Did You Get What You Wanted for Christmas?

Present

Present (Photo credit: ejorpin)

All I wanted for Christmas this year was to stop doing nothing about the condition of the world, to be more like Jesus in the exact way he calls his followers to be – light.

After calling himself the light of the world, Jesus passed the mantle. WE are now the light of the world and WE are meant to shine like a city on a hill. It’s so simple, but I have sipped countless lattes with my smart, beautiful friends discussing hunger and poverty and slavery and AIDS, fixing our hopes on some opaque redemptive body and wringing our hands.

But Jesus Christ did not ruminate over why the Jewish mental health system failed the demon-possessed man. He just stopped what he was doing and healed him.

So a month ago, I began raising money for The Exodus Road, a coalition of covert investigators rescuing child sex slaves out of SE Asian brothels.

By Christmas day, 18 people, from my parents, to friends, to complete strangers had contributed $1000 of our $1400 goal. That means all of us are engaging the problem of sexual slavery, not just talking about it. We are advancing an army of light, which the darkness cannot suffer. We have done as Proverbs 31:8 says:

Open your mouth for the dumb, for the cause of all who are left desolate.

And yet many people still gaze at all the sticky, black tar fouling the earth and say, “It’s too big, too dark. God can’t possibly be here.”

But He is and here’s how I know:

Careful readers will note we fell short of our $1400 goal. I did the best I could by my deadline and handed the rest over to God.

Yesterday, a couple I don’t know in Minnesota donated the last $400 – our biggest single donation.

candles

candles (Photo credit: rogerglenn)

They gave on behalf of Urban Servant, a blog written by my childhood friend Dorothy, who has adopted nine of her eleven children, many of whom were damaged in utero by booze. If there were no Dorothy, there would be nine more needy, little people dropping through the system like metal balls in a game of mousetrap.

But there is a Dorothy and she is a beacon. This woman has 13 mouths to feed thrice daily, yet she made time to blog about us in such a compelling way, people I don’t know made a sizable gift in her name.

This is how God works. After we agree to serve Him, He uses us like melodies in other people’s songs.

When we get less selfish with our time, our money and our hands, when we accept that we don’t know what we’re doing and may mess things up, when we engage one another in sometimes slow and inefficient ways, that’s when the light shines through us and people can see it. Then the world is a little less dark.

I’m grateful for all of you. Happy New Year.

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Five Ways You Can Feel Better Fast.

I sat in the drive-thru at McDonald’s yesterday, hoping an order of hot, salty fries would make me feel better about Sandy Hook.

Photo Credit: wikipedia

I’d already tried three Ferrero Roche chocolate balls, prosciutto and Havarti on crackers, grapes, cookies, a glass of wine, and mining my RSS feeds to ease my agitated crankiness.

As I pulled up to the window this popped into my head:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

I had been looking to other limited, sad, confused and clueless humans to explain the unexplainable, and stuffing my face. Neither were working. But how do I square the need to decorate my cute little Christmas tree and shop for knick-knacks when a bunch of families in Connecticut are now indelibly marked with grief? The Apostle Paul says, strike a blow right here in Texas.

“I’d like to pay for the car behind me,” I told the girl working the register. I’d heard of people doing that before, but I’d never done it myself.

“It’s like nine dollars and there’s a happy meal, is that ok?” she said.

“Oh yah, I don’t care. I just want you to tell them a stranger said Merry Christmas.”

“You don’t know them?”

“No.”

The girl smiled widely.

See! Paul was right, that silly, little act of kindness absolutely did make me feel better. It also made the McDonalds worker smile and I wonder if some kid eating a happy meal felt better about the world too. That’s at least four people. It’s so simple and sometimes it even makes the news.

So are you feeling flat, bleak and defeated? Here are five ideas for overcoming evil with good:

christmas tree

(Photo credit: peminumkopi)

1. When you drive thru this week (and you know you will) pay for the person behind you. Say something kind to pass along to them. Watch it infect the person taking your order too.

2. When purchasing something at the mall, tell the cashier she has beautiful hair, skin, smile or that she is fast and good at her job. Christmas is brutal on retail workers. Making them feel good is free.

3. Buy a handful of $10 grocery gift cards and when you get panhandled, give one; then look them in the eyes and tell them their lives matter.

4. Donate $20 to a charity you care about. Oh you can’t think of one? How about The Exodus Road a coalition of investigators kicking in brothel doors in SE Asia. How about the LA Dream Center, which is running the nation’s largest recovery center for victims of human trafficking.¬† Here’s a place to donate to Sandy Hook families.

5. Pick up your bible. Yep. We need to reflect on the big picture asap. Our nation and our world is getting sicker and sicker, but it is not unprecedented – read I and II Samuel. The Bible says the answer is to change our minds, and look to God for guidance and salvation. When I look to my friends or myself, I just get confused. When I practice what Jesus said, I get smiles in the drive thru.

Here’s to a Merrier Christmas my friends.

How You Can Fight Sex Traffickers – Right Now.

Did you know the average cost of a human slave in 1809 (adjusted for current inflation) was $40,000? Today, it’s $90.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world now, more than at any other time in human history, and every sixty seconds a child is sold for sex worldwide. I know this is freaking you out. But if you’re like me, you’re stymied by how to respond effectively.

Good News! I have a way.

Today I partnered with The Exodus Road, a Christian non-profit doing counter trafficking work in SE Asia. Last week they put out a call to bloggers to not only help them raise money in a tech-savvy way, but to keep this boiling injustice front and center, where it belongs.

Here’s why I like Exodus Road:

They believe there are three main tasks at hand. Prevention. Prosecution and Restoration. Fewer people were tackling prosecution of human traffickers, so they dug in there. They partner with teams of investigators and local law enforcement to conduct under-cover surveillance and raids on brothels, bars and theaters where children, sometimes as young as seven, are sold for sex.

“By decreasing the profitability of the trafficking industry for the criminal, we will eventually slow the mechanisms that make the exploitation of women and children so lucrative.” -Exodus Road.

Here’s The Plan:

Equipping their investigators for one raid, with cameras, GPS etc. costs Exodus Road $1400. I’m thinking three raids or more!

So, until Christmas, (22 days from now) I am going to fundraise for them and write about it. This is my way of putting my money where my mouth is on this blog. I talk about sexual slavery and justice and the love of Christ all the time, but it requires action. Will you join me? The donate box will take you to their secure, non-profit funding site (here’s their guidestar report) where you can use a credit card. It also tracks our progress as a team. But wait….It gets better.Online fundraising for Erin Kirk fundraising for The Exodus Road

Exodus Road plans take two of their bloggers to SE Asia in January to see their operation firsthand. They’ll take one blogger who raises the most money and one who engages the most donors. Don’t you think that should be me? I do.

Not only that, each raid we fund will be our own. I will be able to talk to the people involved about our case (within reason) and its outcomes and report it back to you. That way you don’t feel like your donation goes into some mysterious charity maw. This is boots on the ground work, using the amazing tools available to us on the internet.

My God we live in incredible times. Will you help me? Donate. Reblog this. Post it to Facebook and Twitter. Let’s go ruin some dirtbags together!

Open your mouth for the dumb, for the cause of all who are left desolate. Proverbs 31:9