Appetite

Photo Credit:  Vanna Dutch Photography

Complacency is an easy thing to slip into. When life is running smoothly, with perhaps some stress and over-booking happening, but nothing worse, I can get to a place where I forget my deep need for anything more. I get into the groove of checking off lists, reading bedtime stories, making dinners, going to church, and generally feeling pretty good about myself. 

When things hit the fan, however, I am reminded once again of not only my complete inability to work good into certain areas of my life on my own, but also my deep, heavy need for God’s presence, love, grace and forgiveness in my life.  When I am lying on the bathroom floor, crying out because my own inability is pushing down on my chest, forcing the air from my lungs, it’s quite natural for me to throw my hands up, close my eyes, and cry out to God. It’s almost a reflex.

But how do I bring that reflex, that appetite for God’s presence in my life, out from the valleys and into the hill-tops? How do I easily recognize my need for Him, even when everything is going smoothly? 

The Gospel very clearly tells us that Jesus is the doer, and we are the receivers. He has rescued us, died for us, redeemed us. Literally all we can do is praise His name, accept this great gift, and allow Him to work in our life. God will do what He does regardless of our knowledge of it, but if we want to bring our appetite for Him up, we MUST decide to be active participants in His relationship with us. We can do this through three surprisingly easy, yet surprisingly difficult intentional steps.

Conversation

Just like any relationship, our relationship with God requires communication. If we learn to be still and listen, we will hear His whispers throughout our life. We must get into the habit of answering. It’s easy to clasp our hands when we are watching our children get rolled into surgery, as I recently did. But when we can get into the habit of breathing out thanks and praise as we go about our very normal and busy schedules, we will find that habit bringing forth a deep desire to keep the conversation going.

Community

God is a God of community. He himself is a triune God, and when he created us to be in His image, this was definitely part of it. It was not good for Adam to be alone, not because he wasn’t capable, but because the God-image in us was meant to be in fellowship. Being an active part of a Christian community is an absolutely necessary part of growing our appetite for God. When we intentionally surround ourselves with other Christians who are also seeking God’s whispers in their own life, it becomes easier to not only do that in our own life, but to have trusted brothers and sisters in Christ to help us discern, learn and grow.

Contemplation

Let me just say this right here. When you first start, reading the Bible will never feel as important as the things that are jumping off of your to-do list. You will have to move intentionally towards this one, seemingly sacrificing ‘more pressing matters’ to do it. But I guarantee that setting time aside to dig into your Bible will prove to grow in you a deep desire to know God more.  We have a God that knew we would be a people of stories, a people who would want to know the God who breathed life into us. When you hold your Bible, you hold a giant story of God: who He is, what He has done, who WE are in relationship to Him. From the front cover to the back cover, you see His story, our story, you see Jesus being promised before we ever set foot outside of the Garden. When you do this deep contemplation, digging into the Word with commentaries and with your Christian community, you will start to uncover this wonderful, blessed story that we are indeed a part of. You will realize that those whispers that we hear from God are echoes of what is shouted in the pages of this great book.  

When we want to uncover or reignite our appetite for our Lord, we need but ask. But we need to ask everyday. We need to ask again and again, digging in His Word for answers, digging into community to see his community-driven nature in ourselves. We need to show up, eyes open, heart open, mouth… maybe not so open. And when we can do that, hold on tight. Our God is a big God. And even when the sun is shining, the kids are playing, the bills are paid, God’s presence can bring us to our knees.

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Find Your Purpose And Pursue It Boldly

Photo Credit:  scvishnu7  via  Pixabay

Photo Credit: scvishnu7 via Pixabay

Whenever you meet someone doing what they are truly passionate about, it leaves an impression on you. They inspire you to look within yourself and ask the difficult questions. What matters to me? What is my purpose? What’s worth pursuing?

That is exactly how I felt about a man I met at the base of the Himalayas. How he found his purpose and pursued it, well, that is the extraordinary part. You could say it took a miracle… or two… but, that wasn’t the most important part of his story. What was… well, we will get to that later.

For now, let me tell you about my friend Biswa. 

A Journey Through the Himalayas

As I weaved through the Himalayan mountains, our SUV rocked form side to side. The road was a dusty path with an almost infinite number of blind turns. It shocked me to see a school bus almost hit us as it came around the bend — there were children (perhaps no older than 10) sitting on the roof!

To my right there was an endless cliff and the only thing keeping us from falling off were a few signs that said in Nepalese “Danger, sharp drop.” Heeding that warning was our trusted guide, Biswa, who was hosting us for 11 days in his country. After the bus barrelled by he looked back at me and said “don’t worry, these are the good roads.”

We were trying to get to a remote village as part of a Christian medical mission and we couldn’t have been more thankful to have him as our guide.

When we arrived — thankfully alive — the poverty we saw was astounding. Everyone from the village and surrounding area flooded to our ad hoc shelter to receive medical care.

The Limp Child

I remember one mother had carried her limp child five miles in her arms hoping that we could help her. The medical staff provided medication but it would not heal the boy. Unfortunately, he had an incurable disease and the medication would only help him cope.

As we looked into the mother’s eyes, a sense of despair crept over her. She could not save her baby and neither could we.

What do you offer a mother in this situation? Do you tell her to go away and lose hope? Or do you offer her the one thing that had changed all of our lives and could certainly change hers?

You see, we didn’t just have medicine to offer, we had Christ. All of us had deep and personal testimonies. We intimately knew how Christ had changed our lives, taking us from places of despair to places of hope and fullness. 

The Hindu Boy 

Just that morning Biswa told me a story of a Hindu woman who’s life was transformed 30 years ago. At the time she was barren and her inability to have children made her husband despise her. 

The woman was distraught and without hope. That was, until a Christian missionary doctor visited her village. The doctor did everything he could, exhausting all his medical knowledge to help her; but in the end, her situation was still hopeless.

As the Hindu woman began to cry, the missionary doctor looked her in the eyes and said, “I cannot help you, but I know someone who can, Jesus. He is my God who has delivered me from every trial and He can deliver you too.”

What happened next was remarkable. The woman put her trust in Jesus and became a Christian. Shortly after, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. It was a miracle. The impossible had become possible.

When Biswa told me this, it took me a little off guard; yet, I believed him. I could tell by looking at Biswa that he had a deep familiarity with his story. It was as though he was sharing something very personal.

Although the woman became a Christian, her Son (the miracle child) was raised as a Hindu. This was because her Husband was a Hindu priest and the boy grew up admiring his father.

The boy became very zealous in his religion and was determined to become a Hindu priest like his father.

Then tragedy struck. When the boy was a young adult a car hit him while he was riding his motorcycle in Katmandu. He was immediately transferred to a hospital in critical condition. The doctors didn’t know if he would pull through.

As his health declined, the boy began to pray to each of his Hindu gods, but he wasn’t getting any better. He didn’t know if he would survive and he was running out of options.

That’s when he remembered there was one god who he had not prayed to yet. He didn’t pray to this god because he knew that praying to this god meant that he would have to reject all other gods.

This was the God of his mother, Jesus. Grasping on to life, the boy prayed. He rejected all other gods and prayed to Jesus. Then, once again, a miracle happened — the boy recovered.

He became a Christian and in the coming years began to host medical missionaries in Nepal. That miracle child was our local guide, Biswa. The one who looked back at me and said “don’t worry, these are the good roads” as he drove us through the tumultuous mountain passes of the Himalayas.

I knew then that Biswa was an extraordinary person. It was not by chance he was hosting us as medical missionaries in his country, it had become his life’s purpose and he was pursuing it boldly.

He wanted to bring the same hope that transformed his life to those who desperately needed it.

Back to the Limp Child

So we held the limp child in our arms with the mother and prayed. We told the mother about what Christ had done for us and although we could not do anything more for her child, we serve a God who can.

The mother accepted our prayer and the medication we provided. Then, after a short time of fellowship, she carried her son back home.

I don’t know what happened to that woman, or her son, but I know that the same God who had transformed each of our lives, could heal the limp boy.

I still pray for her and the boy and I know that God will restore them at His appointed time.

Find Your Purpose

Since that day I have reflected on those questions: What matters to me? What is my purpose? What’s worth pursuing?

I realized that If you can answer these questions honestly, you will know your calling in life. And if you can act on that calling then you will also inspire others to follow you.

The most important part of Biswa’s story is that his purpose was not for him, but for others. In fact, it was through his service to others that his purpose found meaning.

By Matt Russell

Returning Home

Every week we run a dance movement therapy sessions for women from the red light area. One of the regulars is a young Nepali woman who loved to dance when she was a child growing up in the mountain villages of Nepal. For two hours, she is free to reconnect with her physical-self in a safe, non-sexualized environment. She becomes childlike and playful, as though she has been able to step back to a time of innocence and wonder, a time before she was trafficked into India and sexually exploited. The hope is that, as she experiences these small moments of freedom, she will begin to question the acceptability of the repetitive trauma that she has normalized. At this point, we can actively work with her to achieve freedom. Until this point, at the end of the session, she will hide the little girl as far from the trauma as she can. The mask returns to her face as she leaves the place of safety and walks back down the street and past the other women standing on display in the brothel doorways. She enters her room which is just big enough for a bed and a few personal possessions. She lies on the bed, looking at the familiar damp walls and peeling paintwork and waits for her next customer. She is in the place that she has become resigned to call home.

But this cannot be her home. It is unacceptable on every level. 

Over the years, the organization I am working with have helped many Indian women leave the sex trade by offering alternative employment and restorative psychosocial intervention. Sadly, we have had very limited impact on the Nepali community, who account for approximately 10% of the women working in forced prostitution. Often this is due to the higher level of control placed on Nepali women from the brothel they work for. Nepali women are highly sought after and generate a good income for the people profiting from sexual exploitation. These people are reluctant to lose their income generating property.

Photo by  Rohan Reddy  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rohan Reddy on Unsplash

More importantly, home really is where the heart is. The Nepali women long to reconnect with the place of their birth, the place where their cultural identity makes sense and they can speak freely in the language of their hearts. Even if these women could be liberated from the control of the trade and join our organization, their freedom would likely be incomplete. 

The Nepali women need to return to their true home, the place where their hearts live: Nepal.

Kolkata to Kathmandu

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Over the past year we, in collaboration with partners in Nepal, have been working to make this journey home possible. We have identified the barriers to successful return in both India and Nepal, as well as those associated with crossing international borders. 

Step 1: Kolkata

Our focus in Kolkata is on building relationships with the Nepali community and addressing their immediate health, psychological and social needs. By building a woman’s self-esteem through safe and trusting relationships, our hope is that she will begin to dream of a better future.

Step 2: To (travel)

Often Nepali women were trafficked as children and consequently, they do not have any proof of Nepali citizenship. This would limit their ability to live and work in Nepal. We are able to connect women with appropriate services to resolve this and other legal issues. Once a woman is ready to leave, we will support her travel costs and accompany her on the journey for safety and support.

Step 3: Kathmandu

We have set up a new transition home in Kathmandu, run by a Nepali family who will communicate love and acceptance. During her time in this home, she will be able to access trauma counselling, medical care and other holistic services to help her heal from the trauma. She will be able to develop her life skills, have access to education and a guaranteed job with one of the Freedom Businesses in Kathmandu. 

Our hope is that ‘home’ no longer needs to be a place of resignation for Nepali women, but rather, the place where their hearts have always belonged: Nepal.

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Me/Her: The Unknown Reality of the Unseen Woman

Photo Credit By: Jordan Bauer

Photo Credit By: Jordan Bauer

Me

The kids burst into the room, much louder than any noise should be at this hour of the morning. I groggily look at the clock. Six AM. I groan inwardly, pull the down comforter over my head, and see if I can pretend to sleep convincingly enough that they would go away.  It does not work. I give in, scooting the cover slowly down the bed, and roll in between their jumping bodies, which are happily taking advantage of my pre-coffee state. I make my way to the bathroom, and then head downstairs, where the sweet nectar that is the coffee pot is already hot and full, thanks to my husband’s early departure this morning. I fill my cup, breathe in that beautiful smell, place it down on the counter and quietly murmur, “I’ll see you when you’re cold.”  And so the day begins.

Her

He bursts into the room, which is still dark. As he makes his way to my bed, I take note that the other bodies strewn across the floor and other mismatched furniture barely move, despite his lack of concern for the quiet that filled this room before he came in. I pull my blanket up, the wool scratching at my chin and the dank smell filling my nose. This scratch and that smell have become a comfort to me, because when they are there, he is not.  He shakes me briskly, assuming I was still asleep, and tells me it’s time.  He walks out the door without looking to make sure I get up. He knows I will. I always will.  I stop in the bathroom, and do my best to make myself look consumable, trying not to touch the dirty sink in the process. When I have done the best I can, I head downstairs, the smell of beer and cigarettes wafting around me like a welcoming committee. He takes my hand and leads me to the front, which is much cleaner than our side of the house. He puts my hand in the hand of a stranger. I smile. I know the drill. The beatings have made sure of that. He leads me into one of the bedrooms, and so the day begins.

Me

I finally am done. The kids are in bed, my feet are up, and my wine glass is full. My husband sits quietly next to me, looking at something obviously incredibly interesting on his phone. I don’t mind. I am in my happy place. The kids have been pawing at me all day. There’s no chance of any more pawing happening tonight. I am pawed out. I think back to my day and wonder why I feel like I am exhausted enough to have run a marathon, when really all I did was all of the normal Mom jobs. So much laundry. So many dishes. So many fights to break up. I look at the pile of toys scattered on the floor in front of the TV and shrug. I can get that tomorrow. I choose to be done. I take a sip of wine, click play on Netflix, and settle in. My day is done.

Her

I am finally done. He is in bed, and I am back in my bed. I tear pieces off of the sandwich I have been given, and wash it down with the questionable glass of tap water. I am not sure if the water or the glass is dirtier, but it doesn’t matter. I gulp it down in a matter of seconds. I wrap my scratchy blanket around me and pull it as tightly as I can, hoping to erase the feel of the dozens of hands that pawed at me all day. I close my eyes, trying not to think of it, but still the recap comes. Him on top, me underneath, squirming with apparent delight, knowing that if I don’t endure this pain happily, a greater pain will come after. Man after man, all different but all the same. My body feels as if I have run a marathon, stretched and pulled and twisted. I think of the life that came before this one, the one where I sat next to him on a couch, my hand in his, listening to his promises. I’m not sure if he loves me anymore, though. And I’m not sure if I love him anymore either.  But this seems to be it. This seems to be just how it will be. I close my eyes, and settle in. My day is done. 

It’s easy to forget that she exists in my day-to-day. It’s easy to only see appointments and school drop-offs and that small argument I had with my husband about me spending too much at Target. It’s easy to forget the incredible privilege I have to have avoided the awful people that she happened to cross paths with.  It’s so easy to forget.

But she doesn’t forget. She is reminded countless times a day, each time her body becomes a vessel for someone else’s pleasure. She is reminded as pain and shame are wrapped around her like clothing. 

What do we do then? We remember. And we talk. Because though she can remember, she cannot talk. We learn, we see.

We See. 

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Conversations That Matter

It’s here tribe! Conversations that Matter’s first topic is ready to launch!! 

If you want to join something bigger than yourself, join this community. If you want to make a difference, join our global sisterhood. If you want to be intentional, join us for a gathering.

There are few sweet pure joys in this world and one of them is having sisters. I have two blood sisters of my own but for the last decade I have learned that blood is not the only thing that can make you a sister. 

I have learned that your sisters should lift you up, should make you stronger, iron sharpens iron, they should make you laugh and hold you while you cry. Your tribe should feel totally comfortable to tell you when you have spinach in your teeth and pray for you when they see you in a struggle. Sisters aren’t always in your life on a daily basis but when you need them they’re there. Sisterhood and relationships in general require intention and attention. 

So join us to have fun with intention and make a difference. So whether you’re missing your tribe or you have a strong base of friends, join All of Us Matter and host a gathering. 

Our launch for Intentional Living is June 2, 2018, if you are local to Tampa, FL meet us for our launch party. Find details on our Facebook book page. Or check out our link for more details. 

 

Start conversations that matter, let's be a voice to the voiceless. 

Crystal, Founder, and Visionary at All of Us Matter

 

Freedom Garden

By: Abigail Onley

Freedom Garden By: Abigail Onley

Freedom Garden By: Abigail Onley

A thousand voices morph into white noise, every color of the rainbow sprayed, dusted, and brushed over buildings, people, and windows. The wind blows the newly charred ashes of the deceased into the water of the Ganges, past worshipers bathing in the river in belief that it will cleanse them of their sins, and here we stand, looking at this beautiful broken city called Varanasi. Varanasi is said to be India’s spiritual capital: meaning there are as many religions represented there as colors on the buildings. I don’t always paint from a place of experience but of empathy. I can look, read, and imagine what it would be like to be there, experiencing a very different kind of life, and here is where this picture begins: a beautiful broken place full of broken people searching for hope.

I think that sums up our world. We need hope. Hope that a bad situation will turn around, hope that someone out there cares enough to move on our behalf, hope that we can go unseen and unhurt, hope that we can avoid brokenness, hope that we are good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, accepted, hope that we can be put back together again. There are many hopes we have but they shrink besides the mammoth hope of God, the all-encompassing hope. The Emmanuel; God with us- who promises to take our brokenness as His own and give us His wholeness in exchange. We are overcome, remade, something new. A Garden

Faith is rising up like Ivy, reaching for the light.  Hope is stirring deep inside me, making all things right, Love is lifting me from sorrow catching every tear, dispelling every lie and torment, crushing all my fears.
— Kari Jobe

This is the Freedom Garden. What if that faith took over a city and the green of that Ivy was us…them? What if our choices could bring hope…tangible hope not just to those cities far away but to our own cities? What if we started with us, stopped trying to satisfy the “gods” of our culture or the god of self, and instead became satisfied by God himself? 

The Jesus of the gospels, the God who is with us, is our Hope. 

Many people will argue about the church, but not many people can argue with Jesus. He liberated women in society, he cared for the broken and forsaken, called the poor blessed because of the hope they lived from, he valued children, he looked with compassion on our sinfulness because He knows we are sick. He called us to repentance, to a changed life, an upside down world were weakness is named as strength, dependency is honorable, kindness is the color we see, and love is who we become. He called us to be a voice for the voiceless and to see people- all those hidden people behind our lust, our clothes, our food, our deeply loved coffee and chocolate, as uniquely shaped souls worthy of love. 

When I painted this city overgrown with flowers, it pictured HOPE. Out of garbage, and chaos, and the remnant smoke of ritual fires there rises new life; that little broken seed of hope that grows and changes us from the inside out.


Inclusive For Those Excluded

Photo Credit: Saksham Gangwar

Photo Credit: Saksham Gangwar

In my city, one of the mainstream global café chains has just opened its doors and the place is packed. Given that my life currently revolves around launching The Cup, a café exclusively for the benefit of the thousands of women in my community who are trapped in the sex trade, I became curious as to how this ‘superstar’ of cafés seeks to position itself in the market. 

Initially, my speculation led me to thinking their value statement would be concerned with providing the ‘best’. The best coffee. The best environment. The best service. It would make sense considering that the clientele are usually wearing the best clothes, have the best jobs and the best access to opportunity. I was surprised when I searched online and found that their values revolved around the following:

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Not in my city. The women in my community would be excluded by the high profit margin pricing strategy, and by their involvement in the sex trade, even though their involvement is often involuntary. It is unlikely they would be respected or given a warm greeting as they exist in a system that seems reluctant to challenge social norms. 

The Cup will be different. In The Cup, we are disrupting the ‘us and them’. These women will experience respect and inclusion. They will belong, and their dignity will be upheld. The distinction between us and them will be further undermined, as our café staff will also be women from the community. Women who have experienced sexual exploitation directly or indirectly. Women who have witnessed and known great injustice will demonstrate that freedom is not an abstract concept, it is real and achievable. It is theirs for the taking. 

Photo Credit: Loren Joseph

Photo Credit: Loren Joseph

My dream would be to see The Cup become community led. Where women can give freedom a try. Do a shift in the café and experience something different. Attend a café workshop and discover their hidden talents and alternative avenues for income. Maybe even start their own micro-business… 

I have big dreams and I will not settle for less because with ‘his’ power, I can achieve infinitely more than my wildest dreams. I think I will place my confidence in the one who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, made a donkey speak (!), walked on water and fed 5,000+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Not to forget defeating death of course. Therefore, I will dare to hope that lives and community will be transformed.

Watch this space…


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You Will Never Be Enough

By: Laura Rinas

Enough.

That’s a heavy word.

I am enough.

That’s a heavy phrase.

I love that word, that phrase. It brings with it a sense of empowerment.  I can stop insecurity with it, stop that spiral that sometimes happens as a mom, as a wife, as woman, as a HUMAN.  I. Am. Enough.

But what I am coming to realize is that… that phrase? That heavy, powerful phrase? It’s a lie.

Just sit on that for a second.  “I am enough.” We see it everywhere. Billboards, commercials. Use this product, and you’ll be enough. Use that product, because you ARE enough.  We chase it. We want it. We add this, take that away, all to hit that fine line: enough.  It’s a phrase that can calm me in the moment, but I inevitably lose that balance. I find myself back in panic mode, where all I see are gaps, holes that I cannot possibly fill. And still I try. Because I SHOULD be enough. Right?

When I take this cup that has been given to me, when I take my life and try to fill it, there will always be holes. I run out of patience, I yell, I pull away. I cannot possibly be enough, for me or for my family.  And it’s so important for my kids to know that, so important for my husband to know that, and so important for myself to know that. I will come up short. I DO come up short.  Every day. 

This seems terrifying, this truth that I will never be enough. It seems to shout PRISON, a cage I will be trapped in for the rest of my life, with Enough just out of reach.  But the truth is, when I accept that I am not, and will never be, enough… that truth brings with it an exhale, a letting go. It shouts FREEDOM. I was not made to fill those gaps. I can go forward with confidence, do what I can do, knowing that though I may come up short, there is One who will not.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus is the gap filler, the bridge builder. Jesus is Enough. I am not.  And there is freedom in letting Jesus do what he desperately wants to do, which is to rush into my pain and weakness and breathe an other-worldly strength into it.  
 

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As important as it is to remember that I am not enough, never will be enough, it’s just as important for me to remember that the people that I love the most, they will never be enough either. I must extend the same freedom, the same grace to them. My husband, my children, my parents… they were never meant to be my End All. I love them fiercely, but try as I might, I will not be able to keep them from every harm, or them me.  And sometimes I do unintended harm when I try to do it all, when I try to be the gap-filler. I get in the way of the good that God is no doubt working.  

So when panic starts to creep back in, I can still use this phrase, but perhaps with a twist.

Praise God that I am not enough. And praise God that He is. 

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The Cup: A place that inspires hope for the future

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By: Frin Masters

In Kolkata, everyone drinks ‘cha’, a delicious blend of tea, milk, sugar and spices that is sold
from numerous roadside stalls. Traditionally, it is served in simple clay cups that are
discarded once used. No longer serving a purpose, they lie broken and unwanted in the
gutter.

In my community, many men ‘consume’ the women who are sold from numerous roadside
brothels. Like the cha cup, these women are also used, discarded and lie broken and
unwanted. Sadly, unlike the cha cup, they only remain unwanted until the next consumer
arrives, a customer who will overlook and compound the damage due to his preoccupation
with self-gratification.

Story over.

Not in the hands of the potter. The creator of the cha cup is able to take the broken pieces
and fit them back together, restoring the intended form. With the right glue, that cup may
even be stronger than it was originally. Moreover, as implicit within the name, the creator is
creative. With the creator’s decorative touch, the restored cha cup can display a beauty that
surpasses its pre-damaged existence.

We are placing the opportunity for this type of transformation within the grasp of the women
in our community by opening ‘The Cup’, a beautiful café where the women can experience
community, hope, fun and freedom. It will be:

A place for healthy relationships and growing community
A place that inspires hope for the future
A place to have fun with friends and family
A place where transformative freedom begins,

No person should remained trapped, or be defined by their trauma. With the right help and
support, these broken lives can not only be restored, but also be transformed into something
infinitely more beautiful than originally intended.

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Eyes to See

Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

By: Laura Rinas

When I was in college, I decided that to change the world (which I was obviously going to do…), I needed to do something drastic. I switched my majors, ditching a business major and picking up a theology major. I enrolled in a Missions class, decided that I was going to take the Paul route and be single forever cause there is no way to do missions as a married woman, obviously.  I was definitely going to move to Africa, because Missions work doesn’t live in Suburb-America.  Also there was a good chance that I would become a martyr. Probably before my thirtieth birthday cause JESUS.

Guys.  Bless my sweet little heart, right?

In today’s world, we tend to polarize the missions field from our ‘normal lives’.  They are opposites most of the time, something you clock in and clock out of.  We consider it a job, a task we can cross off of our list before we put our feet up for the night. We raise the money, take the trip, then come home.

But what if that wasn’t what we were intended to do? What if, except for a handful of us, missions is not a call to uproot your family and sacrifice your life, but a call to live your life with your eyes open, right where you are at?  I had it wrong as a college student. I thought my life could only make a difference where there was the most hurt.  But what that did was blind me to the hurt right in my own neighborhood.  We all do it. We fight for the poor, the hungry, the marginalized, but we don’t see the lonely widow that lives next door.  We wave our signs and join the picket lines, but we don’t see the lonely mother that sits down the pew from us at church.  We get so focused on the Targets, that we miss the people standing right next to us.

In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus breaks from his parables to explain to his disciples why he uses stories to teach lessons.  He says in verses 16-17, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

He was speaking of them being able to see and hear the God incarnate during his ministry on earth.  But we have that opportunity as well, through our experience in the Word and in our Church.  And part of that is allowing the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see and ears to hear.  See the people already in your life. Hear the people already in your life. 

Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

It takes courage to live this way, bringing your mission field home. Because a lot of that work will be mundane. It won’t have that flashy appeal that people can look at be inspired. But it will be inspiring for those that you touch.  And it will be inspiring to the people THEY can touch because of your work.  You won’t be given accolades and atta-boys.  But you will be doing the gritty work of the Spirit. And if you can recalibrate yourself to the compass of Christ, it will be a kind of fulfillment that is otherwise quite unattainable.  

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What Is Human Trafficking?

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By: Daniella Kirk

So What’s The Problem?

Anti-Human Trafficking ads can be spotted all over the place; from airports to planes to Churches and businesses… all telling me to call if I spot signs of human trafficking, but what is human trafficking and how do we know if we’ve seen it?

Well, let’s start from the beginning!

What Is Human Trafficking? 

In short: The Exploitation of Vulnerability.

Officially, the U.S. Government defines human trafficking as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. 

  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 

What Does Human Trafficking Look Like?

There are many different forms of human trafficking, including:

  • Forced Labor

  • Sex Trafficking

  • Child Trafficking

  • Child and Forced Marriage

  • Bonded Labor / Debt Bondage

  • Domestic Servitude

  • Child Soldiers

  • Organ Harvesting

Why Should I Care?

Human Trafficking is a global problem and with so many enslaved in it (an estimated 27 Million), there is a high chance that you or someone you know has or will in the future, come across a victim, client or perpetrator.  It is good to be equipped for if you do.

How do I know if it’s happening here?

Doing a search for “Human Trafficking in _________ (state place)”, will always bring up results, but there has also been some great research done and reports made through sites like https://humantraffickinghotline.org/ where you can search for statistics in your specific state (U.S. only).

What Do I Do If I Think I’ve Seen Something Suspicious?

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, if your country has one. In the U.S. that number is:

1-888-373-7888

If you are in immediate danger, you should of course call the police.

ACTION POINT: Do your research! 

Take time this week to read through and familiarize yourself with signs of human trafficking here and enter your national human trafficking hotline into your phone. 

Want to go a step further? Research statistics for human trafficking in your area. To combat a problem, we must find out what that problem is.

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What’s on the Horizon With All Of Us Matter

Our message is timeless. People matter, all of us matter. We carry out this message by equipping people with practical ways to fight modern-day slavery. Over this next year we plan to develop this further. Our goal has always been to equip an army of like-minded people who will love their neighbor so deeply they could never walk past them and do nothing.

Where do we start?

It may be surprising to find out that most of us contribute to slavery every day without even knowing it. The food we eat, the clothes we buy, the makeup we wear, even our cell phones all have slaves in their supply chains. We want to help you reduce your slavery footprint and become better informed. Don’t be overwhelmed, join us on this journey and we will equip you to make a difference from right where you are.

Do you have a heart to help your neighbor? Do you want to help end slavery? Do you not know where to begin?

Living Intentional Gatherings

In just a few weeks we will roll out our first Conversations that Matter series, Living Intentional. These are in home gatherings that combine lighthearted fun and serious action.

If you are interested in hosting a gathering with your friends and family we are accepting pre-bookings now.

You will receive a Hostess Guide and an All of Us Matter Ambassador that will walk you through the entire process—so take the pressure off. All you have to do is invite your friends and family and we will do the rest.

As a learner myself, I have spent the last few years diving into what it means to live intentionally. It’s a hard and bumpy road and all along I wished I had someone to hold my hand and walk me through this process. 

That is what inspired us to create this series and why I am so excited about it. You are not alone on this journey. We are right here with you.

What Conversations That Matter is Not

And don’t worry, we won’t just give you bunch of terrible statistics on human trafficking that leave you feeling defeated and hopeless. Instead we will equip you with tools that will help you make a difference immediately.

Stay tuned with us over the next few months because in addition to launching our Living Intentional series, we will also be releasing some new and exiting products.

Look for our apparel to launch in March, our next line of cups to launch in May, and even more later in the year!

Make sure to sign up for email updates to stay connected and get insider information.

Until all of us are free,

Crystal, Founder and Visionary

All of Us Matter