, and going. Through weekly meetings on USF's campus, college students are challenged to grow in their faith in God, and grow in their awareness of social issues around the world. This is accomplished through guest speakers (including yours truly!), documentaries, and discussion. Members of Current are also encouraged to give on a regular basis as well. Sure this is financial, but it's more than that. It's asking college students to give of their resources, and to learn how to meet others needs. And finally Current goes. It goes to the hurting and broken places in the world. It goes to the marginalized of the city. One on-going project Current participates in is called Laundry Love. They will go to the laundry mats located in some of the poorest parts of Tampa, armed with quarters, detergent, and love. Their main goal is to love the people at the laundromat. And whether that's through paying for their clothes to be washed, or playing with their kids so they can finish their laundry, each action and each conversation is intentional in showing these people God's meeting a practical need. Current also goes to other locations through the U.S. for mission projects. Most recently, they returned from Las Vegas where they partnered with XXXchurch to minister to those on The Strip. International trips are also part of Current's vision.

Getting college students fired up is pretty easy, but to get college students fired up about something they believe in and something that can change the world...that's huge. And that's what Current is doing here in Tampa.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

30 Days of Justice: LoveSprout

3:27 AM
We see them everyday. We walk by them, often pretending we don't hear their pleas for help. We wait for our light to turn green and try to avoid eye contact. The homeless are all around us. Those who have made some wrong turns and those who have had life crumble down around them. It's a problem of our country, but a curable one.

LoveSprout is a creative arts non-profit organization, designed to get homeless and runaway teenagers off of the streets and into a life full of nutrition, love, arts and community. It's a community of dedicated individuals who desire to give time and resources to American teenagers and young adults who are not privileged enough to live in a home. LoveSprout is about meeting needs. They are striving to meet physical, mental, and emotional needs which include but are not limited to nutrition, creating a community of love, and providing social services for these youth to give back.

LoveSprout exists for three primary goals:
~to educate America on the increasing number of youth who sleep on the streets of one of the wealthiest nations, and even the less fortunate countries.
~to feed, clothe, shelter and prepare these youth to make a new life for themselves with the support of the community LoveSprout desires to build.
~to use the arts as an outlet for these teens and young adults to find what they are passionate about doing in this world.

LoveSprout is planting it's first seeds on the west coast in sunny California. Donate now to be a part of the movement and change the face of our country.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

30 Days of Justice: KlaasKids

3:25 AM
During a slumber party in October of 1993, 12-year-old Polly Klaas was abducted at knifepoint from her California home. For 65 straight days, the hunt persisted for Polly. A mass distribution of 2 billion images of Polly was sent worldwide. She had soon become a symbol of love and lost innocence. Then one December morning, the nation was greeted with the news that Polly Klaas had been murdered. The country was outraged. The public cried out for change in legislation and pro-action in crime prevention. "Polly was faced with a choice few people ever have to make," said her father, Marc Klaas. "By putting herself in mortal danger to protect her family and friends, Polly has become my greatest teacher." Marc Klaas immediately dove into a campaign to put children higher on the national priority list. With no prior media, political or public speaking experience, he immediately became savvy in affecting proactive legislation, and sought to advocate children's issues and speak out on crime prevention.

Within a year the KlaasKids Foundation was formed. KlaasKids exists to help missing and exploited kids across the country. On their informative website, you can find information on how to create and maintain one of the most effective anti-crime and ant-terrorist grass roots programs ever developed, access to Beyond Missing, a revolutionary new Internet destination that provides free poster making and distribution capabilities for missing children, a 27-minute instructional video that educates parents on the steps to take if their children are kidnapped, and so much more. Through KlaasKids, Marc Klaas is helping others not have to experience the loss that he once did.

KlaasKids is also instrumental in ending Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking as well. Did you know there are 300,000 child prostitutes in the U.S.? Working with anti-human trafficking agencies, like the Florida Coalition, and law enforcement, KlaasKids wants to ensure that children are not being exploited in this tragic, yet so prominent, crime. Every day 2300 kids go missing in our country. And 2/3 of them will be lured into sex industry within 48 hours. Those are just a few reasons why organization like KlaasKids is so essential. KlaasKids goes to the streets, armed with information and photos of the missing, to bring these children back to their families safely. With warriors like Marc Klaas, Brad Dennis, and other team members of KlaasKids lives literall are being saved through KlaasKids.


Monday, January 18, 2010

30 Days of Justice: (RED)

3:30 AM
RED. Never has a color been so synonymous with a cause than red with AIDS. It's partly because of the (RED) campaign that so many are aware of the AIDS crisis in Africa. (RED) is the color of emergency. 3,800 people die every day from AIDS, and many others are fighting for their lives; this is an emergency. By linking itself to countless consumer products, the message of saving lives reaches further and further.

It's a simple concept really. Every time we as consumers choose to buy a (RED) product or service, the company that makes that product, donates 50% of its profit to buy & distribute antiretroviral medicine to our brothers and sisters dying of AIDS in Africa. Every dollar goes straight to Africa. Straight to the people who need it. (RED) is an answer to an emergency. An answer that is working.

These companies [and more] proudly support the (RED) campaign, so when you have the chance purchase their items: Apple, Converse, Dell, Gap, Hallmark, Starbucks, and Emporio Armani. While we may not need more stuff, and I am in no way encouraging binge shopping sprees to benefit AIDS victims. But sometimes it's a good thing to use the stuff we do need to make a difference in our world. Be deliberate in your shopping. As you consider gift-giving this year, think (RED) and it's partners and help save lives.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

3:15 AM
Beauty. It brings a different image to mind in each of us. Some may picture nature, or a child, a painting, or a woman. We all find beauty in different places and see it different ways. Some things are beautiful to one, that may not be to another. Because of our visual culture, the media has given us an image of what beauty in a person, or more specifically, a woman “should” look like. From the size her waist to the tint of her teeth, all women know what the acceptable ideal of beauty is.

Sadly, this ideal of what beauty “should” be, starts at an early age. Girls younger and younger are picking up on cues from their mothers, sisters, magazines, and TV shows. Take a look at some of these overwhelming stats:

*In a study of almost 500 schoolgirls, 81% of the 10 year olds reported they had dieted at least once.
*Dieting is more common than not dieting, with 95% of the female population having dieted at some time.
*The ten most popular magazines most commonly read by men and women were reviewed for ads & articles related to weight loss: the women’s magazines contained 10.5 times more articles related to dieting and weight loss than the men’s.
*69% of female television characters are thin, only 5% are overweight
*Average person sees between 400 and 600 ads PER DAY – that is 40 million to 50 million by the time s/he is 60 years old. One of every 11 commercials has a direct message about beauty.
*Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women. The average American woman is 5’4” and 140lbs. The average American model is 5’11” and weighs 117 lbs.

With facts and numbers like this, it's no wonder girls struggle with eating disorders, stay in abusive relationships, or just devalue themselves so much, they allow others to take advantage of them. And who can blame them, when this is what we face on a daily basis.

Watch this powerful video on the media's evolution of "beauty".

A few years ago, one consumer company decided to do something to change the tide. Dove, the creator of bath & beauty products, launched a new program called The Campaign for Real Beauty. This campaign specifically targets high school and middle school age girls, when their identity is so formidable. On their site, girls can find tools to help build their self-esteem...from online workshops, to articles & videos. Their desire and mission is to free ourselves and the next generation from beauty stereotypes. Whether you are a mom, a teacher, a guidance counselor, or youth leader, there are resources for you and the girls in your life through Dove. I greatly appreciate the work Dove is doing and am using their resources in my own job, empowering high school and middle students around Hillsborough County. I challenge you to do the same thing in your world. Never know what future leader we are shaping.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Tapestri

3:33 AM
There are few truly safe places in our world. Somewhere we feel comfortable enough to be ourselves, let our guards down, and Now imagine trying to find that safety after being a survivor of abuse. It gets even harder to find that place. And when your home was the scene of the crime...that's the last place you want to be. Advocates in the Atlanta, GA saw a need for a safe haven for women who have survived some sort of abuse or trauma. A place were they could rest and rediscover safety. And so Tapestri was born. Their name, “Tapestri,” symbolizes the different threads of society coming together to form a safe cover to protect its many colored communities.

Tapestri is dedicated to ending violence and oppression in refugee and immigrant communities, using culturally competent and appropriate methods. As advocates for immigrant and refugee families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation, they are committed to using education, community organizing, direct services and advocacy to effect change in the lives of these families. They believe that every person has a right to live without fear. Tapestri does not see domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation as the problem of an individual woman or even as a couples’ issue but rather as a human rights issue. It is a phenomenon that grows out of societies in which gender inequality and the use of violence are accepted as the normal behavior. Tapestri seeks to educate individuals and agencies so that these destructive norms will not be continued into the next generation.

I attended a sex trafficking training in Macon, GA last year, and I got to meet some staff from Tapestri and hear a testimony from one of their survivors. And it was powerful. To hear what she lived through was absolutely heartbreaking. And then to discover how Tapestri was meeting her needs was encouraging. To see people fighting the same fight in other places of the country and the world is just refreshing. Reminded me how small this world is and how big my God is. And how only He can bring an end to violence against women and exploitation of His children. And maybe, just maybe, He will let us be a part of making that happen.


Friday, January 15, 2010

30 Days of Justice: XXXchurch

3:18 AM
Pornography. It's a dirty word that nobody likes to talk about. Especially if you come from the church world. But with more and more pastors, church leadership, and ministers falling into the trap of sexual addiction, it became clear that someone needed to. That's exactly why XXXchurch was founded. XXXchurch is designed to bring awareness, openness and accountability to those affected by pornography. They are an online community that tours the world speaking at colleges, churches and community centers. exists to help those who are in over their heads with pornography, both consumers and those in the industry.

It's controversial for sure. XXXchurch sets up displays at porn expos around the country. They hand out Bibles with “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” printed on the cover. They publicly debate well-known porn filmmakers. Their own website claims “XXXchurch is provocative, memorable, and it combines the seedy and the sacred. XXXchurch is here to make you think, react, and to decide where you stand on the issues of porn. We're not here to sling mud, but to shove the envelope and try and do some good. It's hip, relevant, irreverent, honest, fun, and designed for people just like you.”

Based in the seediest cities of all, Las Vegas, XXXchurch recently started a physical church plant, called Strip Church. It's right on the strip of downtown Las Vegas. As founder Craig Gross says in the video, “They've got everything else, so why not a church?”. Another awesome aspect of this ministry is the accountability they provide. You can download X3 Watch, which is a plug-in for your browser that monitors which websites you visit. When you set it up, you include the email address of people you want to remain accountable to, like a wife, husband, or spiritual leader. That way as you surf the web, and may be tempted to visit some questionable sites, someone you trust and respect is going to be able to question you when needed. And that reminder itself may be enough to stop. All of us are targets of the porn industry. We are either baited [a pop-up on our screen, a sidebar ad], tempted [we've clicked through once or twice, curious], or trapped [actively using and viewing pornography]. And the largest age group viewing free porn online is 11-17 year olds. That is the youth and future of our country, those who's sexual identity is still being formed. Once they are hooked that young, the porn industry knows they have a lifetime customer. And it's all about the bottom line.

I think this issue is overlooked and swept under rugs too often in life, and it really causes a lot of damage. In my job, I work with high school students to educate about them about healthy choices [more on that in a later post!] and part of those healthy choices involves saving sex for marriage. And we spend time discussing the media, it's influence on our sexuality, and what we put into our brains. Pornography can have such a stronghold in a marriage! And as I recently discovered, there's a strong correlation between the porn industry and sex trafficking. I recently had the privilege of hearing Dee, a former Vegas porn actress, share her story about the ins and the outs of the industry. It was eye-opening! The Pink Cross in Vegas was essential in Dee's rehabilitation are doing some great work out there. Annie Lobert, former porn star, started her own organization for these girls seeking refuge from a life of porn called Hookers for Jesus. There are so many more organizations and examples of people fighting a fight that most people ignore. Encourage and support these crusaders today! And if you or someone you know is battling pornography, get help...before it's too late.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Haiti

3:12 AM
Just two days ago, the country of Haiti was hit with a staggering 7.0 earthquake, the most powerful quake to strike in 200 years. Needless to say, devastation is extreme, with just average day to day living in Haiti being a challenge. With thousands dead, and even more missing, the entire country is in a state of grief. When tragedies like these hit, it is the time for justice organizations to step in and help.

Once such organization is Agape Flights in Venice, FL. This small non-profit serves the purpose of flying missionaries around the world to fight against poverty, disease, malnutrition and injustice. When they heard about the destruction in Haiti, Agape Flights put a plan of action in place. They are collecting donations, both financially and materials, to take to the people of Haiti to help with the relief work. They also have a personal investment in the country, as 130 of Agape Flights missionaries are in Port au Prince. The first flight left early this morning, full of hope and love for the people of Haiti.

Another organization that is year-round invested in Haiti is Project 81. This Tampa-local non-profit is focused on not only meeting the physical needs of the people of Haiti, but also their emotional, mental and spiritual needs as well. They discovered that change for a country doesn't come from one organization or one missionary, it comes from the people within that country. So meeting their needs and empowering them to succeed, Project 81 is working towards changing Haiti by inspiring the people of Haiti. And now with the devastation this earthquake brought, the Haitians will need inspiration and hope more than anything.

I encourage you to find organizations that doing something to help in this time of crisis and to partner with them. Even if you aren't the one to go, your financial donation could also someone else to be there. Let's meet a need together.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

30 Days of Justice: With This Ring

3:18 AM

Would you give away your wedding ring if it would save someone's life? How about if it would save 10 lives? How about a thousand? That is the question that With This Ring asks. And if the answer is yes, there is a way to make that a reality.

In the villages and towns of the third world, more than 1.1 billion people — mostly young children — go every day without clean drinking water. As a direct result, these children develop diseases, suffer from malnutrition as a result of diarrhea and other conditions, and often die. And we have the power to save these lives right at our fingertips.

With This Ring (WTR) empowers men and women to donate something incredibly significant and valuable to the tangible efforts of saving lives around the world. They take to heart the command of Jesus when He says that we should sell our possessions and give the money to the poor.
They believe that if we can learn to give radically, we can literally change the world for Jesus. Together! Visit their site to learn more about the gift of standing hand in hand with an African child when the well-drilling rig hits water. And the real beauty of when that child looks the in the eyes and asks why they're doing this, they get to say, “Because there are people in the world who love you so much they’re willing to sell their wedding rings to give you clean water. And you know where that kind of love comes from? It comes from Jesus Himself who died on the cross so you could live.”

It's radical calling to say the least. But men and women across the country are answering this call and making these dreams realities. Whether you have a class ring or a wedding ring, it can go towards building these wells. If you are planning a wedding, use With This Ring to make a radical difference with your wedding by getting The Wedding Well Kit. And tell someone else about this organization. Who knows what could happen.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

30 Days of Justice: ONE

3:02 AM
When I think of celebrity role models, usually negative images come to mind...Miley Cyrus, Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and so on and so on. But one celebrity consistently defies this norm, and that is Bono. The uber-famous lead singer of U2 is known for his incredible voice, amazing stage presence, and more recently, his fight against injustice.

Bono and co-founders are responsible for ONE, a campaign against poverty in Africa. In 2004, organizations such as DATA, Bread for the World Institute, CARE USA, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam America, Plan USA, Save the Children, World Concern, World Vision joined together to create a new, non-partisan campaign to mobilize a movement of Americans from all walks of life in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable global disease. ONE's mission is to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease in the poorest places on the planet, particularly in Africa, where the challenges are the greatest.

ONE covers issues from education to agriculture to HIV/AIDS treatment to debt cancellation. They are literally jumping in the deep end, and tackling the biggest problems in our world today. And they are doing it with star power. Bono was the initial face of this campaign, but now celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester, Jessica Szohr and Ed Westwick, Heroes' Hayden Panettiere, High School Musical's Corbin Bleu, Twilight's Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed and Jackson Rathbone, 90210's Tristan Wilds, and so many more can be seen promoting this cause. I love that we live in a time where helping others and saving our world is accepted, expected and respected. With the help of Bono and these huge organizations who are doing so much, our world will be a better place.

If you want to get involved with ONE, check them out online and help make poverty history.


Monday, January 11, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

3:42 AM
When I first heard there was slavery in Florida, I didn't believe it. I thought no way, not my state and not my city. But I was wrong. I had a friend tell me about the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and in an odd way I was comforted. It was devastating to learn about slavery in my backyard, but at least there was someone doing something about it.

The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, FCAHT, was founded in 2004 by Anna Rodriguez, former law enforcement victim advocate. She had worked a few cases in which human trafficking was involved in Florida in the 1990's and became committed to the cause and its victims. It's partly because of her vigilance that President George W. Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act back in 2000, which has ultimately changed the national climate of human trafficking. But Anna also realized there needed to be something done on the local or state level also. According to US Department of Justice (USDOJ) over 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide each year. The USDOJ estimates that between 18,000 and 20,000 of those victims are trafficked into the U.S with Florida receiving a high percentage of those victims. The number of potential victims in Florida is expected to continually increase due to the number of immigrants that migrate to the state to participate in season agricultural harvests. So FCAHT was born.

Since 2004, FCAHT has expanded to 5 offices across Florida (Miami, Bonita Springs, Tampa, Orlando, and Shalimar) and has rescued & provided services to over 130 survivors. FCAHT does more than just identify a victim of trafficking. They have facilities to take them in and provide shelter, food clothing. They are able to get legal representation, medical help, and stability. So many victims are international, and having a safe refuge like FCAHT is the only way they would make it through this experience. They have saved so many lives, and more are being saved every day.

I have been a volunteer with FCAHT for about a year and a half. I knew that if this was going on in my city, I had to do something. So I began attending trainings and meetings to learn about the distinct issues that surround domestic [inside the U.S.] human trafficking. I have been able to do awareness presentations, where I have been able to educate the community on FCAHT and domestic human trafficking. I've also participated in outreach activities as well. Probably my favorite outreach so far was during the Tampa Super Bowl last February. Because of the nature of the event [high party atmosphere + a lot of people traveling], FCAHT put together street teams to literally walk the streets of Tampa to educate hotel managers and restaurant & shop owners about the possibility of domestic minor sex trafficking [underage victims being used for sex] going on that weekend, and what signs and signals to look for. We also had flyers of a few missing girls from the area that could possibly be involved against their will. As a result of our efforts, tips were called in and leads were uncovered. This same street team efforts will be at the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami next month, which I'm hoping to be a part.

The reason that I chose to highlight FCAHT today is because January 11 is the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Take this day to get more educated on the cause and what you can do to prevent it in your area. Also, you can join The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Global Child Rescue, and KlassKids Foundation in bringing more awareness on the issue of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. The event will take place at St. Pete Community College Seminole Capmus. Regsitraion will begin at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

30 Days of Justice: The Girl Effect

3:26 AM
It's probably pretty obvious by now that I'm sensitive to the cause of injustice towards women. Today's organization is a little different though. Instead of telling you about the awful things girls and women are experiencing around the world, The Girl Effect inspires you see what a difference just one girl can make. This is the awesome video I ran across on Twitter one day, and it moved me so much that I began to pour into this campaign and find ways to implement it's vision into where I'm already working.

Here's the thing. Girls living in poverty are uniquely capable of creating a better future. But when a girl reaches adolescence, she comes to a crossroads. Things can go one of two ways for her – and for everyone around her. One: She gets a chance, gets educated, stays healthy and HIV-negative, marries when she chooses, raises a healthy family, and has the opportunity to raise the standard of living for herself, her brothers, her family, her community, and her country. Two: None of these things happen. She is illiterate, married off, isolated, pregnant, and vulnerable to HIV. She and her family are stuck in a cycle of poverty.

So that's why The Girl Effect exists. To give girls a chance. Because the future of our world is about girls. And boys. And moms and dads. And communities. And cities. And countries. There are many ways to get involved with this great change. For example, give money to send a girl to school. There are 600 million adolescent girls living in poverty in the developing world. By giving one of these girls a chance, you start the girl effect. When girls have safe places to meet, education, legal protection, health care, and access to training and job skills, they can thrive. And if they thrive, everyone around them thrives, too.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Soul Pancake

3:33 AM
What art made you smart? What song could stand in as your self-portrait? Do we live for the chase? What would you learn to do if you got rid of your TV? These are just a few of Life's Big Questions that users tackle at Soul Pancake. This unique web community exists to engage people in dialogue and discussion about some of the big areas in life: spirituality, creativity, and philosphy. You can discuss a Big Question, take a Creative Challenge, or make a Life's Little List. It is simply a forum of discussion. If you have ever just thought conversations about religion and spirituality were "hippy dippy", think again. This site is for you.

Soul Pancake was created by Rainn Wilson [yes, that Rainn Wilson a.k.a Dwight from The Office] and his son. Together they envisioned a place where you can speak your mind, unload your questions, and figure out what it means to be human. Using social media as a launching place, Soul Pancake has a large presence on Twitter and Facebook. You can even link your Soul Pancake responses to show up on your Twitter updates. Which of course in turn engages more and more people in conversation.

I know this doesn't sound like any of the other justice organizations I've covered during this, but something about Soul Pancake I just connect with. One of my favorite posts was about how a community can care for their homeless, in which hundreds of people responded with their ways to love the marginalized in their city. It's a place for people of all faith's to connect. It's a place to hear and be heard. Often there are religious or faith based discussions too! The Creative Challenges push people to think outside the box with how they see the world around them. When was the last time you were challenged to write a haiku summarizing your past year or to write a letter to your vice [fault, defect, or shortcoming]? I think this generation of young adults, college students, and even high schoolers are searching for meaning and purpose in a way unlike generation before them. And here with Soul Pancake that search is validated and encouraged. And I think that if you call yourself a Christ-follower, being part of these discussions is essential. So check out what Soul Pancake has offer and chew on life's big questions.


Friday, January 8, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Polaris Project

3:59 AM
Slavery still exists. That's the tagline of abolitionist organization, Polaris Project, located in Washington D.C. It cuts right to the heart of the matter. Polaris Project exists to let people know that slavery still exists in our world today.

Founded in 2002, Polaris Project is a leading non-profit organization combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery. They work with victims of all forms of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, men and women, and adults and children. They also inform and empower the public, train law enforcement and service providers, advocate for better laws, and strengthen the movement to end modern slavery. Polaris Project operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With the tips and information they receive, law enforcement & service providers are notified to get the best care for the victims. Their Washington, DC office also provides long-term shelter through one of the only transitional housing programs in the United States for both foreign national and domestic trafficking survivors. Being located in our country's capital has also allowed them to stayed connected to the pulse of our government. Whenever there is a piece of legislature dealing with any issue touching with slavery, Polaris Project is there, lobbying and keeping government officials informed with the latest information on the subject.

My favorite part of the Polaris Project website is the Media Coverage in the Action Center. They post up to date news articles, videos, and website posts regarding human trafficking in our country. They keep up with news from around the country. It's a great resource when identifying slavery in your own community.

Polaris Project was started by college students with a vision, and they know the value of the college student, which is why they provide several fellowship/internship opportunities every year. Find out more and get involved in this fight against slavery. Because slavery still exists.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

30 Days of Justice: To Write Love on Her Arms

3:48 AM
You've probably seen some hipster in their skinny jeans sporting a tee shirt with the phrase “To Write Love on Her Arms” and wondered what in the world it was talking about. Well, it's not just a shirt, but a movement. To Write Love on Her Arms [TWLOHA] is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

Founded in 2006 by Jamie Tworkowski, TWLOHA began as just a way to help a friend who was hurting. He had one friend who was suffering silently. They started selling t-shirts as a way to pay for our friend’s treatment, and made a MySpace page to give the whole thing a home. Thus TWLOHA was born. It exists be a bridge, a connection, from those in pain to those who can help. With one of the most organic marketing plans ever conceived [or just happened], bands and artists began wearing the TWLOHA shirts and raising awareness for this organization. Word spread like wildfire. In the days that followed, they learned quickly that the story they were telling represented people everywhere. They began to hear from people in need of help, and others asking what they could do to help their friends. They heard from people who had lost loved ones to suicide. Many said that these were questions they had never asked and parts of their story that they had never shared. Others were honest in a different way, confessing these were issues they knew little or nothing about. It seemed they had stumbled upon a bigger story, and a conversation that needed to be had.

Over the last two and a half years, TWLOHA has responded to 80,000 messages from people in 40 different countries. They've had the opportunity to bring this conversation, and a message of hope and help, to concerts, universities, festivals and churches. They've learned that these are not American issues, not white issues or “emo” issues. These are issues of humanity, problems of pain that affect millions of people around the world.

I've people whose lives have been touched by suicide and self-injury. It's a dark place to be. But there is a way back. And TWLOHA is helping people find that way.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Blood:Water Mission

3:52 AM
There are 3 things humans need to survive: food, oxygen and water. Here in America, those are just assumed. Actually, if you were to ask Americans what we need to survive, they'd include things like shelter or clothes too. But in reality, it boils down to just three. And sadly, so much of the world doesn't have access to one of these: water. Christian rock band, Jars of Clay traveled to Africa and was hit with the crisis of the lack of clean water and it's impact on the health of the people. In a continent where HIV/AIDS ravishes the population, clean water is essential in fighting disease and bacteria. So Jars of Clay came back to states and launched the Blood:Water Mission, committed to providing clean water to the people of Africa to help improve their overall health.

Since its launch, Blood:Water Mission has raised millions of dollars from individuals seeking to make a difference. They have partnered with more than 800 communities in Africa, providing life-saving water and health needs for over 500,000 people. Along the way the 1000 Wells Project has expanded holistically to include a variety of clean water solutions and sanitation and hygiene training, as well as funding health clinics, community health workers, and support groups, which help in the prevention, treatment, care and support of communities affected by AIDS. BWM are began to incorporate HIV/AIDS-specific programming alongside ongoing water programming in 2009 and onwards. They seek to empower communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crisis. This isn't just one person saving the world, it's a group of people inspiring other groups of people to save the world.

The Blood:Water Mission has several ways to get involved with their work. From holiday giving ideas to planning your own water walk to sacrificing your own water supply for a few weeks, each and every action goes a long way in this effort to change a country and a continent. Get your campaign kit, resources and start making a

Blood:Water Mission from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Not For Sale

3:57 AM
It's no secret that human trafficking is a burden on my heart. So there will be several organizations over the next 30 days that are fighting this modern-day slavery in our world in their own unique way. One of my favorite organizations is Not For Sale. After I read Gary Haugen's Terrify No More, I was looking for any and all books on the topic of human trafficking. The next one I ran across was Not For Sale by David Batstone. This book really opened my eyes to the depth of the crime. It was not limited to one geographic location, he recounted stories and facts from across the globe, even right here in the United States. I had no idea this was happening in our own country! I began to follow NFS online and found out about a Advocacy Event they were holding in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2008. I signed up to go and found myself surrounded by others who were fighting for this cause, just like me. I met David and caught his passion firsthand. We heard from other champions of the cause in country's capital. And then we were able to lobby to our own state's senators and congressmen about the reauthorization of legislation. And I finally felt like I was doing something. For so long the cause of human trafficking was something I read about and talked about, and now, with Not For Sale, I was doing something about it.

Not For Sale is based out of San Francisco, California. Their mission is to educate and equip abolitionists to go out and end modern-day slavery in their own backyard. Founder David Batstone has been traveling the country on a Backyard Abolitionists tour to educate college-students, church-goers, and activists how to recognize slavery in their city. The NFS collective challenge is simple: Stand with those who are enslaved, work together to free them, and empower them in their freedom to break the cycle of vulnerability. What abolitionists are combating is wide-ranging, deeply embedded, and largely invisible (how else could it exist in our own backyards?). A holistic, all-encompassing response is in order. Igniting and aiding this comprehensive response is the Not For Sale Campaign’s purpose. The Not For Sale website is loaded with resources for churches, college students, high school students, artists, athletes, and more. Anyone can fight injustice and slavery.


Monday, January 4, 2010

30 Days of Justice: Invisible Children

3:36 AM
Today's topic will definitely pull at your heart. Back in 2006, I was attending a two-week training camp for a mission trip I never went on. Part of the training experience was a “Refugee Camp”. They woke us up at 5am, we had 5 seconds to grab whatever was near by. We were loaded onto buses and forced to keep our heads down. We drove around for 20 minutes and then dropped off in a field. We had to barter for food and pee in the woods. There were periodic “raids” in which guys in all black with paintball guns would come running at us and we had to get to the “safe zone”. When it got dark, we had to walk a few miles back to our campground, in silence. It was the longest day of my life. This may sound like a bizarre training exercise [and it was], it was inspired after we viewed a documentary the night before called “Invisible Children”.

It was a film about 3 college age guys who went to Africa in search of a story. What they found was the ugly secret of child soldiers. Children who were torn from their families at a young age, and taught to fight with machine guns and grenades, for the cause of adults. Every night in northern Uganda, children would walk for miles to avoid being caught by these war-hungry captors. And “Invisible Children” is their story.

The documentary which released in 2003 has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people now, raising awareness about this war and this tragedy. The Invisible Children organization now exists to not only let people know about Uganda, but also to do something about it. They have rebuilt schools that were damaged by war. They provide scholarships for students to attend high schools and universities. They have also implemented micro-economic initiatives that are impacting 360 Ugandan’s in transition from internally displaced camps to their original homes as well as 13 formerly abducted child mothers who are now self-sufficient through our tailoring center that provides training in savings, investment, numeracy, literacy and health. These savings-and-loans initiatives have allowed villagers to save money and earn interest for the first time, freeing them to start their own businesses and provide for their families like never before. In short, Invisible Children is changing the culture of Uganda, and Africa as a whole. Watch the trailer for the documentary below, and allow it to move you to make a difference in your own world.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

30 Days of Justice: TOMS Shoes

4:28 AM

One justice organization has not only become a staple of my own wardrobe, but of fashion around the world. TOMS Shoes sells trendy and comfy shoes, which in turn provide shoes for children all over the world with their One for One Movement. TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what they're all about. TOMS was founded in 2006 by American traveler Blake Mycoskie. He saw a need in the world and he did his part to meet that need. But why shoes?

Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or just getting around, these children are at risk. Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries. Children can walk for miles to get food, water, shelter and medical help. Wearing shoes literally enables them to walk distances that aren't possible barefoot. Wearing shoes prevents feet from getting cuts and sores on unsafe roads and from contaminated soil. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected. The leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites which penetrate the skin through open sores. Wearing shoes can prevent this and the risk of amputation. Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential. There is one simple solution...SHOES.

So through the TOMS Shoes website, you can purchase shoes for yourself, your child or our baby. There's other TOMS merchandise as well, including Tshirts, bags, jewelry and more. You can even sign up to attend a “Shoe Drop”, where they travel around the world giving the children shoes. TOMS Shoes grown in popularity over the past 4 years of its existence. A-list celebrities are seen in TOMS, a recent AT&T commercial featured Blake and TOMS Shoes, and Nordstrom department stores even carry a selection. It's incredible to see the dream of one man change so many lives in our world.