Outreach

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Your Fight, Too

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 somethinganything. 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.   read more

Raising Our Faith Level

Patterns and keys to seeing more of the miraculous

Being in healing ministry, I have witnessed the miraculous regularly and seen thousands touched by God each year.

I remember two times when the Lord spoke something to me out of His Word, and it gave me an insight that brought an increase for healing. The first instance happened about two years ago, and the second about a year ago.

The first came out of 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul said, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” (NIV).

I’d seen this Scripture many times, but when God quickened it to me, all of a sudden it took on life. All of a sudden I made this connection: Faith needs to be spoken. You can say you believe something, but if you don’t have enough faith to declare it, to speak it, there’s something that’s not released. read more

Treasure Hunters

The Holy Spirit’s clues will lead you to the lost and needy

 

The clues on our treasure map led us to a home improvement store, where we began looking for our treasure—someone with “red hair,” “headache,” “Ralph,” and “back problem” were among our clues. 

Immediately, I noticed a woman with red hair. As I approached her and her husband, I asked, “Hey, do you by any chance have a headache?” She responded, “As a matter of fact I do!”

She was visibly shocked that I had this inside information. After explaining that God had clearly highlighted her on my treasure map, she agreed to let us pray for her even though she adamantly stated that she was not a Christian.

After a short prayer, her headache vanished and she started to cry, overwhelmed that God would care enough about her to send us to help her. She then asked Jesus into her life right there in the middle of the aisle, while her husband stood at a distance in obvious disgust. read more

d-MinOut-Missions

Remembering Egypt’s Dwindling Minority

Why the church must seek opportunities to minister to Arab believers

 

Egypt has been in the news a lot during the past 12 months. News footage of protesters in the streets has played in the background as we share family meals and live our everyday lives. Often the images of what’s happening are violent, and make us thankful we’re not caught in the crossfire. 

As the mission field in our post-Christian society gets nearer to our own doorstep, there’s a tendency to focus our efforts only on those within our safe, familiar cultures. While we should adapt our missions philosophy to the 21st century world, we shouldn’t ignore foreign mission fields and less-reached people groups. In fact, what we will find is that, as other parts of the world experience civil unrest, our outreach is needed more than ever. 

My wife, Judy, and I flew into Cairo, Egypt, just five days after 25 people were killed in a fresh burst of bloodshed in that city. We were on our way to Alexandria for a ministry appointment. Many of the victims killed in this clash were fellow believers—Christians who were killed while protesting the burning of a church in the southern province of Aswan. read more

d-MinOut-Community

Sharing Hearts of Hope

A leading rabbi reflects on the growing friendship between Jewish and Christian communities

 

As a rabbi, I share with many others in the Jewish community a deep sense of gratitude, allied to  some perplexity, at the phenomenon of evangelical support for Israel. I welcome this chance to share my views as a Jewish leader, on our shared perspectives and goals. 

A great Hasidic teacher, the Kotzker Rebbe, once said the only whole heart is a broken one. 

In an unredeemed world, there is so much pain and loss, any healthy heart must break. What people of God share is that our hearts must hope as well. read more

Counting The Cost

Measuring your ministry will help to increase its impact

 

I’m a numbers guy. I love to challenge people with goals we can measure. So when God called the Rock Church to be “first responders” in sharing God’s love in the community, naturally I looked for ways to measure our success.

First, some background. I started the Rock Church in San Diego in 2000. By God’s grace it has grown to be the city’s largest, averaging 12,500 worshippers each Sunday. With that comes some incredible opportunities and challenges. The biblical stances we have taken on politically charged debates sometimes put the Rock in opponents’ cross hairs. But they also open doors to ministry and to relationships with community leaders.

San Diego County is approximately the size of the state of Connecticut. Like many regions in the United States these days, we’re facing serious budget cuts and reduced services. Likewise, the city of San Diego, the eighth largest in the U.S., is hurting. One out of every 10 people are without work, and more than 12 percent live below the poverty line. read more

Training the Timothys

We need to equip young adults to help change their world


I am the product of spiritual genetic engineering. God has placed a passion inside of me to see global change through young people. 

Never in history have we been faced with these demographics—60 percent of young people live in Asia and 90 percent of the world’s youth live in developing nations. These countries are part of what’s known as the 10/40 Window—a geographical region that is the most densely populated and yet the least evangelized. 

Young adults worldwide are facing horrific issues, which we must confront. The average age of human trafficking victims is between 10-18, and 60 percent of those rescued from brothels in South Asia are infected with HIV. Approximately 1 million youth and children are sold into the sex industry annually.

Those, as young as age 5, are being recruited and forced to serve in combat in nearly 50 wars worldwide. Child labor is another concern in developing countries. Forced labor threatens the physical, emotional and mental well-being, as well as the proper development of a child. The International Labor Organization estimates that 215 million children, as young as age 5, have been forced to work in order to pay off the debts of their parents.  read more

The Good Neighbor Guide

Seek the best for your community and see your influence grow

 

Imagine a church of 850 in attendance winning nearly 2,000 people to the Lord in the space of just 12 months. In addition, imagine that church being featured in Charisma magazine as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Imagine this church had been stuck at a plateau for over three years. Sound unimaginable? That’s exactly what happened to my church in 2009-2010.

When our church was at a plateau, I become weary in attempting to motivate my congregation to regularly evangelize. Some responded, but I didn’t get the results I was looking for. I couldn’t understand why most wouldn’t or just didn’t. I needed a unique strategy for our house.

First, I began to focus on increasing their love quotient. I believe evangelism flows best out of a heart overflowing with love for the Lord. So, I talked more about God’s attributes and personality—attempting to cause their hearts to soar. I motivated the church to focus on intense prayer, asking the Lord to mark each heart with His presence. read more

Signposts Point to Life

We must be carriers of Jesus’ presence to a dark, broken world


Recently, we partnered with local leaders and organizations by opening the first Dream Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., a free medical clinic for women who are underinsured or uninsured. 

The small clinic space was given to us and sits right across from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office, where the poorest families in our city go to apply for food stamps. This is the first of many ministries we plan to open. Soon, we want to have a home for single parents who are afraid to come out of the shadows of homelessness for fear of losing their children to the foster system. We also plan to open homes for kids who are too old for the foster system and have no families.

We are not doing this out of guilt or to be trendy or popular. We are certainly not out to prove to the world that we really are nice people despite the caricatures of Christians.  read more

Saints and Sinners

Why Jesus wasn’t big on asking unbelievers to follow Him to church


Growing up, I was not too interested in church or religion. When I became a teenager, I was invited a few times by Christian classmates to attend their church youth group activities and Bible studies. I was pretty good at saying no. I was not ready to dive into their world. However, I couldn’t keep them from diving into mine.

I am forever grateful that Ron Musselman, the First Presbyterian youth pastor, did not just invite me into his church world; he jumped into my not-so-churchy world. Ron engaged my culture and my community because I was not interested in engaging his.

Jesus gave the greatest demonstration of engaging culture and community when He left the streets of gold in heaven to walk the dirt roads of the Roman Empire. Showing up was just the beginning. While here, He was the expert at engaging all types of cultures and communities that were disenfranchised by the religious elite. read more

A Passion for Prayer

If we don’t pray, how will we really know what God has for us?

 


Passionate spiritual zeal is one of the most important, evident qualities of having an authentic relationship with God. It is key to our witness. It is vital to moving His church forward. Passionate Christianity should be the norm for every believer—not the exception. Our spiritual passion should be something we fight to protect.

It has been through times of drawing closer to God through prayer and fasting that I have received some of the most precise, specific direction for my own life, my family and our church. Without fail, each time I fast I look back in amazement at what God has done in my heart and what He has revealed to me, and I wonder, What if I had not fasted? I would have missed out on what God had for me and our church.

The first 10 years of my ministry at Celebration Church felt like life with Jesus in the fast lane. I ran so hard and so fast. My relationship with God was great, but the church grew so rapidly I had to sprint to keep up. I suppose it’s OK to be in the fast lane, but it is so important to ensure we are making regular stops along the way to get alone with God. If not, the other voices, business and pressures of ministry crowd out the voice of God. read more

How to Love Your Neighbor

Could you be pursuing the right ministry for the wrong reasons?

I have come to love the people of the Hawaiian islands in the 27 years since we planted New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu. The warmth of the Aloha spirit in the islanders wonderfully complements the islands’ perfect temperatures. A unique blend of nationalities and languages here creates some of the most beautiful people on the globe.

Yet, at the start, much of my love was a choice. I didn’t always live here. I received my education and early experience in ministry in the Pacific Northwest. But it was a love for the island people that compelled us to come here and stay here. And no matter where I travel, that love has never left.

Love for people, even love for an area of the country, is mandatory for a church to succeed. A church God loves to bless is one that loves the people in its community as well as its call to reach them. read more

The Land We’d Rather Go Around

How we can remember ‘the forgotten’ among us, even as our churches grow

But He needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). In Jesus’ time, Samaria represented a land of cultural difference and prejudice for many Jews—a land they’d rather go around. I believe our cities and towns too have “a land we’d rather go around.” Jesus’ conviction was clear: He had to go through Samaria. And I believe that as His body, so must we. 

For years I felt I had nothing to offer people unlike me. Because of my upper-middle-class upbringing and the fact that I pastored a church full of people who looked like me, I was led to believe that I was incapable of being used by God to make an impact in a different cultural context in our city. read more

Growing Your Church’s Small Groups

The key lies in knowing how to develop strong leaders

Strong, healthy small-group ministries succeed because they develop strong, healthy small-group leaders. So, naturally, one of the top concerns ministry leaders have is how to develop strong group leaders. How can you be sure they’ll lead well? What will slow down the turnover rate? How do you get more people to lead?

Healthy leaders are empowered leaders. Empowered leaders are trained for success and entrusted with authority.  read more

Working With Firms and Freelancers

Tips for hiring creative help

I'm a big believer in tapping into freelancers because hiring them often means matching the best talent to the right project. Full-time creative people are nice to have on the team, but many ministries can't afford the luxury. Here are some things I've learned through the years: read more

Who’s on Your Bus?

Nine keys to building a dynamic team of volunteer communicators

Corporate consultant Jim Collins writes in his book Good to Great about the principle “First Who, Then What” and how it applies to teamwork. When building teams, Collins says, our responsibility as leaders should be to get the right people on the bus—and the right people off the bus—and then determine where the bus is headed.

This is the case when building a church communications team. This group, often powered by volunteers, is central to telling the story of a church community through its weekend services, special events, environmental design, print pieces, community outreach, online sites and more.

Consider these nine principles as foundations that will help you work with and build volunteers for your church’s communication team.

1. Match strengths, not availability. Just because someone is available to help out doesn’t mean it will result in someone helping you out. So what if they know how to use Photoshop. The question is, do they know how to use it in a way that results in outcomes you are expecting? Always look to match the strengths of a volunteer, not the availability of a volunteer.

2. Remember reciprocity. Volunteers are volunteering because they get something in return. It may sound selfish, but it’s just the way we’re wired. Whether it’s in the form of satisfaction, a free meal, kudos, recognition, promotion or just smiles, the concept of reciprocity is alive and well.

Don’t forget this, because when you know what volunteers are looking for, you can better help them obtain it.

3. Realistic expectations. Be realistic about the expectations you have for volunteers. Expect too little and you’ll never cause them to rise to the challenge. Expect too much and they’ll feel like they failed you. Communicate upfront what you’re expecting and give them opportunity to respond.

4. Spend more time on the front end. The more time you spend upfront talking through the project or outcomes, the more the volunteer will feel enfranchised and enabled. The more we sow upfront, the more we reap on the other side.

5. Educate, enfranchise, empower. Educate volunteers on everything you can about your project or expected outcomes. Graft them into the team that, with their help, is part of making this project happen. Give them the tools they need to accomplish your expectations.

6. Seek out the troublemakers. Consider the volunteers who don’t always play by the rules; the ones who test the limits; the ones who color outside the lines; the ones who talk back a little; the ones who require a little extra faith on your part to let go.

7. Hire strength, manage weakness. I employ people for their strengths, knowing I’ll have to manage around their weaknesses. For example, the insane project manager who is not so great with people: I’m hiring her project-management skills, and I know I’ll have to work with and around her deficient people skills. The same goes for volunteers—recruit their strengths and work around their weaknesses.

8. It’s OK to fire them. Isn’t it funny how we often have a harder time firing volunteers than we do paid staff? It’s OK to let volunteers go, to transition them, to move them out.

9. Be thankful (with gifts, cards and more). You never can thank volunteers enough. From throwing them celebration dinners to giving them gifts and cards, go overboard in expressing appreciation for your volunteers.


Brad Abare is the director of communications for the Foursquare denomination, founder of the Center for Church Communication (cfcclabs.org), and president of Personality. read more

Know Your Audience

Nine ways to reach the people you want to reach

I’m embarrassed to admit how often I forget one of the most basic communication principles: Know your audience. It’s easy to take this principle for granted, especially if you communicate to your audience regularly. Here are nine things I’ve learned that may serve as reminders to you.

1. Create people-cards. Ad agencies do this all the time. Profile your audience with by using real data and research, and then create posters or cards for a few of the people who represent the overall audience you’ve profiled. Hang these in front of your writers, designers, creators and others who work on your products so that they always have those people in mind when they communicate.

2. Conduct surveys and polls. This is as easy as using Web sites such as SurveyMonkey.com, PollMonkey.com or MyChurchSurvey.com. These sites make it possible for you to get feedback from different groups of people. The more you know about who you are communicating with, the better you get at communicating.

3. Communicate so the audience will understand. Often when I speak at events, I tell the story of Robert E. Lee, the famous Civil War general. He never sent a communiqué to his generals before first asking a private to read it. The private had to read the letter and then restate in his own words what the call to action was. If the private didn’t get it right, Lee would rewrite it until the communication was perfectly clear.

4. Immerse yourself in your audience. Watch the shows they watch. Play the games they play. Eat what they eat. Read what they read. The more you understand their lives, the better you will know how to connect with their realities. This is not about compromising your character or unique personality but about understanding theirs.

5. Anticipate their future. Don’t get caught up just in what they’re doing now; anticipate where they will be in a few weeks, months and years. When you know where they’re going, you can arrive early and be waiting.

6. Translate accurately. Pay attention to how your message is being translated into other languages. Even popular ad slogans have been translated inappropriately. The famous “Got milk?” phrase was translated in some Latino markets as “Are you lactating?” Perdue Farms ran a campaign years ago that claimed, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken.” When translated it became, “It takes a sexually aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.” If Coca-Cola can figure out how to communicate to the other side of the world, certainly your church can communicate to the people across the street.

7. Be one of them. Shadow a few people from your profiles (see No. 1). Follow them for a day from morning to night.

8. Observe their behavior. This is the opposite of immersing yourself in what they do. Instead of doing what they do, observe how they interact with what they do. See what makes them cry, what makes them laugh. What scares them? What moves them to action?

9. Direct your communication to the people in the middle. Don’t always aim your communication at the masses by trying to capture or engage everyone. Go for the people in the middle, the largest representation, and target them. When you try to reach everyone, you reach no one. When you try for someone, you can reach many.


Brad Abare is the director of communications for the Foursquare denomination and founder of the Center for Church Communication (cfcclabs.org). read more

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