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Nov 18, 2018 | Ashley Burkett

The fight against human trafficking

Isaiah 58:6-11

Trinity Assembly of God - Midlothian

November 18, 2018

 Good morning! Thank you so much for inviting me to share about God’s heart for justice and the anti-trafficking efforts of International Justice Mission today.

 When I reflect on my journey these past few years in following God’s direction for my life, I find He has taught me much about patience and trust. The whole process has required me to take a leap of blind faith off of the cliff of comfort and control. When I look back, God’s hand in preparing and moving me toward His purpose is quite evident in my life. In the moment, however, as we know, following God’s plan is rarely clear and simple.

 In the spring of 2014, I traveled with a group of students from Messiah College to Southeast Asia. For the first week of my journey to Southeast Asia, we stayed at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, overlooking a district of the city known as the Brickfields, or "Little India.” Within a few hours of our arrival, it became known to us that the Brickfields contained parts of the "red light" district of Kuala Lumpur. Red light districts are areas where (legal or illegal) prostitution, sex-related services, and human trafficking are rampant. I recall eating lunch on the edge of the district, at the Husen Cafe, studying a dilapidated hotel, my heart sinking, realizing that the hotel clearly offered more than room and board services.

 While in Malaysia, I listened to harrowing stories shared by new acquaintances of when they were approached by kidnappers who walked straight into their school and attempted to abduct them. With absolute horror, it was confirmed that it was a frequent occurrence for children to be abducted directly from school. Later, I discovered that many of the children abducted from the schools are eventually sold into labor and sex trafficking.

 After witnessing the devastating effects of human trafficking first hand, I signed up for International Justice Mission’s campus chapter at Messiah College the fall of my senior year. Our first assignment was to participate in IJM’s Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., where we spoke to the offices of local Pennsylvania representatives in the Senate about signing a bill directing funding to international anti-trafficking efforts. While in Washington, D.C., I was approached by an intern from International Justice Mission. With genuine passion and enthusiasm, the intern shared about his experience working with International Justice Mission. It sounded interesting, but I was focused on my upcoming application to graduate school at Penn State.

 As January 2016 approached, I sat in my bedroom, staring at my application. I was perplexed. After setting my course in my undergraduate studies, I found myself lacking the desire to complete my application. Uncharacteristically, I let the deadline for the application pass. My parents were worried. What happened to their motivated, driven young woman? Graduation was less than five months away. What would she do after graduating?

 The weekend before returning to school, I remembered the intern and the opportunities with International Justice Mission. The application for IJM’s internship was due the next day. I hurriedly completed and submitted the application, feeling renewed determination and peace, but unsure of where God was directing me.

 Fast-forward to September 2016, and I found myself boarding a plane, filled with uncertainty. I was heading to Kolkata, India as a yearlong legal intern for International Justice Mission’s anti-sex trafficking work. My heart was driven by the call to be the Lord’s vessel for justice.

 I arrived on the evening of September 26th. I was soaking it in - the lights, the noise, and the bustle – completely out of my element. It felt absolutely unreal. I was moving from the rural town of Greencastle, Pennsylvania into a city with a population of 4.6 million people in a relatively concentrated area. Imagine half of New York City’s population living in an area the size of Brooklyn alone and you’re on your way to understanding the population density of Kolkata.

 Kolkata – nicknamed the City of Joy – is a vibrant, colorful and celebratory city with a rich cultural heritage and history. In order to fully share my story, I want to provide you with a brief snapshot into everyday life in the city. Injustice, oppression, and exploitation – contributing factors to human trafficking– are woven throughout the rampant development of the city.

 Transportation options are abundant. The best way to weave through the slow-moving traffic is by auto, essentially a glorified dirt bike with a built-on shell to provide three backseats. Other forms of transportation, like this boat, are geared toward tourists wanting to explore the Hooghly River and view Kolkata’s two infamous bridges. This man, and other boatmen, live and sleep on their boats because they have nowhere else to live. The river is his livelihood. He fishes when he is hungry, he bathes in the murky waters of the river when he’s dirty, and he makes a few dollars off of tourists for boat repairs and clothing, but he cannot afford much else. The man driving this notable Hindustan Ambassador yellow taxi - an iconic part of Kolkata roads – sleeps in the backseat of his vehicle as well. Hand-pulled rickshaw drivers may also sleep in the rickshaw overnight. Men in the low-income, working class with families might form a community in a shantytown of makeshift pallets put together on the side of the road in order to accommodate wives and numerous children.

 Shopkeepers, too, offering blue-collar labor like dry cleaning, such as this man, may sleep in their stores, unable to afford a home or perhaps providing for a family in a village outside of Kolkata. My tailor lived in his tailoring business and traveled three hours away every weekend to see his family. Before I left, he raised his prices because a flood caused a mudslide that destroyed his family home and he was unable to provide the financial means necessary to rebuild.

 The individuals living in these conditions, along with their families, are living to survive, with limited access to many basic human rights, according to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, including the right to clean water, fair wages, education, and rest.

 360 million Indians across the country live below the poverty line – that’s $1.90 a day in wages – though many experts estimate far more impoverished are living below the poverty line unreported.

 Underneath one of the infamous bridges in Kolkata – the Hooghly Bridge – is one of my favorite places to frequent – the flower market. Men and women live and work in the flower market, beginning their day before sunrise in order to prepare massive amounts of flowers and decorations for Hindus to purchase for worship at the temples. Life at the flower market is enchanting and simultaneously heartbreaking. The men and women who deliver the flowers, prepare the arrangements, and run the flower stalls have limited access to education and upward economic mobility. Despite the impoverished condition of the community, the flower market carries a charming energy radiating from the steady, lively bustle of the marketplace.

 Immediately following monsoon season is the Hindu religious festival of Durga Puja. Puja is the Hindi word for worship. I arrived shortly before Durga Puja, when Kolkata’s population triples in size as people from the surrounding areas flood into the city to celebrate. In honor of the goddess Durga, communities, political parties, and institutions hire craftsmen to construct massive structures called “pandals” to depict the story of Durga overcoming evil. The pandals are stunning displays of craftsmanship and hard work, but, as a Christian, the spiritual undertones are dark and oppressive. The goddess Durga is an incarnation of the goddess Kali, for whom Kolkata is named. Kali, celebrated during a festival called Diwali, is the goddess of death and destruction, and immensely revered by Hindu worshippers.

 Farmers may ride into the city well before dawn to arrive at the marketplace to sell their goods.  Other times, a middleman is hired to sell the goods, like these men. I asked this man and his wife to take a picture, and he made me wait until he put his watch on and faced it toward the camera – his watch serves as an indication he is doing well in his sales. The wives of fishermen assist in the butchering and sales of the morning catch. Traditional systems – both stemming from religious and social ideology – however, restrict the freedom of women, including employment opportunities, education, and equality. Trades involving the production of food, goods, and crafts often involve the whole families. The families, either unable to afford education for their children or find it unnecessary for inheriting the family business, involve even their children in their work – from drying seeds and sorting reeds for basket weaving to chiseling instruments. Others, viewing poverty as a vulnerability for exploitation, may utilize children, and even adults, in begging rings or for manual labor as a form of labor trafficking.

 But hope exists. I found hope in the pride locals have in the history of Kolkata and in the beauty of the architecture. I found it in the way chai – the Hindi word for tea – brought people together morning, afternoon, and night. I found it in the artists’ crafts and vibrant clothing. I found it in my Intern and Fellow community and how we were eagerly welcomed into the local culture. I found it in the murals that lined the walls of some of the most decayed areas of the city. It was in the countless stray dogs I befriended. I found it in the laughter and play of the young girls who were rescued from sex trafficking. I found hope knowing that International Justice Mission – the Kolkata team – and countless other organizations serve in India as the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to the poor and broken, living the call of Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I found hope in knowing the Lord loves these men, women, and children, and walks alongside them in their suffering, waiting with open arms to be accepted and welcomed into their lives. Hope overcomes.

 The Kolkata team welcomed me wholeheartedly when I arrived. Initially, I was placed in a legal internship. Unbeknownst to me, however, the entire office would undergo a transition that placed me in a position working with the leadership of the office in program design, implementation and management rather than in the Legal department.

 Within two months, I was assisting in the design of a three-year System Reform program. I was also serving as the Director of Justice Solutions’ interim Executive Assistant. “

 Over the course of the next few months, our office spent hours sitting together in a conference room planning out the activities that would lead to government ownership over anti-human trafficking initiatives and increased capacity among law enforcement, judiciary, and social services to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking, as well as effectively prosecute offenders of such an atrocious crime.

 We researched and implemented program management tools to assist in the monitoring and data collection of the program. I developed a holistic understanding of the program management tools and conducted trainings for the office on using the tools while executing our System Reform program.

 Although my role in the Kolkata office involved behind-the-scenes program management and implementation work, I seized many opportunities to work directly with our rescued girls. I wanted to be as involved as possible and witness firsthand the restoration that occurs with freedom. 

 Some of my favorite memories include visiting the shelter homes. When I visited, I often participated in learning traditional Indian dances or playing games with the girls. My favorite game was “Pin the Bindi on the Girl,” an Indian variation of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” The bindi is the small dot or series of jeweled dots placed above your nose for formal occasions, and may have religious connotations for Hindu Indians. I also attended a church service on numerous occasions that was exclusively for survivors of sex trafficking.

 The most impactful experience I had with a survivor was with a recently rescued twelve-year-old. She attended the church service two weeks after her arrival in the shelter home following her rescue in May. The difference in her countenance was incredibly astounding. The pictures from her initial encounter as a victim of sex trafficking revealed a young girl with empty eyes and a hardened, hopeless expression. She was on steroids to hasten puberty, and was in the trade for a couple of months before local law enforcement and International Justice Mission found her. She looked haggard and worn, aging beyond her years within a short period of time. Within only two weeks at the shelter home and away from the exploitation she had experienced, peace and joy had been restored to her, and she was renewed. She was experiencing restoration, and she was beginning to regain her child-like energy and expressiveness. I nearly cried tears of joy upon seeing and talking with her. I will carry the images of the girls we rescued for the rest of my life.

 Prior to leaving, I had the opportunity to plant trees with girls at a government shelter home, many of whom were in our program as survivors of sex trafficking. I’ve blurred their faces in the photos so that they cannot be identified. It was about 102 degrees that day, and I had been walking around the city in jeans all morning before heading to the shelter home. The girls enjoyed poking fun at my red, sunburned face. It was incredibly rewarding to serve with them. Despite the abuse and exploitation many of the girls have faced, they were joyful and eager, sharing their dreams and aspirations with me as we worked in the garden.

 In order to continue my internship, I went on a “visa run” to Nepal, where I visited a partnering non-government shelter home funded by a church in Brazil. I had the opportunity to meet with a young woman my age who was rescued in Kolkata in 2008 from commercial sexual exploitation in brothels along the docks – brothels visited by international military members – who shared of her experiences of freedom from slavery and freedom from herself through acceptance of a relationship with Christ. She – and countless other young women and girls I met throughout my internship – was filled with a strength and peace, a renewed passion and determination for success in life despite the history of trauma that she carried.

 The shelter home in Nepal was also filled with several young childrenwho did my hair, played tag with me, and had fun just being silly. These children, the sons and daughters of formerly exploited girls or orphans, were protected from what could have been, brought into the care of the home in order to keep them safe and to allow them to continue to be children without fearing exploitation at the hands of corrupt and greedy individuals.

 Over the summer, I was selected to attend a trip to a rural village area along the Bangladesh-Indian border. The villages in the area were at-risk for trafficking, and in several of the villages, few young girls remain. It is quite easy for Bangladeshi and Indian villagers to be trafficked over the Bangladesh-Indian border. I witnessed the grim reality that the border patrols face. The patrol is required to manage a vast border area. It only takes two minutes to cut through the fence along the border with wire cutters. By the time the patrol is alerted to the noise and arrives at the scene, the perpetrators and their victims have vanished into the countryside. Other areas of the border aren’t protected at all, but rely on “natural” border protection such as swamps or rivers. While touring the village area, we witnessed a Bangladeshi man crossing through the swamp and traveling into India.

 One evening, we presented an awareness program to increase the understanding of how trafficking occurs. Oftentimes, men pretending to offer marriage proposals or jobs to young women approach poor families in rural areas. The families typically agree, unaware that the marriage proposals or the job offers are, in fact, lies.

 On our return, we stopped at the government shelter home designated for children in the district, which is similar to a county. In a district that contains over 5.1 million people, 10% of whom are children under the age of 6, ONE government shelter home exists to provide services to children in need of care and protection. After we walked through the gated courtyard and into the small confines of the girls’ bedrooms, we were greeted by shy smiles and nervous introductions. I received about a hundred hugs from the youngest of the group. She grasped the edges of my clothing tightly, giggling at my broken attempts at communication and sharing with me a story about home. She cried as she watched us leave, our moments of connection and love reminding her of her former home.

 While I was in Kolkata, our office partnered with local law enforcement to rescue eighteen victims of sex trafficking and coordinated their rehabilitation, including counseling sessions, educational opportunities, and job training. In fact, the night I landed, the team was in the midst of a rescue operation! The youngest victim of sex trafficking I encountered was a nine-year-old girl. Many of IJM Kolkata’s recent cases involve parents, extended family members, or pimps and madams prostituting young girls for income in private residences.

 Though I sat through several operation briefings, I was unable to accompany our team on any of the rescue operations. I did, however, visit several red light areas and toured freedom businesses located in the red light areas designed to offer alternative employment for women involved in the sex trade.

 Though the stories I carry are many, I want to share the firsthand testimony of an extraordinary, formidable woman, a survivor of sex trafficking.

 Sadhna is free. She is free because of the inspired men and women in the Kolkata, India office who diligently worked to rescue her, provide rehabilitation services and educational opportunities, and to convict her perpetrators as advocates for God’s justice. Although I have left, the Kolkata team continues to fight to rescue girls currently in the trade and protect countless others from being trafficked. I was blessed by my opportunity to serve with an organization that prioritizes Christian faith and social justice; my experience has immensely impacted my life.

 My journey to fight injustice didn’t end when I returned to the United States. No, my return only marked the renewal of a lifelong calling – as a Christian – to live a life that maintains a vulnerable, passionate heart, a heart that the Lord can mold and use for His purposes in order to better serve Him.

 Injustice. It’s a word that is tossed out frequently in conversations, labeling everything from the person who cuts you off in the parking lot to a DC Comic video game to a variety of serious systemic issues that grip our society today.

 The Bible presents a critical framework to evaluate the injustices in our world. When the Bible discusses injustice, it is referencing the abuse of power. This abuse of power occurs when an oppressor exerts their power and decides to take from another individual - their life, their dignity, and the fruits of their love and their labor.

 Ecclesiastes 4:1 paints a stark picture of injustice.

 “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

 I saw the tears of the oppressed—

and they have no comforter;

power was on the side of their oppressors—

and they have no comforter.”

 My friends, these words – written thousands of years ago – transcend time. We continue to live in a fallen world, as broken individuals. The oppression described in Ecclesiastes is very real and tangible in today’s world, despite our desire to live in a just society.

 The truth of modern day slavery is dark and raw. According to the Global Slavery Index and International Labour Organization, there are over 40 million people in the world who live as slaves. That’s more than the population of California, which is the United States’ most populated state, or nearly twice the population of Texas, and is a greater population than 160 countries in the world. Slavery – human trafficking – is the third highest grossing criminal industry in the world, bringing in $150 billion dollars annually.

 How do we respond to such injustice?

 Justice is woven throughout the fabric of the Bible, with numerous texts alluding to the God’s love of justice and Christ’s ministry to alleviate oppression. Our conversations about biblical justice should start at the source – our Lord and Savior – and should carry on as we serve as Christ’s vessels – inspired by the Holy Spirit – translating our words into action to seek justice.

 When we look at Isaiah 58:6-11, we find God’s chosen people, the Israelites, rebuked by God for their frustration and complaints about their spiritual lives. In this passage, the Israelites are engaging in spiritual practices – specifically, fasting – but are crying out to God because their spiritual practices are not achieving the desired result. God clearly explains to the Israelites that they are missing a crucial component in their lives. They have been engaged with the rituals of worship but have neglected some of the practices that are near to God’s heart.

 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.”

 God redefines their spiritual practices to include justice and mercy as essential components of their spiritual devotion. He challenges the Israelites to move beyond solely focusing on their own spiritual lives, including a dual focus on the needs of others.

 In verses 10 and 11, the promise God has for those who pay attention to justice and mercy in their devotion is that God will hear their cries and answer their calls. They will flourish like a “well-watered garden” and find joy and triumph in their spiritual lives, shining bright “like the noonday.”

 The very aspect of their spiritual devotions that left the Israelites feeling empty was the lack of devotion to justice and mercy for the oppressed.

 Further, we find an emphasis on justice and mercy in Jesus’s ministry. As he transitions from private life to public ministry, he describes his ministry, the Kingdom of God on earth, by reading from Isaiah in the synagogue. In Luke 4:17-21, it says

 “and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 Jesus was announcing through Isaiah’s sacred words – a prophecy foretelling who he is – that the Messiah was standing in front of them all, that these words of promise were realized in Him. The passage describes Jesus’s mission to free us from sin. He brings good news to those of us who are poor in spirit. He proclaims freedom to us who are held captive to sin. He heals us who are blinded by our sin. He sets us free from the oppression that sin causes in our lives. This is good news for all of us! But if we stop there, we miss out on another truth that Jesus is proclaiming.

 Jesus’s mission is not just to rescue people from spiritual bondage, and offer spiritual freedom. Jesus is offering freedom from all – be it sin or individuals – that seek to imprison those he loves. This proclamation of Jesus extends to people like Sadhna, people who are physically in bondage by other people.

 International Justice Mission and the people involved with the organization – including myself – have come to understand the mission of Jesus in this way. IJM desires to embody the call for justice – a calling from Christ – for actual people. That’s why Sadhna’s story does not end with despair, but hope.

 International Justice Mission operates in 17 different communities across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, with five offices located in India. International Justice Mission will not stop until all are free.

 The story of rescue is amazing, but it can also seem like a drop in the bucket as we think about the 40 million still out there in the world. But it isn’t; the scope of what we as the Church and IJM are doing together grows every day.

 IJM consists of a little over 850 Christian lawyers, criminal investigators, trauma social workers, pastors, graphic designers, program managers, administrative assistants, and a host of other jobs – the list is extensive. We are not just seeing real freedom for individuals caught in slavery; we are seeing real freedom for whole cities and in fact, whole countries.

 After five years of comprehensively working with the Filipino public justice system in Cebu, an independent study confirmed a 79% reduction in the number of children sold into sex trafficking!

 The Filipino government then decided to scale this strategy to several other major metropolitan areas. As God guides the movement forward, it is possible to see near eradication of sex trafficking of minors in the Philippines within the span of a decade or two.

 In Cambodia, a country that used to be considered a hotspot for pedophilia and sex tourism, a decade of collaboration between Cambodian leaders, police, courts, social services and the NGO community has made a dramatic change for Cambodia’s children.

 When IJM started operations in Cambodia in 2003, sex trafficking was epidemic. Children as young as 6 were sold in the open. In a 2015 prevalence study in three major Cambodian cities, IJM found that less than one percent of people in the sex trade are children.

 In Kolkata, India, I was able to assist in part of the final preparations for the release of the prevalence study that revealed the rate of children trafficked for sex in Kolkata in public establishments – brothels – was now less than one percent. 

 While there are certainly other challenges to be faced by countries around the world, there are thousands of girls and women who will never be abused in the first place. Every day, we move closer to seeing the end of slavery in our lifetime. From the perspective of the mission of Jesus, this is precisely what happens when the Church stands up to the call that Jesus issued. It’s a call to go after the lost sheep, the wounded lambs who are crying and forgotten.

 So, you might be wondering, what can I do about injustice? What can we do to make a difference?

 We can be part of the solution, offering justice and mercy, a balanced fight for a fair world tempered with compassion and love for the oppressed and the oppressor. My favorite verse – so simply stated – sums it up. Micah 6:8 says,

 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.”

 Author and speaker Christine Caine once stated that she is deeply convicted that God asks you to serve where you’re at; he will always lead you directly to where you are needed, one step at a time. As we all take steps forward on our journey to justice, we may look back and find that our journeys differ, but our desired results remain the same.

 We can be a part of the solution, we can be a part of this miraculous transformation, we can be witnesses to the Kingdom of God as it shatters the darkness! First, we must be bold enough to do something that seems small, knowing that God does miracles with everyday gifts.

 This morning, I want to invite you to join a global community of believers seeking to end slavery by becoming Freedom Partners with International Justice Mission.

 While we sit here in church this Sunday and learn about the realities of slavery, there are thousands of traffickers using their power to keep people enslaved forever – all because slavery is profitable. They simply value money more than human life. These slave owners are relentless, calculated, and tenacious – unafraid to use their power, money, and influence to oppress others.

 IJM knows where the slaves are and has a plan to rescue them. And because of Freedom Partners, IJM is seeing slaves set free and putting their owners behind bars. People – like Sadhna - are set free from wretched conditions.

 Right now, they live without hope.

 What they don’t know, though, is that today someone on the other side of the world will do something that will ultimately be part of bringing rescue to them. We, the church, must act. We can partner with IJM by becoming a Freedom Partner. Freedom Partners give $24 or more to IJM each month. Freedom Partners are called upon regularly to pray for urgent needs in the field, advocate for life saving legislation, and attend special IJM events. Freedom Partners are the heartbeat of IJM’s operations. If you are interested in becoming a Freedom Partner with IJM, please see me after the service.

 Regardless of your decision this morning to join IJM’s fight against slavery, my prayer for us today is that we seek – every day – to leverage our lives to impact the lives of others in a world that is yearning to know the goodness of our God.

 Human trafficking is in our backyard. Injustice is here in our own communities. You don’t have to fly around the world to find it. There are five crucial and practical ways about how you can get involved in anti-human trafficking initiatives: education, awareness, advocacy, local involvement, and prayer. If you are interested in other social justice issues, I encourage you to channel and apply these five steps to your own passions.

 As Christians, we are called to advocacy and action. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

 One of the most valuable truths that I learned while abroad is that it is quite easy to be swept up in the work inside the office. It might be that our fight for social justice is lost in a to-do list full of tasks that makes us forget our commission as Christians. It might be that the drudgery of a daily routine has reduced our once-fiery passion to combat sex trafficking – or addiction – or poverty – or any injustice – to smoldering ashes. Or the victim becomes simply a name, blurring with the countless others we see on the streets and in the news. It’s hard. It happens when we lose sight of the overarching purpose, when we are too focused on our individual accomplishments and responsibilities. It happens when we let ourselves become desensitized to the world around us, our hearts no longer breaking for the injustices we see as we commute to our comfortable offices. It happens when we remain complacent, our perspectives unchallenged and unchanging. It takes intentional effort to maintain a vulnerable, passionate heart, a heart that the Lord can mold and use for His purposes.

 I have learned that I must allow my heart to break over and over again for the evil in this world, and to push myself to avoid comfort and routine in order to grow. I must consciously remain affected in order to be effective in service. I want to challenge you to do the same.

 Thank you.


Series Information

In a very real sense, we do not come to church, we are the church. We are to be the hands and feet and love of Jesus to people who often don't even understand that they need him.