The unsaved see believers as hypocritical, and no different than themselves. Here’s how to live an authentic faith that stands out from “normal” American Christianity.
I hesitated to accept the gospel in college because of the behavior of people who claimed they were Christians. They were not much different than me. Their language, actions and behaviors weren’t so special that I viewed what they had as a better life. Why would I want what they had? What was so special or different about it?
When it comes to our culture, it’s more of the same. The music industry feeds our youth with profanity and sex, but then those same musicians stand up and thank “the man upstairs” at awards ceremonies. Our sports heroes party, use performance-enhancing drugs and get into fights, but then they kneel down and thank God the moment they score a touchdown.
What is the world supposed to think of this? Would the real Christians please stand up?
What every church can do about human sex trafficking—now
Can I be blunt and say that I’m sick and tired of churches and ministries that are committed to “raising awareness” about sex trafficking?
We’re living in a time in which the world has more modern-day slaves than ever before. The United Nations crime-fighting office estimates that at any given time, 2.4 million people are being trafficked—and of those, half are children. Nearly 80 percent of those 2.4 million are being exploited as sexual slaves.
Although it’s difficult to cite an exact figure, we know that no country is providing more girls per capita than Moldova, where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. Right now, 450,000 women and girls have simply and mysteriously vanished from the tiny country—more than 12 percent of the nation’s total population!
I had been working with children in state-run institutions in Romania and Moldova for decades before I discovered this horror. Children—the same kids I had brought Christmas boxes to since they were 8 years old, put roofs over their heads and had made more than 100 trips to see—were suddenly gone, victims of the Eastern Europe sex trafficking industry. While serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Michael D. Kirby told me that within 24 hours of getting into a car, girls end up in places such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Italy. They are then beaten, raped and forced to comply with the demands of their new masters. Many will be forced to provide sexual services as many as 30 times a day.
The very day I learned the truth—beginning with a physically disabled girl named Stella—I had to do more than talk and raise awareness. I had to do something—anything. Let me suggest a few ways you and your church can get involved in the fight against injustice and the $32 billion-a-year global sex trafficking industry:
Educate yourself and your congregation—but don’t stop there. I believe education is the most powerful, world-changing weapon we have. Books such as Not for Sale, Sex Trafficking and God in a Brothel, as well as films like Taken, Trade and Call + Response offer substantiated facts and stories that put a face on the numbers.
Stop sugarcoating the issue. Churches need to hear from those on the front lines. Invite a restored victim or first-response leader like Christine Caine (see p. 46) to come to your church and share. Every summer, we bring more than 15 orphans to the United States who often share their stories with churches.
Take a stand where you can make a difference. We built a house for orphans aging out of the Moldovan orphanage system. As soon as we raised the money, we built a second one. Soon, two more homes will be filled. I confronted the problem head-on in one country because the Lord told me to, and because the country was small enough that I knew we could be a game-changer.
Advocate for stronger laws and tougher enforcement. Write your local, state and federal government officials and petition for stronger laws and better enforcement of the current laws. Find out what your elected representatives are doing to end human slavery and how you can help. You may also want to contact your local law enforcement branch and find out what the protocol is for handling victims of sex trafficking. Bring the issue to their attention.
Send a missions team. At Stella’s Voice, we are always in need of short- and long-term volunteers. Everyone has something to offer, whether it’s assisting with light construction, teaching English, helping with our summer camps or caring for the orphans. Wherever you serve in whatever capacity, you’ll be forever changed.
Organize a fundraising event.Set aside a Friday night or Saturday afternoon and hold an art show or auction, host a community dinner or organize a clothing drive.
Devote a Sunday. Many of my best friends are pastors. I know the struggles you face to meet budget, reach out to the community and do all that God has called you to do. But I challenge you: Devote one Sunday to this injustice—just one week. Make a difference in the lives of girls who are literally standing on the edge of hell. They are more than statistics on a page; they’re human beings who are treated worse than cattle. They’re someone’s daughter, sister or friend.
This isn’t just my fight. We are all biblically mandated to fight injustice, help free the captives and to give voice to the oppressed. This is your fight, too!
Philip Cameron is founder and president of Stella’s Voice. The ministry’s website offers free videos for use at a fundraising event and opportunities to set up a fundraising page. To learn more, go to stellasvoice.org.
A daughter of the Azusa Street Revival and Mission, 93-year-old evangelist Verna Linzey, preached on the baptism with the Holy Spirit at another revival and mission in Los Angeles called Global Covenant Church, where a new move of the Holy Spirit erupted.
An awakening occurred and five Filipinos and Americans burst into speaking in tongues as the Holy Spirit moved and gave them utterance while Linzey was ministering on the stage. The mission is pastored by the Rev. Alice Tanaka.
This was the third time the mission invited Linzey to speak. The services are characterized by a lack of structure and an earnest quest for an encounter with the Holy Spirit as those who arrive at any hour seek the Holy Spirit. The services go on for up to three hours as they wait on the Spirit.
What better time than a recession to pool your resources and minister to the needy?
It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. From there, our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation were out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and needed real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched a food pantry.
People came to our doors the first day we opened them. Today we have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Calif. Our Food Pantry provides fresh and nonperishable grocery items to families in the community. Pick-ups are available once every 30 days and walk-ins are welcome on select days and times every week.
Within two years, our pantry turned into The PEACE Center, where we also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL (English as a second language) classes, medical services and many more services.
And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through the center. People come not just with hungry stomachs but with hungry hearts as well.