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11 posts from June 2008

June 30, 2008

China Riots - 16 year old girl raped and murdered

China has worked hard to make the world think all is well before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. But all is not well in Communist China as this disturbing CNN video proves:

June 26, 2008

Cherrio Mate!

Back home from England and recouping from a tad of jet lag. It's not bad though, we had a direct flight from London to Denver and that helped a ton. The Christian climate of England could be the climate here in the states soon if we're not careful. Most of England's churches are attended by only a few dozen people. Most of the country would say they believe in God, but find the church completely irrelevant. Here's a great quote from someone I met named Mark Greene who runs the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity:

"The UK will never be converted until we create open, authentic, learning and praying communities that are focused on making while-life disciples who take the opportunity to show and share the Gospel wherever they relate to people in their daily lives."

The people I met in England were some of the kindest folks in the world. They were incredibly welcoming and hospitable. My new friend Ian, who you will see below, is a special man with a great family. I feel as if I've reconnected with a long-lost friend in Ian, a friendship I am truly grateful God put together. Ian and Julie hosted Gideon and I for six days and drove us everywhere. (Lord reward them!) Ian set up radio interviews, speaking engagements and meetings for me. I had the pleasure of meeting his mom and dad and sister and brother-in-law. Lovely people!

The plan is to either start Children's HopeChest UK, or partner with an organization who is like minded. If you have connections there, please email me and let me know and I'll follow up with them about what we are doing.

After being with Ian, I'm hooked on soccer and watching the Euro 2008. Off to watch Spain and Russia!


June 23, 2008

Pictures from the UK

Me, Brian McLaren and Gideon

The 90,000 Seat Wembley Soccer Stadium

The London Eye

Westminster Abbey

June 19, 2008

Hello from the UK

So far, England has lived up to all I thought it would be. An amazing place really, filled with homes from the 1600's, windy country lanes, rolling hills filled with trees and sheep, and lovely people who are eager to help the widows and orphans in our world.

The last two days I've been speaking at the RUN Conference in Peterborough. This was one of the best conferences I've been to in quite some time. The focus was not on 'our' spirituality and how to get people 'to' church, but on being the church and giving our lives away to others. There were great responses to my talks and there are many new potential partners excited about sponosoring orphanages in Russia and Africa.

Today, in about 10 minutes I'm headed to my UK publisher's headquarters to speak on the new release of Fields of the Fatherless. Tonight, there is a barbeque at Ian and Julie's, my hosts here in Grinstead with about 70 people coming for me to meet.

Here's a random fact: I'm right down the road from 'Hundred Acre Wood,' the place that inspired the story of Winnie the Pooh. Yes, I'm in Winnie's neighborhood and hope to run in to him sometime in the next few days!

Gideon, my 8 year old, is with me, and has loved playing soccer in the English garden. Today, he is off with his new friends to an English school. The guy can't even leave America without getting away from school!

As soon as I can connect my computer, I'll be uploading some photos. Thanks for your friendship and prayers. Wish you were here!

June 13, 2008

Andrew Shearman - What Happens When You Hit Bottom?

At times we all hit rock bottom. It seems like everyone and everything is against you. Perhaps you even wonder if God has given up on you. What do you do to sustain yourself? Andrew teaches us who to "incarnate the word." Watch Seth's interview:

Andrew Shearman 2 from Seth Simonson on Vimeo.

June 12, 2008

Shearman: "What does Die or be Killed Mean?"

This is a great video from one of my heroes, Andrew Shearman. This came from a conversation about our dream to raise up a generation of radicals who are passionate about the poor, orphans, and laying their lives down from the gospel. But what do we really mean by that? One of the litmus tests we apply is the "Die or be killed" standard.

Thanks to Seth Barnes for the video.

Andrew explains more in this video. The question is, "Are you this type of Jesus-follower - so sold-out that you're willing to die for him?"

Andrew Shearman 1 from Seth Simonson on Vimeo.

June 10, 2008

How Can I Get Close to the Heart of God?

Seth Barnes and I are partnering together to provide a launching point for you to find out what God has for you. If you've been a blog reader for a while and have a blog of your own, we are offering our two books to you completely free of charge, if you will do two things: listen and act.
Seth's book, The Art of Listening Prayer will teach you to better hear God’s voice and build intimacy with the Lord, and my book Red Letters will teach you about God’s heart for the poor, along with practical ways that you can reach out to the “least of these."

After you read each book, we’re asking that you post at least one blog linking to our blog sites and drop a comment on this blog, letting us know how it's going by answering these questions:
What did God move you to do?
What did you learn from our books?
How did this make a difference?

We'll walk through this with you and help you discern what God is saying and what your appropriate response is. So many people have a desire to serve God and are virtually lost in a sea of choices. We want to help you wade through all of that. If you're interested, act ASAP, because there are only a limited number of books.

Click here for your two free books:

Most of my life I struggled with the vague notion that God wanted to talk to me and I just wasn't listening hard enough. The God I read about in the Bible regularly interacts not only with mankind, but with specific men and women. The common denominator I saw in Scripture was that these people who conversed with God were intentional and earnest in their pursuit of a relationship with him. So, I decided to pursue him like that. At the same time I became more aware that he was pursuing me. (The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes)
What if all Christ-followers lived the Red Letter words in the Bible – Jesus’ words? What if we offered the hungry something to eat, gave one of our many coats to someone who was cold, and truly loved all our neighbors as ourselves? How radically different would our lives be? How different would our world be? This is the reality of the Christian Life Jesus called us to live. (Red Letters by Tom Davis)

If the link doesn't work, send an email to to get your books. Be sure to include your name, address, and blog URL.

June 09, 2008

Everyone's Starving in Ethiopia

SHASHAMANE, Ethiopia (AP) -- Like so many other victims of Ethiopia's hunger crisis, Usheto Beriso weighs just half what he should. He is always cold and swaddled in a blanket. His limbs are stick-thin.

A 3-year-old Ethiopian child weighing less than 10 pounds is seen at an emergency feeding center May 9.

But Usheto is not the typical face of Ethiopia's chronic food problems, the scrawny baby or the ailing toddler. At 55 years old, he is among a growing number of adults and older children -- traditionally less vulnerable groups -- who have been stricken by severe hunger because of poor rains and recent crop failure in southern Ethiopia, health workers say.

"To see adults in this condition, it's a very serious situation," nurse Mieke Steenssens, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, told The Associated Press as she registered the 5-foot, 4-inch Usheto's weight at just 73 pounds (33 kilograms).

Aid groups say the older victims suggest an escalation in the crisis in Ethiopia, a country that drew international attention in 1984 when a famine compounded by communist policies killed some 1 million people.

This year's crisis, brought on by a countrywide drought and skyrocketing global food prices, is far less severe. But while figures for how many adults and older children are affected are not available, at least four aid groups interviewed by the AP said they noticed a troubling increase. Read the rest of the article here.

"We're overwhelmed," said Margaret Aguirre, a spokeswoman for the International Medical Corps, a California-based aid agency. "There's not enough food and everyone's starving and that's all there is to it." Share your photos, videos and stories from EthiopiaArtethiopiahungerap

June 06, 2008

The Child Sex-Slave Industry

I've just started working on my next novel titled, Sacred. This plot of this book is centered around the child sex-slave industry. In my research, I've discovered that this is a mammoth problem and that young children are sold as sex-slaves right here in our own county. This is a 43 billion dollar a year industry. In this evil world there is nothing more profitable than selling a human body.

Not only is this something we should do something about, we can do something to make a difference. I'm clad that Children's HopeChest focuses on prevention - helping children have choices and opportunities before they disappear into this abyss. Here's an article telling the story of a 9 year old girl who was rescued from this demonic industry. I'll continue to share real stories about this issue as I continue to write.

Indepentdent Catholic News:
"Joanna, 15, sat in the dim restaurant weeping and crying, her shoulders shook, she dabbed her eyes to wipe away the flowing tears with tissues. Were they tears of joy at being rescued from her cruel and vicious captors or was it emotional release of pent up fear and stress that she endured in the dark room at the back of a sex bar in Angeles City, Philippines. She sobbed out her story, it was her time and place, late at night and no one there. They took me from my home in Samar, gave a down payment to my mother and promised me a good job. I was never paid as a hotel cleaner and when I went to the manager he raped me. She cried all the louder at the terrifying memory as she tried to fight him off but was overpowered. Then she was thrown out to work in the sex bar, forced into cubicles to do sexual acts on obese foreign sex tourists that queued up to get the sexual gratification by a child young enough to be their grand daughter. That lasted until we had a tip off and went to the rescue and paid her bar fine, the price of freedom to get her out to safety. Joanna is now a college graduate and working as a social worker. She recovered but only barely and could have died of sickness and disease.

The recruitment and selling of human persons into slave like conditions has become the third biggest illegal trade in the world after drugs and illegal arms sales. According to the Council of Europe, it has an annual market of $43 billion of women and children and most of the young women are forced into prostitution, over a million, it is estimated, are children. In my experience I found the younger to be 9 year old. Human trafficking of children is a crime against humanity as a form of enslavement. According to the Rome statute of International Criminal Court which celebrates its 15th anniversary this May. Article 7(2) (c) of the statute recognizes that children as a special group are in grave danger of this horrific crime of trafficking because it involves the domination and the power of ownership over the child. Millions of children have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity, the statue declares. The purveyors of genocide and ethnic cleansing and other unspeakable crimes must be made understand that as surely as the sun rises, they will be called to account - and that impunity will not stand.'' Carol Bellamy, of Unicef said making it clear the purpose of the International Criminal Court

And yet thousands of young women and children are sold into slavery every month all over the world. The rich development nations are the source of demand and pay the higher prices for the trafficked persons. In the UK there are as many as 5000 trafficked women in the sex slave trade today. Private charities put the figure much higher. Police say they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this month in Southampton, the Guild Hall was filled with an audience wanting to know more as they watched the Preda Akbay youth theatre group from the Philippines present their musical drama "Once there was a dream telling the awful truth of the pain and exploitation of trafficked children .The production that played to full houses was supported by the Medaille Trust, a catholic charity funded by religious and other church groups fighting to end trafficking in the UK and help the victims.

What is so appalling is the impunity that goes with these crimes. In Asian countries, like the Philippines, local politicians, and foreigner criminals run the sex industry. They are above the law and the corruption reaches to the highest level of political and economic power. That is why the government has only been able to get ten convictions in the last several years. These traffickers at the highest level must be held accountable and made to pay the price for destroying the lives for countless women and children. They ought to be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court."

June 03, 2008

"As thin as a man's thumb..."

Today, Ethiopia is facing a food crisis that is threatening millions of people. According to this report by the BBC (article and video), the situation is worse than a similar famine in 2003. Late rains and the high cost of food are to blame.

The U.N. believes that 3 million Ethiopians will need emergency food support in the coming months.

To give you a picture of what extreme poverty and hunger look like, "A BBC correspondent who visited a feeding centre says she saw a child whose arm was as thin as a man's thumb."

Hanna_with_childrenMelodie Monberg sent me this article this morning, just days after Children's HopeChest committed to provide one month's worth of breakfast food for Hanna's Orphan Homes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We reached out to Hanna because the need is so great we must respond now. She wrote to us:

Although it is a global problem, the cost of living in Ethiopia has become very, very expensive. The money you have planned to send me could cover the need of wheat to be used only for one month breakfast purposes.

Hanna Teshome is a hero. She has operated Hanna’s Orphan Homes in and around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the last 14 years. Hanna has taken these children off the streets and out of the hospitals where they watched their parents die of AIDS. Now they are in a home. We have recently begun our initiative to partner with Hanna and other Ethiopian leaders like her to care for the millions of orphaned children in that beautiful and historic country. Along with Red Letters Campaign, we are working to raise funds, mobilize churches and faith communities, and identify Ethiopian partners like Hanna.

Today we are sending her money for breakfast for the children for one month. But I think we can do much more. You can help us provide food for Hanna's children--and protect them from the spreading famine in Ethiopia.

Click here to go straight to the 5 for 50 donation page. There, you can sign up to provide $25/month in support for providing food to Hanna's Orphan Homes.

As an added bonus: Some close friends of the ministry have agreed to match the first 10 gifts of $25. The first ten people to sign up with a $25 recurring gift with have their gift doubled for the first month--helping us get the food to Hanna's kids faster.

We need to cover 162 children at Hanna's Homes who are facing a food shortage in Ethiopia. When you sign up, leave a comment on this post, and encourage others to join you. Thanks for your support! I'll report back as the support builds.