Saturday, December 10, 2011

Give This Christmas Away

Okay people! I thought about writing a very heart wrenching story to get this point across, but decided to just get to the point instead. There are some pretty amazing young women I happen to know in Manila, Philippines at a safe home called Safe Refuge who need your help right now, (if you're one of the few people who follow this blog, you know what I'm talking about). These are women who have been rescued from all kinds of lives, such as prostitution, poverty, extreme abuse, disease, etc. And now they are SAFE. But rescue is just the first step. They are all continually walking out journeys of healing and redemption. And that requires resources and finances.

With Christmas coming up, there are MANY expenses that Safe Refuge has. My dear friends Naomi and Marybeth Hamilton who run Safe Refuge amaze me with how they trust God to provide for them literally day to day. God provides, and he often uses his SAINTS (yeah that's you and me in case you're wondering) to rise up and be His hands and feet. Like I said in my previous blog post... as you're tearing open that ipad and xbox Christmas morning, there are children of God simply grateful that they have a Christmas feast and a place to live and a "family" who has adopted them in (example... women and children at Safe Refuge).

SO, I'm not trying to lay the guilt on you, I'm simply saying there's a need, and we need to respond. ASAP. I don't care if you can give $5 or $500 or $5000 (I'd go for the $5000 if you can), the point is, GIVE something. I personally know this ministry and have spent two Christmases there. Christmas morning at Safe is definitely a special time and the girls are grateful for what God has done in their lives.

Giving is easy. Simply click here... and donate through Paypal. It is tax-deductable.

And finally, click here to watch this Christmas slide show that will give you a better picture of the precious women and children you are supporting... enjoy! (and grab a tissue).

Oh and pass this along to your friends!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spend Less on Gifts. Give More Presence.

Do you remember when you were a kid... the few days after Christmas, and seeing all your friends back at school or church? The question of the week was, "So what did YOU get for Christmas?" I always hated that question. It seemed like it was a competition of who got the best stuff. My family was not poor, but we certainly never had the financial means for the kinds of gifts that many of my friends would get. And honestly, my sisters and I were always very thankful and happy with what we did receive. Even on into my teen years and adulthood... I still hate that question. Today I hear young people sometimes bragging about the ipod, cell phone, laptop, and xbox they got.

Now I'm not trying to be Scrooge or anything. I love getting presents. I love giving presents. I love watching those I love open their presents. I'm all for giving and receiving presents. What I hate is the attitude we can sometimes possess of ungratefulness or discontentment, even in myself. It creeps up and we often barely notice it. The truth is, if your receive even ONE significant gift this Christmas, you are farther along than most of the world.

The fact is, while you are ripping open all your gifts on Christmas morning here in the US, it is night time on the other side of the world, and a little girl is locked in a dark room, being forced to have sex with a man twice her age. The fact is, while you're eating honey baked ham and sweet potato casserole, a family is being forced to make bricks 15 hours a day with no pay and little food.

So what can you possibly do to help a little girl or a family on the other side of the world living in slavery that you've never even met? You can't possibly be the Liam Neeson hero, storm in and rescue this little girl, bringing her to safety. Well no, maybe you can't do that... but you CAN be a hero.

This Christmas, cut back on just ONE gift. We all receive tons of gifts and can spare just ONE gift. Instead of asking for that camera or iphone... you can ask for a rescue operation! You can ask for a victim to have proper legal representation in court. You can ask for an aftercare package with basic necessities for a victim after they've been rescued. You can ask for vocational training and counseling for a victim as they begin their new life of freedom. But how you ask?

International Justice Mission has put out an amazing "Gifts of Freedom" catalog this year with dozens of opportunities of how you can help a victim of slavery. From investigations to legal representation to aftercare... there is option after option of how you can help. Ask for one of these "gifts", or purchase one of these "gifts" in honor of your family member or friend. You'll receive a beautiful card to give to them as well.

You see, simply 1% of this year's Christmas spending in the US, is equivalent to 1 MILLION RESCUE OPERATIONS. That means millions of people set free.

Maybe you can't spare a lot this year. I know... my budget is pretty tight this year too. BUT, I certainly can sacrifice $25 or $50 so that someone else can simply LIVE IN FREEDOM. And instead, spend time with those you love. Handmake something. Write a beautifully encouraging note. Let's make our lives more rich with love instead of material items. In the end, it's much more satisfying than that weird gadget you probably didn't need.

If you're not completely convinced yet... watch this amazing clip of how we can give freedom together this year. And check out this page to find out how you can be apart of this Advent Conspiracy.

Advent Conspiracy from International Justice Mission on Vimeo.