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FEBRUARY 27, 2014

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International Justice Mission was just here in Phoenix doing some promotional work and showing their movie At the End of Slavery. I’m a huge advocate for what they are doing and always willing to share how God is using them to help abolish slavery.

“If history has shown us that the monster of slavery assumes new forms, it has also shown us that its oppressive systems crumble in the face of those who heartily oppose them. It is our collective responsibility to oppose slavery in the time given to us. History is on our side.”

-At the End of Slavery:
The Battle for Justice in our Time

 

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This is a story of injustice that I have been following for the past few months. Today, justice prevailed. Reblogged from The Gospel Coalition:

UPDATE: Kermit Gosnell was found guilty today of three counts of first-degree murder. Because the major news media initially refused to cover the story, many people are unaware of the extent of the atrocities committed by the Philadelphia abortionist. TGC is reposting this entry to provide context and background for this breaking news story.

Kermit Gosnell, 72, is an abortionist on trial in Pennsylvania for murder and infanticide. Here are 9 things you should know about the Gosnell case:

1. Gosnell was arrested in January 2011, charged with eight counts of murder: one patient who allegedly died under his care after a botched abortion, and seven infants supposedly born alive whose spinal cords Gosnell allegedly severed with scissors.

2. According to prosecutors in Philadelphia, Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants, and poor women, and made millions of dollars over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions in squalid and barbaric conditions. Gosnell took extra precautions with white women from the suburbs, according to the grand jury report. He allegedly ushered them into a slightly cleaner area because he thought they would be more likely to file a complaint.

3. Women paid $325 for first-trimester abortions and $1,600 to $3,000 for abortions up to 30 weeks. The clinic took in up to $15,000 a day, said authorities. Although abortions after the 24th week are illegal, Gosnell allegedly aborted and killed babies in the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy and charged more for bigger babies.

4. According to the grand jury report, the clinic reeked of animal urine and the furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Medical instruments found in the practice had not been properly sterilized. State officials have failed to visit or inspect his abortion clinic since 1993. Prosecutors also claim that Gosnell is not certified in either gynecology or obstetrics.

5. Prosecutors say that none of Gosnell’s staff, including his wife, were licensed nurses or doctors and that a 15-year-old student performed anesthesia with potentially lethal narcotics.

6. A woman who worked for Gosnell testified that she was called back to a room at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia where the bodies of aborted babies were kept to hear one screaming amid a shelf-full of dead babies. “I can’t describe it,” says the woman. “It sounded like a little alien.” She says the body of the child was about 18 to 24 inches long and was one of the largest babies she had seen delivered during abortion procedures at Gosnell’s clinic.

7. On January 31, 1998, a then 15 year old Robyn Reid sought an abortion from Gosnell’s clinic. Once she was in the clinic, though, Reid, an 87-pound teenager at the time, told Gosnell she changed her mind about the abortion. She claims Gosnell got upset, ripped off her clothes, restrained her, and repeatedly told her, “This is the same care that I would give to my own daughter.” Reid regained consciousness 12 hours later at her aunt’s home, with the abortion having been completed against her will.

8. Gosnell’s arrest and trial have received almost no coverage by the national media. During the early part of the trial ABC, CBS and NBC did not cover the trial at all, yet gave 41 minutes and 26 seconds of air time to the story of Mike Rice, the Rutgers basketball coach who was fired for verbally and physically abusing his players.

9. The 3801 Lancaster Film Project is an ongoing documentary series about Kermit Gosnell, the Women’s Medical Society, and the cover-up by state and local oversight agencies.

(Warning: The video contains graphic images.)

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Road trips are always a great way to process things. It gives you the opportunity to reflect and ponder life. This road trip in particular has been good for me because I’ve experienced so much recently and God has been working in my life as a result of these experiences. I’ve experienced the death of both my Grandmother and my uncle in the past two weeks. I had a wonderful Holy Week in which I was able to proclaim my faith in baptism. I’m doing life with some pretty amazing people and my family has bonded together in ways I haven’t seen in a long time. God is good and my Grandmother’s death has drawn me closer to Him. I’m headed out to Catalyst West Coast in Irvine, California. I first went to Catalyst in 2009 with a team of leaders from my previous church. I attended the year after as well and haven’t been back since. Now I find myself being called to these conferences to soak in some teaching and to learn from those that are leading the church today. God has been preparing my heart for some big plans recently and has been opening many doors for me already. I attended a conference for my counseling college in the Fall and started to pray to God about what He wanted me to do with the courses that I have been taking. Not too long later, God started to bring young men into my life in search of mentorship and now I am finding myself pouring into the lives of several men as of late. My spiritual life grew closer to God through worship and He has further shaped my heart to be a part of being a voice for this generation by seeking change in this world. This grew out of attending Passion in Atlanta. God further aligned my heart to His heart for justice in Philadelphia by the example of those that spearheaded the movement for justice before me. Now God is calling me back into leadership. I just completely eight weeks of leadership training, joined my church counseling team and started a missional community. Catalyst is a wonderful conference of teaching and equipping leaders in ministry and I’m excited He has called me to come back. I saw Brad Lomenick speak a couple of months back at PhoenixONE and it was confirmation that God wanted me to be back here in Irvine. I also have many friends from the many years I was in ministry that are going to be here and I’m excited to spend time with them. After arriving, I spent my first night in worship praising the Lord for how great He is on the beaches of Newport Beach watching the sun go down.

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WE ARE ALL IN IT TO END IT!

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day. This is the target day for End it Movement to reach the masses about the 27 million people being held in modern-day slavery and sex trafficking. This movement started in January at Passion 2013 and has made a lot of noise since. Everywhere college students and young adults are finding creative ways to talk about this issue. Many celebrities have jumped on board to use their star status to raise awareness. Awareness is doing the work and End It exists to help educate us about this injustice. We are the generation that can be a voice for those without one and put an end to slavery. Indifference is not an option. Draw a red X on your hand and talk to people about this. Go to EnditMovement.com and sign the pledge that says you are in it to END IT!

 

 

 

 

 

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END IT Sunday!

END IT Sunday!

Times Square IS IN IT TO END IT!

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The campus of Arizona State University is IN IT TO END IT!

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The Justice Conference had some pre-conference breakout sessions you can choose from. I was pretty overwhelmed with all the choices, so I looked for ones that fit with what God was doing in my own life. I bumped into my friend Seth Wells and the staff from The Grove church here in Phoenix. I was encouraged by seeing some familiar faces here taking a part in justice.

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The first session I attended was Paul Metzger’s Sustaining a Justice Movement: How did John M Perkins, Mother Theresa, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer do it? Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins – a catalyst for cultivating a community of people brought together around a shared vision of bearing witness to Christ in contemporary culture. 

He started the session off by showing this video from Dr. Martin Luther King’s A Knock at Midnight. While pursuing justice, we will get discouraged because it isn’t easy . I loved this video and found it very encouraging.

Take comfort from the stories of those who have gone before us. Solidarity is key – Paul Metzger

Paul spoke on behalf of those who pursued justice first and by Jesus and his example to pursue justice. A justice movement is sustained by knowing that Jesus alone can and will sustain it. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison and Dietrich’s example of how he reacted to his enemies. We in America like to say “lets take back America”, but Jesus laid down his life for His enemies.

– Philippians 2:1-11 – Believe in the suffering God (cultural engagement, not disengagement). Believe in the Resurrected God (This is the end – for me the beginning of life – Bonhoeffer)

– See Jesus in relation to the poor (ex:Mother Theresa)

– Sense your own poverty in relation to the poor (don’t look at others like we have so much and they have so little)

– Lay down you life for your friends (we can’t do it alone)

– Invest in people (ex: John Perkins, Jesus and the woman at the well)

– Invite people to partner with you (relational structures)

– Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement (the gospel frees people)

– Be creative in your sufferings (it’s not an obstacle)

– Focus on integrity and faithfulness, not success (ex: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, James 1:27)

– Focus on Christ’s identity (Bonhoeffer’s poem: Who Am I?)

Who am I? They often tell me
I step out from my cell
calm and cheerful and poised,
like a squire from his manor.

Who am I? They often tell me
I speak with my guards
freely, friendly and clear,
as though I were the one in charge.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bear days of calamity
serenely, smiling and proud,
like accustomed to victory.

Am I really what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, yearning, sick, like a caged bird,
struggling for life breath, as if I were being strangled,
starving for colors, for flowers, for birdsong,
thirsting for kind words, human closeness,
shaking with rage at power lust and pettiest insult,
tossed about, waiting for great things to happen,
helplessly fearing for friends so far away,
too tired and empty to pray, to think, to work,
weary and ready to take my leave of it all?

Who am I? This one or the other?
Am I this one today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? Before others a hypocrite
and in my own eyes a pitiful, whimpering weakling?
Or is what remains in me like a defeated army,
Fleeing in disarray from victory already won?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest me; O God, I am thine!

Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement, but a debt of gratitude – Paul Metzger

Paul Metzger

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The next breakout session I went to was on social media and was hosted by Lindsey Nobels. I have followed Lindsey’s blog since her days at Project 7. She is now Director of Speakers and Strategic Partnerships for Food for the Hungry and it was a blessing to finally meet her. She interviewed Alli Worthington – blogger and founder of Blissfully Domestic on Social Media for the activist: How to build and empower online communities to serve your cause.

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

I’m a big fan of starting things before you’re ready. Do all the work you can while you have the time – Alli Worthington

Highlights:

– Do 2 or 3 social media sites and do them well

– Send status updates here and there that link to your site

– Twitter is the best (I agree with her). YouTube is good because people love videos. Google+ is on the rise

– The more human you can be, the better. Companies that don’t do well don’t engage with people well. Plan a strategy and be honest with people

– It’s ok to fail. Try different social media outlets. No correlations between followers and the amount of ‘likes’

– Ok to get negative feedback. If you aren’t, you are not doing a good job. Not everyone will like your cause

– Work on who you are before you get started

– Focus on email marketing more than anything with links to Facebook and twitter. Be visual and engaging.

– Safety is important

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My first stop at the Justice Conference was in the exhibit room where I was volunteering at the Land of a Thousand Hills booth. I have been a long-time advocate for Thousand Hills and was excited to put some faces to names and also have the opportunity to serve their community-trade coffee that I have been promoting at churches for years. I also frequently visit 8th Day Coffee & Culture – a local coffee shop here in Phoenix that serves up Thousand Hills coffee and have enjoyed the friendships and community that I have made there. Before I left for Philly, Jono Moehlig called me to give me all the details of what I would be doing. Jono is a manager of one of the Thousand Hills coffee shops in Georgia. He gave me the quick low-down of how things would run and the whole brewing process. I have a couple of years under my belt as a barista at a church cafe, so a few things came back to me. I also met Dimitri Iliadis, the ministry relationship coordinator for Land of a Thousand Hills. Both Jono and Dimitri were great guys with a passion for this organization. Dimitri was big on me talking with the guests about what Thousand Hills is all about and why I wanted to be here to serve with them. Land of Thousand Hills was giving out free coffee throughout the Justice Conference during the breaks. If fact, I first heard about Thousand Hills when they gave out coffee at a Catalyst conference I attended years back.

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Dimitri talking with one of Justice Conference exhibit volunteers before we open up

I had a blast! I loved meeting the different people at the conference and telling them about Land of a Thousand Hills. I ran into tons of friends from Phoenix and people that I have met at other conferences over the years being in ministry. I also loved working alongside some of the other volunteers and hearing their story of how they got connected with Thousand Hills. This is a great organization and I’m blessed to be a part of it. They are doing some amazing things in Rwanda, Thailand and Haiti and I just love the videos they put out every once in awhile. I enjoyed briefly meeting Jonathan Golden, the founder of Thousand Hills too. I look forward to visiting the coffee fields in Rwanda some day and partnering with these guys again. Drink Coffee, Do Good!

Land of a Thousand Hills posted a story about my experiences on their blog site here. Love these guys!

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Serving up some coffee!

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The amazing volunteers of Land of a Thousand Hills

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Drink Coffee, Do Good!

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The Justice Conference is a two-day annual event to promote dialogue around justice related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights, featuring internationally acclaimed speakers, hundreds of humanitarian organizations and dozens of pre-conference workshops.

I would be lying if I wasn’t excited about being here in Philadelphia for the The Justice Conference. This conference ties into what my heart is all about – a love for people and a movement toward justice for mankind because of who God is and how He loves us. The Justice Conference was founded a couple of years ago by Ken Wytsma and has rapidly grown to be a large movement. How ironic it is being held in the city where liberty was birth – Philadelphia. It was very clear that God was drawing me to attend this conference. It touches on every part of how He has made me. I’m looking forward to the many partnerships and relationships I’m going to build over the next few days and how God wants me to stand up to injustice. I’m also excited to hear from some of the amazing speakers like Dr. John Perkins, Gary Haugen and Shane Claiborne as well as be inspired by the Justice Film Festival.

I love coming to Philadelphia! There is so much culture and history here. The people are down-to-earth and there are so many great places to eat and visit.

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End it Movement contacted me earlier this week to let me know that their road team would be swinging by Phoenix. End it Movement is a movement that was launched after Passion 2013 that is raising awareness for the 27 million being held in modern-day slavery. The road team is traveling state to state hitting churches and universities to challenge young adults and students to be a part of the movement. Tonight they set up shop at PhoenixONE – a worship gathering of young adults from all over the valley to promote unity of the church. I met up with Kyle and David – the guys driving the red and black End It vehicle all over the U.S. Seriously – great guys with a huge passion for this. I felt like I have known them forever with how welcoming they were. I helped run their table and tell the people of PhoenixONE what End it Movement was all about. It was awesome to see all the people who pledged to be a part of a generation that is in it to End It. We also had a ton of accessories and gear that we gave out to help promote this cause.

It was a special night for me as well as Jason and Jessica Williams of Session Nine photography led worship. They are long time friends of mine and I loved being here to hear them lead worship. Jeff Gokee gave an awesome message on Jehovah Rapha – one of the wonderful names of God that means the God of healing and restoring. His message was centered on how we as Christians rarely go to God first when we go through pain and trials. Tonight was a blessing and I’m thankful God used me to be a voice here in my own backyard for justice.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

Psalms 147:2

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Photo by Anna Dufek

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