Saturday, June 29, 2013
Where do teenagers learn about Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, Labor and Industrial Trafficking, Debt Bondage, Internet Safety and Pornography on a sunny weekend in June?
At a Baptist Church in Bixby, OK!
This weekend was New Beginnings Baptist Church annual leadership weekend and all subjects pertaining to Human Trafficking were tackled. WOW! What an outstanding, organized plan that accomplished the goal of helping teenagers become aware of the dark world of modern day slavery.
Youth/Family Pastor Jeff Berg spearheaded this event which required a time commitment from the teens from Friday 1 p.m. to Sunday afternoon 5 p.m. The teens experienced being "trafficked" Friday night with a sweat shop, seedy motel, immigration headaches, and all the dangers involved in a world very different from their own. Rooms of the church were decorated as such and each one spent some time in one area or another all night long. They got a "taste" of being held against their will through force, fraud, and coercion. Some were led away from their friends only to return with signs hung around their neck declaring they had been "beaten" or "raped!" A few endured the frustration of working in terrible conditions at a mindless job for hours, their only light a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. Some had to try to "sleep" in horrible conditions created without A/C, a concrete floor, no pillow and a humming noise that wouldn't let up. A couple of boys had their money and identification "stolen" making it very difficult to successfully complete the complicated "immigration" procedure.Some officials they had to face didn't speak English, some required a bribe. The list of "planned frustrations" went on and on!
Jeff and his team of volunteers very carefully led them all through the simulation without causing undue anxiety or trauma. They finally got to sleep (for real) at 3:30 a.m. The plan was brilliant!
He invited me and my friend Wanda Satrom of Christians Against Trafficking to participate in a day long Saturday seminar for the teenagers. We presented Human Trafficking 101 and helped them navigate a research project about all things pertaining to HT on computers. We brought with us a HT survivor to tell her story, the founder and President of the Demand project to talk about Internet Safety and a representative from CrossLane Counseling to speak to the boys about Pornography. Wanda and I spent a separate time with the girls talking about BOYS, addictions, sexual purity, etc. We encouraged the girls to embrace and enjoy the love, forgiveness, power and protection that only Jesus can give them, rather than to look to a boyfriend to fill the longings of their hearts. (Much time was spent discussing appropriate clothing choices, alcohol, avoiding dangerous situations and the need to pray for each other and the boys of their group.)
It was a long full Saturday! When we left at 5 pm the activities were still in process. A movie dealing International HT was next on the agenda followed by a recap of the activities thus far in preparation to teach the ADULT members of the church all they learned at Sunday services.
These teens are so very fortunate to have a pastor and a church help them navigate the dangerous waters of the modern world filled with technology, predators, recruiters, and peer pressure. They don't run from uncomfortable subjects but offer solutions. Yay for them! What a very LOVING thing to do!
May their kind increase!!!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Yesterday started out with the announcement of the Supreme Courts decision to overturn the California vote that defined marriage in that state as a union between a man and a woman. Yep, Prop 8 passed a long time ago. Several other states followed with similar laws. Needless to say, the homosexual community was not about to accept the voters wishes and so redefined the issue as one of "civil rights." Amidst the legal mumbo jumbo and dissension by some of the Supremes, it now seems that our unelected justices will decide matters of this land, disregarding the voters wishes. The Defense of Marriage Act is history. (That particular piece of legislation was put in place by President Bill Clinton when he was running for office and needed the evangelical vote. Today he is in favor of it's repeal. The winds of change in the political atmosphere are unstable, you know.) News conferences on the courthouse steps confirmed the obvious, "The only thing that matters is WHO you love." Marriage certificates for gay couples are being printed at this very moment. Polygamy is already being mentioned, I'm wondering if a 46 year old man loving a 9 year old child will be next, perhaps even Fido! In all the fiasco, it seems that most of America and the American church snoozes on.
Mid-day I was involved with an interview with a sweet woman who is a survivor of Human Trafficking. Her tale was horrific. As a child her mother sold her to men that would pay her money to buy her drugs that would feed her addiction.
Another case of the selfish use of another human being to satisfy individual lusts. There are thousands of young women just like her walking in our midst in various stages of recovery.
All of this was enough to make me crawl in the bed, cover my head with a vow to "not come out 'til morning." A nap, yes, that's what I needed!
BUT, last night was the annual ONE NATION UNDER GOD concert at our church and I sure didn't want to miss that! I pulled my head out from under the sheets and went.
It was GLORIOUS! The Kirk of the Hills choir, orchestra, director, Pathways choir and soloists did an outstanding job. The patriotic music was heart wrenching and soul lifting. The words of the songs were deep with meaning and the instrumental- only pieces gave time for solemn reflection. A beloved WWII vet told his story of how his understanding of the word FREEDOM grew once he'd enlisted one month after Pearl Harbor. The program ended with a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace while the packed house sang. The message was clear: God alone is our strength, foundation, and purpose.
As I visited with some folks afterwards and watched tears flow down their faces I'm sure we were of one mind. Tony Perkins said it best this morning, "Our nation is one that our founders would barely recognize."
Perhaps our nation is still UNDER GOD. Perhaps in months to come we will see HIS judgment. (If HE does NOT judge us, HE owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.)
Perhaps there are some folks left in this land that believe God orders the universe and all that is within it and we the people, the justices, the politicians and the heretics do not.
Perhaps, as the Bible states, there will ALWAYS be a REMNANT of believers that are committed to be "salt and light" in a world that has lost its way.
Perhaps it is time for "we the church" to take seriously the passage read at the beginning of the concert last night by Dr. Wayne Hardy.
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." II Chron 7:14
Perhaps its time to wake up, church!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
What a delightful afternoon at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center! The Broadway production of LION KING was worth the 7 year wait.
Yep, the last time the play was performed in Tulsa was 7 years ago. I remember the day! It was moving day for us as we relocated to Broken Arrow, OK. As we unpacked boxes, I heard that the famous musical was leaving town after a 2 week run. I was SO disappointed that we missed it by a hair.
It was worth the wait!!! Honeybuns and I joined the sold out crowd, including many children. The music was fabulous of course (Can you Feel the Love Tonight, and The Circle of Life) and the story very well known. (We've watched the video countless times with the grand kids.) But it was the costumes that stole the show.
I'd expected much, but was blown away by the engineering and the colors and detail of the hyenas, zebras, giraffes, elephants, wildebeest, and other African animals. The actors made all the gears, wheels, stilts, strings and springs of the puppets work flawlessly even as they danced to the African drumbeat down the aisles. The beasts came to LIFE!
Mufasa and Scar talked, battled and stared each other down as they determined who would be King of the jungle. Simba danced with Nala and was reminded of his true identity by the crazy baboon, Rafiki. Timon and Pumbaa brought the audience to tears with their antics and jokes. Even the Savannah came to life as dancers balanced huge plots of "green grass" on their heads.
I cannot imagine what this production team could do to make it better. What talent!
It was a magical afternoon. I'd go again in a minute!
It was a Saturday of "Hakuna Matata."
Friday, June 14, 2013
We joined Donna and Bill as they made their cross-country tour of "let's go visit the extended family" trip! There were lots of laughs, good food, and fun times.
The first leg of their journey lasted 8 hours from central Illinois to Tulsa, OK. The car was packed as if they were going to Mars for 6 months! After a good nights sleep here, we all took off for Dallas, spending time along the way at several interesting antique shops. The guys quickly learned the meaning of "enjoy the journey" instead of racing from point A to point B in record time.
We spent the afternoon of Day 1 in Dallas with Nancy and the kiddos there, laughing, playing, eating and enjoying an impromptu talent show in their living room. (Philip was working in Brazil and missed the fun!) Everybody enjoyed meeting the relatives! (Wish we had taken a picture or video!)
On Day 2 we started the long trek to Colorado. Two full days of more sightseeing, shopping, eating and laughing in their car.
Spending a few days in the Rockies was certainly therapeutic! Andy and Jamie and the Colorado kids gave us the red carpet treatment. There was more shopping, exploring, eating, laughing, playing with the kids and sharing stories.
We all agreed that the highlight of that location (other than squeezing on the children) was forging the rapids of the Animas River. We were thrilled to be alive with all body parts intact at the end. It was one of those afternoons that started with "am I going to die" and ended with "Yippee, let's do it again!!"
Staying at Camp Kivu was delightful. Watching the counselors prepare and the first campers arrive was great! It was hard NOT to "become a temporary teen" and enjoy all the hoop-la! We thrived in the most beautiful setting and most perfect weather in the world. (While we were there we were informed ON THE NATIONAL NEWS that our town of Broken Arrow was being hit by several tornadoes. That was weird! But no one was hurt and our house was not in the path of the twisters.)
We added a couple of more people to the packed car as we left Durango. Tiki and Hays joined the fray as we drove to Denver for the last leg of our participation in the road trip. There we parted ways and flew home as they raced across Kansas to be back to work and reality. Many miles covered in a week!
Whew! What memories! Making them WAS the intention and the accomplishment!
We've got the pictures to prove it!