Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why was the snake in the Garden? {a little bird told me}

Dear Robyn,

I have a question for you - 
Why was the devil even in the garden with Adam and Eve?


Dear Wishing-It-Had-Been-Different,

What a great question! I'm going to start off by saying, I'm not positive we can know for sure, though the Bible does spell out a few clues for us.

1. Satan had once been a special and beautiful being in God's eyes, but he was punished, literally thrown out of God's presence onto the earth and forever cursed because of his rebellion against God and his corruption of the "nations." I'm not quite sure the timeline of this event, however. Maybe because he was so special and lovely, he was allowed to be with humans in Eden. Though, I don't see recount of any other angels with them. 
How you are fallen from heaven,    O shining star, son of the morning!You have been thrown down to the earth,    you who destroyed the nations of the world. - Isaiah 14:12

 Was this curse a result of his temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden? Perhaps. 

2. He is also described not only as a fallen angel, but also a wild animal:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. - Genesis 3:1

This is initially confusing, but let's go back to the mantra - how can both be true? He was perhaps personified in the Garden as an angel-animal, along with other beings God blessed with the privilege of experiencing Paradise First. I love the way Tosca Lee describes this in Havah: The Story of Eve - 
The Serpent. He preened, his head craned over his back as he rustled beneath a feathery scale. I felt a rush of pleasure at seeing him, as memories of the One - and yesterday - returned to me. [She describes the pre-cursed Satan as a beautiful, winged serpent] ...
What - I had dreamed the explosion of the cosmos yet could know nothing of his thoughts? How clever he is, I thought, wanting to know how he did the trick.
I can do it because I have learned a new way of things, he said at last.
I want to know it ... [He tempts her with rhetorical questions about the forbidden tree]
You will not die the death. The serpent clucked - an odd sound coming from him. It is only that the One knows that on the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened. ...I squinted at him.
Death. Evil. To know as a god, the serpent had said. Had I not craved all things of God, all knowledge?
I lifted my eye again to that tree. This time, instead of seeing the fruit, bursting with juice upon it, I saw the answer to every unknown thing, the satisfaction of a craving deeper than hunger...  
3. Because of his transgressions, he has a set destiny of justice the Ancient of Days has promised him:
And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,“It has come at last—    salvation and powerand the Kingdom of our God,    and the authority of his Christ.For the accuser of our brothers and sisters    has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them    before our God day and night. - Revelation 12:8-10 (NLT)

And so, I would conclude - the devil was there because God allowed it, just as He allowed the choice, just as He continues to permit that we would either choose to love Him or reject Him. Obey His good plan for our lives, or walk in our own. Why? Because love is not completely whole if not by full choice, with a viable other option. It's true - we will exist forever, either way. Because we are made in His image, it is so. In giving us a choice whether we would live with Him or with the accursed tempter, He made it possible to have love reciprocated. 

I leave you with a quote by Ellen G. White, and a prayer that His love wins and woos you even more today, my beautiful friend. 
The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him.

Do you have a question too, Dear Heart? Don't be shy! Don't hesitate to ask - about life, the Bible, faith, God ... anything really. (Okay that last one was scary - but since I'm trusting Him to help me, I'll leave it.) Just post your question in the comments below, or email them to me at . I'll keep you anonymous, and you can sign your letter however you like (i.e. Curious-About-Jesus or Needing-Some-Guidance-in-Revelation).  Just put "a little bird told me" in the subject line. Won't you be brave enough to ask, too? I'll bet you're not the only one wondering!  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

But what could just one broken person do?

Tragedy breaks us all. Breaks our hearts and our wills and even our minds. From crime to accidents to natural disasters, this world is full of trouble and sorrow. We can't escape it. Believe me - I've tried.

It's easy to wonder what one person can do to fight the tide.

When it comes to human trafficking, 27 million slaves is a daunting task and some people wonder, "Why try?"

"Reality has left you reeling
All fact and no feeling
No faith and all fear
Who's at fault is not important
Good intentions lie dormant
and we're all to blame

While apathy acts like an ally
my Enemy and I are one and the same"
-  Brooke Fraser (Flags)

And it truly is a picture of starfish on the sand. We make a difference to one, and it's a difference that counts - a difference that would not have been made if we'd just walked the other way.

So today I'd like to encourage my reader-ship to keep going. Keep fighting. Even in the tide.

“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible... So we will do them anyway.” 
― William Wilberforce (abolitionist)

Here are some ways that you can do SOMETHING to fight Human Trafficking. And even though it may not seem like much, to do or even attempt them will squelch apathy, and will be more than if you had merely walked away instead. And if we can all do SOMETHING, through Christ - we will accomplish even the impossible that we're too young to believe is so.

1. Learn the facts: knowing the statistics may discourage you at first, but you'll be able to communicate better if you have a better handle on what is actually happening. Is it hard to look at? Yes. Is it worth that pain to your eyes and soul? Of course. Here are a few websites I frequent in order to stay current on my information:
2. Connect with other people who want to fight human trafficking too. Here are a few organizations who have helped me get involved in the fight. It's good to be on the right team.

3.  Host an event or speaker. Many organizations (including several of the above) will provide a speaker/educator for your event or service. You can turn this into a fundraiser, or even as a community-wide awareness opportunity to stop slavery where you live. Check out these:

4. Donate. All of the organizations on the ground who are investigating, rescuing, and restoring lives need funding. God may not call you to do any of this on your own (though He could), but He most likely would want you to give generously of what you have planned (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-9) for the sake of these needy souls. See above, choose ... and then empty those pockets for Jesus! You won't be sorry, for it is so much better to give than to receive. 

5. Buy Fair-Trade products. These are often made by women and families who are either at-risk or have been rescued from slave labor. It is both a prevention and a redemption measure of fighting slavery. Here are a few I absolutely LOVE:

6. Respond.  "...about one in three of those rescued from human trafficking in America took place because an ordinary person saw something and acted. In some cases, it was noticing someone who had lived in a place of employment and could not leave. At other times, actions have been more direct, involving assistance  to a person fleeing for help and providing a route of escape." If you see something suspicious - don't assume everything is okay. Carefully probe and if you have suspicion, you can always call the hotline at 888-3737-8888.

7. Pray.  I'm convinced this is where we must all start and finish. If we ask, God will help us to know our part. He will guide us into the knowledge that will balance our zeal. He will open our eyes to the need and break our hearts for what breaks His. He will strengthen us for the fight and sustain us for the long, uphill battle it will take to keep interceding and volunteering and helping. Prayer is what will start and finish it all. Without it we will not even try. But with prayer, with God - WE CAN do the impossible. Consider praying at every Red Light, or setting reminders on your phone to pray on certain days or even try a fast for the sake of those who hunger for freedom. These are excellent sources of Prayer opportunities that I've found.

So, what can one broken person do?

More than you would think!

Oh Jesus - we can do anything You call us to, in Your strength. You are enough. When we are broken, I pray that You will remind us that it was in Your brokenness that You accomplished Your greatest victory - our Salvation. Precious Spirit, would You show us today what we can do to fight for these dear souls in bondage. Guide us to free them. Please give us the privilege of restoring them with Your hope and gentle touch. Through our hands, our feet, our lips. May Your justice come swiftly. May Your freedom come and abolish this evil. In our generation. In Christ's precious Name. Amen

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

from an anonymous friend ...

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous wrote this prayer. I thought it would be worth posting because I was challenged and humbled.

"Jesus - I love you so much and really, what I'd desire is for others to know and love You like I do, and for their praise to join with mine, so the grateful worship that glorifies You will be louder and greater and mutual. What I'm asking You today would be for Your strength and perseverance in my compassionate love, discipling others closer to You, and also for Your touch on others' hearts so they will be receptive and responsive to Your Spirit.

We are so blind, Jesus - so numbed by our materialistic culture. We can't even see You or feel You because we're so self-consumed in our own agendas and attempts to control our own lives. We desire comfort and happiness more than we want You. We worship our own lives and freedoms more than we worship You, and because of that, we have idolized our comfort and become unwilling to suffer trials for You. Jesus, we've lost sight of eternity and the sacrifice You made to give It to us. All we want is our own comfort and peace and satisfaction in things that will burn. We want clothes and home decor and jewelry, but we don't want the trials that will refine our faith and make us ready to see Your face.

We choose a wall hanging instead of feeding an orphan and we choose a diamond bracelet when we could choose to feed a hundred widows for their lifetimes. We squander the blessings You hand us with intentions that we'll bless others and be blessed in the giving, and instead we choose to buy gadgets and screens for ourselves so that we can play with cyber birds and candy and farm animals. Some of us even buy sex on the same screens, and instead of feeding or rescuing women who've been brutalized and starved and stolen, we instead purchase the view to arouse ourselves as they are beaten and raped again.

And then we go and sit in a "church" and sing a song, toss a fraction of a percentage that we spent on our self- extravagance and sin for the month into the plate and fall asleep while Your anointed preaches his bleeding heart out onto the altar.

Oh Holy Spirit, I don't know what to do with these people around me, and I don't know what to do with my own sinful heart. I don't usually wish, but today I'm going to, because this is not a prayer. A prayer is a request, believing that You want it too. And what I'm wishing today, I just don't know whether or not You want it. And also, I'm partially afraid to pray it because You just might make it so.

Jesus - today I just wish -

I wish You'd humble each and every one of us. I wish You'd rip this ugly attitude of entitlement out of our hearts until we bleed and beg for Your forgiveness. I wish You'd just show us a glimpse of Your glorious beauty in our churches so we'd be willing to come to Your altar unfailingly every week and maybe every day for just a little bit more of You. I really wish You'd tear all of this extravagance out of our hands and give it to starving families around our world. I wish You'd snatch me out of my comfy home with my shelves and shelves of books and throw me (yes, throw me) into a place where I can teach hungry, illiterate minds to read Your Word. Oh, Jesus - I wish You'd rip us apart from our idol of "happiness." I wish You'd deface that non-god and reveal who she really is - lust for self pleasure. No different from Asherah herself. So opposite to the true joy You give when we know You.

Abase us, Jesus. I wish You would. Do whatever You need to. I wish You'd change us.

I wish You'd make us Your followers."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Overwhelms Me Today

I hold millions of reasons to be in awe of Yaweh. For the way He made the stars so brilliant. For the way He was willing to watch brutes murder His precious Son with nails on a cross, after He held Himself back from stopping their lashes and punches and scorning. For each cell in this body, held in balance to function in miraculous chaos-defying precision. And here I stand again in awe - but this one thing today just tips the scales of wonder beyond any comprehensible balance -

He never gets overwhelmed with our overflowing mess. He never forgets a single one of us.

And how does He do that, when I'm overwhelmed, overcome, undone at just the thought of this mess of suffering we're buried under here?

His character is reflected in people like this:

When we care for the individual, despite the odds, defying the statistics, we authentically become more like Him. The One who fights for each of us like we were the only one He ever loved. This God who could rightfully throw Arms up and forget us all in our defilement and rebellion.

That He doesn't is reason enough for me to praise today.

"But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." -2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

I'm praying that His patience and not the evil all around will be what overwhelms me again today.

If you'd like to be a part of loving one at a time into His glory too, please consider partnering your generosity with Matt's courage and God's great love ...

The Exodus Road 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When all we have ... is all He wants

I'm thinking of how to get closer to God, close to His heart, close to that whispering love.

And I'm really wondering just how I'm supposed to draw near to this Invisible One who made the stars, and also the freckles on my son's nose. How to approach this Precious Lamb who put the speckles in my daughter's crystal eyes, and speckled the moon too.

Reaching, grasping, clinging to something more than I have, and still I only come up with this. 

Thank You.

I don't even know why it shocks me anymore, this recurring theme. This what I need, the only piece I have.

The answer already here in my hands, at my fingertips, written in my journal. This is how.

"Let us come before Him giving thanks. Let us make a sound of joy to Him with songs." - Psalm 95:2 (NLV)

And so, again I do. I thank. And before I know it - I'm as near as I can bear, so close to His heart I might be hearing Him breathe.

For these things, Oh Father, I'm thankful. I see that You bless, I receive, and I acknowledge Your great and merciful grace:

- this revelation today: I can open my hands to the grief with courage - knowing it pushes and pulls me back to desperate seeking of Your healing, loving arms of comfort.

- this song, over and over

- the difference You've made in the last year, and that I can look back and see such progress

- water play fun with friends, Blockus, and prayer

- a cardinal pair flitting and flirting together on the fence

- "My strength is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." - 2 Corinthians 12:9 (Msg)

- for Kris - a man who loves me and completes me, and that You made him for that (in part)

- Psalm 77 - and that I can still trust Your faithfulness

- generous neighbors who give to K & J's camp fund

- learned trust in Your healing power over me - the gift of knowing You can

- a beautifully hot day for Field Day

- my cousin's new baby, Mariah - and sweet pictures of her over text

- creative ways to worship when this cold robs my voice

- opportunities for us to sharpen one another, and call each other to Your high standards

- hopeful news about a friend's house still standing through the flames

- for so many gifts, and the inspiration to share them generously: "Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it." - 1 Peter 4:10

Jesus, I am so grateful that You pull me near when I thank and sing Your praise. It's right where I want to be.  In Your presence, and no where else. This cycle so perfect - You give, I thank, You come near, I come close, You heal, I open, You give, I thank. May it never end. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When the Flames Rage ... Simple Trust

Like a recurring nightmare, we watch the smoke grow over my hometown again this summer. Hot, dry earth surrenders to bright flame and dark smoke, and who doesn't tremble?

Photo: Christian Murdock, The Gazette

Last year, we were there, just miles away - far enough to be safe, close enough to cough from the smoke of torched homes and consumed trees.  This year we watch it on the news and via texts from family and friends.

I text a dear friend and she says they're evacuating.  My heart races for them through the night and early morning hours. This fear that grips me, and I reach the recesses to remember:

Lord, what did You promise?
When you cross deep rivers,
I will be with you,
    and you won’t drown.
When you walk through fire,
you won’t be burned
    or scorched by the flames.
 I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
    the God who saves you. - Isaiah 43:2-3a (NCV)
But what if we are burned? What if we do drown? What if our bones are broken and our homes are lost and our children are killed and precious daughters are raped and our sons do go hungry, and what if this doesn't feel like overcoming at all? What if ...

What then? Is He unfaithful? Not still trustworthy? No longer good?

I hate to entertain the thoughts, but maybe I should. It complicates things when what happens in our sight defies what He promised. Shakes us, and shakes our faith that's supposed to be so rock-solid.  And if this isn't real trouble and trial, then I'd hate to see what is.

A mentor-from-afar once said this to hundreds of us from the stage as she bared vulnerable pain and struggle from her own soft chest,
"It may seem trite for us to keep telling you to 'Trust God and have faith,' but we want you to know - this is what we do too when it hurts. We preach the same thing to our own souls ... and we are renewed."

And she couldn't know how it changed me to hear those tender words. Really? She struggles too? Has to preach to her own soul the same words she preaches to us who toil and suffer? And no, this is nothing trite.

Trust God. Have Faith. He will overcome the world.

One of the guys who authored the Bible with the Spirit literally wrote the book(s) on suffering. The loose ends and broken pieces of my soul are coming together again this morning. These burnt ashes redeemed for His glory and my good as I read it. His name was Peter. The rock upon the Rock. He who betrayed the Lord, but then opened hands and received Grace to cover all. The guy who said "No" and was rebuked as Satan. Put his foot in his mouth more times than not, and yet also proclaimed the truth of His Messianic identity in bold risk. This is the one who wrote this about trouble [long after His Lord had ascended, holding onto the Holy Spirit]:
"For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.  Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you."  - 1 Peter 2:19-20 (NLT)

And he's also the one who said this when confronted with trials before - when the Lord was still by his side and within his sight:
"Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God." - John 6:68-69 (Msg)

It's those words that are my lifeline today, even through the smoke and flames of trials I'd rather not face. And what if, what if, what if ... 

Well, I don't really know. All I really know is - I know who He is. And I know that even when I can't see His hand, I know His heart, hear His voice, and I know better than to try anywhere else. Because when the "what-ifs" choke like blackest smoke all around, I have one gasp left - 

Even if.

Even if it doesn't seem right, I still have Him. My hope, my strength, my Rock. And even if it's not today or tomorrow - He will overcome. In fact, He already has, according to His timeless perspective.
I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. - John 16:33 (VOICE)
Choking back complications like smoke, I still reach for Simple. Trust God. Have faith. Hold on.

And it's anything but trite. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Because this is what we do ...

It hangs above our kitchen table. This list of what our Family does.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. 

Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 

Rejoice in our confident hope. 

Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. 

Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 

Live in harmony with each other. 

Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. 

And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. 

Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
    I will pay them back,”
    says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
    If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
    burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
                       -Romans 12: 9-21 (NLT)
We spent last year in our weekly devotions teaching these to our children, my guy and I.  But I'm just not sure if we're living the living Word yet. Not sure if it's really sunk in. Or if it ever will.  Into this stony heart that still struggles with pride and contempt.
And I just want things to be different. I want revival. I know it has to start here, with me, on these knees. I want to actually live what I know. Boldly, radically. Fly high like my wings were made to soar. I've really got to get out of this cage. Out of this flesh that binds me.
I need to be a part of changing this.
AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery
And I must stand up against this.
And I just have to say something about this.
And we've got to be a part of stopping this.
Because as this new creation in Him, this is who I am. And this is what I'm about. Begin with Really loving people, all the way down to conquering evil by doing good.
Lord, would You bring justice to Your creation? You made us to love You and walk in Your ways, and we need Your help. Without Your Spirit - none of this will ever change, but with You - all things are possible.  You have made us new so that we can not only have righteous identity through the grace of Your Son, but also so that we can have righteous behavior through the power of Your Spirit working through us.  Lord, bring Your redemption and revival, and begin with me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Trafficking Intercession and a Book Review to Boot {Girls Like Us}

I was torn between putting this book review on Monday (when I usually do book reviews) or Tuesday (when I write/pray with you about human trafficking), but since I got distracted self-editing my manuscript yesterday, Tuesday it is!

Last week I finished Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd, a survivor of human trafficking in Europe who moved to New York and began ministering to victims and activating for legal and judicial change on their behalf.  This book reads like a combination of memoir and non-fiction awareness about the issue of domestic trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation.  Her writing is heart-felt and genuine based on her own horrific experiences, and detailing the healing process she found in helping other young girls and women who have been enslaved for sex.  Her precise semantics were both what I appreciated most and least about her writing. This book is full of expletives, so for those of you who are sensitive about that sort of language in what you read - consider yourself forewarned. On one hand, I realize why she includes these words in her writing; if you're beaten to the point of half-dead and subsequently raped over and over, you're not going to say, "Oh shoot!" I'll admit - like the script in the movie Saving Private Ryan - her use of colorful language adds to the authenticity of her testimony. However, it was also confusing to me as a follower of Christ when she was  using the f-bomb in one paragraph and referring to herself as a "missionary" in the next.  Yes - she is committed to Jesus, and includes faith teaching in her counseling of girls who have been and are being commercially sexually exploited, and I don't question her faith because of the language. I'm just saying it took most of the book to figure out whether or not her audience included the faith-based community.  In the end, I believe she can reach all of us - because her writing is accurate if anything.  Case in point - the phrase in bold above. As Lloyd explains,
Constantly reframing the issue and changing the language has been imperative in changing public perception and sympathies. It's been a battle particularly with people in the media who feel that using the term commercially sexually exploited will confuse their audience. One reporter refused to change his terminology, saying that he felt that the term was "euphemistic." We debated for a while on how sexually exploited could possibly be considered euphemistic when it accurately described what actually happened to children and youth, whereas child prostitute seemed to denote who the child was as opposed to what was being done to her. In his article, he went ahead and called them "teen prostitutes" anyway, failing perhaps to understand that it wasn't a question of semantics, that words, names, terminology really do matter.
And in this journey I'm on to pursue wisdom to go along with my zeal, this book was a crucial road marker.

In addition to learning to use terminology and words deliberately when fighting for awareness and abolition, I also took away from Lloyd a new clarification of choice when it comes to the prostituting of women and children.  She carefully and beautifully weaves all of the crucial elements of this debate into a clear tapestry of what the reader will understand to be no real choice at all. Highlighting the issues of poverty; severe dysfunction so prevalent in families of origin; blatant physical, mental, sexual, and verbal oppression of girls and women by pimps [another term she redefines] and traffickers; corruption and inaction by many law enforcement authorities; as well as the abased self-image so prevalent in all of our culture, the author explores the issue of "choice" from all facets of this complicated prism.  The rainbow of light that illuminates is this - no girl or woman, if given real options and viable alternatives would choose "the life" [of prostitution].
The female officer who has stayed puts her arm around me. In careful English and over my sobs, she explains what is going on. Yes, Mike is claiming the money is his. The bruises and cuts, the marks on my body and my feet apparently come from the fact that I like rough sex, and that's what we were doing in the field. In fact, he was trying to break up with me bu I didn't want to and that's why I came to the precinct. He's told them that I am a "Hure," and that my place of employment is a strip club. With these "facts" on the table my case has ceased to be a case. ... Later when JP begins to hit me, night after night, I'll know better than to go to the cops for help. I never do whiter the letter of complaint about [the officer who blamed her for being abused and raped]. I don't believe it'll do any good. After all, I'm not exactly a credible complainant, an upstanding citizen. Girls like me, I realize, get what they deserve.
In desperately grasping for a way to stay alive, girls shame themselves into thinking they choose to be beaten, raped, sold, exploited, abused, starved, and sometimes even killed.  Now that she has pursued and received restoration and healing, Rachel Lloyd serves girls and women night and day through an organization she started called GEMS to show them that's just not true - they are worth so much more than "the life"

Long-term healing requires that these girls understand that what they have experienced is not their fault. So many of these girls, their family members, the social workers, and law enforcement officials believe their exploitation was their choice. ... If I can begin to understand all the factors that made me vulnerable - the impact of race, class, and gender; the role played by my dysfunctional family; the power of the billion-dollar sex industry; the recruitment tactics of my pimp; the limited options as a teenager - then I can begin to shift the blame to the perpetrators instead of carrying it myself. ...Most of all [girls] need to finally understand what makes for a healthy, intimate relationship, an understanding that has been distorted over the years and which, if not corrected, puts them at risk for victimization over and over again.

Alright - that's probably too much already, and you'll have to get your own copy to experience her full story of redemption from the darkest hole imaginable into a life of light and hope she shares with hundreds every year. In fact, as much as I'd love to brag about an important piece of legislature she initiated and got passed in New York which is spreading to many other states in regard to sex trafficking, I'll let you read it yourself - you won't be disappointed. You may even want to start some support, advocacy, and activism of your own!

I know I do.

So, I'll leave you with this,
I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help. - Psalm 77:1-3

When we think of trafficked victims, may we always pray - remembering how they long for His help.

God - Your ways of redemption and restoration are good, and we long to see them on behalf of victims of injustice and exploitation all over our world. We need Your help, Holy Spirit. We need Your wisdom and strength if we are going to be the change these girls and women need us to be. Would you guide us and empower us with Your compassion and love, and would You rescue and restore these precious lives and souls, we beg You.  I pray for Rachel Lloyd and GEMS  - that You would pour Your favor and love over her and all of the girls and women she reaches with Your hope and love. May she find true comfort as You equip her to be the comfort to others. Thank You, Jesus. You are so amazingly loving, and we're Yours forever because of Your grace.