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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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Today is World Water Day. It’s a day set aside to raise awareness for the more than 700 million people who lack access to clean water. When I was in Kenya, I joined many at an orphanage in making the trek back and forth with big jugs to bring water to the home. In India, we dedicated water wells to a couple of villages and I saw great joy in the faces of these people who had gone so long without clean water. Here in the states, we take water for granted. We forget how important water is to people. 300 million in Africa alone lack access to clean water. Charity:Water and  Blood:Water Mission are two organizations near and dear to me that are making a difference in the world today with their water projects. Take some time to get yourself educated on what is going on in the world today and how you can help.

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“Awareness is doing the work” – Gary Haugen

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Justice Panel

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Taking Notes

I was pretty stoked for this panel at Passion. This is the part where we learn about what God is doing in the world with all these amazing organizations that are standing up to injustice. Louie Giglio hosted a round-table discussion with several members from ministries out there that are actively raising awareness and rescuing people out of slavery and sex trafficking. The money that is given during Passion 2013 to the Freedom causes will help fund nineteen different organizations that have partnered with Passion.

First up was a mother from Houston, TX with three children who had her world rocked. She went on a van tour with Elijah Rising and saw brothels and other places where sex trafficking goes on in her own backyard. Elijah Rising is an organization that uses a holistic approach to training warriors to stand up for injustice with an emphasis on sex trafficking. After seeing this, she felt the call to stand up to this injustice and is actively involved with a ministry called As Our Own that rescues children out of slavery in India.

Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission – Greg reminded us that this is God’s fight, not ours. We need to pray and talk with Him first before we go out and do His work. If we try to take this evil on ourselves, we will be crushed. He also reminded us of Stand for Freedom on March 5-15, 2013. This is a movement that started on college campuses that is asking us to stand for 27 hours for the 27 million held in modern-day slavery.

Steve Martin of Love146 – It’s all about the Kingdom. All these wonderful organizations are just pieces of the Kingdom. We serve a Big God and there is no end to His resources. Love146 recently opened the Round Home in the Philippines – a safe haven for girls rescued out of sex trafficking where they receive therapy and are eventually reintegrated back into their local communities.

Brad Myles of Polaris Project – Only ten states have “safe harbor” laws (laws that protect people who are victims). We need to write the representatives of the states that don’t have this law. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

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Justin Dillon of Slavery Footprint – How many slaves work for you? There is child and forced labor everywhere. We have to change the marketplace. It’s the supply chain that has enslaved more people than at any time in human history.  Self-discovery and knowledge is so you can raise awareness. Go to the website and find out how many slaves have worked to get you that t-shirt or the beans that make up your cup of joe.

Beth Redman of The A21 Campaign – The A21 Campaign prevents trafficking through awareness and education. Beth represented A21 and talked about a song that her husband Matt Redman wrote to raise awareness for the 27 million people being held in slavery.

Mary Frances Bowley of Wellspring Living – Mary talked about the The White Umbrella Campaign. The White Umbrella tells stories of survivors as well as those who came alongside to help them to recovery. You can also download a 40 Days of Prayer devotion book to pray the names of God over the survivors of sex trafficking.

Bryson Vogeltanz is in charge of the Freedom Causes at Passion. He makes sure that the money that is given at Passion gets to the organizations and that it is used wisely. John Richmond is a federal prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice. He has investigated and prosecuted numerous victim centered labor and sex trafficking cases throughout the United States. He mentioned that evil is real and it is powerful. But light is stronger than darkness.

Mark Wexler of Not for Sale – We need to wake up and the church needs to step up. Why are there 27 million in slavery? Why is human trafficking generating 32 billion in profits? The information is there. He talked about REBBL tonic. REBBL is a tea company started with a vision to end slavery in the Peruvian Amazon. The company employs freed slaves in the Amazon and reinvests proceeds into projects that combat human trafficking. It’s about the way you purchase. If you change the way you purchase, it will change the way they sell. Purchasers will eventually listen.

Leif Coorlim of The CNN Freedom Project – Leif is an editorial director for CNN Freedom Project and produced the documentary that covered Passion 2012 last year. He is currently putting together a film he filmed in the Philippines about sex trafficking called “The Fighters”. Here is the premise:

The Philippines has a problem. Whether for profit or pleasure, many of the young and poor in Asia’s largest English-speaking nation are being exploited in alarming numbers. It’s estimated more than 100,000 children work in the sex trade. For 20 years, Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has fought to protect children from ending up in brothels. And for 20 years, she’s fought an uphill battle to convince others to join her. Recently, Oebanda found new hope in the form of world-champion boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Oebanda believes if Pacquiao, who is also an elected congressman in the Philippines, speaks publicly about human trafficking, it could be the turning point in the battle. It may seem like a simple wish, but for those fighting for a better world, nothing in life comes easy.

72,000 NAMES FOR FREEDOM

Between Passion and International Justice Mission, 72,000 signatures for a sign-on letter were collected and delivered to the White House last year to urge them to end slavery. On the anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama gave the longest speech since Abraham Lincoln on the fight to end modern-day slavery.

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Advent – Day 18

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I spent the day at Starbucks today reading a book and a letter that I got from my Compassion child that I sponsor. I have been supporting him since my birthday of 2006 – it was my gift to myself. As I was writing Ladouceur (who is now 11), I was trying to put myself in his shoes in the country of Haiti and what his everyday life is like. This is when I appreciate all the countries I’ve been to and how I’ve seen with my own eyes what poverty-stricken countries go through. Not too long after that, my buddy Kory Kredit posted this video of an India trip I took with him and Cornerstone two years ago. Even though I love the ministry of Harvest India, that was a one time trip for me (unless He calls me back). But it was a trip that came at the perfect time of my life. I saw the power of God and the power of prayer in a country dominated by Hinduism. I was able to share my testimony to hundreds of lepers, dedicate a water well and saw scores of people come to Christ. Harvest India has made a difference in the Kingdom because of prayer. I needed a boost to my faith during that difficult time and I can now look back at that spiritual marker as a source of hope. God has always used my life for extraordinary things and I time and time again forget His faithfulness. I needed to see this video. Later today I got an amazing out-of-the-blue email that just blew me away, but yet not surprising because it is how God works. Watch where God is working and join Him thereExperiencing God. Try not to figure what He is doing and just take a step in faith. As I join in this new partnership, I look forward to sharing this awesome God story as it unfolds. God is working and He loves us enough to ask us to join Him.

2011 Team to India

2011 Team to India

Hundreds of Indians coming to Christ at a crusade

Hundreds of Indians coming to Christ at a crusade

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The leper colony I shared my testimony with

Lots of people wanted to be prayed over

Praying for the people of India

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I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11

At a worship event tonight, I was able to worship with friends to this song written and recorded by Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell. They wrote it while on a mission trip to India. Download the song from Itunes and the proceeds go to help Harvest India and the amazing ministry going on there.

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I had a pretty long conversation the other day with a friend of mine about spiritual warfare. She is big time into thinking demons are very real in our daily walk. Last week I studied about Folk Islam. It’s a catch-all phrase for Muslims who practice both orthodox Islam practices with animistic practices. Most Muslims believe that God very distant from them and that they need to rely on things like magic and rituals to harness supernatural powers because they themselves feel powerless. Just studying this spiritual realm of Islam has gotten me asking me my own questions of what I believe about the Spirit world.

Maybe we don’t always practice animistic ways as Christians to manipulate God, but do we truly always turn to God for everything? Is there really any difference in how we approach our probelms than those that practice rituals when a loved one is sick? Many of us choose to take our own actions instead of asking and trusting that God is Sovereign. As Christians, we need to understand that Spirits are for real and you see this throughout scripture (For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12). Jesus and the disciples really did drive demons out of people – they weren’t just stories. We need to be prepared daily for these forces of darkness that prey upon us with Christ’s supernatural authority that he gives us. It’s why he died on the cross for us. I have been better at not trying to look at others as an enemy, but more that Satan is using them to tempt me and cause brokenness in my relationships with them. I try to pray in the Spirit for all occasions and trials.

Evil Spirits in India

When I was India, I was walking through the red-light district and saw pictures of demons posted on these huts where prostitution took place overnight. I also saw shrines that housed cobras for worship. I felt a darkness over this place and I remember having to pray in that moment as I knew evil Spirits resided here. I also attended a worship service out in a remote village and witnessed people shaking and foaming at the mouth as we sang worship songs (My Pastor had a look of terror on his face – I don’t think seminary prepared him for this). Just seeing people oppressed by Spirits firsthand made this spiritual realm more real to me.

I think my comfortable lifestyle in the U.S. makes me overlook the spiritual battle going on in my own backyard. I tend to forget that there is a war going on here too. I truly believe people can be oppressed by demons when they are enveloped by their own sin. I believe Satan puts a clamp on us and blinds us to the truth. I can think of many times that I was in sin and don’t remember it. This just makes me remember to pray for those that are lost and to be prepared spiritually for the battle Satan is waging on us.

“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.   Luke 10:17-18

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