Let Us Not Forget

I would love to say that it is rare that I climb up on my soapbox to preach a sermon, but that is not me.  I climb upon my soapbox every time something  breaks my heart or inspires my sense of justice and mercy.  Today I am not only on my soapbox, but I brought along my megaphone so that others will hear.  The authors of Daughters of Hope, Kay Marshall Strom and Michele Rickett have written a book that had me crying, angry, and hurting.  Forgotten Girls Stories of Hope and Courage is a book of short stories of girls and women who have been oppressed, held captive, raped, beaten, and forced into lifestyles that were not of their chosing.  Stories of girls from Nepal, Indonesia, North Korea, China, Senegal, Egypt, and the Sudan (to name a few of the countries of origin) who were sold into prostitution or forced marriages, were held either kidnapped or abandoned, were ostracized, and who felt unloved or unwanted.

In the introduction, the authors wrote, “Have you ever noticed how seldom something “life changing” really changes your life?  The term gets tossed around a lot – to describe watching the sun set in a gorgeous blaze of color, for instance, or to rave about an exciting adventure.  Consider the number of books with the phrase splashed across the front cover.  Good things, all.  Inspiring and helpful and memorable.  But life changing?  Yet truly life-changing events do occur.  Events that forever mark a divide between the then and now of life.  Between despair and hope.  Between ignorance and understanding.  Between death and life.”  I can tell you that this book IS life changing!

Living in the West, we can read about the horrors of war and dictatorships, but after a time we become immune to the stories or we learn to tune them out.  However that is not what Jesus called us to do.  Jesus called us to live as Micah described in verse 8, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  To do what is right is to seek justice for those that are widowed, orphaned, captive, and oppressed.  Our hearts should be broken for the same reasons that Jesus’ heart was broken.  Strom and Rickett’s book will open your eyes, your heart, your sense of justice and mercy.

The Kidnapped Bride video

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program.

Sisters in Service
Reaching Out to the Unreached
News from the Frontlines of Persecution
Human Rights Watch
International Center for Research on Women
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Vision

The Art of Waiting

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, waiting means to look forward expectantly.  Psalm 27:14 tells us to, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  However waiting on the Lord can be hard because we relate waiting with being still and inactive, to be wasting our time even sometimes.  Taryn Hutchison learned and exhibited valuable lessons about waiting in We Wait You Waiting on God in Eastern Europe. Taryn was a missionary serving with Campus Crusades in Eastern Europe – Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, etc. during the last ten years of the 90s.

Hutchison began her journey with a year-long commitment and ended up falling in love with the country and peoples of Eastern Europe. She began her journey in Austria at a hostel prior to receiving her assignment. Hutchison explains that the one place that she feared going to the most was the one place that God sent her and she cried out to Him for strength and grace. What she received was a group of friends and guardians that turned her one-year assignment into a life-long love of the country and peoples as well as a ten-year commitment.

Hutchison’s journey was not an easy coast. She was robbed several times, stalked by an admirer, detained by officials, and experienced difficulties when moving from Romania to Hungary and again from Hungary to the United States. Waiting on God to provide what she needed each day opened up opportunies to see the people that He loved and sent her to to demonstrate His love. She also saw the patience and acceptance of people who had waited 45 years for the United States to save them from the harshness and depravity of the Communist Regime.

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program and would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Campus Crusades, missionary work, or Eastern Europe.

Author’s Website

Changing the World by Changing Yourself

In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul urges the church, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” The church is also urged several times to help the poor and needy. For example, in Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will all always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” Mike Slaughter’s book Change the World Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus is a call for the church to unite, redirect, and “to proclaim the good news to the poor…to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). Slaughter urges churches to become a “mission outpost, living out Christ’s ideals in today’s world.”

Slaughter, the Lead Pastor at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio, does not just read the Scriptures to the congregation – he lives them and encourages the congregation to also be “doers of the word.” His book is written in a straightforward manner using both examples from his personal experience and Scriptural commands. The book is seven short chapters with questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. Slaughter’s book is an excellent resource for pastors, ministry leaders, or anyone interested in being the change agent in the church.

I read this book as part of the reading program for the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program.

Compassion Internationally

In America, we tend to advise to girls to wait before getting married. It is less common to hear of a girl younger than fifteen getting married under any circumstances. However that is not the case in many Middle Eastern countries. Many times a family will arrange a marriage of a daughter much younger than fifteen to avoid the girl being kidnapped and being sold into the hands of human traffickers. Other times a girl’s marriage is arranged to avoid having to feed her. I had heard of marriages of girls twelve and thirteen years old becoming married, but I never heard of a ten year old girl, until I read I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui.

I Am Nujood is a book written to both illuminated the culture of Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries and to highlight the strength of little girl who had to face that culture that says woman are not equal. Nujood was given in marriage by her father and the men of her family to a man of thirty years. He promised to not touch her until one year after her puberty. However, he attacked her almost immediately and violated her nightly while beating her. He attempted to break her but Nujood managed to escape and faced the daunting task of asking for a divorce in a country that did not value woman.

If you are a mother, a daughter, a sister, a Christian – I encourage to read this book and cry out for all women and girls around the world. God created us, male and female, in His image and rather than turn your eyes and mind from the violence against women and girls because it is not in our own home, we must educate ourselves and stand united to protect His children – male and female.

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program for 2012. The book is published by Read It Forward and is available on Amazon.com.

Integral Living

If You Know Who You Are You’ll Know What To Do: Living with Integrity by Ronald J. Greer intrigued me just by the title. You know how it is sometimes. You see the title of a book or movie; or you see the cover of a magazine with a byline that grabs you attention and so you buy it (or borrow it) and begin reading. Sometimes that pays off and you end up satisfied and having learned a little more. Sometimes it is a bust and you regret snatching up that book, DVD, or magazine without a little research.

I am happy to say that this book is worth the read. The author has broken into two sections – “Personal Integrity: A Life of Wholeness” and “Moral Integrity: A Person of Values.” He uses personal stories as examples and simple language to state exactly what the title says “If you know who you are, you’ll know what to do.” If you know that you are child of God, then it is simple to understand that you are to live your life as Christ would have. Your life must be maked by compassion, truth, character, courage, relation, fidelity, and respect. I would encourage everyone to read this short book and use it as a gauge of whether you live your life with integrity.

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program for 2012. The book is published by Abingdon Press and can be purchased at Amazon.com.

The Roar of Africa

Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton grew up on the African savanna as a member of the Maasai tribe.  He and his brothers were responsible for tending the cows during their daily grazing.  His family was nomadic and so the trek that Joseph and his brothers embarked on for the daily grazing included being alert to the dangers of African wildlife including lions.  Joseph, like most young boys, likes to play with his friends instead of indulging in the tedious alertness that is required of his duties.  He also dreams of a different life.

Joseph is given that chance when his older brother does not want to attend the compulsory school required for one son of each family in the tribe.  He begins a journey that ends with him becoming a teacher at The Langley School, a prestigious school near Washington, D.C.  However, Joseph never forgot where he came from and returns there as often as possible with a group of students and parents from The Langley School.  He embarks on a cross-cultural trek that is furthering the advancement of learning for both sides of the ocean.

I read this book as part of the required reading for United Methodist Women’s Reading Program.

A Life’s Passion

Richard Showalter authored On the Way with Jesus: A Passion for Mission which features five sections directing the reader along a path to deepen his/her journey for missional works.  The sections (The Vision, The People, The Walk, The World, and The Path Ahead) are then comprised of several short stories or essays about mission.  The book is easy to read, easy to understand, and contains some quite compelling essays.

I found the book to be interesting, though not riveting.  It would make an excellent book for someone who is new to the faith and to someone who seeks to learn about call to mission.  It also features a couple of discussion questions on each section that would make it an excellent option for study groups or book clubs.

I have read this book as part of the required reading for the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program.

Child Not for Sale

Living in the land of plenty, the land of freedom, ensures that we probably will never have to experience the fear, violence, and devastation of child sex trafficking. I just finished reading a book for young adults about a thirteen-year-old girl from Nepal who dreamt of better days for her mother, stepfather, and infant brother. Instead, her stepfather sold her to a trafficker who took her to a brothel in India where she was beaten and forced into prostitution. Sold by Patricia McCormick is a National Book Award Finalist that tells the story of Lakshmi.

Despite being beaten, drugged, and threatened, Lakshmi maintained a spirit of survival through friendships that she made with some of the other girls in the brothel, the son of one of the other girls, and a Christian missionary. She lost her innocence and childhood in the darkness of the evil. She found her strength and freedom in the light of love.

Sold is an easy to read narrative of Lakshmi’s life with her family and the trek to her imprisonment. Some of the “chapters” are actually only a paragraph or two. I would recommend this book for any young adult or adult interested in learning more about human trafficking.

I read this book for my United Methodist Women Reading Program.