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Your Child is Missing!

One of the heart stopping moments in life is when you think your child is missing.  You may be in a mall or grocery store and when you turn around your child is missing.  An overwhelming panic grabs you; the worst comes to mind, and your heart races.  It is an awful few seconds that seem like minutes or hours.  But most often, for 99.9% of parents, the child is only an aisle away or around the corner, safe and sound.   When you gain sight-line of your child your panic turns into a beautiful sigh of relief.

However, that isn’t the case for Supna, a young girl I met earlier in the year.  She was only 17 and was sold into sex slavery to pay off a family debt.  After she met with our team she was taken underground because her captors feared we were going to rescue her. They sold her for 30 days at time and made money from her.

Since then we can’t find her!  She is lost!  Rumors of her whereabouts circulate between family and friends, but nobody really knows where or how she is.

There has been recent chatter that she was badly beaten and taken to a local hospital.  No one can say for sure, except that she isn’t safe and she is lost.

I sometimes wonder if she remembers our meeting.  I briefly shared the Lord with her and she prayed with a woman on our team.  I wonder if she is holding onto Jesus as only a child would in the face of such evil.

All I can do now is pray. Father God, your child is missing.  I pray for a day when I will see her again.  I pray she will be alive and able to recover from the human trafficking demons that keep her imprisoned right now.

Will you pray with me for Supna, right now?

Bright Hope is showing a documentary about the plight of human trafficking on Friday, September 14th, 7PM at the Bright Hope Center in Hoffman Estates, IL.  “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.” This hard-hitting documentary exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery. From initial recruitment to victim liberation—and everything in between—the previously veiled underworld of sex slavery is uncovered in this groundbreaking, tell-all documentary.   Let me know if you can join us,

Outdoor Evangelism in Cuba

I received a report that our church partners in Cuba held their first outdoor evangelistic service since the 1950’s with over 10,000 people in attendance. Hundreds of people came forward to receive Christ.  The next day, people brought their idols and smashed them to show their devotion to Christ alone.  We praise God for this report and that Bright Hope’s allies who supported this meeting.

This news was such an encouragement to me.  Cuba has been under pressure and oppression.  Matthew 16:18 comes to mind “… on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.”  God’s mighty hand was upon our church partners.

We are in the last few days of our fiscal year and I’ve seen God display His goodness through so many of our church partnerships, as well as in the lives of our allies.  Please join me in celebrating our answered prayers for the poor and persecuted, and watch as God builds His church and expands our impact over the coming months.

On Saturday we will close our books for the end of the fiscal year.  Please consider a year end gift for the few projects that still need funding.

Bright Hope Link

Graduation: From College and Slum

Zainabu in 2008

You may have walked through Bright Hope’s replica of her slum house located in our warehouse. You may have listened to her testimony or seen her picture on Bright Hope’s website.  You may not remember her by name, but you know her story.

Exactly four years ago on my trip to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, I met a vibrant young girl named Zainabu.  She was an orphaned teenager trying to support her three younger siblings living in the darkness of poverty.  The burden of taking care of her siblings and trying to earn money to survive could have darkened her spirit.  But she had an unshakable hope for her future.

Zainabu had been attending our partner church in Nairobi, Mathare Community Outreach Church.  She was on the dance team and worshipped the Lord through dance.  The pastor of the church spoke highly of this young woman.  He said she had great faith in God and remained pure and focused on trusting God with her future.

When I sat down and spoke with her, I asked her what her dreams were for her life.  She explained the deaths of her parents and the unwavering burden of trying to take care of her siblings.  But then her eyes lit up, and she walked over to a little cabinet in her shack and pulled out a college application – already filled out specifically to major in communications.  “This is my dream,” she told me.

It was then that we began the scholarship program in the Mathare Valley slum.

Night classes were her only option, as she had to still find ways to earn money to feed her siblings.  It took a team of “body guards” to get her home each night, for the alleys of Mathare are not a place any woman should be walking alone.

Four years later, we praise God for the blessings of helping Zainabu to attend college.  We celebrate her today, as she has graduated college with her degree!

The church and friends celebrated by singing “This is the Day That the Lord has Made” and testimonials.  She said this in her speech:

“God is good all the time!  I’m so happy – I don’t know what to say!  I am so grateful to God for this chance that He has brought me.  It’s been a long journey full of challenges, full of ups and downs, but I’m so grateful to God.  I remember when I was so hopeless, even when my parents were alive and couldn’t afford my school.  I had given up hope.  And then the day the pastor came to me and told me I was going to school – I was so surprised!    I remember I got a Bible, a mattress, a blanket, and some pants, and everything I needed to go to school … First to elementary school, then secondary school and finally college …

 Thank you to the Bright Hope organization and all the Bright Hope allies – thank you for all the financial help.  Thank you for seeing me through all of this.  And to every single person who supported me, who contributed to my success, I have to say thank you.”

Zainabu now has a job and is planning to move out from the slum to better place for her brother and two sisters, another graduation of sorts.

If you would like to help other students graduate from trade schools and universities, it costs $40 for a week of trade school.  There are jobs waiting for teachers, accountants and nurses who finish these two year degrees.



Best Poverty Maps and Graphs

Graphical presentations of poverty help us clearly recognize areas of need and help me realize just how blessed I am to be living in a rich nation. Two useful map and graph resources that I find myself referring to frequently are presented below. Add your favorite poverty maps and graphs in the comment section below.

Click on the photo to go to the source website:

From Sex Slave to Bond-Servant

Paul in the opening verses of Romans calls himself a bond-servant of Christ.  In early Biblical time, under Mosaic Law, a man that became indebted by borrowing money became the property of the creditor and had to work for his master until the loan was fully paid.

This financial arrangement gave the creditor great power over the debtor.  Some masters were cruel and evil, mistreating their slaves and taking advantage of people under their control. Others were kind and merciful, asking only for a fair days work in exchange for a portion of the debt to be written off.

In the Jewish tradition, at the end of seven years, a slave was set free.  Freed from his debt he could leave and be free from any bondage.

However, some slaves that were indebted to loving masters did not want to leave.  Their slave owners were caring for their needs and providing safety for the slave’s family.  There was security in knowing their household would not go hungry, and they could stay in a warm house, and their children be clothed.  It was these slaves who at the end of the seven years would choose not to leave their master but to become a permanent slave to their master, by choice, a bondservant.

A new bond-slave would go to the tabernacle and a priest would mark the ear of a servant with a hole to signify the willing servant has become a bond-slave to his master forever.  It was a mark that revealed the character of the owner.

As I think about my own life, I rarely think of myself as a bond-slave and I think this is unfortunate because I have made a choice too.

I have found a Master who is all loving, who accepts me, is patient with my flaws and shortcomings, and who blesses me beyond what I deserve.  He has paid my sin debt and set me free.  I in turn have chosen to return to my Master and become His bond-slave.  There is no marking on my body to identify me as His, but my heart has been branded by His crown of thorns and His cross.

As I consider the work Bright Hope is doing to help young women out of sex slavery, the reality of there being modern day, evil slave owners is undeniable.  They force their female slaves into prostitution, get them high on drugs, and destroy their lives.  It sickens me because I know there is another Master who loves, who blesses, who washes away wounds and brings healing, abundant life and eternal salvation.

I often think we are setting these young women free with Biblical counseling and economic independence.  But in reality I am hoping they come to know my Master well enough to experience freedom from sin and make the choice not to leave Him but to join me in becoming a willing bond-slave.

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