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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

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Photo from Compassion

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My whole being will exclaim,
    “Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.” – Psalms 35:10

A huge hotbed for child slavery is at Lake Volta in Ghana. The Volta reservoir is one of the largest made-made lakes in the world and where many children are forced into hard labor by the local fishermen there. Fishing is the main economy of many of the communities in the surrounding area. Children (as young as 5 years old) are usually deceived into long hours of very dangerous work with no pay. Many are subjected to intense violence from their “masters” if they don’t keep up with the work. They are either abducted by the fishermen or sold by their families to them for little money out of desperation because they are poor. Many are deceived because they are promised a good wage and meals upfront by the men who recruit them. The work is hard because the fishing nets get caught in the dead trees that are all over the lake. These children struggle to bring up the nets or they drown trying to free the nets from the trees. In the Lake Volta region, 1 in 3 children are labourers and more than 20,000 are considered in slavery today.

Prayer IS the work!

Organizations like IJM (International Justice Mission) seek to rescue these children out of slavery. They work in the communities and with the local authorities to detain and arrest the fishermen responsible for taking these children as slaves. They work with the local lawyers to prosecute these men. They provide a safe house for the children that are rescued so they can heal and rehabilitate and eventually be reconnected with their families.

Ways to pray:

  • Pray for peace rehabilitation, healing, hope, strength, and good health for the rescued children of Ghana.
  • Pray that God would lead the right people to apply for the positions available and that those doing the recruiting and hiring would bring the right people on board.
  • Pray for the upcoming conferences that they would lead to changed hearts and repentance with the local fishermen.
  • Pray for IJM and their offices on the lake. Pray for new satellite offices and their presence in the area. Pray that they reach out to regions where children are still trapped in slavery.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3

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CNN Freedom Project recently did a documentary called “Troubled Waters” about the situation at Lake Volta. You can watch it below. (Note – I know there are other reporters out there that say not all the children that work on the lake are in slavery. The point of my post is to raise awareness to the situation and pray about it. Only God knows the details of the situation and will bring justice to where it is needed).

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I’ve been a huge supporter of Blood:Water Mission for some time now. I love their passion for clean water in communities in need and their projects to build water wells. On occasions I will partake in their water challenge fundraiser around lent season. When I traveled to India, I had the opportunity to dedicate a water well. To see the joy in people’s faces who have never had clean drinking water is something I’ll never forget. It cost $1200 to build a water well in India and I am raising 10% of that from giving up some my personal pleasures of life during lent. Watch some of these videos for the Save a Life campaign for Rwanda and be inspired by the work Blood:Water is doing. You can give to my campaign here. Thanks! God Bless!

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“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

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I’ve been inspired lately about stories of people going on the mission field. I have a good friend who just went to Uganda to work with Watoto ministries. She has been a God-send and has really encoraged me in my faith and in my own journey. The story of Katie Davis has always been impactful to me as well. She too is doing ministry in Uganda with Amazima ministires and her story and heart for the orphans there are so inspiring.

 

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Reblogged from Land of a Thousand Hills blog:

This week we bring you a great article on our friends at 8th Day: Coffee and Culture. We love what Shane is doing there! If you’re in Phoenix, check them out HERE!

Drink Coffee, Do Good

Coffee Shop Aspires to Bring Community to Downtown Phoenix

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By Alicia Canales

Perhaps the building’s former life as Just Breathe Wellness, a yoga studio, gives it the relaxing atmosphere. Maybe it’s what the building, now 8th Day Coffee & Culture, stands for that provides a sense of peace and calmness when entering through the black outlined doors.

Eighth day stands for “eternity,” or the “eternal day” in ancient terms, co-owner Shane Copeland says. The definition creates the purpose of the coffee shop’s 4,000 square foot space, which is to convey light, creativity and relationship.

“There’s enough darkness in our world,” Copeland says. “Creativity is a beautiful thing. As a place, we want music and arts and culture to be present and relationship is at the heart of it.”

The eighth day meaning carries on when 8th Day closes on Sunday. The building hosts St. George’s Anglican Community, of which Copeland is the pastor. The coffee shop and church are separate entities with some relational connection. The same calming ambiance is present when people in the building gather to worship God or gather over a cup of coffee.

A sense of community drives Copeland as a co-owner and pastor. St. George’s met at Roosevelt Community Church for four years before leasing the 8th Day building. Copeland says reconstruction began in April 2012 and took four months. The main room used to be a yoga workout room. Copeland says workers removed mirrors, knocked down some walls and installed fire sprinklers. Now, his congregation has a place of its own.

“We kind of felt nomadic and not settled,” Copeland says. “Having been able to move in here on Sundays has given us a sense of home.”

For 8th Day, it’s a place for good coffee and to connect with friends. Amber Hunter, a barista with curled strawberry-blonde hair, said she enjoys having a front row seat to watch relationships form or grow as people drink their coffee.

“I think this is a space you really have to come in and experience for yourself because I do think there’s something special here,” Hunter says. “We’re just at the very beginning of what this space is going to be, so I’m excited.”

Eighth Day, located on the corner of Second and Garfield streets, is welcoming from its exterior. Its warm red paint exudes an air of cordiality that draws a person closer. Trees, ordained with strings of lights and white paper lanterns, are planted in the middle of the patio.

Opening the door, a rich aroma of coffee beans invites the customer in. To the left, people talk amongst each other or type on their laptops. To the right, a barista behind the coffee bar greets regulars as old friends.

The baristas interact in a familial way, talking and joking amongst each other during a lull in the day. It’s rare to look over at the bar and not see the employees smiling. Hunter, also a St. George member, says the employees avoid gossip so no bitterness is between them.

“We’re very quick to work through that stuff with each other so that we can continue to support each other and that makes a huge difference,” she says.

Their love and connection with each other extends over the coffee bar. Alexandra Korsick, an Arizona State University justice studies major, comes to 8th Day twice a week with friends. She says the customer service is the friendliest she’s ever seen, and she appreciates that Copeland works behind the bar every so often.

“He’s so nice. I think it’s not often you meet an owner,” Korsick says. “You can tell he cares about it, which is a good thing to see.”

Throughout the work week, sofas, cushioned chairs and wooden tables fill half of the main lounge area. The other half is closed off by folding, black-trimmed dividers. Between the cracks, it’s possible to see sound equipment. Eighth Day encourages local artists to contact its art director or sign up for its open mic nights.

On Sundays, the dividers come down. Members rearrange the furniture and bring out chairs. The congregation faces the back of the room, where a table covered in white and purple cloths and a wooden cross stand. Copeland, who wore jeans and a blue-white plaid shirt two days earlier, dawns a white robe with black sleeves and collar. The wardrobe change seems to be the only difference in Copeland. His shoulder-length, curly black hair frames his oval face. His powerful tone draws his congregation members to listen just as the baristas cannot ignore his orders. As he leads the sermon, he uses the same hand gestures and smiles as he does when welcoming customers.

Shirts showing 8th Day’s slogan line a corner in the coffee bar area: Drink coffee, do good. This is the motto of its coffee provider, Land of a Thousand Hills, which allowed 8th Day to also use. Land of a Thousand Hills provides community-trade coffee from Rwanda, Haiti and Thailand. Eighth Day pays twice the fair trade amount. Three dollars go to the third-world farmers instead of half that price, so farmers can make a sustainable living.

“There’s something really powerful about being able to go and buy something you use every day, like coffee, and know that you’re making a difference in the world,” Hunter says.

The building also offers a back room for studying or conferences. St. George’s church creates a nursery from a separate room during Sundays. On the patio out front, customers bask in the sun in wooden chairs. Copeland says more people, regardless of faith, discover ways to inhabit the building.

“We’d want the community to be able to use it across the spectrum of life and, obviously, that would include spiritual as well as other components because we believe in the holistic need of people,” Copeland says.

Copeland says everyone has opinions around religion, and he doesn’t desire to argue with those upset about 8th Day hosting a church. Both entities, while separate, build community, he says. The Christian perspective of loving God and your neighbor as yourself motivates Copeland and workers, some whom are members, in the shop and church.

“We just want to be present at the table, in the community doing good, blessing the community,” Copeland says. “For people who think that religion doesn’t benefit community, all I can say is this is what we’re doing.”

Article Source: http://www.ecollegetimes.com/student-life/drink-coffee-do-good-1.2822302

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A little while back I was able to give to the Forgiveness School project financially. My buddy Dimitri from Land of a Thousand Hills is in Rwanda right now at the school and posted this on his blog (please read and follow his journey). I’m excited for him to be there and happy to see what God is doing at the school through Thousand Hills for these children!

A Journey to Rwanda

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The Forgiveness School. A project in the works for a little while now and at last it is nearing completion! The church next to the school has doubled in numbers from 500 to 1000, the orphans home is in full swing, and the school itself is growing very fast due to the credibility of the infrastructure. I love seeing sustainable, community led progress in communities we have invested in!

This VIDEO was taken by me upon our arrival. The children are always happy to see us arrive and they so joyfully greet us with a dance or two.

We met with Pastor Ildefonse and some of the children in addition to checking on the logistical finalizing steps of the school’s completion. Before we knew it, it was time to head out. We now have a plane to catch. Our trip is unfortunately nearing an end.

Thank you so much for…

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Advent – Day 8

I’ve been friends with Travis Chavez for some time now. I love his story of how he came to Christ. We spent some time on the mission field together when he was interning for Mexican Caravan Ministries and I would take teams down there. He is now working at Mission church in the high school department. Travis led his first team to Malawi over the summer and here is a video of some of the work they did there. Travis is such an inspiration to me and I’m always thankful to spend time chatting with him. Mission is asking people to give to Advent Conspiracy to help the kids there.

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