The Locust Effect

What are you reading?

My goal for 2014 is to read more non-fiction. I read fiction all the time to study the craft, support friends, and review Christian speculative fiction. I want to balance it out more this year.

My latest book I’m reading is The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros.

Imagine living in a world where if something horrible happens to you or a loved one, such as an assault, rape, or other injustice, you have no place to turn for redress. No one to stand up for justice.

That happens too often in the world, and that is the subject of The Locust Effect. Their premise is that without effective justice in the form of appropriate and honest law enforcement and judicial system, the issues of global poverty, human trafficking, and violence will never see resolution.

This Thursday, February 27th, is a day to focus on the scourge of modern slavery. I will be posting in support of his initiative, and if you are interested in the fight against injustice and modern slavery, I believe The Locust Effect will be a key factor in the future battle.

I’ll post more when I’m finished. If you want to know more, go to the Locust Effect website.

The Just Church

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.  

The words of the prophet Micah are spoken in churches all over the world. Believers love this simple declarations of what Jesus asks of His people.  

Christians try hard to walk humbly with the Lord. We strive to show mercy to people. However, we often ignore or struggle with the clause of “acting justly.” Especially for Western Christians, the command for justice is flat-out missed or simply misunderstood.  

There is a new move of the Spirit, awakening His people to the need to provide justice for those who cannot speak up for themselves, to proclaim freedom to the captives, to minister to the widow and orphan. It is a slow burn, but it is exciting to see the embers leaping into flame in various places of the body.

 A new spark is being provided by the new book The Just Church by Jim Martin of the organization International Justice Mission (IJM).

IJM has been fighting for justice for many years now and is one of the leading organizations battling injustices like forced labor, human trafficking, sexual exploitation of women and children, and modern-day slavery in all its forms.  

Jim Martin has been working with them after transitioning out of the pastoral role in his church, becoming a church liason with IJM. This experience made him especially qualified to write The Just Church.  

This book is a challenge to the body of Christ to reclaim the lost aspect of Micah 6:8 and to actively act justly in the world. There are other books that try to awaken Christians to the need of justice and to expose the problems of modern slavery and other forms of bondage towards vulnerable peoples that is easy to overlook in our daily lives. The Just Church is a book that takes the church on journey to forming a viable justice ministry to compliment evangelism and mercy ministry.  

The book is laid out in three sections. The first section establishes a theory that faith doesn’t really grow without significant risk and suggests that justice ministry is a needed part of the church and can help develop a healthier discipleship in His people. The second section takes the reader through a practical journey on establishing a justice ministry in the local church. It isn’t a step by step approach, allowing for the individual characteristics of any body guide the process. The last part of the book is a series of appendices with Scriptures on justice, resources for following through, and study materials. Each chapter ends with a QR code that can be scanned by a smart phone or tablet, leading to a video with Jim summarizing each chapter’s main point.  

It is well-written with an easy conversational style. Jim lays out the challenges inherit in this type of ministry and doesn’t sugar-coat it. It won’t be easy. But he recognizes the hope that is out there for people if Christians will rise up and stand in this gap, so the book is infused with this balance of challenge and hope.  

Any critiques are minor. The videos are a very nice multimedia touch in this day and age – but I’m a fast reader so I’d rather not slow down and watch a movie. Those who like this feature will be pleased. Also, sometimes the book seems too much like a selling tool for IJM. I realize Jim works with them and is most familiar with their work, but there are other fine organizations out there doing similar work as well. This isn’t a big issue, and I support IJM financially myself.  

Overall I am thrilled to have had a chance to read this book and see the new horizons coming in the fight against injustice. The need is starting to become known in the western Church. The Just Church takes the movement to the next step and provides a practical tool to those churches looking into how they can join in the justice ministry sphere. It isn’t for special groups like IJM or others listed on my links on my blog. The Bible speaks very clearly about God’s love of justice and it is every Christian’s responsibility to see the threefold thrust of Micah 6:8 walked out in the world today.  

I’m thankful to Jim Martin and IJM for their work. I did receive a preview copy for promotional purposes, without any expectation of a positive review. My endorsement is heartfelt. The Just Church is a powerful tool in the battle against modern injustice. I highly recommend it.
 —

Justice Awareness

Computer problems are not conducive to blogging.

With that out of the way, I wanted to quickly point out a couple of resources for people interested in justice issues and fighting things like human trafficking.

Half The Sky is a two part documentary on the plight of women worldwide, as there are so many instances of oppression on women throughout the world. The documentary shows things like rescuing girls from brothels, providing learning opportunities, and exposing the issues that affect so many women in the world. It is airing on PBS tonight and tomorrow night. It looks to be a powerful way to show the needs of fighting for women without rights or opportunity. Like the title implies, half of the population is treated less than human and is discriminated against in too many ways, especially in the Two-Thirds World.

Next week is the launch of the book The Just Church written by Jim Martin of International Justice Mission. I’m reading it to help promote the launch and it is challenging so far. I’m planning to have a review of it next week.

Two quick items to let people know about. These are major things in the world today. I believe they are very close to God’s heart, even if Half The Sky is a “secular” production.

Displaced People

Are you glad you have a home? Are you proud to be an American?

What if that were taken from you?

Did you know that there are people in the world that aren’t refugees that do not hold a citizenship in any country? There are people that haven’t been chased out of one country into another due to war or persecution, but they just aren’t counted.

One situation is in the hill tribes of northern and western Thailand. They are technically eligible for Thai citizenship, but the regulations for getting it are often too cumbersome for rural tribes.

Why does this matter?

It limits these people in getting jobs or accessing services, and it makes them especially vulnerable for human trafficking, from labor-based slavery to sex slavery. They are not protected by laws that are otherwise designed to be a resource for workers. They can’t even own the land they live on.

The good point is that organizations like International Justice Mission are working with these tribal groups to facilitate registration and walk them through the confusing processes that are in place currently. By being an advocate, they do prevention work to keep these people from being so vulnerable for abuse.

These things happens nowadays. Thankfully there are many groups working to help this problem. Sometimes we can make a difference before the problem of trafficking actually happens, and working with vulnerable peoples and lifting them up economincally and providing avenues for justice will be the ways we eventually end the problem of modern day slavery.

Displaced People

Are you glad you have a home? Are you proud to be an American?

What if that were taken from you?

Did you know that there are people in the world that aren’t refugees that do not hold a citizenship in any country? There are people that haven’t been chased out of one country into another due to war or persecution, but they just aren’t counted.

One situation is in the hill tribes of northern and western Thailand. They are technically eligible for Thai citizenship, but the regulations for getting it are often too cumbersome for rural tribes.

Why does this matter?

It limits these people in getting jobs or accessing services, and it makes them especially vulnerable for human trafficking, from labor-based slavery to sex slavery. They are not protected by laws that are otherwise designed to be a resource for workers. They can’t even own the land they live on.

The good point is that organizations like International Justice Mission are working with these tribal groups to facilitate registration and walk them through the confusing processes that are in place currently. By being an advocate, they do prevention work to keep these people from being so vulnerable for abuse.

These things happens nowadays. Thankfully there are many groups working to help this problem. Sometimes we can make a difference before the problem of trafficking actually happens, and working with vulnerable peoples and lifting them up economincally and providing avenues for justice will be the ways we eventually end the problem of modern day slavery.

27,000

Did you know that the best numbers for modern-day slavery come up with a figure of 27 million people in bondages?

The scourge of human trafficking is alive and well around the world, from brothels in southeast Asia to brick mills in India, from indentured servitude in Middle Eastern countries to a sexually-exploited youth or economic slave in the USA.

It is a passion of mine to see this problem overcome, and I will work to get the word out on the problem and ways to make a difference.

International Justice Mission is one organization that works with countries to enforce laws within that country to help victims find freedom from illegal activities. Pretty much every country has laws against slavery, but if there is no one willing to prosecute or investigate, traffickers can have free reign. IJM assists in this particular area, along with aftercare for victims and educating lawmakers and enforcers.

They are holding a campaign to get 27,000 signatures for a petition to President Obama – one signature standing in for 1000 victims of slavery. The letter asks him to take four actions to help in the fight:
1. Taking a stand by mentioning it in his 2012 U.N. address.
2. Working to get slavery out of U.S. supply chains.
3. Providing diplomatic support for other countries’ efforts to combat trafficking.
4. Making sure we fund the fight to support efforts.

They are close to their goal. I am asking readers of this blog to take a few minutes from your day to click on the banner below and sign the letter. It is a simple act to stand with the oppressed, and it will help keep the U.S. in the forefront of the battle.

Thank you!
Sign Your Name Stand For Freedom

27,000

Did you know that the best numbers for modern-day slavery come up with a figure of 27 million people in bondages?

The scourge of human trafficking is alive and well around the world, from brothels in southeast Asia to brick mills in India, from indentured servitude in Middle Eastern countries to a sexually-exploited youth or economic slave in the USA.

It is a passion of mine to see this problem overcome, and I will work to get the word out on the problem and ways to make a difference.

International Justice Mission is one organization that works with countries to enforce laws within that country to help victims find freedom from illegal activities. Pretty much every country has laws against slavery, but if there is no one willing to prosecute or investigate, traffickers can have free reign. IJM assists in this particular area, along with aftercare for victims and educating lawmakers and enforcers.

They are holding a campaign to get 27,000 signatures for a petition to President Obama – one signature standing in for 1000 victims of slavery. The letter asks him to take four actions to help in the fight:
1. Taking a stand by mentioning it in his 2012 U.N. address.
2. Working to get slavery out of U.S. supply chains.
3. Providing diplomatic support for other countries’ efforts to combat trafficking.
4. Making sure we fund the fight to support efforts.

They are close to their goal. I am asking readers of this blog to take a few minutes from your day to click on the banner below and sign the letter. It is a simple act to stand with the oppressed, and it will help keep the U.S. in the forefront of the battle.

Thank you!
Sign Your Name Stand For Freedom

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Yesterday I mentioned my friend’s baby boutique, Lovely Lullabies Boutique, as an online option for Christmas shopping. If you don’t have anyone that is in baby mode that you need to shop for, and you’re frustrated about what to get them, I have a couple of suggestions.

Many of us in the West don’t really NEED anything. We have wish lists of the latest toys and gadgets, styles, or whatever. I am definitely talking about myself in this as well. What if we could give something that was meaningful and made a difference in people’s lives?

I have a couple of examples of things that can be done.

There is a new trend with charities that gives a concrete example of what is given, and it is a great opportunity for kids to see what they are doing with their gift. If you’ve got a family member that has everything, then you can also give something in their name via the charity.

World Vision is one of the best charities when it comes to financial accountability. They have a “gift catalog“, where you can give $25 dollars to by chicks for a village, or $250 worth of food for $50. The catalog explains how a $75 goat can be such a windfall for a family providing protein-rich milk, cheese and yogurt as well as the possibility of offspring. For just $30, 5 ducks can be provided, with eggs and extra ducklings to sell for money. It is an awesome opportunity to help those who really need the help, and again it is a concrete way of seeing the money spent, rather just sending a check into the void.

International Justice Mission is another of my favorite charities. They work on behalf of oppressed peoples in slavery and trafficking around the world, whether for sweat shops, forced prostitution, or other instances of injustice. They also have a freedom catalog. Gifts of $25 – $50 can buy a half or whole day of investigative work, which is needed to find the people in need and line up the proper government authorities to enforce the right laws, or aftercare for abused girls. The gifts here are a little more abstract, but still the money is going to a specific activity, which can be much more meaningful.

I hope people can consider these options in their gift-giving plans. I’m sure there are other charities out there that do similar things, these are just two of the charities I have chosen to support because I believe in their mission and trust their accountability. Since we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, let’s remember His words about “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” (paraphrase of Matt 25:40)

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Yesterday I mentioned my friend’s baby boutique, Lovely Lullabies Boutique, as an online option for Christmas shopping. If you don’t have anyone that is in baby mode that you need to shop for, and you’re frustrated about what to get them, I have a couple of suggestions.

Many of us in the West don’t really NEED anything. We have wish lists of the latest toys and gadgets, styles, or whatever. I am definitely talking about myself in this as well. What if we could give something that was meaningful and made a difference in people’s lives?

I have a couple of examples of things that can be done.

There is a new trend with charities that gives a concrete example of what is given, and it is a great opportunity for kids to see what they are doing with their gift. If you’ve got a family member that has everything, then you can also give something in their name via the charity.

World Vision is one of the best charities when it comes to financial accountability. They have a “gift catalog“, where you can give $25 dollars to by chicks for a village, or $250 worth of food for $50. The catalog explains how a $75 goat can be such a windfall for a family providing protein-rich milk, cheese and yogurt as well as the possibility of offspring. For just $30, 5 ducks can be provided, with eggs and extra ducklings to sell for money. It is an awesome opportunity to help those who really need the help, and again it is a concrete way of seeing the money spent, rather just sending a check into the void.

International Justice Mission is another of my favorite charities. They work on behalf of oppressed peoples in slavery and trafficking around the world, whether for sweat shops, forced prostitution, or other instances of injustice. They also have a freedom catalog. Gifts of $25 – $50 can buy a half or whole day of investigative work, which is needed to find the people in need and line up the proper government authorities to enforce the right laws, or aftercare for abused girls. The gifts here are a little more abstract, but still the money is going to a specific activity, which can be much more meaningful.

I hope people can consider these options in their gift-giving plans. I’m sure there are other charities out there that do similar things, these are just two of the charities I have chosen to support because I believe in their mission and trust their accountability. Since we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, let’s remember His words about “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” (paraphrase of Matt 25:40)