Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Sound of Healing

"Rapha" is the Hebrew word for healing.

Across the ocean there are thousands of young girls who are being robbed from their homes and thrust into the hell holes we call brothels. Recently, I watched a film entitled "Baht" produced by CIY. It documented one Cambodian girl's journey from a happy home and pretend tea parties to the rape and violence of a local brothel. She was tricked by a woman who offered her a job as a waitress, but, instead, kidnapped her and forced her to be a sex slave. The film was very well done, and you should look into buying it when they make it available online. However, beyond the cinematography, I heard the most heart-wrenching story I've ever been told. I cannot imagine anything...anything...more hellish than being sexually oppressed such as the thousands of girls who are crying out with no one rushing to help. 

I have read that many of the girls in this situation are raped up to 60 times per week. 

As awful as that is. Read it again. 

What are we doing to each other? What has happened to us? 

As I heard the story, I thought about what I should do. What can I do in Knoxville, TN to stop sexual abuse and sex trafficking across the globe? 
So, I am asking, if you know any way to respond to these atrocities, lets start brainstorming. What can we do to stop the injustice? God has been doing different things in my heart and mind, and I am trying to seek Him out. Does He want me to act against this? How? 

I found an organization in Cambodia who is providing a safe house for rescued victims. They are called the Rapha House. They give the girls an education so they can re-enter society with a greater chance of resisting the brothels and obtaining a true occupation. Also, they teach these girls about the hope, the healing, the rapha of Jesus Christ. I read this letter from one of the directors and it broke my heart yet filled me with a sense that we can be healed. Each of us can be healed. If girls who are sexually abused as young as 4 years of age can find hope, Then there is still truly rapha in the world today. Here is the letter: 

Fall, 2007

Dear Christian Friends;
It has been said that children who have been severely abused forget how to play. They forget how to be a child. The girls at Rapha House certainly fall into the category of severely abused children.

Recently, a partner church, Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to sponsor a swim party for the Rapha House girls. A new pair of shorts and a new t shirt was provided for each girl to swim in, and beach balls and water wings were introduced for the first time.

I stood in the searing heat and watched the girls play and scream with laughter. It sounded like heaven to me. I watched two sisters, who were sold and rescued together from the same brothel, have a very long and loud splash fight. I watched as four of the littlest girls linked arms again and again and fell laughing into the shallowest end of the pool. This is what healing sounds like. It sounds like the laughter of children.

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when there was no laughter in the lives of these girls. Today, they have a safe place to live. For the little ones, it is an opportunity to have the childhood which Satan tried to rob them of. For the older girls, it is an opportunity to plan for their futures. For all of them, it is an opportunity to know Christ who is their only hope. I cannot thank you enough for making this possible for the Rapha House girls. Thank you for meeting their physical needs, and for allowing them to remember how to play.

Blessings to you!
Stephanie G. Freed

Friends, we are called to set captives free. Let's at least start thinking and talking about how to save these prisoners. 

Right now... a girl is wishing we would rescue her. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Part 2

In my last post I spoke about the balance between doing acts of service without an agenda and proclaiming the name of Jesus. Do we have to proclaim His name every time we do a good deed? Does Luther's phrase about proclaiming the Gospel and if necessary using words truly make sense? 

A few of my friends commented, and I figured I would respond with a second post. 

First off, I agree with everyone that commented. There may be points that I could disagree, but over all I see where everyone is coming from. 

Jacob said that we need to be careful not to replace the name of Christ with the name of  "my church" or the name of "myself." I agree with this. In order to combat the mistakes past generations have made, we are trying to win the world's trust back by not cramming the message down their throats. (I will wash your feet because they are dirty, not because I want you to join a committee at my church). 
However, I simply feel that in our generation we are being so reactionary that we are swinging with the pendulum. We are overcompensating. See, we are embarrassed by the Church, because the Church has a history of making some foolish mistakes. We aren't ashamed of Christ, but proclaiming Him throws us into the same category as people who hold "God Hates Fags" signs. 
Here's the rub. We belong to Christ and we belong to each other. So, we proclaim him, and we can apologize for the Church's wrong actions. However, we can't shy away from the message. Let's not gain trust by never letting people know who we belong to. 

Bill said (and he was mainly playing devil's advocate). What if people outside our faith who are doing good deeds are proclaiming the Gospel in some weird way. The Gospel story is unfolding even through the actions of nonbelievers. I like this concept of each of us having a "God-Shaped Hole." Since we were all created in His image, we can't help but carry out His actions. 
But, by and large I don't put too much stock in that (even though it may be a beautiful truth). God's will may be unfolding through their actions, but there is an old example of seeing dead bodies in a stream. We could try and fish every one out, or go upstream and tell them to stop jumping in. 
I think it is good that people are being helped by Christians and Non-Christians alike. However, true freedom comes when we can transcend every trial because of hope in Christ. Transcendence doesn't come just from being helped, but it happens when life crumbles and we remain hopeful. People need to hear the name of Christ in order to obtain a hope like that. We can only build so many houses (praise the Lord for the houses we DO get built!), but we have hope that can burn in the homeless. This can only be passed along through proclamation. 

I liked what Betsy said...
It should seep out of us. If we are truly in tune with Christ, we will strike the perfect balance between service and proclamation. Really, that is the key. 
When I am in love, I have to tell people I am in love. I'm a dork like that. 
When I write a song, I want people to hear it. 
I write this blog hoping you'll read it. 
I feel close to Jesus. I want people to know it. 

Michael, great point, dude. 
We bide our time and build true, authentic relationships before we start handing out tracks and "test-a-mints." We become friends with people, because we love people. Not... "Hey, I'm Taylor. Good to meet you. Let's hang out. Repent of your sins. Hell is calling your name." 
But, I'm glad you finished your comment by saying, we should never shy away from it. 

I know all this sounds like we're getting caught up in details that are pointless. But I don't think so. Guys, our generation is doing a really good job with service, but we suck at proclamation. We need to be saying the name of Jesus. 

If we acknowledge Him before men, He will acknowledge us before His Father in Heaven...
Go and make Disciples of all nations, teaching them... 

We are doing great at being the hands of Christ. Praise God. 
We need to start being the mouth. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

In the Name of JESUS or In the Name of.....(jesus)

Bill and I were having a conversation the other day about evangelism and bringing the Kingdom of God down to earth. Now, if you don't consider yourself part of the Christian faith and you are reading this, you are going to think this is a ridiculous conversation. I may agree with you. But bear with us as we try to figure out what exactly it means to live for Jesus.

I suppose there are two sides you can fall on.

The first stating that acts of service do not have to be accompanied with proclaiming the name of Jesus. If someone is hurting, we help them, and God is pleased. Enough said. Done. Period. The things I like about this are we eliminate the "system and method" of evangelizing and get back to loving people. We don't see human souls as notches in our spiritual belt. We help them, because they need help. We simply, "love our neighbor as ourselves." In the words of an old friend, "Done and done." 

On the other side, we simply add that every good deed should be carried out under "the label" of Jesus Christ. We help the homeless or give someone a bed to sleep on, but we must do so in the name of Christ. In other words, somewhere in there we need to actually mention Jesus. Now, my generation has shied away from this approach, because (as in most things we do) we are reacting to the system of previous generations. We don't want to cram the Bible down anyone's throat, so we are trying to prove to society that we care. We are regaining the world's trust after decades of fire and brimstone. 
But, I have to say, I still can't dismiss this second model. Here's why...

We aren't the only ones doing good stuff! 

It's not like being a Christian suddenly turns you into the only person in the world serving others. There are a lot...a whole lot... of non-Christian organizations doing some really good stuff. Now, I think the Church should affirm them and join with them--not cross our arms and say, "THAT'S MY JOB!" 

But follow me here. In the past several years, we have returned to evangelism and outreach in being the main effort to grow the church, as opposed to big productions and shredding guitar solos. Hurray for us. But, if service is what we are using to show the world..."Look! See, we are Christians, and CHRISTIANS do GOOD things." Well, so what...so do politicians. Somebody told me the other day that Jay-Z just built a well in Africa or someplace. 

So, what separates our service from the world's? The name of Jesus. He says that we will be blessed even if we "offer a cup of cold water," and he makes sure to include, "in My name." So, somewhere amidst the good deeds, do we need to return to some good-ol-fashion preachin'? Do we need to say, "Jesus loves you?" And what are the cons to proclaiming Jesus amidst the service? 

Now, I'm up for people disagreeing with me, because I think God is up in Heaven wishing I would turn my computer off and just go help somebody regardless. This isn't a salvation issue. 

But here, then I'm done. For the sake of conversation, this is my question:

Are we headed down a dangerous, non-fruit-bearing road by serving without proclaiming Christ. Or, are we doing good by regaining the world's trust by selfless deeds with no agenda attached?

Done and done.