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Stories of Freedom

END MODERN SLAVERY INITIATIVE ACT

  • – from Senator Bob Corker’s website

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, Senator Corker introduced bold, bipartisan legislation to help eliminate slavery and human trafficking around the globe. With incredible support from countless individuals, organizations and faith-based institutions, authorizing legislation for the End Modern Slavery Initiative was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA), which overwhelmingly passed the Senate on December 8, 2016. The legislation was signed into law by the president on December 23, 2016. Follow the conversation online using the hashtags #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement.

“Today more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, suffer under forced labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including our own,” said Corker. “As I have seen firsthand, the stark reality of modern slavery is unconscionable, demanding the United States and civilized world make a commitment to end it for good. Despite the pervasive nature of this horrific practice, modern slavery is a crime of opportunity that thrives where enforcement is weak, so raising the risk of prosecution can achieve significant results. By providing strong U.S. leadership and leveraging our limited foreign aid dollars, this initiative will work with foreign governments and philanthropic organizations to match the funding being provided by the United States and create a coordinated effort to implement best practices to eliminate modern slavery and human trafficking around the globe.”

Background: Over 27 million people are trapped in the multi-billion dollar modern slave trade industry. Although slavery is illegal in every corner of the world, this crime of opportunity exists in more than 165 countries, including our own, and thrives most where enforcement is weak, whether due to indifference, corruption or lack of resources. While U.S. government agencies and many groups and organizations have taken significant steps toward fighting modern slavery, we need to take our efforts to the next level. The United States cannot meet this challenge alone, so Senator Corker introduced “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act” – bold, bipartisan legislation to create a focused, sustained effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to eliminate sexual and labor human slavery worldwide. This model is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to focus resources responsibly where this crime is most prevalent. This effort also complements other legislation focused on improving enforcement within the United States.

The End Modern Slavery Initiative: The legislation authorizes funding for a non-profit, grant-making foundation in the District of Columbia that will fund programs and projects outside the United States. These programs will:

  • Contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from being enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery;
  • Set clear, defined goals and outcomes that can be empirically measured; and
  • Seek to achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in the areas the foundation operates.

Funding: The initiative will seek to raise $1.5 billion, more than 80 percent of which will come through matching funds from the private sector and foreign governments. Sources of funding are as follows:

  • $250 million in funds from the United States over several years ($50 million has been appropriated through fiscal year 2017)
  • $500 million from foreign governments (Double the investment of U.S. funds)
  • $750 million in private funding (Triple the investment of U.S. funds)

Monitoring and Evaluation: Progress will be tracked against baseline data with a goal of achieving a 50 percent reduction in slavery. Projects that fail to meet goals will be suspended or terminated. The foundation is required to comply with the Government Accountability Office’s mandate to conduct financial audits and program evaluations.

Arizona House Bill 2238 seeks to amend the definition of “abuse” to include child sex trafficking. This change is imperative for allowing child victims to receive the protection, care, and services of child welfare. This change also resolves a glaring contradiction in state law: under the current definition of abuse, if an adult sexually molests a child, the child would be identified as sexually abused. However, when the offender pays to molest a child or receives money for allowing the child to be molested, it would not constitute child sexual abuse.

Passion 2017 Recap

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The effects of Passion continued on with reports on what college students did to change the world on news stations and later when raising awareness for END IT.

New Passion album Worthy is Your Name and what it is all about

For the first time ever, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) will bring to television all the highlights from the Passion Conference, one of the nation’s largest annual Christian collegiate gatherings, which brings together tens of thousands of college students and young people from across America to help them find their passion and purpose in loving Jesus.

Popular Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio kicked off the first Passion Conference in 1997 with a few thousand college students in Austin,Texas, and since then millions of young people have been filling stadiums and arenas across America and around the globe for exciting worship, life-changing teaching, and unforgettable fellowship.

This year Christian television leader TBN was on hand to catch all the excitement of the Passion 2017 Conference as over 50,000 enthusiastic young people packed Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for cutting-edge worship from award-winning artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and the Passion worship band, and to be impacted by such noted Christian speakers as John Piper, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Levi Lusko, and Louie Giglio.

Tune in to TBN nightly, February 20, 21, 23, and 24, at 8 p.m. EST / 8 p.m. PST for all the highlights from this gathering that is helping to change the hearts and futures of an entire generation.

Passion 2017

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Silence

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SILENCE

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Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, first published in 1966, endures as one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Its narrative of the persecution of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan raises uncomfortable questions about God and the ambiguity of faith in the midst of suffering and hostility.

Endo’s Silence took internationally renowned visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo’s as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how faith is lived in contemporary contexts of trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures.

In this world of pain and suffering, God often seems silent. Fujimura’s reflections show that light is yet present in darkness, and that silence speaks with hidden beauty and truth.

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Silence, Beauty, and the Shape of Christian Discipleship

by Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

In 1966 the Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo published his masterpiece of historical fiction, titled Silence. It’s the story of Catholic missionaries in Japan during the 17th century, of Japanese persecution and torture of Christians, of apostasy and love, and of a God who stays silent during suffering until it is time for God to break the silence. The novel raises profound questions about love and suffering, and, in doing so, sticks with and haunts its readers for years.

View this conversation with internationally renowned artist Makoto Fujimura, philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, and theologian Neal Plantinga. Participants describe their first encounter with the novel Silence and then discuss the power of icons, the unthinkable forms sometimes taken by love, and the grace of God in history that gives voice to the voiceless. Fujimura also previews the film Silence, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Makoto Fujimura is a gifted artist and writer. In his memoir titled Silence and Beauty, Fujimura reflects on Endo’s novel, on faith in the face of torture, on the artist’s calling, on Japanese history and culture and what it means for Christians to be a tiny, historically persecuted minority within Japan. Deeply imaginative, brooding, and piercing, Silence and Beauty stirs the reader’s heart with longings previously unknown.

Congregations are encouraged to read Endo’s book and view the movie Silence produced by Paramount Pictures.

Silence Discussion Guide
The following questions may be used for discussion and further reflection:

Share with the group one thing that struck you as you read (or viewed).
What questions does this story raise?
This story is often described as “atmospheric.” Why so?
Who are the main characters?
Who is Kichijiro and what role does he fill? Is his defense of his actions plausible? Would we be like him if under similar pressure?
Why would a novel like Silence become an international best-seller, including in Japan? After all, it tells the story of Portuguese missionaries in 17th century Japan, and ends up making both Japan and the Catholic Church look pretty bad. Why is this story widely regarded as a masterpiece?
Could there be cultural or national “swamps” where the gospel simply can’t take root?
Is God’s silence in the face of persecution always a form of abandonment by God?
If the only way a Christian can save the lives of other Christians is by renouncing Christ, would it be right to do it? What if you only think you can save their lives (persecutors sometimes lie)? If you renounce Christ to save lives, can Christ “take it”? Might Christ even invite you to renounce him to save lives? Or is any thought along those lines mere self-deception?
In short, does Rodrigues betray Christ by trampling or does he follow Christ?
In general, should we calculate the possible consequences of our actions as the main basis for an ethically questionable decision, or just follow God’s commands, and let God take care of the consequences?
What moral ambiguities test Christians today? Have you ever faced a quandary? For example, with a difficult relative? With a friend who is betraying his or her spouse? On the street in front of a panhandler? How do you decide what to do?
What are some small, undramatic ways we ourselves renounce Christ? At work. In our political choices. In our consumption of pop culture. In our family systems.
Where in the world today do Christians face real persecution? What forms does contemporary persecution take?

Silence and Beauty Discussion Guide
Questions for groups reading Makoto Fujimura’s book Silence and Beauty:

What special angles of vision do the Japanese have on beauty? If you were to introduce the concept of beauty to someone, how would you proceed?
Is beauty a purely relative concept? Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder?
What might it mean to refer to the beauty of God?
What’s the connection between appreciation of beauty and faith in God?
Why are the Japanese fascinated with hiddenness, and what forms does it take for them?
Why is trauma so deep in the Japanese psyche?
Why are the Japanese resistant to the gospel (by contrast, for instance, with Koreans)?
What are our own fumies? What in our own faith are we willing to trample in order to fit into a prevailingly secular culture?
After he has become apostate, does Father Rodrigues still have a ministry? A valid one?

Silence and Beauty Exhibition

Waiting Here for You

Live Love Lead

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