Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Seek Justice: Broken Hearts For A Broken World

The title of this blog was inspired by a seminar that I attended recently at Missionfest. Are our hearts truly broken by the brokenness that we see in the world? Or do we feel overwhelmed at challenges faced around the globe or worse yet, have we become insensitive or apathetic to the suffering in the world? As I think of this I am reminded of the following quote by Edmund Burke that I read recently: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

Oh Lord let it not be said of us that we sat by idle while people around us suffered needlessly because we were too busy with our own little worlds. Let it not be said of us that we ignored the plight of the opppressed, the orphan, the widow because we were so busy consuming all the blessings that You meant for us to share. Let it not be said of us that we choose to turn our eyes from the pain and suffering of this world so that we would shield ourselves from those emotions.

The Canadian director of International Justice Mission reminded me recently that we need to get intimate with the stories of suffering we read about, whether it be about the persecuted church or the child who has been repeatedly abused because she was forced into prostitution. Unless we get intimate with the hurt, how can we truly develop Jesus' compassion for those who are hurting. Unless we are willing to enter into the horror of their pain, despite how sick it makes us feel as we read about these stories, how can we truly pray with hearts that are broken by the things that break God's heart. THese days as part of this 'divine moment' God inspired me to raise awareness about what the biblical mandate for justice is...what does that look like? As a body of believers, we know we are suppose to be involved with setting the captives free, we know we are suppose to fight against injustice, but we have no clue really what that looks like? So often our friends who work overseas including us, feel overwhelmed at the task especially when the people we are up against are corrupt officials.

So here I am now coordinating a conference for June 17, 2006 entitled "Seek Justice: Broken Hearts For A Broken World." We have learned how to feed the hungry, heal the sick and shelter the homeless, but there is one thing we still haven’t learned to do, even though God’s Word repeatedly calls us to the task. We haven’t learned how to rescue the oppressed. For the child in forced prostitution, for the prisoner illegally detained and tortured, for the widow robbed of her land, for the child sold into slavery, we have almost no vision of how God could use us to bring tangible rescue. All these forms of abuse and oppression as well as others are witnessed by missionaries and relief workers on a daily basis.(A quote from Good News About Injutice by Gary Haugen, IJM)

If you are interested in learning more about this conference or attending it, please let me know. We are praying for 300 people to attend from all over Toronto. My own prayer is that God will raise up an army of people who will be a voice for the voiceless.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Seizing Your Divine Moments

As mentioned in my previous blog these past 4 months have been a time of ‘soaking’ in God in a variety of ways. Yet as I reflect now on all that has transpired I am reminded of a book I read a few years ago by Erwin McManus called ‘Seizing Your Divine Moment.’ If you haven’t had a chance to read this book, let me encourage you to do so. The title may seem cheesy but the content is poignant, insightful, challenging and speaks in a way that tugs at the deepest cores within our heart. Anyway, what is this divine moment I am referring to? I suppose in one sense each day is a divine moment, each day we awake with good health, each day we have food on the table, each day we live in freedom, but more than that each day on this earth we all have the potential of impacting the world for Christ in our spheres of influence. As I reflect on Easter, I remember a divine moment over 15 years ago when Jesus revealed Himself to me at a Good Friday service as He opened my eyes to who He was and what He did on the cross for me. That divine moment set in a motion the beginning of a journey with Jesus that today has led me down a path of adventure and purpose. As Erwin McManus writes: What if you knew there was a moment coming, one where God would meet you in such a way that nothing would be the same again? What if there was a moment, a defining moment, where the choices you made determined the course and momentum of your future? When you dream you look to a moment still to come. Yet the only moment that you must take responsibility for right now is the one in front of you. This is your moment. Your challenge is not seizing divine moments, but seizing your divine moment.

This quote speaks to my heart these days as I reflect back to those early years when I first became a born-again Christian and on one particular night when I saw a documentary on TV about children who were sold into prostitution in Thailand. After seeing that documentary something stirred within my heart. Today I realize that ‘stirring’ is part of the ‘calling’ in my life. It is a mystery how God lays a burden on our hearts for a ‘cause’ a nation, a people group. I don’t think we can truly comprehend the depth of that ‘mystery’ until we get to heaven, yet when I think back to that documentary now, I see how that ‘divine moment’ of watching that documentary has become a catalyst for a journey that I find myself on at this point. You see I remember joining a group of ecumenical Christians who were involved in an organization called ECPAT—Ending Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism. I don’t recall how many meetings I went to but at that time the focus was seeking to get legislation passed here in Canada such that any person who sexually abused a minor in Asia would be charged here.

A few years later, after a couple of illnesses and deaths in my family, the Lord began to stir my heart for overseas and I remember applying to serve in Thailand in a ministry to child prostitutes. But God closed that door and instead I ended up in Singapore for a year using my business skills. Why do I share all this detail…well you’ll understand shortly. You see I always thought that it was ‘my dream’ to minister to children who were forced into prostitution so when that dream ‘died’ I figured that was the end of it because it really wasn’t God’s purpose for me. How wrong I was? God’s timing as we all know is not always our timing and last summer this ‘dream’ was resurrected not because of anything I did but because of God’s sovereignty. Little did I know that a missionary I would meet in Cambodia in 2004 would be a link to a Christian Foundation whose founder was now involved in financing a project related to rescuing children from brothels in Cambodia. To make a long story short, this dream I had so many years ago was really God’s dream that is now becoming a reality in my life. Never in a million years would I have ever imagined how the Lord would bring so many different experiences that I have had in these past 15 years together in such a way that they all are being used to fulfill this dream that He gave me many years ago. I honestly find myself in my divine moment. Forgive me as I hope this doesn’t sounds arrogant but let me tell you, it is an unbelievable experience. There is nothing that compares to living out our God given dreams and discovering that the passions He has given us---in my case a passion for widows and orphans is so intricately tied into something that is so beyond me at this point I can’t even fully understand it. All I know is that He has revealed to me my ‘fit’ in His global purposes after many years of wondering where I belong and let me just say when that happens, you feel like you are on an ongoing mountain top experience.’ These past 4 months especially I find myself overwhelmed with God’s love, goodness and grace towards me as I see Him moving within this divine moment connecting me with people and opening doors of opportunities related to creating greater awareness for children sold into prostitution. I wonder ‘why me’ Lord, why do I deserve this blessing.’ But yet I am reminded, Jesus came to give us abundant life, He came to give us purpose and meaning, He came that we might be more like Him and in so doing reflect His love, His compassion, His mercy and His heart in a broken world. There is more to this story but I shall end for now. The simple truth is this: He is the one who makes our dreams a reality because all along they were His dreams.

I'm Back!

Hello fellow bloggers, I’m finally back on line after a 4 month involuntary sabbatical from this arena. How time flies and truly the spirit was willing every time I kept saying to myself ‘I need to blog this thought’ but yet the flesh was ‘busy’ with other things. Over these past 4 months I have found myself attending conferences, bible studies, learning a new language ie. Khmer, reading 5 books on Cambodia, spending time with old and new friends….the list goes on and while I long to have a ‘Mary’ heart sitting still at the feet of Jesus, I find myself discovering that this is a season for “Martha’ to arise. Really there is a constant tension I think that we all face every day and that is ‘being’ versus ‘doing’….a professor at Regent College Dr. Paul Stevens recently said that we need to learn to live this tension well. I believe that with all my heart for each day brings its own challenges and as a people of God, we are constantly a work in process, learning and discovering new things about ourselves as we enter into each daily experience that comes our way. At times we are called to just be still, to reflect and think and ponder and at other moments in the day, we find ourselves in ‘doing mode’. Even as I write this blog entry tonight I am being both a Mary and Martha…reflecting and sharing my thoughts that are percolating in my mind at this point and yet having to pen them in order to prepare a blog.

So I look forward to hearing from you all in blog world!