Archive | Social Justice RSS feed for this section

A Visible Hope (AKA Lunch with Joseph Kony)

8 Mar

I watched the Kony 2012 video today, as many others did (20 million and counting.)

Of course, it touched me deeply.

But I wrestled with a few things, including feelings of cynicism, questioning if the video’s popularity isn’t more due to the fact it was brilliantly done and manipulated my emotions, than because of the issue at hand.

This is too complex to be this easy, right?

Or maybe we make it complex.

Maybe it’s as simple a 4-year-old sees it: the bad guys need to be stopped.

But what struck me with this video was something on a  larger scale, something incredible that is hard to put into words.

It wasn’t just about one man and his 20+ years of crimes against humanity.

Yes, the atrocities he has committed are horrible, and he needs to be stopped.

Yes, the lives of those children are precious, and they need to be saved.

But what got me excited was something bigger than Invisible Children, than Kony, then the country of Uganda.

What I saw was:

People are coming together for good to try to change something without getting anything in return.

99% of us will probably never meet a Ugandan child that was rescued from being a forced soldier. Yet people care.

People care. That’s what makes me hopeful.

Throwing aside political arguments and agenda, and actually focusing on something everyone agrees on: Children everywhere deserve a chance to have an innocent childhood.

What amazes me is the sheer power of this facebook age, globalization, a world without borders.

Suddenly, it’s no longer about how different we are, but how connected we are.

Invisible Children has tapped into this. This is what makes it powerful. Unifying under a cause of love.

If  “ordinary” middle-class collage kids from America can stop a warlord in Africa, what else can happen?

What if every pimp that led children into sex trafficking was treated like Kony?

What if social justice is just a trend? So what? People are doing something. They are looking beyond their own selfish desires and actually caring.

They are joining the winning side, because good wins. Love wins. Actually, it already has because God is love. He’s won, we just get to be a part of making that reality in heaven match the reality on earth.

I am the least competitive person in the world. I am also a pacificist by nature. I hate any sort of conflict and I want to believe the very best about people, even the most evil people.

Trust me, in an ideal world, I could sit down and have lunch with Joseph Kony. Maybe after lunch we’d go on a safari. As we spotted some lions, he would tell me about his childhood and how it was stolen from him. He would open up about how he is so filled with hate and rage that it eats him up, how he doesn’t see a way out. How he sees people as nothing more than bullets in a gun, how it’s all he’s ever known.

And then I would tell him he is loved.

That he doesn’t have to fight anymore. That he doesn’t have to run anymore. That he can stop using people. I would look him in the eyes and say,

“You are better than this. You were made in the image of God. You can be free.”

And grace would wash over him and all of a sudden everything would be new.

If I can’t believe this could happen, I have to question the core of my faith in God. Because love is enough to overpower the worst kind of evil.

Now, I know it’s not a perfect world (yet) and I am not suggesting the soldiers go and love him. They probably wouldn’t get the chance before they were murdered.

My point is, in all things, I want to choose hope. I want to believe that people truly want to choose what is good, and right, and that (by the Grace of God) the world can become a better place.

And we have the power to choose to make it better.

We were given the authority to bring hell to earth like Kony does, or to bring heaven.

So, instead of skeptically questioning and picking things apart, I want to rejoice with any human being regardless of their beliefs or background, who is doing what they can to bring heaven to earth.

You can call me naive, but that’s ok. I choose to believe the best.

Advertisements

Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims

1 Sep

A Girl I Met In A Brothel In India

The first time I heard about human trafficking was in 2007 at a conference in Atlanta.

It felt like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t believe something so horrific was so prevalent, yet so unknown.

Months later, I was on a Southwest flight and I “randomly” sat next to a woman who was fighting against sex trafficking in the United States. She told me the greatest need was for recovery, and that there was not one single woman’s home in the United States specifically for those who have escaped this life.

Four years later, trafficking has become a buzzword, a red hot issue in human rights organizations all over the world, and thankfully is beginning to seep into the subconscious of The Church.

Yet, there is still only 200 beds  available to house girls and women who are recovering in the US. (According to The Rebecca Project for Human Rights)

While there has been some controversy on the exact statistics because the numbers are so hard to attain, we know that human trafficking is the world’s second largest criminal enterprise, next to drugs.

Investigators and researchers estimate the average predator in the U.S. can make more than $200,000 a year off one young girl.( NBC Report by Teri Williams.)

Why isn’t more being done to help these girls? In a Vanity Fair article, on Sex Trafficking in America, it was put quite simply,

The second-hardest part (next to housing) is finding them treatment. There are experts in rape, addiction, sexual abuse, battering, but not in counseling trafficking victims who suffer from all these problems combined.

While these issues can be overwhelming, we cannot let our feelings of inadequacy paralyze us from action.

While these girls and women (and boys as well) have deep psychological trauma and need for patient, professional care, I believe there is a need just as great that is simple enough for anyone to give: unconditional love.

As much as they need a hot meal, a warm bed to sleep in, and education to allow them to live a different life style,

They need to know they are not guilty.

They need to know they are loved.

They are beautiful.

They have worth.

Those simple words of encouragement are what all of us are aching for, and it doesn’t take an expert to give them away.

When I was in India and we took a group of girls from the brothel to a water park, and got a taste of the hate and judgment they constantly received. Telling those girls that they were loved by Jesus (who is love) and that God hung out with prostitutes, was one of the brightest moments of my life.

Despite the darkness, I saw a glimpse of hope only unconditional love can bring.

Refuge City

I am so encouraged by all the effort and love “ordinary” people are exerting in order to bring redemption to these girls. My friend Barb is starting a recovery home in Dallas called Refuge City and I am so excited about it.

We believe that the key to healing and restoration is the love and power of Jesus Christ. We stand, as a team, to walk out this healing side by side. We use a holistic strategy targeting physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Our goal is to provide a safe place of recuperation and hope where people’s God given purpose and destiny can be rediscovered and restored through the application of Biblical principles and the love of Christ empowering them to be fulfilled and vital participants in their communities.

Refuge City is committed to providing a clean and safe home for the children/women to live in surrounded by people who will love them and are committed to their restoration and independence.  The residents will follow a highly structured daily program that will include on site schooling, professional counseling, classes on life skills and independent living, sports activities, musical training and anything else that they might be interested in.

RC will supervise the educational needs of school age children, with higher education or vocational training as its goal. Upon intake, each child will be assessed and an individually suited education, psychological and medical plan will be implemented according to their needs.

Please like their facebook page and stay connected to find out more how you can be  part of the rescue and healing of God’s precious daughters.

You can donate to Refuge City here.

 

Visual Poetry- The Brothel

This is a poem I wrote that captures the tragedy of sex trafficking.

This poem is from my book All Things Are Becoming New.

Good bye, Chennai.

21 Apr

Tonight, we are getting on a train to ride 24 hours to Pune. We are saying goodbye to the city that has slowly become a temporary home the past few weeks. The faces I have met will stay with me.

Joshua* had a flashy bright blue shirt that made him stand out from the other kids. He was HIV positive, like the rest of the 13 kids he lives with, but it didn’t stop him from running around, popping balloons and grinning. Years earlier, his mother was in the final stages of AIDS. She couldn’t get treatment, and soon the pain became unbearable. She set fire to herself, burning alive in order to escape this world. He was three years old at the time, and with her.

Pria*  looks like a bollywood version of Shirley Temple with her bouncy black curls and infectious grin. She is six years old and the size of a three year old, because when she was 2, her mom didn’t want to take care of her and her brother anymore, so she decided to starve them. She locked them in a mud hut and left them alone for weeks. They managed to survive on leaves that blew in under the door, and mud that washed in when it rained. Pria still goes by the nickname “baby” because of her size when she was rescued.

As I sit in these children’s home’s in India, listening to incredible stories, I feel humbled and honored. I am amazed God would chose me to be the recipient of such redemption and grace showing in these kids lives.

The redemptive lives of Joshua and Pria may never be best selling books, but now because you have read this, one more person has entered into their stories. As any good story, it spreads and multiplies one person at a time, a whisper in an ear, a chat over coffee, a shout from the rooftop. Light enters into dark corners, truth beats deception, what was unknown is suddenly known.

I wrote this the other day about a woman who sat next to me at the slum church we ministered at.

What stories are hidden behind those old eyes?
That face, scarred by burns?
If I could decipher your foreign tongue, I would.
If I could open your heart and read it like I book, I would.
What brought you here, to this time and place,
to intersect your life and mine?
Have you ever found love?
What are your dreams, your hopes?
How do you see the world?
In a moment, a flash, a look, a nod,
tears flowing at the same time
I know, perhaps beyond all differences
we are made of the same ingredients,
just slightly re-arranged
Maybe 8,000 years from now
we will be neighbors
then we’ll sit on my front porch, drinking wine
and I’ll finally hear your story

On a lighter note, I have been working on a list of reasons why India is great in my mind. Here is what I have so far:

Surprising Things About India That Make Me Smile

*It is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to eat rice with your hands, but when we had a pizza party, the kids ate their slices with a fork.
*You can be 40, wear bright pink polka dots, stripes, gold jewelry and flowers in your hair and not be considered gaudy.
*The endearing head bobble. (although it still confuses me “Do you mean yes? Or no? huh??)
*Ice cream stands on every corner.
*Posted rules (such as traffic rules) are more like suggestions. “It would maybe be a good idea if….”
*Appy Fizz. (Fizzy apple juice. Not just for new years.)
*Every little girl is allowed to dress like a princess every day. Even when your 20.
*Sweet green jelly and red onions mixed into chicken and rice.
*India is very much their own country- even the youth don’t seem to be trying very hard to be western. It is refreshing.
*Random kids calling you auntie and wanting to shake your hand.

Please be praying for compassion and creativity for my team. It has been a struggle and a fight to write. We know there are so many more stories to tell in the  next month and we don’t want to grow calloused to it.

“The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! ” – Luke 12:2-3

I believe storytelling is much more then an ancient art around a campfire, or a group of kids in a circle at the library, it is eternally important, it is spiritual warfare. The act of daring to  speak out truth or put it on paper is a brave one, it is lighting a candle where there was only darkness before. In doing this, we bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.

*Names changed.

something on the road, cut me to the soul.

14 Apr

(I don’t have any pictures of the leper colony cause it wasn’t allowed.)

We walked into the barren clinic on the edge of the leprosy colony. A familiar face hung on both sides of the wall, Mother Teresa, a picture of loving the “least of these” we were about to meet. I made my way along the bench in the waiting room, shaking hands and introducing myself to each person waiting for their weekly care. Some hands couldn’t make a grip, as the disease had eaten away at their appendages. A thin man slumped on the floor by the door, the ends of his legs stubs wrapped in thick white bandages. One lady with coarse graying hair and toothy grin motioned for me to pray for her. She said her name was Sandra Mary, like Mary, she pointed out the glassed-in shrine of Jesus sitting on the shelf across from us. Her brown eyes were starting to cloud over blue-gray with cataracts. I didn’t know how much she could see. Maggie and I prayed for her. I felt humbled and outside myself, like I had nothing to give this woman, I was simply a small character in a much bigger story. I also felt a connection in my spirit, and as if my heart were opening really for the first time since I have been in this mad country.

Sandra wanted to try on my sunglasses so I ended up giving them to her. She made the whole clinic laugh, this wrinkled Indian woman, no longer just a leper, but a celebrity with her “movie star” shades covering half her face. It made my day.

It’s funny, I have heard horror stories about leper colonies, or people romanticizing the idea of touching outcasts. Not to downplay it, but It felt a lot more normal then that. Yes, I can’t imagine that being my life day in and day out- going from clinic to clinic, cleaning out wounds, washing feet, cutting away infected and filthy skin, but to the medical team, it was life. It was what they knew they had to do and so they did it- I am sure with days of frustration, apathy, love and everything in between.

The other day we were at a children’s home. The couple that runs the home, the people who we have been staying with, won’t call it an orphanage because once a child is there, they are adopted into a big family. It was so evident visiting these kids are well-loved and not lacking attention. They weren’t waiting for a missions team to come and entertain them to validate their existence- they entertained us. I wandered into the kitchen and met a teenage boy roasting peanuts on a cast iron skillet. He told me he was 15 and had lived in the home since he was five. I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He told me he wanted to be in ministry as he cautiously stirred the peanuts. “Like, you want to be a pastor, or a missionary?” I asked, somewhat naively. He looked slightly confused, “No…here.” I watched as he poured the slightly blackened nuts into a dish and offered me some, white teeth flashing. Here.

It’s a strange and humbling thing, when God takes you half way around the world, to a place famous for being this exotic, “dark” missions field in need of Him, and all you can see is how much they get it and you don’t.

We went the top of a mountain and worship with a church where most of it’s attendees still live on the streets. They fed us heaps of rice under the shade of a tree in the hot of the day.

We are not the celebrities here. People care less about our skin color. They are not dying to be our friend or to take what we have. And it’s the best thing that could happen.

Last night at church I met a woman who had tried to sell her kidney after her husband left her with a debt and she had no other way to take care of her three kids. When someone had told her that was a good idea, she thought maybe it would be better to kill herself because there is no other way out. The debt is only about $500 US. Charlotte and I got to pray over her and encourage her and we could tell something was really breaking through.

I’ve been thinking of this Sara Groves song since I have been here. It runs as a soundtrack in my head often,

“Something on the road
Cut me to the soul.
Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I’m afraid of
And what I know of love.”

I need India more then India needs me.

India gets under your skin.

10 Apr

India gets under your skin slowly. It begins to settle on your exterior like sweat, then permeates into your blood stream, your bones.

Partaking in the madness of traffic is like jumping into the middle of a great choreographed dance, everyone knows their parts and places, but you feel so lost. Buses like galloping pink elephants bombard the spaces of dusty cars, people stacked on mopeds, and bright yellow motor rickshaws. Horns blare in every sort of pitch and tone, a symphony of chaos.

The heavy of smells fill your nostrils- chocking exhaust, sharp curry, pungent sweat, something sour and nauseating. In the midst of the confusion of scents, comes a sweet explosion of Jasmine- an other worldly break from the harsh, burning air. Fresh beauty in the midst of stale filth.

There’s nothing to cover up here. You’ve got to take it or leave it. India lays exposed as a unwanted baby laying on the streets.
Every harsh reality of fallen humanity hits all your senses with full force. The dirt we all come from is not wiped away or sanitized. Every issues is rampant- poverty, disease, abuse, neglect- all the reasons people stop believing in God. But sometimes God has a kid’s face.

The eyes of the street kids speak more then all the sensory details I am attempting to capture here.

Yesterday we visited a slum that is the home of 6,000 people. Ironically, it used to be a zoo. A thin pathway littered in colorful garbage runs parallel to a pond filled with lily pads and trash. A yearly monsoon will overflow the stagnant water into the cramped grass huts people call home. During the flooding, poisonous snakes and disease is inevitable. The people are grateful for the unbearable summer time heat because it means less sickness.

We visited a daycare on the edge of the slum. About ten kids packed into a sweaty concrete room greeted us with songs and some smiles. Some just blankly stared. We learned these kids roam the slum if they aren’t in school. I watched a boy who couldn’t be older then five, pray over his plate of rice with an intensity I haven’t seen in most charismatic preachers. For some, the simple lunch was the only meal they would get that day.

We met a family who showed off their grinning bright eyed baby girl Gracie. The sister asked in broken English for us to pray a blessing over Gracie and for her grandmother’s diabetes. A wrinkled lady beckoned me into her hut. I had to duck inside the midget-sized doorway. Inside various pots and pans covered the dirt floor. She tried to gesture something to me, but I couldn’t figure out what she wanted.

We’ve been here three days. Three days it took Jesus to conquer the grave, what will we do as people who carry his spirit within us? I am realizing, being overwhelmed is never an excuse. It is the greatest cop out. It can never be “Oh, that’s just the way things are.” Who are we if we are not carriers of the kingdom of heaven to earth?

We sat for 2 hours today, listening to the stories of Freddy and Daisy, the couple who runs the orphanage, the daycare, the feeding program. Eighteen years they have been giving to the people of this city, they have offered grace time and time again when kids come into their home only to run away, so many prodigal children. They have fought for their own family as they battle sickness and lack of finances. But God always comes through.

At first, I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me, because I am so used to falling in love with a place instantly. I have felt more reserved here, like I don’t want to fully open my heart to this place because I know it’s going to get ripped to shreds.

I don’t know exactly what will come out of this. But I do know, these stories, they get under your skin slowly. But once they are inside, everything will change.

The wind is calling "India, India, India."

3 Apr

Some things feel familiar before you’ve even experienced them. You see a face in your mind’s eye, blurry, but the feelings are sharp and you just know you are going to love them.

You feel a place in your soul, colorful, dirty, distracting, beautiful, broken and you feel like somehow you have always known it, like it’s a home you’ve been waiting to return to.

Some things are real before they are an actual tangible reality in your life.

Today I am leaving for India for almost two months. I have never been there, nor has any of my team. I am not quite sure what’s going to happen. The last visa came in yesterday. We are still short $983 from what we budgeted. But we are going. Bags are packed, hearts are racing, and God is in all of this.

Our Lovely Team!

Our Lovely Team!

I am not sure who I will be when I return. Hopefully a better version of me. I know my heart is going to burst and break and expand.

I know the faces that have only haunted me in dreams and pictures will become real people in front of me.

A five year old boy rescued after being sold as a sex object for $0.05 a turn, in order for his mom to feed her drug habit.

An “ordinary” couple who single handily take care of 6,000 people in a grass hut slum.

A ragtag team of transvestites and prostitutes that have found Jesus and minister to their brothers and sisters in the red light distract.

A nameless boy tied by his neck to a mango tree so he wouldn’t run away while his parents begged on the streets, taken into the loving care of an orphanage.

These are all real stories of the people in the places we will be.
These are the stories we will tell.

This is eternally important, this act of shouting from the rooftops the extraordinary lives of those who would otherwise be silenced.

Sometimes, people are so real in your heart you know when you meet them it will be like you knew them all along.

(This is eternally important.)

We need prayer to cover us like a mosquito net, protecting us from the stings and diseases of discouragement, darkness, and apathy.

We need creative words, more compassion then we’ve ever had, an ability to see one more dying child and feel helpless only to move one more step because we truly believe what we are doing matters.

(This is eternally important.)

I can’t thank you enough for the way you all have been so involved in this trip. The whole process of preparing has been a journey in itself.

And now, it’s time to go. I want to leave you with a quote by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller.

“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting, and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it?

So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”

Itinerary
April 3
Depart from Dallas 5 pm
Arrive in Chicago at 7 pm
Depart at 8:30 for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
(Who else can say they had Easter in Abu Dhabi??)
Arrive in Chennai, India 4 am Monday
(They are 10 hours ahead)

April 5- April 29 In Chennai (Madras, southeastern India)

April 29- May 19 in Pune (Where the pink tack is on the map- near Bombay)

Update- less then two weeks till India!

22 Mar

It has been so incredible to see how people are jumping on board with the vision of this trip. I have never been on a trip where the donations have been so unexpected. I am amazed. Preparing emotionally, physically, spiritually. Just need $337 now.

Update- One Month till India

4 Mar

In India

16 Feb

In about 7 weeks, I am heading to India for 7 weeks. I am leading a small team from YWAM Resonate. I am so incredibly excited. We are partnering with the ministry Streams of Mercy to work with orphanages to connect with the workers and kids there in order to tell their stories. The needs in India are staggering and can be overwhelming (There are over 25 million orphans) We will use creativity- writing and photography and video, to put a face to the statistics. We will be communicating on behalf of Streams of Mercy to connect the churches in the West with these precious kids.

Check out the video:

Details:
The trip is April 8- May 20. (Approximately, and we are open to people joining us for part of the trip)
We are still looking for more people to join our team- it would be cool if you loved writing, photography or video, but what’s more important is your heart for orphans and missions.

The first few weeks we will be in the Mumbai & Pune area, at 3 orphanages, then taking a train to Pune to go to another 3. The plan is the spend a week per orphanage, work along side the people there, get interviews, stories, and footage.

We each need to raise about $1200 for a plane ticket plus about $1,000 for food, housing and travel once we are there. We are basically doing everything as cheap as we can while still being safe. If you are interested in donating to this trip, you can do it through paypal by clicking the donate button, or
send checks to:

Brooke Luby
India Outreach
PO Box 1380
Lindale, TX
75771

Also, if you haven’t yet purchases my poetry book, you can do so for $7 and half of that will go towards my trip.
https://www.createspace.com/3371465

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27-NLT)

%d bloggers like this: