Monday, January 16, 2012

Mobilise USA.

I had the great privilege of going to the Mobilise USA conference through Newfrontiers this weekend in St. Louis. The theme was "Pushing Back Darkness," & the reason I wanted to go was specifically for a seminar they offered called "Push Back Darkness By Fighting Slavery." Matt Sweetman from Destination Church in Chicago spoke on the topic, & he said something that really stuck with me:


This is what God has been speaking to me, & this is what I'm passionate about. Matt spoke out of Isaiah 58:3-9, & I want to take some time to summarize what he had to say.

So we're in Isaiah 58, where basically the people are saying to God that their fasting should be good enough, & God comes back & says, "When you fast, you make up your own rules & mistreat all of your workers! How do you figure that's what I want from you?" God then has this to say on the matter, which I just love, in verses 6-12:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I love this! This is what we are called to! But understand; this is going to require some effort & probably inconvenience on our part. Share your food, provide shelter & clothes...these things are a big deal! Whatever is "ours" is actually the Lord's anyway - if He says to open up your home to the homeless, you do it, because it's God's house anyway, & God loves the homeless man as much as He loves you. If He says to reach out to prostitutes on the street & show them the love of Jesus, you do that too because God loves the women on the street just as much as He loves you. And who needs salvation & life more than the hungry & dying? These people are made in the image of God, just like us.

We see justice & mercy so often linked together in the Bible. That's because JUSTICE is an ACTION of the HEART of MERCY. If you don't have justice, you don't have mercy! If the Church would stand up in justice, I believe we could eliminate need entirely! When we open our eyes, we WILL see need. So what do we do about it? The Gospel is always the answer. If you think about it, Jesus Himself was "trafficked" in a way so that we could become the children of God. He knows all about slavery & pain & suffering, & we are called to be like Him. If our lives are pretty great, we have the means to help others. When you enter into someone's pain & suffering, it definitely can be a little bit uncomfortable, but it puts life in perspective, that's for sure.

I'm aware that in all of this time I've been writing about the need to DO something; so what can you do?

Destination Church saw a need, & saw a way to meet it by using their own God-given talents, so they created Buy Art Not People, where artists in their community team up to create art they sell for most of the proceeds to go towards fighting human trafficking by supporting Anne's House, a residential program for women & girls who have been victims of human trafficking. Check out BANP's gallery & see what's still available for sale; if you find something you like, you can buy it & contribute to the fight!

Maybe you don't have alot of extra money to spare to buy artwork or donate to organizations; that's okay too! One of the most powerful & effective tools we have is Christians is prayer. We can spend time on our knees praying & interceding for these girls in need, & change WILL happen!

I want to leave you all with this quote from William Wilberforce:
"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know."

Let's be the Church that sees the need, & chooses to meet it.

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