Our role in helping to stop sex trafficking and slavery today

Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission gave an incredible closing challenge this weekend (5/6,7) at the last week of Willow Creek’s 3 week missions conference, Celebration of Hope.

What really is the status of slavery in the world? You will want to hear this incredible talk.


Gary Haugen

Bio of speaker from Willow Creek’s Celebration of Hope:

Gary Haugen, Founder of International Justice Mission

Before founding International Justice Mission (IJM) in 1997, Gary was a human rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he focused on crimes of police misconduct. In 1994, he served as the Director of the United Nations’ investigation in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. In this role, he led an international team of lawyers, criminal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensics experts to gather evidence that would eventually be used to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice. Gary received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Gary has been recognized by the U.S. State Department as a Trafficking in Persons “Hero” – the highest honor given by the U.S. government for anti-slavery leadership. His work to protect the poor from violence has been featured by Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, the New Yorker, The Times of India, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, the Guardian and National Public Radio, among many other outlets.  He is the author of several books, including Good News About Injustice (Intervarsity Press) and, most recently, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (Oxford University Press). Gary was invited to share the themes of The Locust Effect at the annual TED Conference in a talk entitled: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now.


Christianity Today’s article on Refugee Issue

Trump’s Revised Refugee Ban Won’t Prioritize Persecuted Christians

White House softens executive order; Andy Stanley joins evangelical leaders urging compassion.
by Jeremy Weber

Christians fleeing the Middle East will not take first priority under an updated version of President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel and refugees, which he signed Monday morning after weeks of debate and holdups in federal court.

The new order does away with explicit language about prioritizing religious minorities, as well as loosens Trump’s initial limits on who’s allowed to enter the United States.

Current visa holders, refugees already granted asylum, and travelers from Iraq no longer face restrictions, and the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria was reduced to 120 days—same as the overall refugee population. The executive order goes into place next Thursday.

While surveys have found that most self-identified white evangelicals approve of Trump’s temporary moratorium on refugees, most evangelical leaders oppose it.

“The issuance of a new executive order on refugees and immigrants acknowledges that there were significant problems with the first executive order that caught up green card holders and others as they tried to enter the United States,” said Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief, the evangelical refugee resettlement agency forced to close five offices and lay off 140 employees in the wake of Trump’s decision to halve America’s intake of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000.

“However, this new executive order does not solve the root problems with the initial order—the cutting of refugee admissions by 55 percent and the inability for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees to come to the United States. It is more of the same.”

Nearly half of leaders (46%) associated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) selected “immigration/refugees” as the top public policy issue that evangelicals need to address in 2017, according to the NAE’s recent monthly Evangelical Leaders Survey. (No. 1 was “religious freedom, selected by 63%.)

Self-identified white evangelicals, who lean Republican, showed the strongest support among faith groups for the travel ban, with a 76 percent approval rate in a Pew Research Center survey released last week. White evangelicals were also the only religious group whose endorsement of a temporary ban on Muslims entered the US grew over the past nine months, according to a recent PRRI survey.

“The US has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who seek to do us harm,” tweeted Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which regularly advocates for persecuted Christians.

During an hour-long radio response Monday afternoon, Sekulow described Trump’s revised order as a more legally sound means of securing the aims of the President’s original directive. “As far as admitting minority religious refugees that are not protected, you can do that under the law and under this exemption,” he said. “It has a case-by-case review, which is exactly what we said is the way this goes forward.”

While white evangelicals overall are among the biggest backers of Trump’s efforts to restrict and better screen refugees, prominent evangelical leaders and institutions have consistently championed compassion toward refugees. Leaders at World Relief, one of nine agencies partnering with the government to resettle refugees, insist “compassion and security do not have to be mutually exclusive” and employ a biblical basis for their advocacy.

Recently, Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley sided with them. He preached on the church’s unique role in immigration and refugee policy last month and launched NotSoUnited.org to share his message that the church can “bridge the divide when compassion and national security collide.” (Here’s one attempt at a summary.)

“At the heartbeat of [Jesus’] ethic is that every single person was made in the image of God and demands and deserves respect—not because government requires it, but because God made it that way,” he said. “To ignore this is to undermine the liberty that makes this a nation people flee to rather than from.”

Trump’s new order considers “fear of persecution or torture” without explicitly calling out religious factors. The earlier one contained a provision to prioritize persecuted religious minorities once the refugee program resumed, and the president spoke in a TV interview about helping Christians in particular.

Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, raised concerns that religious minorities in the Middle East need refuge more than ever.

“There’s a dire need for President Trump to issue a separate executive order—one specifically aimed to help ISIS genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria,” she wrote. “For three years, the Christians, Yizidis and others of the smallest religious minorities have been targeted by ISIS with beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture and sexual enslavement …. The Christian community is now so shattered and vulnerable, without President Trump’s prompt leadership, the entire Iraqi Christian presence could soon be wiped out.”

Meanwhile, Arab Christian leaders expressed concerns to CT about any policy that explicitly prioritized one faith over another or required a religious test.

During the first month of Trump’s presidency, about 6,000 refugees came to the US, with about the same proportion of Christians (43 percent) as Muslims (46 percent), Pew reported using State Department data.

Iraq is among the top countries of origin for refugees coming to America. Citing Iraq’s cooperation with the US, the White House said Iraq will no longer be singled out with other Muslim-majority nations as a country of concern. The Preemptive Love Coalition, a Christian aid group based in Mosul, continues to feed and care for those who cannot escape.

“How do we take care of our Christian sisters and brothers in Syria and Iraq? Have we stopped to ask them what that would look like?” wrote executive director Jeremy Courtney following Trump’s first order. “I don’t mean just being a safe haven to run to when their churches and homes are destroyed by violence, but whether we as a nation are pursuing the policies and diplomacy that give them the greatest chance of surviving and flourishing where they are—so they don’t have to flee their homeland.”

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A Prayer for our Country

John Piper’s Prayer


Father in heaven, we ask now that your name would be hallowed in this moment, in this room, and in this ministry; that your name would be hallowed in Washington, and hallowed by Donald Trump and his family, his cabinet, the congress; that your kingdom would come, that your will would be done there.

To that end Lord, we ask that you would bring Donald Trump out of darkness and into light. Give him a spirit of brokenness and humility. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). I pray that you would break his heart, give him humility, show him what it feels like to be penitent and to admit he’s done wrong — to confess he was wrong, ask forgiveness from you, and ask for forgiveness from the people that he’s wounded or people that he’s set a bad example for. He needs to be given the gift of faith and humility and repentance, and I pray that you would give it to him.

We’re not eager to have him as an adversary. We would like him as a brother. That will not be an easy transition for him. He’s a very wealthy man, and it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew19:23–24). But Lord, you are able. The disciples threw up their hands in dismay saying, “Who then can be saved?” You didn’t say, “Well, that’s a stupid question.” You said, “With man this is impossible.” Then, you entered the glorious news, “But with God all things are possible” — including our conversion and Donald Trump’s conversion (Matthew 19:25–26). That’s our big, overarching prayer: for the advance of your kingdom and salvation there and throughout this land.

Until that day Lord, in your wonderful providence, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). So, guard him from folly. Guard him from stupid decisions that would damage people, damage America, damage the church. Guard him. Superintend him and the congress in such a way that, beyond their explanation, things turn in a direction that makes for the kind of good that, even though it may not have faith in it, would have the form of faith in justice and love.

We’re asking for that kind of miracle, Lord: that you would surprise even him at what is able to be brought about. Protect him from the deceptions of the Evil One at the level of this providential governance of your way in the world, in America now. So God, I ask that the church would not rely on government and would not rely on a Trump presidency. I pray for evangelical leaders not to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidency with no apparent qualification, no tears, no brokenness, no sadness that he set such an awful example for this land.

Open the eyes, I pray, of evangelical leaders who seem so triumphalist in this moment as to think their way has been brought about and now good things are coming because we can lean on the arm of the flesh the way so many seem to give the indication. Grant that there would be a rising tide leaning upon the Holy Spirit, leaning upon the word of God; that there would be a countercultural dependence upon prayer, rather than the dependence of a power in high places.

Grant that there would be a burden for spiritual awakening, a burden for sharing the gospel, a burden for building healthy, strong, biblical churches in the land, a burden for taking the gospel to the nations of the world. Lord, don’t let us exhaust our energies fretting about the little molehill of this presidency when we have a Himalayan Mountain range of blessings in Christ Jesus. Grant that we would operate out of the fullness of Christ in doing many good deeds in this land. Grant that the church would be purified, and all the corruption and all the worldliness would be removed so that the world would stand up and say, “That’s a strange people. That’s a different people. That’s a godly, humble, servant-like, sacrificial, loving people,” rather than just, “That’s just Republican. That’s just what the world is.”

So God, work a great work of renewal in your church, I pray. May we live for the sake of the salvation of the world, O God. May this land not be our land, but heaven be our land, and the gathering of your people from all the peoples in every tribe of the world be our passion and our burden. Put America down in our priority list, and put the kingdom of God up, and the name of God up, and the church of God up, and the reaching of the nations up. Grant, I pray, that here at Desiring God, we would have a significant part to play in that. O, give us wisdom.

Give wisdom to the content team here, and great skill and wisdom to the technological team here so that together we might make the greatest possible impact to spread a passion for your supremacy, not American supremacy or Trump supremacy or Republican or Democratic supremacy. May it always feel like a heavenly orientation rather than an earthly orientation.

Make us willing, O God, to submit ourselves to the lordship of Jesus, not the lordship to any man who leads. We ask for your help. We humble ourselves under your mighty hand. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis,

Ever want to just leave?

This is the Monday after Inauguration Day in the United States and this is the Monday after millions of women marched in cities in every continent making a statement about women needing to be protected, respected, and appreciated for who they are. Those two events were enough to give me one of those after-the-stress headaches and frankly, one that could last a long time. I just wanted to get on a jet plane and go somewhere, away…maybe visit some family in Sweden, or friends in another country… that might help me get my mind off of our country and the issues.


So today I went to an unusual source to find solace. I clicked into the Thrive Ministry Magazine called Connection. It is a magazine for global women written by global women. I read an article that ministered to my soul on this Monday. I hope you like it too. It was written by a woman who had to leave her country and come to America. She didn’t want to be here. But God had something for her to do.

The author, Jami Staples,  reminded me that we all have work to do, wherever we are. God has placed us here to follow Him and do what He asks of us. I felt His voice through her story.

By the way, I love being a part of the ministry that serves global women with this on-line magazine.  I am presently chairing the Thrive Ministry Board of Directors for this vibrant, important ministry to thousands of women global workers who serve Christ around the globe. This Connection Magazine is read by hundreds of women, some isolated and some in huge cities, but few are surrounded by other like-minded women and a thoroughly culturally comfortable church family. They all need each other. This magazine serves them.

The article I just read made me hungry to serve these global women workers, many of whom I know and love. I sometimes yearn to be with them. I only spent a year overseas, but I “get” many things about their lives. I love and respect them for what they do for Jesus. You can serve them too through volunteering at an international retreat. Read more. 

Today I pray that those who feel isolated and disconnected in their countries of service, (like I feel today), will know that they are a part of another community of great power and strength and love… and a part of something with a future that is sure…the body of Christ, His church, and eternity in heaven. We are so blessed to know this from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes. God has a plan and we will be a part of it. Let’s just play our part, like Jami chose to do.

Welcome to 2017…facts about the world that believers should know.

State of the World –  presented at a Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering

Jason Mandryk and Molly Wall, editors of Operation World, give insight to key issues in the church, Great Commission, and the world based on their extensive research and encounters around the world.


‘These are tumultuous times. Change in every sphere of life seems to be accelerating. What really is happening in the world? And how does this relate to the staggering scale, complexity, and urgency of the Great Commission?’

Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering participants were asked in this session to listen to the groans of the world and to how the Holy Spirit might be speaking specifically to their context.

This presentation was given at the third Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 3-10 August 2016.


For a fascinating crash course in the state of the world, click this 30 min. video of the presentation.

Download the presentation and the accompanying notes

A woman of great influence, influenced my generation.


“God never uses a person greatly until He has wounded him deeply.
The privilege He offers you is greater than the price you have to pay.
The privilege is greater than the price.”
—Helen Roseveare

RoseveareDr. Helen Roseveare, a famous English missionary to the Congo, has passed away at the age of 91.

Helen Roseveare was born in 1925 at Haileybury College (Hertfordshire, England), where her father taught mathematics.

Raised in a high Anglican church, Helen’s Sunday school teacher once told their class about India, and Helen resolved to herself that she would one day be a missionary.

Despite the Christian heritage of her family, and faithful attendance at church, Helen sensed a void in her life and distance from God.

She enrolled in Newnham College at Cambridge University to study medicine. There she joined the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) through the invitation of a student named Dorothy. She became an active participant in the prayer meetings and Bible studies, reading the New Testament for the first time. But she later said that her understanding of Christianity was more head knowledge than heart engagement.

In the winter of 1945, the Lord seemed to meet her in a personal way during a student retreat. She gave her testimony on the final evening, and Bible teacher Graham Scroggie wrote Philippians 3:10 in her new Bible, and told her:

Tonight you’ve entered into the first part of the verse, “That I may know Him.” This is only the beginning, and there’s a long journey ahead. My prayer for you is that you will go on through the verse to know “the power of His resurrection” and also, God willing, one day perhaps, “the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.”

She felt an increased sense of calling toward missions, and publicly declared during a missionary gathering in North England, “I’ll go anywhere God wants me to, whatever the cost.”

Afterwards, I went up into the mountains and had it out with God. “O.K. God, today I mean it. Go ahead and make me more like Jesus, whatever the cost. But please (knowing myself fairly well), when I feel I can’t stand anymore and cry out, ‘Stop!’ will you ignore my ‘stop’ and remember that today I said ‘Go ahead!’?”

After graduating from Cambridge with her doctorate in medicine, Helen studied for six months at the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade college at Crystal Palace. From there she went to Belgium to study French and Holland to take a course on tropical medicine as she prepared for her appointment as a medical missionary in the Congo.

In mid-March of 1953, at the age of 28, she arrived in the northeastern region of the Congo (later named Zaire).

In the first two years, she founded a training school for nurses, training women to serve as nurse-evangelists, who in turn would run clinics and dispensaries in different regions.

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 8.15.58 AMIn October 1955, she was asked to transfer seven miles away to run an abandoned maternity and leprosy center in Nebobongo. Working with local Africans, Helen helped to transform the center into a hospital with 100 beds, serving mothers, lepers, and children, along with a training school for paramedics and 48 rural clinics. Outside of these facilities, there was no other medical help for 150 miles in any direction.

Exhausted, Helen returned to England in 1958 for a furlough, during which time she received further medical training.

The Congo became independent from Belgium in 1960, and civil war broke out in 1964. All of the medical facilities they had established were destroyed. Helen was among ten Protestant missionaries put under house arrest by the rebel forces for several weeks, after which time they were moved and imprisoned.

She describes the horror of what happened after she tried to escape:

They found me, dragged me to my feet, struck me over head and shoulders, flung me on the ground, kicked me, dragged me to my feet only to strike me again—the sickening searing pain of a broken tooth, a mouth full of sticky blood, my glasses gone. Beyond sense, numb with horror and unknown fear, driven, dragged, pushed back to my own house—yelled at, insulted, cursed.

Her captors, she wrote, “were brutal and drunken. They cursed and swore, they struck and kicked, they used the butt-end of rifles and rubber truncheons. We were roughly taken, thrown in prisons, humiliated, threatened.”

On October 29, 1964, Helen Roseveare was brutally raped.

She later recounted:

On that dreadful night, beaten and bruised, terrified and tormented, unutterably alone, I had felt at last God had failed me. Surely He could have stepped in earlier, surely things need not have gone that far. I had reached what seemed to be the ultimate depth of despairing nothingness.

In this darkness, however, she sensed the Lord saying to her:

You asked Me, when you were first converted, for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it? . . . These are not your sufferings. They’re Mine. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.

She eventually received an “overwhelming sense of privilege, that Almighty God would stoop to ask of me, a mere nobody in a forest clearing in the jungles of Africa, something He needed.”

She later pointed to God’s goodness despite this great evil:

Through the brutal heartbreaking experience of rape, God met with me—with outstretched arms of love. It was an unbelievable experience: He was so utterly there, so totally understanding, his comfort was so complete—and suddenly I knew—I really knew that his love was unutterably sufficient. He did love me! He did understand!

She also wrote:

[God] understood not only my desperate misery but also my awakened desires and mixed up horror of emotional trauma. I knew that Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” was true on all levels, not just on a hyper-spiritual shelf where I had tried to relegate it. . . . He was actually offering me the inestimable privilege of sharing in some little way in the fellowship of His sufferings.

This theme of “privilege” became prominent in Helen’s ministry. In her Urbana ’76  address, she said:  [Cindy and Jim Judge heard this talk at Urbana and were influenced greatly by this talk.]  

“One word became unbelievably clear, and that word was privilege. He didn’t take away pain or cruelty or humiliation. No! It was all there, but now it was altogether different. It was with him, for him, in him. He was actually offering me the inestimable privileged of sharing in some little way the edge of the fellowship of his suffering.”

In the weeks of imprisonment that followed and in the subsequent years of continued service, looking back, one has tried to “count the cost,” but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.

After returning to African in 1966, she soon left Nebobongo to establish a new medical center in Nyankunde in northeastern Zaire, producing a 250-bed hospital, maternity ward, training college for doctors, a center for leprosy, and other endeavors.

There, too, she experienced several trials and relational difficulties. She never claimed to see visions or hear the voice of the Lord, but she did sense him rebuking her attitude. On one occasion, her conviction from the Lord went as follows:

You no longer want Jesus only, but Jesus plus . . . plus respect, popularity, public opinion, success and pride. You wanted to go out with all the trumpets blaring, from a farewell-do that you organized for yourself with photographs and tape-recordings to show and play at home, just to reveal what you had achieved. You wanted to feel needed and respected. You wanted the other missionaries to be worried about how they’ll ever carry on after you’ve gone. You’d like letters when you go home to tell how much they realize they owe to you, how much they miss you. All this and more. Jesus plus. . . . No, you can’t have it. Either it must be “Jesus only” or you’ll find you have no Jesus. You’ll substitute Helen Roseveare.

In 1973, Helen returned to the UK for health reasons, settling in Northern Ireland. She traveled, wrote several books, and served as a missionary advocate.

She went to be with her Lord, from whom she counted it a privilege to suffer, on December 7, 2016, at the age of 91.

I will say that among the many who read this account, we have been reminded of one of God’s gifts to us in the person of a woman leader in missions…who now has entered the great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12. 

Grow a heart of compassion in your child

Young parents may need some ideas around Christmas to help their children focus on others. This Christmas you may want to use this opportunity to teach your child about the needs of children in poverty. Maybe giving a student in Africa a chance to go to high school or maybe the gift of a goat for a African family could be a Christmas gift. Explaining poverty and the needs of children in Africa may be a challenge. The explanations below can give you talking points and the time you spend teaching your child could stir your child and help grow his/her heart of compassion.


Hope for Life in Kenya is an orphan care center that is proud to have 37 teenagers who have qualified to go to high school. Kids orphaned because of AIDS just don’t stand a chance to go to high school without some outside help. We just put together a new You Tube to see the story of these student’s lives. It’s very kid-friendly.

Maybe your child would be motivated to raise money to buy an African child a gift of a chicken or a soccer ball or a Bible. A good Christmas teaching moment could come from sharing this page on a website with your child. You will be introduced to the ministry of our friend, Robert Sityo, who graduated from Wheaton College a year ago…and is now back in Uganda ministering. Read his family’s story to a child.

It’s a teachable moment. 

8 Benefits of Education That Combat Global Poverty

SEATTLE — The benefits of education equip individuals of all ages with the skills and knowledge needed to be productive and successful global citizens. Educating citizens within poverty-stricken areas can be an effective way to address and eradicate global poverty.

The following are eight benefits of education that help to combat global poverty:

1. Education Raises Literacy Levels

Illiteracy is a cycle which reinforces long-term poverty levels throughout generations. Individuals living in poverty are often prevented from entering educational settings.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a 12 percent drop in global poverty could be achieved if each student within low-income countries received basic reading and literacy skills by the time they left school.

2. Education Increases Income and Wealth Creation

Increased education levels directly give individuals the necessary skills to increase their income level. Each extra year of schooling a child receives increases that student’s earnings by up to 10 percent, according to UNESCO.

Education also boosts the income levels and amount of food farmers produce on their land by giving them the necessary information to cultivate cash crops or follow other measures that may raise their cultivation levels.

3. Education Helps Reduce Instability and Corruption

According to the Global Partnership for Education, 36 percent of children worldwide who are not receiving education live in areas of conflict. This lack of opportunity damages their ability to find employment once the conflict ceases. Education promotes stable and peaceful societies that are capable of development.

4. Education Promotes Healthier Lives

Education and awareness give individuals the tools they need to take control over their health choices. Education is also important for the containment of communicable diseases.

According to the World Health Service, an individual who has completed a lower secondary school education has poor health 18 percent less than individuals with no education.

Prevention programs help to fight the transmission of diseases within affected communities and reduce mother/infant mortality rates.

UNESCO reported a mother who is literate is 23 percent more likely to give birth with the help of a skilled attendant or midwife. Further, children born to literate mothers are also 50 percent more likely to live past the age of five.

5. Education Empowers Females

The benefits of female education are not limited to childbirth. When women receive educational opportunities they have greater abilities to generate income, their families are healthier, they raise fewer children and get married at older ages, thereby averting child marriages.

Educating mothers is integral for the societies they belong to. Over the last four decades, around four million child deaths have been prevented due to an increase in female education according to a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation posted in The Lancet journal.

6. Education, Food Security and Nutrition

Poor nutrition affects brain development and the ability to learn for individuals living within poverty stricken areas.

According to UNESCO, 1.7 million fewer children would suffer from stunting, a sign of malnutrition, if all women completed primary education levels. Education also contributes to a more varied diet which reduces the prevalence of malnutrition.

7. Education and the Development of Technical Skills

With increased levels of education, a country’s residents will be more likely to gain knowledge of technical skills creating employment opportunities in fields such as agriculture, construction, technologies and transportation. The development of infrastructure gives children living in remote areas the ability to reach school facilities more easily, raising educational levels within that particular area.

8. Education Boosts Economic Growth

Education promotes and fuels productivity gains that boost economic growth within countries. As reported by the United States Agency for International Development, increasing the average level of education in a country by one year can increase the annual gross domestic product of that nation by half a percentage point.

Lauren Lewis

Sources: UNESCO 1, UNESCO 2, UNESCO 3, UNESCO 4, USAID, Global Partnership For Education 1, Global Partnership For Education 2, The Lancet, The World Bank
Photo: Google Images


So…I have a new take on our election…this is it. It helps to be a world Christian. It helps to see elections in other countries. It helps to have a bigger view….and this is why. I listen to my friends living overseas tell of the elections in their countries. They don’t ask for prayer that the right person would be elected. Because usually there is not a right person running for office. They ask for prayer that the fraudulent elections or the crooked candidates would wreak less havoc and cause fewer riots than the last election. They ask for prayer that the church can be the powerful tool of God in their situation.

image-L 12

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, that’s what makes the U.S. set apart from the rest of the world and all that corruption. That’s what makes us different and better than most. Law and order is our foundation and our high value. Yes, I agree, but our great God allows what he allows.

Both parties seem to be more deeply flawed this election year and they certainly dishonored the reputation that the United States is often perceived as “under God”.

But the odd thing is that in places in the world who experience corrupt presidents,  leaders who incite riots, siphon tax money to Swiss bank accounts, persecute Christians, we often see God at work. We watch Him doing significant things in and through people’s lives who bend their knee to Him. We see miracles happen. History tells us that these trials only make the church grow stronger. Let’s pray to that end for the church in our country.

We just don’t know what’s coming.  And we wlll see what the church of Jesus Christ does in our own country in these next years. I have whined quite a bit. We all need to get on with life. Will we moan and lose courage to BE what we are called to be in this world? Will we be salt and light? Will we stand up and separate ourselves from worldly systems and live as we are to live, citizens of another kingdom? I pray that I will and we will.

Yesterday I read a wonderful blog by a Presbyterian pastor in Nashville, titled To All My Post-Traumatic, Post-Election Friends. Give it a look. It’s very inspiring to get a biblical view of leaders in history and how God worked in spite of them. Let’s all commit to pray more seriously about the Church that we are a part of.

As this pastor reminded me, “the most repeated command in Scripture remains, “Do not fear.” God knows how easily we fall into fear. He graciously steadies us and reminds us that He is with us—“Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).





To thrive, not just survive.

We all need each other. Community makes all the difference…and if you can have community with someone who “gets your life”…it’s awesome. As a part of the board of Thrive…this article makes me so happy. This woman went on a retreat with people who get her life and it made all the difference. Have you had a similar experience?

image-L 20

From a very honest missionary blogger I like: http://www.killoughfamily.com/to-thrive-and-not-just-survive/

Let me know what you think?

I’ve served full-time in international missions for six years now- basically every day since I got married. I adore doing this next to my husband, following God’s crazy adventure for us hand in hand. But, there is a side to our lifestyle that I struggle to put into words. A side that has been murky and confusing and harder to communicate. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worth sharing or a valid topic. Quite the opposite, in fact. I wish there wasn’t so much silence on this side of things. When it’s in black and white letterform, I’m never really satisfied with how things sound. So today will you bear with me while I try to put some words to this darker side of my life?

Ok, great!

This month, I attended a women’s retreat in Cape Town, South Africa. It was run by an incredible ministry that God kindly laid before us earlier this year, called Thrive. Thrive serves “global women”, as they call us. The heart of Thrive is to empower women in their roles overseas to thrive, and not just survive.

In the last two years I have frequently described complained about my life being in survival mode to my husband. And when I stop and look, it’s easy to see why. A year ago we said painful goodbyes to a country and community that we came to love, to start from scratch (again) somewhere else. In the meantime, we’ve been battling a chronic, debilitating health issue that has shaken up our lives in very uncomfortable ways. Three precious people in our lives this year made their entrance to heaven. We’ve been without permanent abode for months at a time, and I have battled with isolation-induced depression* for much of the last 24 months. *I have no idea if that’s a “thing” or not. But that’s what it feels like, so I’m going with that.

Those are the “big things”. The “little things” had started to wear on me too. The missed family celebrations, missed moments with friends, financial uncertainties, lack of consistent relationships, the struggle to find a church home…

I could go on and on about the hurts and losses that have swamped us on our journey to Angola, but I don’t want to. It would get depressing really fast. You see now why this can be so hard to put into words? Anyway, the point is, that there is a side to this epic adventure that takes a toll. A real, felt toll, let me tell you. That toll, led me to find the Thrive ministry earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong, landing in Angola and pioneering the work that we’ve been dreaming of, is a joy. It really is. Simultaneously, while there’s been dark times these last couple of years, there’s been great times too. And that’s where the confusion enters in. How can I feel so much love and so much hurt for the same process, the same journey?

I was getting desperate, and my state of mind and heart was hurting our whole family. I needed somewhere to find help, to get better equipped to leave the survival mode. David encouraged me to sign up for Thrive’s Cape Town retreat for women serving in Africa, and while I had no idea what to expect, the description sounded really hopeful.

They may have been the sweetest, short four days of my life. I couldn’t write enough posts to share all the things God poured into me through this retreat. But I will say that while I went seeking him (somewhat shambolically), He was already there waiting for me when I arrived. Seriously. That was my absolute favorite part of the whole retreat. The Thrive team, and all their faithful volunteers, prayer and financial partners, created such a wide open space for Jesus to hang out. From the opening worship session the Holy Sprit just began moving. If I was excited to be there, He showed me that He was even more thrilled that I was there. How incredible is that?!

God challenged me, He called me deeper, He healed me and He spoke softly to me. He took my brokenness and my confusion, my questions and my insecurities and gently but powerfully restored truth where I had embraced lies. Thrive facilitated that.

Thank you, Thrive people.

At the retreat, I was suddenly in a whole room full of people who “get” our lifestyle: the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the benefits and the sacrifices. And they were prepared to talk about it all! No topic was off limits, no subject too great or too small to be worthy of airtime. If it mattered to one of the women, it mattered. How that brought refreshment to my soul, I can hardly tell you.
One night was a fun gift game (white elephant, if you know it) with a book recommendation exchange as we all took a turn. So fun, and enriching at the same time!

But that’s not all. Oh no. We were abundantly loved and cared for from the very depths of our souls to the very surface of our toenails! I think the Thrive team actually thought of everything. Counseling, pedicures, small group discussions, prayer, generous gifts, massages, health consults, workshops, funny story night, on and on it went. I got my laugh back, my joy back, my enthusiasm back. Tiredness and anxiety were forced to take a back seat to unspeakable joy and renewed energy for the road ahead. I came back to my husband and girls a restored woman. I don’t know that I can ever really express how grateful I am for that.

Today, as much as wanting to promote transparency in this line of work, I’m writing this because I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who is involved with Thrive. Statistics show that the average length of time a women serves in my kind of role is eight years. I can see why. I have been closer than ever to thinking I can’t maintain this for forever. No one wants to spend life in survival mode. I want to thrive, and my four days in Cape Town with this group of sisters, a tiny 0.18% of my career so far, will enable me to continue in this for many, many years to come. How about that for a return on investment?! I feel so much better equipped, connected and aware of what I’ve really signed up for.

So for one last time, thank you, Thrive people.

Friends, maybe you would like to be a part of this amazing and worthy ministry?

There are very practical ways that you can support Thrive and women like me. They are always looking for retreat volunteers (US and overseas), prayer partners and financial partners. Maybe you even know another global woman who would benefit from going on a retreat like I did. Share the website with her! I know she’ll thank you 🙂

School begins everywhere

In the U.S. when school begins, there are all sorts of attitudes….my grandchildren are ecstatic. All nine of them seem to be made out of the same stuff….enthusiasm. Three on the west coast, two in Nashville and three in our Chicago suburbs all echo the same excitement.

In my other country of belonging and some long, gangly roots, when children get to school age, there is enthusiasm but often a burden that is too heavy to bear. The little ones have to have shoes and uniforms to go to school. That’s too much for some families.

For high schoolers who have passed the rigorous 8th grade exams and feel accomplished to have just made the grade, their burden is also heavy…how to pay for school fees. For you see, to go on to high school requires uniforms, book fees, and high semester fees. And that can add up to $100.oo a month. No, there are no city taxes to pay for high schools. Many high schools are only boarding schools that require some travel and room and board, as well. Sounds like our colleges, doesn’t it?

We have been involved with Hope for Life Kenya for 12 years. I helped start this ministry when I was the Global Outreach Director at Wheaton Bible Church. It was then called Heart for AIDS, since most of the kids who came to Hope for Life’s orphan care center were very young  and orphaned by one or both parents who died of AIDS. The director, Josephine Kiarii hand-picked the kids to have in her lunch and after school programs.

Now in 2016 those 4 and 5 year olds have grown up and are ready to finish their education. What a great group they are.  I have met most of them. Almost all of them are committed Christ followers. They serve in local churches and take care of their households (with their grandparents, in some cases), they mentor the younger kids, and are known in the community for being strong leaders who have purpose and live exemplary lives.

This year there are 37 teens chomping at the bit to graduate from high school. They do well in school and have strong testimonies in their boarding schools. Please pray for these kids. They need our support in so many ways.

You may want to consider partially supporting a student for a few years until he or she finishes high school. Faith and Learning International in Wheaton is the 501c3 that is making it possible to support one of these students. Personally, I would be happy to link you up with a student that you could pray for by name and learn about personally. Just let me know. Write me at judge525@gmail.com

Visit http://www.faithandlearning.org/hope-for-life-kenya

[Any of you readers who are in the Wheaton area are welcomed to come to meet Josephine. She is coming to the U.S. for the first time this fall and will be here in mid-October. Jim and I are hosting a reception for her on October 12 at 7pm at The TEAM Mission Place, 370 W. Front Street, downtown Wheaton.]