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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

So why didn’t God ever completely outlaw Slavery in the Bible?

Week 08 Slavery

The most obvious answer to this week’s UNCONVINCED question is that Yahweh didn’t really HAVE to condemn slavery.  Didn’t he say enough about slavery by delivering the Israelites from 430 years of oppression in Egypt?

But it still comes up in conversations from time to time.  If God could give what ever laws and statutes he desired, why not be completely clear about it?  “No slavery of any kind, People!”  Why leave it so open to interpretation?  It’s fairly common knowledge that Christian slave owners in the antebellum south often quoted the apostle Paul in their justifications for slavery:

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Eph 6:5 NIV)

Turns out there are good reasons why God did it this way – in Moses’ day.  We’ll explore those this week when we meet.  Maybe you’ll find it convincing, maybe we’ll leave you unconvinced.  Come on out and let me give it my best shot!

Click here for this sessions notes:  Week 8 resource sheet

UNCONVINCED meets weekly in the Atrium at Christ Community Church at 10:45.

Exodus for the Unconvinced – starts this Sunday

unconvinced logo 2

Exodus for the Unconvinced:
– a conversational venue for those questioning faith in God

Meets weekly beginning Sunday, Jan 11th at Christ Community Church – Old Mill
10:45 am in the Atrium

Many people are drawn to the faith community because of its spiritual vitality and the way the church pursues the mission of Jesus in the world.
But many who attend bring honest doubts about faith and the Bible. Many wrestle with the image of God we find in the pages of the Old Testament. If God is so loving and all-powerful, why did he leave his chosen people in slavery for so many generations? God supposedly worked miracles in bible times – why don’t we see him doing that today?

Unconvinced is a space and place for those with big questions they hesitate to ask. During Christ Community’s whole Church adventure through Exodus, Unconvinced will meet each week right out in the Atrium near the main entrance.

Weekly format:
– Introduction to the question of the week
– Exploring perspectives and possible answers
– Discussion and Q/A with Tim Perry, pastor of Spiritual Discovery at Christ Community

Look for us along the left side wall of the Atrium (as you face the Worship Center).  Come grab a coffee and a chair as we look at this week’s question:


PDF version of resource sheet for this week’s discussion click here:  Week 1 Handout


We can always fight injustice without Jesus…

video shoot banner

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:

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


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

off: 402.938.1505

cell: 402.709.7911

Between a dream and a nightmare.


Social Justice can be thought of as a vision of the world where all broken things are put right.  In a word, social justice can be summed up in an ancient Jewish longing called Shalom.  Shalom is what people experience when all things are put back in place – made right once again.  Relationships reconciled.  Hurts healed.  Peace instead of tension.  When you look at our world today, you have to strain pretty hard to find shalom in large quantities.  There’s a veritable famine of longing for real shalom in the broken world we live in.

Come meet Price of Life founder York Moore – Town Hall Vision Cast:  Monday, June 16 at 7:00pm  Salem Baptist Church

If you’re not convinced that the greatest  longing of our world today is for shalom-bearing, social justice, it might mean you’ve not been watching much news lately.  It might mean you keep company with very few hurting people.  Yet it could mean you’re so convinced of it you’re actually numb to it!

So how do we snap out of the fog?  What does it take to create a critical mass of shalom-hungry people who’ll  no longer tolerate injustice?   Price of Life is a social justice campaign –  a push to shed light on our world’s glaring lack of shalom.  A drive to see justice done in the face of our community’s struggle with sexual brokenness.    Author and Social Justice activist York Moore puts it this way:

“We see the nightmare of our world in the oppression of the weak and marginalized, in the exploitation of natural resources, in crippling diseases and poverty.  It lives in brothels where young girls are a commodity, in the brick kilns where children waste away  and in the lost hope of child soldiers.  The world we live in is caught between two worlds.  A dream and a nightmare.”

-Making All Thinks New:  God’s Dream for Global Justice

Price of Life is an opportunity to discover others on the path of bringing shalom to our community.  During the week following Labor Day you’ll be invited to participate in a wide variety events that will create awareness and help people engage the needs right here in the Omaha metro.  In preparation for September, you are invited to come meet York Moore next week.   York is a champion of shalom-bearing justice.  He’s the architect of social justice invitational events known as Price of Life.

Come get a taste of York’s vision and passion.  Find out how you can get involved in Price of Life.   For more info on York, visit his website at the link above.



Traffick Report

back page ads for escorts in omaha

What follows below are excerpts from an interview conducted by the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force with the owners of two different escort agencies in Lincoln Nebraska.  Escort agencies are of interest in the issue of trafficking because of their connection with prostitution.   The complete interview is found in the full report of the Task Force available at this link:

Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force – July 2013 Report

We don’t think of trafficking as a problem that’s all that visible in our community.  But every time you hear of an escort service or a spa or a massage parlor – consider that prostitution and trafficking are not far away.  By the way what’s with the map?  That’s a six month snap-shot of where on-line ads for escort services showed up in the Omaha metro.  Looks like a lot of traffick to me!

So if you interview the owners of those services, what’s the picture look like?  See for yourself!  Wow…let’s be in prayer and let’s be engaged in our community to know what is happening and not be afraid to report what we see to the authorities.

Appendix F: Questionnaire of Lincoln Escort Services

(Feb 2013 – The interview is recorded with their exact comments. Also, we interviewed with the understanding we were researchers not criminal investigators.)

1. How did you get involved with the sex trade?

Grew up around it…. Not from family members but from friends and peers doing it.

2. What is your best estimate of how many women are involved in the sex trade in Lincoln, also Omaha?

A lot more than you would think… In Lincoln 200 to 300 ladies in a 3year time span, probably closer to 300. You have females from age 15 to 40.  College students and girls from low-income neighborhoods. A few women from Omaha but we tried to stay away from Omaha because it is much more dangerous. We would TRIPLE the number of women that are involved in Omaha, but it could be more than that.

3. What is your best estimate of how many minors are involved in the sex trade in Lincoln? In Omaha?

The one escort owner was 15 when she was first approached to go have sex for money by a pimp. In Lincoln, the escorting agencies are pretty good about not hiring minors…. It is the “street” pimps that don’t care how old you are… in Lincoln we do have these…. I would guess in a given year at least 50 to 100 minors are trafficked in Nebraska and have sex for money. In Omaha, once again, the demand is greater.

4. What is the average age of entry into the sex trade?

12 to 14…. it comes to that point of desperation and not seeing another option. It varies but the seed is planted to explore the sex trade from the time you start being sexually active and not understanding what sex is intended for… many young girls are having sex already with multiple partners trying to fill the voids in their life so when they see they can get paid for the same thing they are already doing… it just makes sense to do it.

5. What are the most common reasons people get involved with the sex trade business?

Many minors are coerced and encouraged with promises of clothing, money, an easier life. Many minors and even some women are on the streets and have no stability, no way of providing for themselves… this money is fast and comes the same day, you’re not waiting 2 weeks to get a check. We see a lot of grown women willing to go into prostitution out of desperation but then it comes to a point of not being able to leave because their boyfriend (that turns into a pimp figure) is beating them up and demanding them to go get that money!

6. Once a woman gets involved in the sex trade business how easy is it for them to get out?

Not easy, people don’t understand this part… If a woman is already willingly to take off her clothes for money, to go to multiple strangers’ houses and hotel rooms where anything could happen – rape, murder, held captive, robbed, beat up – they don’t think highly of themselves and their low self-esteem didn’t happen overnight…. Add on a boyfriend beating you or an addiction or knowing you have no education or skills…. It’s nearly impossible.

8. Overall, is the sex trade a violent business?

Yes, almost all ladies in this business have been robbed at a call or an attempted robbery. As a business owner you get threatened by some of the “ladies” boyfriends for not giving them enough calls and you get threatened for not hiring or working a young lady. We have been personally robbed a number of times.

9. Do you have stories of violence toward women in the sex trade business?

Many, from girls having to have facial reconstruction and false teeth from being beat up, being held hostage, and men threatening children or one even sexually abusing the child while the mom is locked out of the room.

11. How does the sex trade change between Lincoln and Omaha?

For whatever reason, Omaha is very dangerous because of territories. Certain owners or pimps do not let other women besides their own work in those areas and see those areas as being theirs. In Omaha, the chances of you being robbed, beat up, or raped are much greater than Lincoln. In Lincoln we have more women owned escorting businesses and Omaha has more male owned. All the women that we know that own their business now are former workers themselves and understand and care more for the dangers…. While the men never having been in the situation only see the money and care less for the risk that the women take.

13. What is the typical business model of a sex business?

One owner, hires, fires, collects the money. There are some men owned that let women operate them because most other dudes don’t want to deal with another man. The only time you really bring in help is for photography and drivers.

14. Does the use of the sex trade business increase significantly at NE football games and other large events?

Yes, the phones ring all day and all night when there is almost any event in town.

17. Are there boys or men employees? Is their experience different?

Yes, a few men. They are in demand, both straight and gay men, for bachelorette parties. This is common and in most cases that is pretty legit. They dance for money. Transgender workers can make a lot of money. More than just a man or woman…. They can double their prices… Men call often for transgender.

18. How often does the individual paying for services of an escort enter into illegal activity?

About 85 or 90% of the time.

20. What can be done to identify and help women that are involved in the sex trade?

Passing laws to help identify would be good. But there needs to be a place where they can come talk to a counselor or sort through their thoughts…. Sometimes just like in domestic violence or a rehab situation they need that support to tell them…. They are victims and they deserve better and they have a real concern. They are not hearing this…

22. Are escorts typically unwilling to tell law enforcement that they are experiencing violence and control over their lives?

They don’t tell much to the police.  Especially when it comes to the sex trade.

A Piece of Broken Pottery (One Year Later)

 If you watch one episode of evening news, you know our world is broken. And its getting worse. The fixes for the ills are not easy assignments. They are not short term. They are not going to have compensation packages. They will take decades or lifetimes. God is looking for some strong shoulder leaders who will take tough assignments. People who are willing to be attacked. People who will sign up for anything.

–Bill Hybels

When you go to a conference you can be overloaded with new ideas and concepts. You’re entertained by the speakers and presentations. But what is the lasting impact? What sticks with you six months later, after the swell of the conference subsides?


The Goodness of God in a World of Injustice

Don’t miss the final Summit 2012 event tonight at 7:00pm in the Student Center at Old Mill.  Bring a friend and bring your questions.  Enjoy our new monthly format for Gathering.

The Goodness of God in a World of Injustice

Many struggle to believe the Gospel because they see the Church making such small impact in our world. Is the Good News really Good News if it isn’t bringing transformation to our communities?

Gathering hosts Josh Dotzler, co-pastor of Bridge Church in North Omaha for a look at what God is doing in our city. Hear Josh’s story of God calling a rising young talent to invest his life in the mission of Jesus right here in Omaha. Josh will challenge you with his passion for the Gospel as he shares his experience of seeing God work through people willing to serve and build his kingdom. Don’t miss this opportunity to see evidence of God’s reality in our city.



Returning to the Scene of the Crime…and Receiving Hope (Part 2)

Winner's Circle Celebration at Franklin Elementary

To read Part 1, click here.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

-Henry V (Act III, Scene I), William Shakespeare

When I signed up to volunteer and serve with The Partnership for our Kids, something happened that I did not anticipate. A mental battle started to occur within me. I was fighting myself over getting involved in a greater way to support the kids who battle poverty.

Christianity would call this spiritual warfare, and that’s what I would call it.

Within the past year, I was asked to be on the board of directors for a local non-profit that combats poverty and advocates for justice. I heard the pitch, and it was good. A friend of mine was on the board. They do great work. They saw and heard my heart for social justice from afar, and wanted to get me involved in a greater way. I had all sorts of legitimate excuses as to why I couldn’t be on the board and be involved at that moment. I had a third child on the way. I was starting a new role at work. I told them I was interested, but perhaps at a later date. It all made sense in my mind, even though at that time I was wrestling with God pushing me toward an increased social justice involvement.

When is it ever going to be an opportune time? When over the next two decades am I going to have time? More importantly, what am I modeling with that kind of thinking and action? How am I leading with my inaction? What is the example I am setting for my family? What is the example I am setting for others?

I’m glad God is patient with me.

So, I signed up to get involved with The Partnership for Our Kids, and the mental battle started. (more…)

Returning to the Scene of the Crime…and Receiving Hope (Part 1)

crime: (noun) a grave offense especially against morality

This past August, I wrote about my experiences, from the third grade, when I attended Franklin Elementary and Howard Kennedy Elementary Schools. The post was partly inspired by an Omaha Young Professionals Event where we were given a pitch to volunteer, and serve, in some of Omaha’s inner city elementary schools. They were schools that had a high percentage of students living at or below the poverty line, and they were looking for young professionals to help students at these schools meet various academic goals.

While I sat through the pitch, I was being stirred. Again. Throughout this year, God has been challenging me to get more involved when it comes to social justice matters. The catalyst was reading Tim Keller’s Generous Justice. It was a book where at the end of every chapter I had to put it down, seemingly, because I was overwhelmed by what Tim was saying. Well, I was overwhelmed by what God was speaking to me through Tim’s words. I was examining my own life and wondering what I could be doing to bring justice to those in need.

It’s not that I haven’t been involved or detached when it comes to social justice, by the standards of the world I’m doing well on that front. I find myself challenging the status quo when it comes to perceptions about the city, specifically North Omaha. I press people when I feel like they are using coded language to mask prejudice, whether they realize it or not. I help out with projects, and attend events, that target areas of Omaha in need, support the community and encourage others to do the same. I try to support local businesses and organizations within the city that give back. I try and highlight how a number of us have won the birth lottery, which has given some of us a huge advantage in achieving success in this life. I’ve worked on various projects that have attempted to draw attention to the need that is there in the city, and for the church to get involved.

But, how am I doing by God’s standards? Not good. Am I loving my neighbor the way Jesus expects? No, not at all. This was the conclusion I was arriving at with God. If I wasn’t getting my hands dirty, if I wasn’t involving myself on the ground or in the streets more, if most of my work on this front was strictly communicative in nature, then I would be guilty. Guilty of inaction. Guilty of not leading out.

Guilty of sin.

I should know better, and God wasn’t going to let me get away with it anymore.

There is a growing injustice going on within Omaha and kids are the victims. They are the victims of poverty, family breakdown, violence and injustice. As some of you know, Omaha has the highest percentage of African-American children living in poverty. What good does it do if all we ever do is just talk about these problems? What are we doing about it? What are we doing about it in our neighborhood, and the neighborhood across town? How fair is it to expect kids, who have all the disadvantages, to compete with kids, who have all the advantages?

A few weeks after hearing the pitch to get involved more, I attended Leadership Summit. One of the sessions dealt with tough callings. The words shared during this session weren’t as challenging as the testimonies of the individuals who shared. One of the individuals who shared was Mama Maggie Gobran. She is serving the homeless, that live amongst trash, in Cairo, Egypt. She is doing this in an area where Christians and women face persecution. You observe her life and you will be challenged to ask, “What am I doing?”

That’s not to say if you aren’t doing what Mama Maggie is doing you are wrong. However, probably everyone that heard her story examined what they were doing with their life. I was doing that, but also sensing the stirring to get more involved on the ground. It was inescapable.

When she got done sharing, everyone was handed a piece of broken pottery. Bill Hybels referenced the prophet Jeremiah and how he had a tough calling as a prophet. He read from Jeremiah 19 and how Jeremiah bought a piece of pottery and smashed it in front of everyone in one of his prophecies. The piece of pottery we had was to remind us that we live in a broken world. There are broken people all around us. God is looking for people who will go into that brokenness to minister and serve people. God is looking for people who will make that kind of generational/lifetime commitment to address the brokenness in this world. God is looking for people who will shun the world’s, and Western church’s, idea of success to please God and serve humanity.

I held that piece of pottery and prayed. I knew I was going to be involved in a deeper way within the Omaha community. I was not going to be guilty of the crime of in action.

While still attending Leadership Summit, I signed up to get involved with The Partnership for our Kids and return to Franklin Elementary.

Part 2 to come.

This post originally appeared on Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

2011 Leadership Summit Recap

As long as I’ve been a part of the Christ Community Church staff, we’ve always attended the annual Leadership Summit. It’s a conference held at Willow Creek Community Church, in Chicago, IL, and simulcast all around the world. Some of the best leaders in the world share their leadership principles, and stories, to aspiring and current leaders. This was my sixth time attending Leadership Summit in some capacity, and I thought I’d share with you a dozen highlights from the event. At the end of the post, I’ve added links to my notes from all the speakers.

12. “Dig some ditches.” – When I first came across Steven Furtick I was intrigued. This will be expanded upon in an upcoming post, but needless to say the curiosity continues. Him being a speaker at Leadership Summit wasn’t surprising, because of the success his church has had, but I wondered what his talk would actually say. Steven’s talk was good. I appreciated him addressing the fact that so many conference attendees are inspired, but then go home and do nothing. I liked how he referenced Elisha. I liked some of the one liners he delivered. I thought Steven had one of the better talks at Summit. Simple, to the point and actionable items for people. All of us have some dirty work to implement the ideas we generate at a conference. We just need to do it, and trust God to do his part.