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Concert for the Cause – Price of Life is Coming next week.

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Just getting a post out about Price of Life, the social justice awareness campaign just about to kick off next week here in Omaha!  Be sure to pop by the web-site and check out the events coming at us, especially the big finale concert at the end of the week with Propaganda and Remedy Drive.

http://priceoflifeomaha.com/

Also if you’re around CCC on Sundays you can swing by the Price of Life booth in the Atrium, buy a T-Shirt and get some concert tickets!  We’re 13 days out from the concert and pushing hard to get the word out in our community.

Below is a post you’ll find on the POL website – we call the blog “The Traffick Report”.  I was thinking this week about some of how Price of Life has grown on me.  This is my first ever Social Justice Campaign.  It’s been quite a process.  This post is about some of what I’ve been learning.

08-24-14  What’s it mean to take a cause seriously?  Five Things I’ve dicovered.

About a year ago my adventure into learning about the world of human trafficking was just taking off.  It started as a work related assignment:  “Find out everything you can about trafficking.  Help us know what to think of it and how we can respond.”

I researched everything I could about what was going on in my community.  I met all kinds of people working on the problems.  Was pretty sickened to see what is being spent on pornography and can only imagine the damage being done through its every manifestation.  Read books.  Met people.  Met perpetrators.  Met victims.  Met social workers and academicians.  Searched my own soul pretty deep and long looking for any trace of my contribution to the mess.

In this post, let me venture a top 5 list of things I think will keep your soul in the fight over time.  Friends of mine out there nearer to the fight can add to this I’m sure, but here’s a start.

1-      Find a FOUNDATION for your outrage.  If you can’t count on something bigger than your personal disgust toward the abuse you see, you’ll just cave in and stop fighting.  We all have a certain instinct that making sex a commodity and enslaving people in the process is wrong.  But have you ever stopped and accounted for exactly why it’s wrong?  Until your world view delivers a solid answer for the existence of radical evil, you better keep questioning it.  The scale of what is happening to our children will merely wear you down and numb you up till you have very little left to fight with.  I’ve found my core conviction on this.  Hope you are finding yours as well.

2-      Keep LEARNING, never make peace with ignorance.  Intellectual sloth and intellectual arrogance suffer from the same cancer – it’s the attitude that “I don’t need to know”.  The awareness initiative I have been leading in my community for over a year now has been largely educational at its cutting edge.  Action is incredibly vital.  But action without context is presumption.  Context is what allows you to actually have a cause to engage instead of just being busy with actions you don’t really believe in.  Price of Life is an awareness campaign largely because awareness is what makes action effective.  Attend as many of the community events we have in the schedule during the September campaign. http://priceoflifeomaha.com/be-a-voice Check out the many ways in which we’re speaking to the issues.  Find what connects with what’s important with you.  Let yourself be stretched!

3-      Develop COMPASSION Permanence.  An author and justice champion I’ve come to love during the Price of Life initiative is Gary Haugen.  He’s the president of the International Justice Mission.  He compares Compassion Permanence in advocacy work to Object Permanence with children.  Really young toddlers at some point develop the ability to remember where things are that are out of their immediate eye-sight. “ Compassion Permanence is a courageous and generous capacity to remember the needs of an unjust world even when they are out of our immediate sight.  God calls us to a grown-up capacity to engage a world of oppression with our heart and mind, even though it is not always before our eyes. ‘     Gary Haugen  – Good News About Injustice p. 52

4-      Go and DO Likewise.  Action needs context in order to really transform.  Knowledge must lead to action or else evil isn’t stopped, healing begun and justice served.  When Jesus was asked about the one who really proved himself to be a neighbor in the case of the good Samaritan, he capped off the teachable moment by telling the young lawyer “Go and DO likewise.”   We often make a hero out of the good Samaritan.  But Jesus was making the most basic point possible.  The Samaritan wasn’t above and beyond – heroic in his efforts.  He was simply effective.  He actually did what needed to be done (where the others just walked on by with their excuses for why they couldn’t engage the cause.  A pet issue turns into a cause when you’re willing to act – when you’re willing to meet the actual needs at hand.  This is why Price of Life seeks to showcase the efforts of groups like IJM and Rejuvenating Women and New Hope Life Center for Women and Lutheran Family Services (see the rest of the campaign Affiliates).  We want to connect impassioned activists with people doing the most direct good in our community and around the world.

5-      Get your COURAGE on.  Seeking to abolish the modern-day scourge of sex trafficking and all its tributaries will take more than good intentions, volunteerism and reading the reading the right books and websites.  One of my favorite authors defines courage this way:  “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.  Honesty or mercy that yields to danger is conditional.  Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”        C. S. Lewis  -Screwtape Letters

So let’s do this Price of Life thing.  But only take this on as a cause if you’re sure you’ve got what it takes to keep moving ahead.  As me and my teammates have planned for Price of Life for months now, we’re thinking – “Hey, the event is almost here.  One final push and we’ll be there.”  But it’s about a cause, not an event.  The cause will still be there.  Hope you can join.

We can always fight injustice without Jesus…

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But we’ll never win.”  York Moore addressing a room of city leaders and ministry directors challenged us to consider a collaborative approach to social justice needs in our own community.  Of course we can do good in our community in isolation.  Each interest group can bring its best shot to resolving troubling conditions like sex trafficking.  But two problems could block our approach.  If the church simply tries to use its spiritual tooling to address the needs on our own, it will find aspects of the problem that mere spiritual causes don’t account for.  Legal solutions need to be found.  The educational community needs to be engaged.  Law enforcement must lend a fair and strong hand of leadership.  But to assume that secular approaches in sum will bring justice in total is shortsighted.  There is a spiritual root to the demand for people as sexual commodities.

Check out the website for Price of Life Omaha at this link:

http://priceoflifeomaha.com/

York Moore is here in Omaha this week meeting with groups concerned about human trafficking.  The aim is to help firm up the collaboration of groups sponsoring and helping pull off Price of Life.  If you’re curious about who Price of Life is attempting to team up with here are a couple of lists you’ll want to see.  Look for them on our forthcoming collaboration page on the Price of Life website:

Collaborative Affiliates. 

These are groups who’ve helped with the effort to create awareness about trafficking and help ready people in our community for the September campaign.  It’s not an exhaustive list at this point – rather a representation of organizations that have been helpful in the POL effort so far:

  • Lutheran Family Services
  • Nebraska Family Alliance
  • Project Harmony
  • New Hope Life Center for Women
  • She is Loved  (Strip Church Omaha)
  • International Justice Mission

Sponsors.

These are the groups actively teaming up to bring Price of Life to the Omaha metro in September.  Christ Community and InterVarsity are taking the lead.  Others are joining in as we are firming up events that going to happen during the campaign.  Keep an eye on the webpage for the complete list of events including the culminating concert event on Sept 6th at the Sokol arena at Creighton University.  These are the groups currently sponsoring and hosting Price of Life events:

  • Christ Community Church
  • Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship
  • 8:08 College Community
  • Salem Baptist Church
  • Brookside Church
  • West Hills Presbyterian Church
  • 402 Arts Collective
  • Heartland House of Prayer
  • Embrace the Heartland
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center Grand Rounds Lecture

Stay informed via the blog – more groups will be added as sponsored events are firmed up.  If you or your group are curious about sponsoring an event, contact Price of Life Director:

Tim Perry

timp@cccomaha.org

off: 402.938.1505

cell: 402.709.7911

Geography-loving, slavery-hating, Nebraska Mom

Staff Blogger Lisa Ashton – Associate Director of Spiritual Discovery

buller-rebecca-portrait

“In elementary school I remember learning about the African slave trade and thinking, “If I would have lived during that time, I definitely would have been an abolitionist.” Never did I imagine that, as an adult and in the United States no less, I would need to be one.”

Meet, Dr. Rebecca Buller, one of our presenters in our next Traffick School, coming May 30-31 at CCC.  She is a professor at UNL, wife and mother of two kids, loves Jesus, and is a self-proclaimed chapstickaholic.

Education: PhD – University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Geography (2009)

What classes do you teach at UNL? Human Trafficking in Nebraska and the Great Plains, Introduction to Human Geography, Elements of Physical Geography, Women of the Great Plains, Geography of Nebraska,

What are some of your hobbies/interests? Spending time with friends and family, being outside, outdoor recreation, traveling, camping, fishing, hiking, listening to music, anything Geography, reading, watching movies…

Could you tell us a little bit about your faith story?   I remember, as a child, always loving God and the Lord.  It wasn’t until early undergraduate days, however, that I became confident in the assurance of salvation.  That was when my high school sweetheart, my husband now of 12 years, shared with me a simple, but life-changing truth– that to be assured of salvation, all I needed to do was trust in Jesus as my savior.  What glorious freedom and love.

What has God been teaching you in your journey of fighting human trafficking? Many things–that no matter how much we may hate the atrocity, He hates it immeasurably more. As humans we are fickle and can look away, being “angels with apathy.” All people involved in trafficking– victims, pimps, and customers included– are His children. How His heart must break; He will never turn his back on them even though we might. It also reminds me that, no matter how insignificant we think our contributions might be, we must be steadfast in being His hands and feet in reflecting His love to others.

What is one specific thing that needs to happen to decrease human trafficking in Nebraska? Increase awareness about victims and perpetrators…people want to keep their heads in the sand and believe it only happens elsewhere and not here.

There you have it.  A geography-loving, slavery-hating, Nebraska mom, who is using her platform as a professor at UNL to help end human trafficking.

 

If you haven’t registered for Traffick School, do it today at www.priceoflifeomaha.com.

 

Human Trafficking in America – 5 year snapshot.

polaris 5 year report

Just finished skimming through the Polaris Project 5 Year report on Human Trafficking in America.   At a glance I can highly recommend tracking down the report and reading it yourself.  Here’s where you can find a link to the complete document in PDF format:

NHTRC Five Year Report on Human Trafficking Trends

The trafficking hotline number so familiar to anyone aware of the Polaris Project, has been in existence since 2007.  As with any hotline number, it takes a while for the number to get out there and become visible enough to actually be useful.  Five years into its use, Polaris now can give us an emerging picture of Trafficking in the United States that is beginning to say something significant to us.

The executive summary at the very top of the report will give you a sobering snapshot.  Here are a few fast facts – I recommend you looking it up yourself so you understand the numbers better:

49,301

The number of calls to the hotline 1-888-373-7888 in the first five years of the number’s circulation.  That’s over 800 calls a month.  That’s also a number that has gained momentum as awareness has increased.

9,298

The number of unique cases of Human Trafficking identified among the total call-in volume of the hotline.

5,932

Of the total trafficking cases identified, 64% were Sex Trafficking Cases.

85%

Of the Sex Trafficking cases involved women and girls, the remainder involving male and transgendered individuals.

location of cases

The 46 page report is thorough!  You’ll get an education in the terminology of trafficking if you take the time to read the report.  I downloaded it to my trusty i-Pad and plan on reading it this week as I exercise.  Some the highpoints include a breakdown between Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking, Child Trafficking, the growth and awareness of the hotline number and a few helpful glossaries and appendices.  Give it a read soon!

breakdown of cases

 

Save the Date:

Theresa Flores is SOAPing the town for CWS.  Sunday, June 8th at Christ Community Theresa will bring her team to Omaha looking for volunteers to deliver free soap to the hotels in town. Can you guess what’s on the back of those itty bitty bars of soap?

 

You guessed it!  The NHRTC hotline number:  1-888-373-7888.  More on that in my next post.

Me? A Mandatory Reporter?

Staff Blogger Lisa Ashton – Associate Director of Spiritual Discovery

Nick Zadina - Gathering

1 – A seven-year-old goes to school and tells the teacher that her mother spanked her so hard the night before that she has bruises on her bottom. The teacher watches her closely throughout the day and notices that she does not seem to have a problem sitting and does not seem afraid to go home. Should the teacher report it?

2- You are walking into the mall and notice a woman standing in the parking lot yelling at a little girl who appears to be about 5.  The woman has a loud voice and you overhear, “How can you be so stupid?!  You’ve always been an idiot – you’re driving me crazy.  Just wait until we get home…” Would you report it?

3- A 15-year-old adolescent discloses to her therapist that she was sexually molested by her uncle when she was 12 years old. The therapist is the first person she has told.  She believes if her parents find out, it could cause a split in the family. She and her family do not live in the same town as the uncle.  She has not seen him since she was 13. Since the abuse occurred three years ago and there is no further contact between the child and her uncle.   Should the therapist report it?

How should you respond?

I know when I first read them, I wanted to ask some clarifying questions.  I wanted more information.  However, what I learned last weekend settled the issue for me.  Did you know that in the state of Nebraska, every adult who has a reasonable suspicion of child abuse is required by law to report it? That makes me a mandatory reporter!    This means that when it comes to child abuse, my job is to report, not investigate.  Not all states carry this law, including Iowa, but it is a law in Nebraska.

This is one thing I learned at CCC’s Gathering this last Friday.  We had the privilege of hearing from Nick Zadina, training specialist for Project Harmony.  Project Harmony is a local child advocacy center whose mission is to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect. Nick did a fantastic job of explaining the need for child advocacy centers.  He said his passion is to help people do a better job at protecting our kids.

I wonder how much safer our community  would become for children if every adult was committed to reporting  suspected child abuse.  I wonder how reporting child abuse today could affect the number of men and women involved in prostitution or trafficking in the future.

I’m praying today for Project Harmony.  I’m remembering our teachers, who receive more disclosures of child abuse than any other profession.   I’m asking God to help me do my part in reporting any instances of child abuse that I may suspect.  And for the hurting, at-risk kids in our city, I’m asking Jesus to show them his loving care.

Let’s Kick Slavery in the Face!

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Had some interesting insights into anti-trafficking efforts yesterday as I was watching 4th Degree Black  Belt Sensei, Derek Stewart instruct some kids on basic Jiu-Jitsu.  Campus Pastor Elvin Tores is setting up free lessons at a few Martial Arts schools in the Bellevue area.  People attending get a free lesson in Martial Arts.  In exchange we take a few minutes to talk about modern day slavery in the form of Human Trafficking.

“Martial Arts isn’t about learning a bunch of cool moves you can go beat up people with.  It’s about discipline.  It’s about self-defense.  It’s about knowing the signs of danger and knowing how to get yourself free.”  Sounds a lot like what we’re trying to promote with Price of Life, Christ Community’s anti-sex trafficking campaign.  Just like protecting yourself with the skills and disciplines of Martial Arts, we need to learn how to protect our communities from the dangers of the modern day slave trade and it’s connection to the sex industry in our community.

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What are some points of self-defense in the fight against Human Trafficking?  I was impressed with how simple many of the moves Sensei Derek was teaching kids yesterday.  There was an elegance to it I admit I wish I had the discipline to learn.  But it got me thinking.   What are some of the simplest ways to fight trafficking?  Let’s just start there as a way of protecting our community.   You might be surprised at how many of these you are well capable of right now!

1. Open your eyes and ears!  Learn to look at what is happening around you every day as you go to school, shop, head to work, head out the door to run errands or play.  Learn to be more observant.  Individuals who may be in trouble are often hidden in plane sight!  Take the time to look for what looks out of place!

2. Protect yourself and those you love.  A couple of weeks ago we viewed a documentary that showed a clip of how predators look for kids at malls who are unattached, drifting, not a part of a safe connection with others.  Make sure you and your family don’t put yourselves in dangerous situations in highly public places like malls and movie theaters.

3. Report suspicious looking happenings.  Let people who are trained in investigation and law enforcement do their job.  Call the national trafficking hotline number.

4. Inform your mind.  Read books.  Subscribe to websites like Polaris Project.  Talk with others about what you’re learning.  An informed community is a safer community.

5. Reach out.  Make friends with people.  Connect.  Look for people in your sphere who just need the loving touch of simple friendship.  Keeping others connected will help keep them safe!

6. Pray and let God lead your efforts!  Keep in touch with our Trafficking Initiative through the Price of Life web-site.  Stay informed and involved in what Christ Community is doing!

One last thing you can be thinking about this weekend.  Head over to the Student Center this weekend to catch the story about a trafficking victim who landed in the care of a Christ Community Family.  We’ll also be interviewing Gene Klein, Director Project Harmony.  Come check it out Friday, April 11th at 7:00pm.

 

Anti-Trafficking Legislation you can help bring about!

amanda mcgill legislation

 

Wanted to call your attention in this week’s Traffick Report to a current opportunity to make a difference.  Senator Amanda McGill as you may well know is an advocate for Anti-Trafficking in Nebraska.  Check out this link to recent bills that are up for Judiciary Committee hearings THIS WEEK.  In my next post, I’ll forward you some tips for writing your senator in support of these measures.  You might want to view this post to help get informed.  Here’s a link and a few summary points:

http://journalstar.com/legislature/mcgill-wants-to-build-on-human-trafficking-legislation/article_4dd3687d-2ee2-52b6-b5db-7c797200411a.html

  • State Senator Amanda McGill is proposing LB 934 which would create a new position for a Coordinator of Human Trafficking Prevention.
  • The job will be connected to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.
  • McGill is also proposing LB 933 which will spell out the details of coercion and trafficking to include more recent tactics being used by perpetrators.
  • Both bills are will be reviewed at a hearing this Thursday, Jan 30th.

In my next post, I’ll give you some details on how best to act on this opportunity.  Meanwhile get yourself informed.  Get yourself in prayer!  This is a great opportunity to come alongside those like Amanda McGill whom God has placed in such an influential position.

National Trafficking Prevention Month – January!

national trafficking awareness month

 

Don’t have a lot of time on my hands here this morning, but wanted to get a quick post out there with a Facebook page you might want to check out.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Slavery-and-Human-Trafficking-Prevention-Month/338094659553389

One post you’ll find there that caught my attention is called 10 Sad Facts About Trafficking.  Here’s a link that will take you there. Below I list a few of the 10 that struck me as I read the list.

http://www.bidnessetc.com/entertainment/10-sad-facts-about-human-trafficking/

1. In less than 5 years, human trafficking is predicted to surpass the drug trade. If you know how big the drug trade is, you can know how terrible this statistic is.

2. At this point, there are more human slaves in the world than there have ever been.

3. Convicted trafficker, Ludwig ‘Tarzan’ Fainberg explains how they profit: “You can buy a woman for $10,000 and make your money back in a week if she is pretty and young. Then everything else is profit.”

5. The Taliban buy children as young as seven to train them as suicide bombers. According to the Washington Post, the price for these children is between $7000 – 14000 US.

7. Often, family members sell their children and other kin into slavery. The younger the subject, the more its value.

10. If sex slaves are arrested, they are imprisoned while their traffickers are able to buy their way out of trouble. Justice is blind, after all.

But how do I know what to look for? Traffick Report

polaris project

Let me introduce you to a very helpful website in connection with Trafficking if you haven’t already discovered it.  Polaris Project is an awareness and education clearing house of incredibly helpful information.  For this week’s Traffick Report, I’m directing you to a great article on how to recognize the signs of trafficking.  Hop on this link and it will take you there directly:

http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-the-signs

If you see any of the following signs, consider them red flags, but also consider them grounds for action!  Generously plastered over the Polaris sight is the national Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline number for reporting potential abuse.

1-888-3737-888

Recognizing the Signs

The above blog post mentions several categories of things to be attentive to.

  1. Pay attention to the working conditions of people who are trapped.  Examples cited include, underage workers providing sexual services, the relationship between the worker and the “manager” (a pimp), this person is denied very basic on the job considerations like breaks, fair pay, etc.
  2. Poor mental health or abnormal behavior.  Fear, depression, avoids eye contact.
  3. Poor physical health – lacks health care, eating disorders, signs of abuse or even torture.
  4. Lack of personal control over money, schedule, or not allowed to freely communicate with friends and family.

Most people think they will never see a trafficking victim because these kinds of things just aren’t all that prevalent or obvious.  Bear in mind that’s exactly what those who are benefiting from trafficking are happy for an ignorant, disengaged public to think.  Recognizing the signs of abuse and knowing what to do when you see them will make us much more aware and dangerous to the perpetrators.  Don’t play it safe.  Don’t stay ignorant.  Don’t stay uninvolved.  Keep your eyes wide open in your community and have the courage to make the call!

Is it really THAT big of a deal?

(Guest blogger – Lisa Ashton, Assistant Director of Spiritual Discovery)

memorial stadium

One Memorial Stadium full?  Yes.  Two Memorial Stadiums full?  Possibly.  Hard to believe, but, it’s true.  The stadium holds 81,067.  Pack out the house plus tens of thousands more and what do you get?  An idea of how many American children a year who are victims of trafficking.  According to the documentary, Sex and Money, 100,000 kids a year are slaves to the sex trade…right here in America. Oh and by the way, that number is playing it conservative.  We’ve all seen aerial views of a sold out arena.  Imagine it being filled with the amount of kids who are being forced into commercial sex acts every year. Memorial Stadium couldn’t hold them all.

Dallas: ~200-300 children a month.

Atlanta: ~300 children a month.

It’s happening all over the country…big cities…suburbs…small towns. Everywhere.

What I learned in this documentary was appalling.  I recommend it with a HIGH degree of caution.  There were moments when I cheered for the bravery of those who are fighting this issue and then other moments when I was flat out disgusted with the human race.  God, how can you watch all of this?  Owners of child porn sites…and the thousands upon thousands of people who subscribe.  Pimps who rob prostitutes of their self-worth and dignity.  Porn stars who believe that life in the sex industry is a good life.  People who argue for the legalization of prostitution.  Stories of trafficked girls who are beaten and brain washed.  Human value being attached to a price tag for sex.

Since this documentary was a secular film there was no mention of Jesus.  Sure there were many redeeming qualities.  But, there was no sure guarantee of hope and victory in the end. No promise that one day all this evil will be wiped out and complete healing will come.  I turned off the film and sat with Jesus for a moment in the silence.  Ok God, can you remind me of the Good News in the midst of this junk? And he did.

Today as I will spend some time in prayer over this issue I will be praying for the children right here in our country who are being prostituted.  Teens who have no parents to come looking for them.  Girls who think their pimps really love them.  I’m going to pray for places like www.streetlightusa.com  that are providing a bed for trafficked victims.  And I’m going to pray that today, some sex slave right here in Omaha, can go free.

You can check out the film at this link:

www.sexandmoneyfilm.com

Also just quick reminder about the upcoming Gathering event this weekend – Friday, Nov 8th at 7:00 PM in the Student Center at the Old Mill Campus. We’ll be watching part of another documentary called Half the Sky and we’ll meet the director of a local restoration home for women.  Here’s the link to the Gathering Facebook page if you want more details.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CCCs-Gathering/138119792919267?ref=hl