My friend Rachel is in DC this week. Rachel is a pretty extraordinary woman; notwithstanding the fact that she was one of my first friends in seminary, she’s super smart, capable, and has a tremendous heart. So much so that for the last few years, she’s been serving as the President of an organization called The SOLD Project, which seeks to prevent child prostitution and whose goal is “that no child ever be exposed to a life of exploitation.”
One of the main ways to do this is through education, and keeping kids in school so that they might not only learn and grow and develop, but also to reduce the likelihood of them being in at-risk situations. So in 2008, The SOLD Project began offering educational scholarships, and I’m so pleased that, for the last year, I’ve gotten to be a part of this by sponsoring a kid’s education.
“From November 1 to 30, The SOLD Project is competing in the Girl Effect Challenge alongside 69 other organizations for a chance to become part of the Girl Effect for one year. The Girl Effect is a super-reputable organization (they’re the philanthropic arm of Nike), so winning would be a BIG DEAL—leading to significant exposure and a great credibility boost as well as potentially tens of thousands of dollars in donations over the next year. (Last year’s winners received more than $30K each.)
“At the end of November, the TOP SIX ORGS with the HIGHEST NUMBER of unique donors will be selected as WINNERS! Last year’s winners had as many as 800 unique donors, so that’s where the bar is set. It’s high, but we can do this!”
Giving as little as $10 will start the Girl Effect, and you can give up to $2,100 (which provides educational resources for 5 students for a year) and beyond!
… is the title of a book by Ben Skinner, about human trafficking. And it’s aptly named. From my blog over on God’s Politics:
If there is one basic denigration of the image of God that lies in every human being, it is when he is treated as if he were not made in the image of God and forced into bonded labor, or when she is treated as if she had no value or dignity and made to offer her body for someone else to exploit and someone else to profit.
You can read the rest here: “Slavery is Alive and Well … For Now.” And if you live in the US, you can click through on the link to ask your members of Congress to take an important step to combating child slavery internationally by supporting the Child Protection Compact Act.
Last night, I was privileged to lead hundreds of young Christians in a time of lament as part of the Poverty and Advocacy track at Urbana 2009. We came together to cry out to God on behalf of those suffering from injustice and oppression, and particularly, as part of the Human Wrong Initiative, on behalf of millions of children trapped in modern slavery: in forced prostitution, forced labor, or recruited to be child soldiers. We came together to mourn the wrong that we see in the world, following the biblical precedents of the psalmists, of the prophets, and of Jesus, in engaging with God in prayer to seek change.
My role was to prepare the way for lament: to lay the biblical foundations, to provide a framework for engaging in lament, and to encourage a safe environment in which lament could take place. The rest was up to the students and God.
And boy, did we meet with God …
One of the last points that I made was that biblical lament stirs us to action and partnership with God. In Luke 19, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He cried, “Oh, if you only knew the things that make for peace …” And then he went and cleared the temple. My prayer for those who engaged last night is that they use that session as a launching pad to do great and mighty things in the service of the kingdom of God.
[You can find recorded webcasts of the main Urbana 09 events here.]
Last week, I celebrated Christmas with Aaron, Amy and Elijah in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”) and of Amy’s family. It was great spending a few days outside of DC, and with an awesome and wonderfully welcoming family.
To boot, last week …
I got to go on a tour of the East Wing of the White House.
I got to talk with family in Australia, Hong Kong, and California.
I got to talk with friends in New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. (What up, iChat video conferencing?!)
I got to watch a truckload of enjoyable movies: Avatar, Invictus, The Blind Side, The Invention of Lying, and Sherlock Holmes.
This week, I’m in snowbound St Louis for Urbana 2009, InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. I’m here with Sojourners, who are co-leading the Poverty and Advocacy track along with World Vision and International Justice Mission. It’s the first time in Urbana’s history that they’re looking at advocacy as a form of mission, and so it’s a pretty momentous occasion and an exciting development.
One of the things we’re launching this week is the Human Wrong Initiative, which is geared towards combating child slavery in all its forms: prostitution, forced labor, and child-soldiering. Of the 27 million people still in slavery today, about half are women and children.
This is how the world is today. But it is not how the world should be. Nor how the world needs to be. Join us, get involved, let your friends know. Let’s stamp out child slavery.
The other thing that’s happening (that I’m involved with) is helping Sojourners lead a night of lament for the injustice in the world; that’ll take place tomorrow (December 29th). I’ll only be speaking for a few minutes, but I’m gonna be laying the groundwork for the couple hundred students in our track to engage with God in this way, so I’d appreciate your prayers!