Quote of the Week-Threats from a Human Trafficker

“If I kill a dog, I will get in trouble. If I kill you, I won’t get in any trouble. No one knows you are here. You don’t exist.”

– Threats made by a human trafficker to Flor, a 37-year-old survivor of modern American slavery, who came to the U.S. to earn money after losing a child to starvation in Mexico. She was forced to work 17 to 19 hours a day for no pay in a sewing sweatshop. “People feel if you come in illegally, anything that happens to you is your fault,” said Lisette Arsuaga, with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking. “Slavery is not an immigration issue. It’s a civil rights issue. There’s no justification for making someone a slave.” (Source: Kansas City Star) (via Sojourners)

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Quote of the week – ‘we shall not be moved’ – great song “Stand Up” by the flobots!

A great song…powerful lyrics, that we all need to listen to… couldn’t have written it better myself!
here are some of the lyrics:

“stand up-we shall not be moved
except by a child with no socks and shoes
if you’ve got more to give, then you’ve got to prove,
put your hands up and i’ll copy you”

“…under god, but we kill like the son of Sam,
but if you feel like i feel about the Son of Man,
we will overcome!”

“… we shall not be moved,
except by a child with no socks and shoes,
except by a woman dying from a loss of food
except by a freedom fighter dying on a cross for you
We shall not be moved
Except by a system thats rotten through
Neglecting the victims and ordering the cops to shoot
High treason now we need to prosecute”

And whoever made the video to the song, did a great job! check out the video!

Quote of the Week-Justice for Women

“The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”
-Jimmy Carter (from his speech about leaving the Southern Baptist Convention)

you can read the complete speech HERE, on my friend Eugene Cho’s blogpost on the subject!

Church Under the Bridge, Waco -Article

Below is an article that was in the most recent RELEVANT Magazine posted online. What Jimmy Dorrell and all the ‘Trolls’ are doing in Waco is so similar to the heart and vision of what several of us here in Seattle have been journeying towards, in connecting with our outdoor friends. I am currently reading Jimmy Dorrel’s book ‘Trolls and Truth’, which is great. His work has helped in mentoring us as we embark on what is becoming known as ‘church outside’ here in Seattle. There is some great stuff to take a hold of in their story if we are willing to hear it and let it sink in.


Bridges and Trolls: The Church Under the Bridge
Lee Ann Marcel
Crack addicts, prostitutes and criminals filter in under the bridge as the sun rises. College students begin folding chairs around a stage. Meanwhile groups of people fill the empty bowls of the homeless. This isn’t your typical Sunday morning church service.

A few men sporting scraggly beards lean against the huge concrete pillars as the roar of cars rush overhead. The gray-headed, stocky pastor jumps out of his beat-up truck, sporting a college T-shirt and shorts. He mingles with several of the college students and the homeless, giving them bear hugs or a hearty pat on the back. The pastor, Jimmy Dorrell, makes his way to the stage and begins to preach. Pigeons coo and bustle above, dropping an occasional “surprise” onto the heads below. While some pastors may preach about health, wealth and prosperity, Dorrell teaches on the idea of simple living.

Waco, a historic town in the heart of Texas, is filled with religious culture and poverty. Baylor University, the largest Baptist college in the world, is located right in the heart of the city, but immediately surrounding the college is immense poverty.

Waco is the fifth poorest city in Texas with twice the poverty rate. The average poverty rate for a city is 13 percent, but Waco has a rate of 27.6 percent. The city is historically full of poverty, low wages and ingrained racism that make it difficult to break out of the poverty cycle.

In the midst of these two contrasting worlds, stands a bridge where people come to worship. The Church Under the Bridge provides an unorthodox yet beautiful image of what the Church should be, where the unlovely come to be loved. It’s a place where social walls are demolished, left crumpled at the foot of the cross.

The Beginning

Church Under the Bridge began as Bible study in 1992. Dorrell had just started an interdenominational program called Mission Waco, a program that aided the poorest parts of the city. One morning Dorrell and his wife, Janet, treated a group of homeless men to breakfast. This soon developed into a Bible study where his wife played guitar and he presented a message.

What started as a group of homeless men that slept under the I-35 bridge soon developed into a church of 300. The church still meets under that same bridge.

“Today, we have this very diverse group of people, not just homeless people but lower income, and we also have middle income and even wealthy folks,” Dorrell says. “So it’s very racially diverse, black white and brown, rich and poor.”

Trolls and a Bridge
But why does the Church brave the elements?

“There were a lot of folks who where unchurched who would never walk into the doors of a building but feel free to just stand on the edges,” Dorrell says. “As soon as you go into a building, you lose that. You begin to have walls that mean people have to come in and sort of be there and participate so it changes that.”

But the reason behind using the interstate bridge isn’t just for the members. Dorrell found that there is a visual impact on people who simply pass by and see the church service.

“We also just found out that this has an incredible impact on being the visible community. We think that the church is the visible community—not a building but the people.”

They call themselves “trolls.” Many members of Church Under the Bridge even sport a shirt proudly displaying the word.

Trolls are usually considered to live under bridges, Dorrell explained. The image seemed appropriate for the Church, not just because of their location.

“We are all trolls and we are all the sinners. So we got our warts and ugliness, and people are scared sometimes of the old troll under the bridge,” Dorrell says. “By society’s standards, we are misfits. We don’t have buildings, we don’t have pretty people—we have these people who are somewhat rejected in culture but when you really get to know the trolls, with all the warts and the ugly side of their past experiences, there really is a genuineness and a lot to learn from them. So we are trolls, nobody gets excluded. You can even be a Pharisee, and rich and be a troll.”

Sunday Mornings

Each Sunday a group of people come to serve a meal to the church attendees. Dorrell says they feed up to 125 people each week.

“We serve our meal early at 10:30 a.m. so that we don’t create the soup kitchen mindset that says, ‘You gotta listen to the sermon before you eat.’ We say, ‘You know if you wanna eat and leave, that’s fine. We’re gonna be here worshiping.’ So most everyone sticks around, but it’s the sense of, you can stay as far back and away from the sermon, or be in the center of it if you’re not comfortable with,” Dorrell says.

The service starts. The band is mutli-racial, not your typical white middle class Christians. A mentally handicapped man stands boldly as he sings joyfully on stage, turning back to the drummer every now and again giving him directions.

“There is this real interesting love relationship with people crossing social barriers socially, and it’s a pretty amazing atmosphere,” Dorrell says. “We try to incorporate the people who are a part of the city that might not be accepted anywhere else. So, we are going to have a mentally challenged guy helping out with music, who really can’t sing or really can’t play anything. But we let him play like he is playing a guitar.”

The church also provides special events such as their health fair on Sundays for their less fortunate members. Groups of professionals along with medical students from the nearby college will give people checkups.

The church has also tried to do away with a clergy and laity feel. They hope to encourage that everyone has equal spiritual gifts, from pastor to the college student.

“I’m just Jimmy, I don’t want to be known as reverend,” Dorrell explains. “I want everybody in the church to know that they have gifts no matter what they have done, or where they have been. So there is a real sense of empowerment.

Bursting the Bubble

At Baylor University, there is a saying that students live in a sheltered bubble nicknamed the “Baylor Bubble.” Some students are unaware of the world around them and live their day-to-day lives wrapped up in school and social circles.

“We have a lot of students who never leave campus or the nicer areas of the city, and they don’t even recognize that poverty is in the shadows of their own buildings,” Dorrell says.

But the same can be said about the Church. Many churches can be wrapped up within their own walls and can fail to see their neighbors.

“Mission Waco began to not only provide empowerment programs for the poor but also to say, ‘Hey, Church, wake up! Worshiping is more than being in this quiet environment behind stained glass windows,’” Dorrell says. “That you got to address the social concerns of the community. The Church has got to press back the darkness and let the light penetrate in and make a difference for the poor.”

But a trap that the Church often falls into is the mistake of looking down on the poor. We often just throw money at the situation rather than seeing them as equals worthy of our time.

“One of the biggest challenges is that we want outsiders to understand that not only is this a ministry that includes the poor, we do not look down on the poor as sort of the victims. We treat each other as equals. Especially if middle class Christians who typically have a tendency to feel sorry for people that are poor and all these people considering, lets go fix them or help them.”

Many times the middle class can merely feel sorry for the poor and never move to the next step or simply don’t know where to start.

“Our values are very skewed as the middle class people,” Dorrell says. “Even though we are Christian, we have synchronized our values with more of the culture than our faith. So we know that most middle class people don’t understand poverty, they feel sorry for them, they care, but they don’t understand a lot of the issues.”

Dorrell suggested simply opening your eyes to the community around you and outside the safe walls of your church and your home

“I think the main thing is just to figure out a way that most people could feel enough comfort, they should feel a little bit of risk that’s a part of the whole deal, we move into a place of apathy and safety instead of the risk,” Dorrell says.

But for some of us, we aren’t quite ready to jump in headfirst. Dorrell suggested a safe, first step.

“I feel the most safe step is serving at the soup kitchen or working in the homeless shelter or helping with after school programs,” Dorrell says. “Through those, you begin to take the next steps. With each step you get more and more comfortable, and you realize all your presumptions were wrong.”

Once all our social barriers are gone, all our presumptions have been shed, we begin to realize the strange upside-down quality of God’s Kingdom. That He tends to use those who we least expect. That He might use someone other than the rich to spread the good news. Maybe heaven is a little like Church Under the Bridge, where there is no rich, no poor, just a bunch of redeemed trolls under a bridge gathering to worship God

Abolition Rally-End Modern Day Slavery

This coming Wednesday, March 25th, 7-9pm @ Mill Creek Foursquare Church, there is a human trafficking rally. I will be attending, helping with some info and also playing my song about sex slavery. The more the better, so come if you can and bring some friends. This is an issue that still so few people know anything about… and it happens in our own backyards. We need to raise more awareness about the fact that there are more slaves in the world right now than any other time in history… about 27 million… and over half are children. Let’s make a difference and become a new abolitionist!! Here is a link to the event: abolition-rally-seattle. Also check out www.onevoicetoendslavery.com
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Quote of the Day

“The heroes are not the ones advocating for the poor and helping the homeless. We are not the heroes. We are just doing what should be done. We are just taking care of what needs to be taken care of. The real heroes are those who by all reason, should have given up long ago, and yet, they have not. They continue to go on, refusing to give up. When they keep getting kicked in the teeth, keep getting knocked down, and they somehow get back up and keep on. These are the real heroes!” –Tim Harris, Real Change (paraphrase)

Lenten Reflections: Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy & Humility

Here is a short blog and prayer I found on the Sojourners blog that I wanted to repost.  It helps us to focus on what is important, especially during this Lenten season.  Please read and let the prayer be your prayer as you reflect on your own life this Lenten season and how to more effectively live out justice, mercy and humility.  Also check out the link to Micah’s Challenge and how you can participate.  

 

A Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

by Brian Swarts 03-04-2009

The season of Lent reminds us of the renewal that came through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Lent is a time to prepare for the coming of Easter and to celebrate the gift of redemption.  Lent is also a time to search for ways we can be part of God’s work of redemption and renewal in our world.

As we search for those things that need renewal here and now, we find the global economic crisis gives us a serious issue to reflect on.  I believe that we have momentous opportunity in America, where the Spirit is calling us to greater leadership on global poverty and injustice in a time of turmoil.  As the global economic crisis increases the number of people vulnerable to extreme poverty, hunger, and disease, it is increasingly urgent for Christians to serve as informed and effective advocates for the poor and the marginalized.  While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

That’s why, during this Lenten season, we are inviting Christians around the nation to pray for those who have been hardest hit by the global crisis.  In prayer, you will be joining “Micah Challenge” campaigns in numerous countries—from Great Britain to Rwanda—who have all committed to pray.  Sometime over the next two months gather your family, friends, and church members together in praying our Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility:

Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

Lord, hear our prayer:

Today we face the season of our redemption during a time of global crisis.

During this season teach us to understand the love that drove you to give up everything to save us all.

Give us the strength that only comes in weakness;

The renewal that only comes through death and resurrection.

Today many of us feel weakened, burdened, and overwhelmed by the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

We ask that your strength be made perfect in our time of weakness.

While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

Just as your weakest hour proved to be the most generous, most life-giving moment in history,

We pray for that out of our own weakness comes a generosity of justice, mercy, and humility for those who bear burdens greater than our own.

Help us to remember that you are the God who, out of nothing, made everything.

The God who still has the power today to remake us.

So let us be remade, not overcome, by our global crisis;

Let us be purified, and not laid low, by injustice, greed, and inequality.

Let us commit ourselves to:

Act justly,
Love mercy,
And walk humbly with you, and with all those
who suffer or want.

This is our moment to change the world.

Because it is at our moment of crisis where your strength and your light, revealed to the world by our faith, become a force that is stronger than fear or death.

Today, move us to become the answer to our prayers.

Give us the strength to respond, in our own time of need, to the needs of those who have the least in our world.

Lead us to be your agents of hope and renewal during this season of redemption.

For it is only in You that we have
the power to change things;
It is only because of You that we have
the promise of renewal;
And yet is through us that You seek to do all these things.

Amen.

Ways to “Be the Answer” to This Prayer:

  1. Educate your community, church, or campus about the issues facing the impoverished and marginalized in our world.
  2. Advocate for the U.S. to lead other rich nations in pledging emergency aid to the most impoverished nations at the G20 meeting in April.
  3. Join thousands of other Christians praying for justice in Washington, D.C., for the culmination of our Lenten campaign, at the Sojourners Mobilization to End Poverty, April 26-29.


Brian Swarts is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge USA, a global campaign to make transforming cultures of poverty and injustice integral to the mission of every Christian and church