Category Archives: Justice

The ugly truth of child slavery

It’s easy for numbers to seem cold and distant but they reflect real life for good and bad. In this case they reflect the harsh reality of child slavery. The trade of human life as property is the most lucrative criminal enterprise globally, including the United States, second only to drugs.

T. E. Hanna from “Of Dust And Kings” put together this infographic specifically to help combat that. The first step in battling any injustice is to raise our consciousness, to expose the evil, and finally to stand against it. With that in mind, please feel free to share this infographic in any venue you choose.

Child_Slavery_Figures_Opt

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children, Compassion, Human Trafficking, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others

May God bless you…

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

– Franciscan Benediction

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Compassion, Grief, influence with the world, Justice, Kindness, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Serving, Suffering

Being the hands and heart of God

Ever watch a movie or theatre production where someone in a supporting role actually outshines the main character? It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, its noticeable. That’s sort of how I feel about the book of Ruth. In case you are not familiar with the story of Ruth here’s a quick overview.

During the period of the Judges Elimelek and his wife Naomi, along with their two sons, leave Israel to escape a famine and relocate in the land of Moab. Elimelek dies, their two sons marry Moabite women and then 10 years later they die. Naomi is left with two daughter-in-laws in a foreign land. She returns to Israel with Ruth who refuses to leave her side.

Life for widows at that time was very, very bleak! Out of love for Naomi, Ruth gleans (collects leftover grain) from a local field belonging to Boaz. Knowing of Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, Boaz acts favorably towards Ruth not only protecting her but providing extra grain for her to collect. Upon learning of this, Naomi instructs Ruth to make herself available to Boaz for marriage. They eventually marry and everyone lives happily ever after. Honest!

But there’s more!

The loyalty Ruth demonstrates for her mother-in-law Naomi is admirable; especially considering that Israel and Moab had a history of being bitter enemies. But what Boaz does is even more amazing.

As God’s holy people, Israelites were to reflect the heart of God by trusting Him enough to act as His hands and heart toward the less fortunate within their community.  Much of the Law was designed to provide opportunities for Israel to trust God, to be generous like God, to demonstrate the love and the justice of God.  God’s means of taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan was through His people.

The levirate marriage was one such custom.  The term levirate means “husband’s brother.”  It was employed when a man died without a son to inherit his land and carry on a family line.  When those circumstances arose, the husband’s brother was responsible to take the widow as his wife and produce a first-born son who would bear the dead brother’s name.  This son would be the rightful heir to his dead “father’s” estate and would carry on the deceased’s family name.  The following children born to the union of the widow and her new husband would belong to the new husband and bear his name.  (Deut. 25:5-10).

Any man who took on this responsibility was known as a Kinsman-Redeemer. Taking on this role was optional and when another relative declined to accept it, likely because Ruth was a Moabite, Boaz willingly stepped in. He had to give his resources to buy the land owned by Naomi/Ruth but would not keep it as his own. Their first-born son would receive it to carry on the lineage of his grandfather/father.

Boaz had nothing to gain from this arrangement other than the company of Ruth as his bride. His selfless act of compassion is remarkable; and it is a foretelling of Jesus’ role with all of humanity.

Jesus gave up His very life to pay our debt of sin, something we could not do, and purchase for us new life and an eternal future with God. Just as Boaz reflected the love and justice of God, we who follow Jesus are called to reflect it as well among those we encounter daily.

How will we be the hands and heart of God to those we encounter today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 10 this week. To learn more about The Story click on the page tab above.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Generosity, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Loyalty, The Story

Kony 2012 – Rescuing invisible children

It turned out to be some of the best advice we ever received!

Years ago, when Susan was pregnant with our first (of 6) children, some close friends had a baby shower with the usual activities. But they also had all the other moms write down their best advice.

Among the nuggets of wisdom was the advice to watch our child sleeping. It was said to be one of the most precious moments a parent can experience.

And they were right!

If you’re a parent, you’ve been there. After a day stuffed full of play and discovery your little bundle of energy is all cleaned up and lovingly tucked into a warm, safe bed for the night.

But what if someone broke into your house to kidnap your child? What if little boys were stolen away in the middle of the night and forced to carry guns and kill people? What if little girls were ripped from their loving homes and used as sex slaves?

Probably not where you thought I was heading with this blog, and the very notion of little children being stolen from their parents probably seems so foreign that you can’t begin to imagine such a thing happening.

But it does!

The little boy who was the reason for that baby shower so many years ago is now 21 years old and yesterday I watched a video on his Facebook page that broke my heart.

Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals who is responsible for destroying the lives of some 30,000 innocent children.

The video below is nearly 30 minutes long. Believe me, I know the value of even a single minute. And I wouldn’t ask you to use 30 of them if it weren’t vital. PLEASE make the time to watch this video.

Then get involved by going here and pass it along to others. It’s just too important to ignore!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Freedom, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others, Peace, Persecution, Suffering

The seedier side of the Super Bowl*

Worldwide it generates an estimated $32 billion a year! In the U.S. alone it produces an estimated $9.5 billion annually!

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world. It robs people of their human rights and freedoms, it is a global health risk, and it fuels organized crime.

The U.S. State Department estimates that about 12.3 million adults and children are forced or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Domestic sex traffickers particularly target vulnerable young girls, such as runaway, homeless, and foster care children.

In the United States, the average age of entry into prostitution is 13.

So, what does this have to do with the Super Bowl?

Large sporting events like the Super Bowl are prime targets for sex traffickers because of the high demand generated by thousands of men pouring into an area for a weekend of fun. The 2010 Super Bowl saw an estimated 10,000 sex workers brought into Miami. Despite efforts to crack down on sex trafficking at the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas, there was still a tremendous number of women and children sexually exploited.

In the past, attempted crackdowns by law enforcement have missed the mark by treating prostitutes as criminals to be locked up rather than victims to be rescued, but new efforts are gaining traction: a new bill just got passed here in Indiana to toughen the state’s sex-trafficking law before the Super Bowl.

What can we do?

1. Learn more about it and get involved.
2. Join a local anti-trafficking group
3. Support organizations fighting trafficking

4. Share this information with everyone you know!
5. Pray!

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
~ William Wilberforce

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* Adapted from a blog article by Justin Holcomb

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Filed under Human Trafficking, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others

Called to a bigger adventure

We worship a Lord who is both fierce and beautiful—fierce in the way He hates injustice and sin and fights on our behalf; beautiful in who He is and the way He shows us grace, mercy, and love. As believers, we’re called to reflect Him and become fierce and beautiful as well. We were created to serve an eternal purpose—not to follow our mortal desires while wearing a crown of our making, but to follow the One who wears a crown of thorns. We were not made to live on the outskirts of a kingdom but to worship in awe at the throne of our King. We were not designed to be princesses of entitlement but warriors of encouragement, fighting to bring love and hope to the world.

Our calling is to let go of our crown of gems (our puny personal ambitions, desires, and agendas) in order to pursue our true destiny: His crown of thorns (the will of our King). By doing so, we discover the value, joy, and fulfillment He always intended for those who call Him Lord. Even now the King is beckoning. May He strengthen you in your endeavor to serve less of yourself…and more of Him.
~ Excerpted from Fierce Beauty by Kim Meeder

Do your life dreams revolve around your wants and desires or God’s? What do you imagine that God might accomplish through you if you gave yourself to fully participate in His bigger adventure?

Whatever it might be, God imagines doing even more!

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Filed under Christianity, God's Will, Grace, influence with the world, Justice, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Mercy, Sin, Worship

Heaven and Hell: what’s the deal?

There has been much debate lately about heaven and hell; and who will go where. The most recent notion is that in the end everyone gets into heaven. The issue itself is as old as mankind but it’s been rekindled because of a recent book by Rob Bell.

Bell raises some important questions and I believe that we all benefit from thoughtful dialogue. And while I respect Rob as a master communicator I have to disagree with his theology. Though I must also admit a part of me would like for everyone to get in to heaven.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat understands this well. In a recent column Douthat, a devout Catholic, writes that doing away with eternal punishment “is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane.”

The problem, Douthat reminds us, is that attempts to make God seem more “humane” also “threaten to make human life less fully human.” That’s because, he writes, “to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices.” If we can’t say “no” to God’s offer of heaven, none of the other choices we make in life have any real meaning, either.

I agree with and appreciate Bell’s emphasis that some Christians are presumptuous in declaring people they’ve never met to be in either heaven or hell; but to suggest that in the end everyone “gets in” is dangerously misleading.

It may make us feel better to believe that everyone goes to heaven. But what happens to the concept of justice? Is not God a God of justice?

While I wouldn’t tell anyone to avoid reading Bell’s new book I would caution that we must take everything we read and measure it against God’s word. Even some arguments based on Scripture are poorly reasoned and misunderstand the given text.

If you are inclined to explore what God’s word has to say about heaven and hell, and I hope you are, I encourage you to check out a new book by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinke entitled Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up.

We can’t afford to get this issue wrong! Too many lives are at stake!

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Filed under Heaven, Hell, Justice