FROM RELEVANT MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE ON SUSTAINABLE CHANGE. SACRIFICIAL LIVING. SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION.
WHAT IT TAKES TO FREE A
SEX SLAVE RESCUING SOMEONE FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS
N.T. WRIGHT IS EDUCATION FIXABLE? BOB FU
A SPECIAL SECTION
BY LIZ RIGGS
first time I met James, he was a ninth-grader who was reading on a third grade reading level. He struggled with basic spelling words and had yet to master his multiplication tables. At the end of the year, more or less at the same proficiency level, he was passed on to 10th grade. The following summer, we met at the public library to read together several times a week, working on rudimentary word fluency and practicing elementary spelling patterns. REJECT APATHY
Now James is a college freshman who is desperately trying to keep his head above water. He entered both high school and college years behind academically, and he is just one face of many who have graduated high school tragically unprepared for the demands of higher education and the work force. “The problems were so much bigger than me or my students,” says Joseph Williams, a former advanced placement history teacher at James’ school. “And what kept me up at night was not the students in my classroom and the high challenges they faced to breaking out of the cycle of poverty. It was my realization that they were a handful of examples of millions in broken systems that are failing them.”
The U.S. Education system is one of those broken systems—a system that continues to fail many of its students year after year. For those who grew up in a private school or in a zip code that had a blue ribbon public school, the idea that the U.S. education system is broken may seem like an absurd notion. And yet, this is a public institution that is producing test scores ranking the U.S. 25th out of 30 countries in math and 21st out of 30 in Science. This is a system in which
nearly two-thirds of third-graders are reading below their grade level. “I sometimes was blessed enough to shake things up and change some things in my classroom and maybe my school,” Williams says. “I was a lead teacher, so I had some impact at a district level, too. But the problems leading to these broken schools and broken families and shattered dreams are so much bigger and widespread than that.”
THE CYCLE OF POVERTY
Many of the problems in our education system lie in the gap between high-income students and their low-income peers, known colloquially as the achievement gap. This gap, despite measures in reform, has only widened over the years, according to many recent studies. Of over 15 million students living in poverty, only 8 percent of them will graduate college by the time they are 24 years old, and these students are half as likely to graduate high school as their high-income peers. “In a lot of ways, the education system in the U.S. is functioning in the way it was supposed to function—ensuring those of means and privilege continue to have the educational experiences needed to continue to have means and privilege,” says Ali Wilson, a former teacher who now trains and professionally develops younger teachers. “We see people pushing against this, but we need to continue to elevate
“GIVING PEOPLE THE TOOLS, OFTEN THROUGH EDUCATION, TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CHOICES IS PART OF TREATING ALL PEOPLE WITH RESPECT.” —SHAKA MITCHELL
the conversation and find ways to make the system more equitable.” The disadvantage starts before students even enter school. For many students, their zip code determines their future school, their teachers and, often, their opportunities. Frequently, low-income students are born and raised in communities that feed them into failing schools, and they don’t have the money or resources to have any other options. With this cycle prevailing, low-income students become six times more likely to drop out of high school. Nearly half did not meet any of the ACT’s standards for college readiness, based on their ACT scores. “It’s hard to fix poverty, but some of these things can be fixed,” says professor Richard Ingersoll, a researcher and educator at the University of Pennsylvania. Ingersoll taught for six years in both public and private schools before pursuing academia to research some of the major issues plaguing the American education system. Ingersoll is referring to many of the other factors that impact a school’s overall effectiveness, whether it’s the principal and administration team, the money going into the school or any other variety of factors. But one key component has emerged in the forefront of the education reform movement: the teacher.
15 MILLION AMERICAN STUDENTS LIVE IN
TEACHERS LEAVE THEIR POSTS EACH YEAR
THE AVERAGE STARTING SALARY FOR A TEACHER IN THE U.S. IS
TEACHER QUALITY, PERFORMANCE & RETENTION
A study published by RAND Education stated that a student’s teacher matters “more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.” Over recent years, it has been a commonly held belief that teachers are the lynchpin in this monstrous reform effort; they are the piece holding together an otherwise slipshod puzzle. And yet, even with this knowledge, our country still struggles to bring the best and brightest teachers into the classroom. According to a report published in Education Week, countries such as Finland and Singapore bring in 100 percent of their teachers from the top third percent of their graduating class. The U.S.? Only 23 percent. And in low-income schools, that number drops to 14 percent. As many are quick to point out, if we want smarter students, we need to bring in stronger teachers. “Our students deserve the best teachers,” says Julia Duchon, who works for an educational nonprofit and spent several years in the classroom. “Some teachers who are lower performers in college can still be excellent teachers for our kids. Others, sadly, are not. Many high performers in college are deterred from the teaching profession because it is not seen as prestigious enough. The stigma around the teaching profession must change so the best teachers for our students—no matter where or how they performed in college—are attracted to the profession.” Not only that, but in low-income schools, teaching positions are particularly hard to fill. Many alternative licensure programs (programs that train teachers in ways other than a traditional four-year
EIGHTH GRADERS CAN’T READ PROFICIENTLY SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week, National Education Association, Bureau of Justice, National Center for Education Statistics
undergraduate program) have emerged in order to staff these hard-to-fill positions, but teacher turnover and low performance is still a concern. And these students are typically experiencing outside challenges as well that can affect their performance in the classroom. Whether it’s family life, parental support or trying to balance a part-time job with the workload of a typical high school student, low-income students must surmount an overwhelming number of challenges on a daily basis.
WHERE IS GOD IN EDUCATION?
As Christians, what is our role in an issue that is such a fundamental part of the public sphere? RELEVANT MAGAZINE
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What Is Being Done? Here are a few major efforts in place to tackle problems in America’s education system. COMMON CORE A rigorous curriculum that can be taught across the country. With more challenging standards than those of most states, Common Core aims to ensure actual college preparation. To date, 45 states have adopted the standards. CHARTER SCHOOLS Publicly (mostly) funded and privately run schools that typically serve lowincome and minority students. Charters have varying results, but their purpose is usually to provide more choice and opportunity for low-income students to see them to and through college. INCREASE TEACHER PAY AND RETENTION The idea of education reform as it applies to teachers is to increase the overall attractiveness of the profession to get the best people in our classrooms—and, in a lot of realms, this means increasing salaries and opportunities for teachers. Low salaries are at least one contributing factor to why teachers leave the classroom quickly. Finding and keeping great teachers is key to graduating great students.
AMERICAN STUDENTS DROP OUT OF SCHOOL EACH YEAR
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS GRADUATE READY FOR COLLEGE IN ALL FOUR CORE SUBJECTS
OF U.S. CONVICTS ARE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS
“As people of faith, we are called to believe that everyone is a child of God,” says Shaka Mitchell, the director of external affairs for LEAD Public Schools, a charter network in the South. “That has some very practical implications—like the idea that all people ought to be treated with dignity. I believe giving people the tools, often through education, to make meaningful, non-coerced choices is part of treating all people with respect.” That sentiment is echoed in different ways among other Christians who are connected to education. Becky Wharton, a retired teacher who taught for nearly 30 years, sees education as her calling. “I think people want to be involved—in their careers— in something that is bigger than themselves. And that is educating kids and [creating] relationships with them. You’re doing something great for these people, and I think that’s why I love teaching, because I feel like it’s a wonderful ministry. To me it’s a ... way to serve God.” Wilson also says she views education as a work of service. “When Jesus talks about the poor, the widow, the orphans—that represents the majority of students and families in the public school district I work in. I can’t separate work and faith,” she says. Wilson worked with James on several occasions and has been a part of his journey through the public education system. Her unwillingness to separate her faith from her work has led her to be a part of this movement where she can impact thousands of lives every day. Teaching is perhaps one of many ways to serve God in this movement for educational equality, but it’s certainly not the only. And for those who are outside of the school system looking in, it’s probably easy to wonder what role those of us who aren’t teachers or principals or school counselors can play.
SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week, National Education Association, Bureau of Justice, National Center for Education Statistics
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BILLION AMOUNT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SPENT ON EDUCATION IN 2012
While it may not be easy to drop everything and become a teacher or start working for an education think tank, it is easy to support teachers and public schools. Go to the website for the public school district in your city and see what volunteer opportunities are available. Most school districts will have tutoring opportunities. Are there clubs you can host? Are there partnerships with local nonprofits or the public library that interest you? Can you donate money to a school, an education fundraiser or a tutoring center? No matter your interests, there are ways to get involved in education to help fuel the work our country’s teachers and students are doing. As a country, we have embarked on a journey for educational justice that cannot be taken lightly. And, as Wilson sees it, James’ story is just one of the stories we hear. “It is so important that we seek to understand the reality for all students—not just our children or the children in our neighborhood—and feel convicted to do something when we see injustice,” she says. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, some of the names in this article may have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed. LIZ RIGGS is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn. Follow her on Twitter at your own risk @riggser.
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MEET THE MOST MAN IN CHINA HOW BOB FU, “GOD’S DOUBLE AGENT,” IS WORKING TOWARD RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN CHINA B Y E M I LY M C F A R L A N M I L L E R
hen Guangcheng had spent four years in prison and several more under house arrest after documenting more than 100,000 cases of forced abortions in China. The Washington Post called his dramatic escape and subsequent refuge in a U.S. Embassy “the most sensational human rights crisis in China in a decade.” And it was all engineered by a man named Xiqiu “Bob” Fu—a man who, as Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the Global Human Rights subcommittee within the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told NBC News, “is one of the most credible people you’ll ever find about what is going on in China.” Fu, who is a pastor, the founder and president of ChinaAid and a Voice of the Martyrs China analyst, has witnessed and heard many stories of suffering, extreme poverty and the persecution of Christians in China. He has heard stories of forced abortions under the country’s one-child policy and of women raped by police while detained. Their crime? Their belief in Christ. He has seen scarred faces of Christians beaten for their faith.
And yet, he says, he has seen Christians praying for their persecutors and “tremendous, courageous signs in their smiles, in the miracles and wonders in their lives.” He has seen the Church in China grow from fewer than 1 million people to an estimated 50 to 130 million. “That’s the hope, I think, for China,” he says. “That’s certainly a Kingdom of God picture on the earth.”
VOICES OF MARTYRS
That growth in the Church in China comes amid “what may have been the harshest and most widespread persecution of the Church in all history,” according to Voice of the Martyrs. Voice of the Martyrs reports that more Christians have been
detained in China than in any other country. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which listed China in its top tier of “countries of concern” in its 2013 annual report, puts the number of Protestants detained in the past year at more than 1,000, even as the country loosens its control in other areas, relaxing some restrictions of its one-child policy and announcing in November plans to abolish its labor camps. But, Fu says, human rights and religious freedoms in the country have dramatically deteriorated in the past few years. Fu himself has been imprisoned in China for “illegal evangelization” and has had to run from authorities several times. He and his wife, Heidi, had to escape police officers stationed around their apartment in Beijing by
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leaping from a second-story window, he wrote in his autobiography, God’s Double Agent, published last fall. Heidi was pregnant with their first child at the time of the escape, and her pregnancy would have ended in forced abortion if it had been discovered. The couple didn’t have a permit granting them government
He excelled at school, despite his reputation as a “troublemaker,” he says. Twice, he intervened to help classmates stay in school when their parents threatened to bring them home because they no longer could afford it. This earned him the nickname “Heart Burden Man” from his mother.
“I HAVE FELT THE PERSECUTION PHYSICALLY. PHYSICAL PERSECUTION REALLY IS NOT A REAL BIG DEAL COMPARED TO THE JOY YOU EXPERIENCED.” permission to have the child. They slipped out of the country in 1996 as part of a tour group going to Bangkok, then Hong Kong. The U.S. finally intervened to bring them to the States days before control of Hong Kong was turned over from Britain to China. Since then, Fu says, “We have been receiving almost on a daily or weekly basis all of these persecution stories from our brothers and sisters in different parts of China, and we have been always praying.” Those stories led him to found ChinaAid Association, an international Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China. Since 2002, ChinaAid has worked to expose abuses in China, encourage the abused and equip leaders spiritually and legally to defend their faith and freedom. “I see the tremendous cultural transformation ... and I want to contribute, want to be part of this exciting time and movement,” Fu says. That excitement and the joy of Christ is worth more to him than his physical comfort. “I felt the persecution physically. Physical persecution really is not a real big deal compared to the joy you experienced.”
THE FIGHT FOR EQUAL TREATMENT
That desire to contribute was planted in Fu from a young age as he was growing up in poverty in the Shandong province of China, an area where many students could barely afford an education. “I had been always thinking how to change that situation,” he says. “I always felt in the beginning it was a financial problem.”
For his senior thesis in high school, he investigated how things worked in the villages, talking to doctors, farmers and other workers. After learning government officials were demanding bribes to keep the electricity on in his own village, he declared to his class he wanted to become prime minister. “I observed in China, the best way to change your social and economic status is to become a big potato, you know? The bigger, the better,” he says. “Basically, I just felt, ‘well, I want to use my own effort to fight for equal treatment.’”
GOD’S DOUBLE AGENT
Instead, Fu was accepted to Liaocheng Teachers’ College to study to become an English teacher. That’s where he was when the student movement started in 1989 in Beijing, according to his autobiography. He led a group of students from Liaocheng to peacefully protest government corruption in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, leaving just before the massacre there in June of the same year. The teachers’ college was also where police forced him to write confession after confession, and where many of his friends abandoned him in the subsequent government crackdown. And it’s where he became a follower of Christ, finding hope in the story of another Chinese Christian from a biography his English teacher shared. “That was the start of my understanding of my faith, and then gradually [I came] to realize the value of religious freedom,” he says. “Of course, then after I became a
Christian, then I started to involve the Chinese underground church movement and [know] more stories of their suffering, their torture, their cries and tears and yearnings for freedom.” “Heart Burden Man” became “God’s double agent,” teaching English to future Communist Party leaders by day and the Bible to future house church leaders by night in Beijing. At first, he attended a Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church, the one government-sanctioned Protestant church in China and, he says, basically a “political organization with a religious uniform.” After Fu’s beloved pastor was removed from his church by the Communist Party, Fu helped lead a house church. House churches, free from government control, gained popularity in the 1980s, he says. But they also are “illegal religious gatherings” in China, and he and his wife were imprisoned after government officials discovered the Bible school. “Ironically, or humorously by God, the house church—despite of 60 years non-stop persecution and discrimination in the society—has been the most revival spiritual movement in the history of Christianity,” he says.
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN CHINA
That kind of religious persecution continues in China today. In December 2010, Chinese authorities launched a crackdown on unregistered house churches, Voice of the Martyrs reported. Since then, the government has forcibly closed independent Protestant and Catholic churches and detained and arrested church leaders, according to the USCIRF 2013 Annual Report. It also has selected Catholic bishops without the approval of the Vatican. One weekend in July, 31 members of Shouwang Church, one of the largest house churches in Beijing, were arrested, Fu says. Some were locked in an iron cage in the police station. One man was beaten so badly, one of his teeth was knocked out. Anywhere from 30 to 100 members of the church are arrested almost every week, Fu says. All the church elders and pastors have been under house arrest, and landlords have been
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forbidden to rent members a space for the church, forcing them to worship outdoors. Still, Shouwang Church has grown to more than 1,000 members, Fu says. “All of these cries from those persecuted brothers and sisters and the continuing deteriorating of human rights in China make us feel we should do something,” he says. “We can’t really rest until we see true freedom in our motherland, over there.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Fu says he can’t imagine any significant progress toward freedom in China without “the support of the American people and the free world.” And while not everyone is called to coordinate daring escapes for Chinese dissidents or to testify in Congressional hearings, the difference can be made by an act as simple as writing a letter, he says. ChinaAid posts imprisoned Christians’ addresses on its website. In 2002, a house church leader named Li Ying received more than 4,000 letters from all over the world while serving a sentence at a labor camp in China, Fu says. That sentence was reduced nearly three years, and Fu received a phone call from Ying telling him what a difference those prayers and letters made. Americans also can write their elected officials to support religious freedom, which is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but an “American fundamental interest,” Fu says. And Voice of the Martyrs requests prayers on its website for spiritual and physical strength for the thousands of Chinese Christians in prison, for boldness for those sharing the Gospel despite the dangers they face. It praises God for the significant growth of the Church in China. “I think that is the hope. I feel the freedom—the day for China’s freedom is much, much closer than any time of the Communist Party’s ruling history now,” Fu says. “I think I’m looking forward to that day, and I’m more optimistic now.”
EMILY MCFARLAN MILLER is an awardswinning education reporter, an adventurer and a Chicagoan. Mostly, she writes. Connect with her at emmillerwrites.com
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RESCUING SOMEONE FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS
B Y M AT T A N D L A U R A P A R K E R
arah sat nervously fiddling with the napkin in her hands. Lights flashed and music blared all around us. Next to Sarah, the brothel owner bartered her price. He offered my partner, an undercover national investigator, sex with Sarah at a premium because she was still considered “fresh.” We were in a Southeast Asian brothel commonly known as a “fishbowl”—a bar where women are lined up on stools or couches behind a large wall of glass windows. Sarah, a native of a neighboring country, was 15 years old. Her mother had recently sold her to pay off a family debt. Sarah’s virginity had brought her trafficker $600 just three days earlier. As you might imagine, I felt rage. The only hope I had in that moment was knowing our interaction
with Sarah’s pimp was being captured by the covert cameras my partner and I were carrying. I knew when we recorded the sale of Sarah, when we gathered enough evidence to prove money changed hands with the intent of sex with a minor, we could spark a raid with the local police on her behalf. And while I knew this was the right course of action to work within the local legal system, it was a brutal thing to walk away from the brothel later that night, leaving Sarah still inside.
Rescue from the sex trade sounds glamorous. On the outside looking in, rescue looks a lot like Jason Bourne in a fist fight or Liam Neeson breaking down doors to find his daughter in Taken. It sounds like the stuff of Hollywood. But real rescue can’t be depicted in a two-hour movie on the big screen. My experience as a former undercover investigator and now the leader of The Exodus Road, a coalition of more than 20 investigative organizations responsible for nearly 200 victim rescues in the past year, has given me a more realistic point of view. The rescue of a sex slave actually requires a huge investment of time, resources, strategy and grit. When we look at Sarah’s
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case, and when we think in terms of what it really takes to rescue a sex slave, we see that effective rescue is much broader and more complex than the simple kicking in of a door or grabbing a young girl from a brothel. There are essentially four main steps to rescuing a sex slave:
INVESTIGATIONS: BUILD A TARGET PACKAGE
The first step in freeing a sex slave is, of course, finding them. At a practical level, this means sending trained, government-sanctioned undercover investigators into the darkest corners of the world to look for victims. In Sarah’s case, the national investigator I was with had been working undercover for about a year, building relationships with the brothel owners involved. It was this long-term trust-building process that led the pimp to immediately call when he had a “fresh” girl. Investigators then build what we call target packages—case files of evidence proving criminal activity of trafficking. They visit the bar or brothel in question and pose as customers. Often, they wear covert camera equipment to document both still shots and video surveillance evidence. When investigators visit a scene, they look specifically for signs of duress, in an effort to distinguish between prostitutes over 18 years old and there by choice, and victims of human trafficking working against their wills. Marks on the body, fearful movements, young age and downcast eyes are all red flags to investigators that the person before them is trapped. A completed target package, including reports and surveillance evidence, is then delivered to local police. This initial process can take anywhere from one week to a year or more, depending on the scope of the operation. A quality target package represents hundreds of dollars and many nights of hard, depressing work for any investigator. But, unfortunately, sometimes even the best target package isn’t enough.
GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIPS: EASIER SAID THAN DONE
As much as I wanted to grab Sarah and run that night in the brothel, to do so—to take a minor against her will, even in an effort to “rescue” her—would be considered kidnapping. A nongovernmental organization (NGO) or foreign charity does not have the authority to pull a victim out of a brothel. Instead, NGOs must spend time in a country developing relationships with key government officials. Without strong government partnerships, groups will continue to hit walls that no amount of money can break through. This can be challenging. When I lived in Southeast Asia, it took a great investment of my time and resources to gain the trust of the local
EFFECTIVE RESCUE IS MUCH BROADER AND MORE COMPLEX THAN THE SIMPLE KICKING IN OF A DOOR OR GRABBING A YOUNG GIRL FROM A BROTHEL. authority in charge of countertrafficking. It was more than a year before we actually worked a case together, but today, he remains one of our greatest partners. Once relationships with trusted officials are in place, investigators deliver the target package of evidence to those officials with both the desire and capability to act on the case. At that point, the NGO should begin to play a supporting role, offering accountability and resources for the government lead on the case. This is an essential piece of the process because longterm change in trafficking will best be brought about by those within their own home countries. Ideally, a multi-disciplinary task force would circle around the specific case detailed in the target package. At the “table” would be the police partners, the investigators, a national social worker, a local lawyer versed in victim rights and a translator or medical doctor, as needed. The group would then make a plan for the sting operation or raid, set a date and gather resources.
Thankfully for Sarah, the national investigator had strong relationships with the federal government, and through working in partnership with both a local NGO and a nationally run anti-trafficking task force, a plan for a holistic, victim-centered rescue operation began to take shape.
RAID: TO KICK DOWN A DOOR
The actual kicking down of the door is the part most susceptible to corruption and tipoffs. In fact, in Sarah’s case, someone leaked key information minutes before the rescue operation began. As a result, the first raid failed because Sarah’s pimps pulled her and all other underage victims from the brothel and placed them in an apartment off the grid for a month. In developing countries especially, it’s very difficult to execute a successful raid where the victims are cared for through social and translation services and all the perpetrators are arrested. Sometimes, pimps sneak out hidden doors. Sometimes victims are placed in the same police car as their broker. These are obviously tactical errors for countries with sound police methodology in place, but they are the ground-level realities for government forces in the developing world with little resources, training or support. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM
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1 3 TEENS IN
2,000,000 ADVOCACY AND PROSECUTION: THAT WHICH CANNOT FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS
After a successful raid, both advocacy for the victim and prosecution for the criminal are crucial. To wash our hands of the justice process after the door is kicked down would be a failure—both to the victims themselves and to the larger strategy of slowing the human trafficking machine. Depending on the resources available, victims are either transferred to a government facility or to a private safe house immediately after a raid. The ultimate hope is that they would receive holistic care and eventually testify against their traffickers in court. But the reality is this rarely happens. Many times, especially if strong social services are not in place, victims will run away and try to escape the government’s control. This puts the vulnerable back on the streets. Again, government and NGO partnerships are crucial here. For the criminals, any arrest or prosecution is disruptive. Legal fees, jail time and loss of business make the sale of humans a less lucrative trade. Regardless of the verdicts, raids and arrests send a message to the local community that sexual slavery is not acceptable. When we apply pressure to the trafficking mechanisms from a legal standpoint, we slowly force modern-day slavery into the category of higher risk and lower reward.
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ON THE STREETS WILL BE LURED INTO PROSTITUTION WITHIN 48 HOURS OF LEAVING HOME
CHILDREN ARE SUBJECTED TO PROSTITUTION IN THE GLOBAL COMMERCIAL SEX TRADE YEARLY
This is potentially one of the greatest steps we can make as a community fighting this injustice. It took two long months after that night I first saw Sarah for her to be rescued. It required the planning of two raids and a small army of people, more funding than we imagined and the tenacity of the national investigator who pushed the case through both legal roadblocks and corruption. But, finally, Sarah was pulled from her brothel, along with seven other underage victims who had also been trafficked from a neighboring country. While her trafficker underwent a legal trial, Sarah was transferred to a government facility with less than ideal conditions. Even though there were no quality after-care centers in the immediate area, the authorities would not release her to travel under NGO custody and care, despite our advocacy efforts.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
So suppose you are doing mission work in a red-light district in Cambodia and you see a 13-year-old girl sitting at a bar with a 60-year-old white man. She doesn’t speak your language, but you suspect she’ll be forced to have sex with someone later that night if you don’t intervene. What do you do? Do you force her into your car and drive her to safety? That definitely is the natural instinct.
AN AVERAGE VICTIM MAY BE FORCED TO HAVE SEX
20 TO 48 TIMES A DAY
But that is not the best path to rescue for the girl in front of you, for the one who will take her place the following night or for the local culture that needs to rise up and stand against the sale of its children. One option: give that information to trusted authorities or an anti-trafficking NGO in the area. Find a local trafficking hotline to call in an effort to provide a tip for local investigative teams or police. Seek ways to build a relationship with the young girl across the bar, as well. And please pray—pray for the Sarahs of the world and for the brave few who are engaged in the gritty work of finding, freeing and restoring them. Consider investing in freedom efforts financially or by volunteering your skills, time or influence to the fight. Every day, I find myself wishing that rescuing a sex slave was a simple, inexpensive, quick process. But it isn’t. It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire army to free one. MATT PARKER is the founder and president of The Exodus Road, a coalition of organizations that work together to fuel investigation and rescue from sexual slavery in India and Southeast Asia. His wife, Laura Parker, is the senior vice president of communications.
SOURCES: UNICEF, National Runaway Hotline, Polaris Project
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GLOBAL SLAVERY IS GROWING New research shows the number of people living in slavery, forced into bonded servanthood, subjected to unfair work practices and even subjected to child labor is growing, and our buying habits
are contributing to the demand for cheap labor. Here’s a look at the expanding problem, what products from around the world contribute to it and what we can do to help.
THERE ARE 29,800,000 SLAVES WORLDWIDE WHERE THEY LIVE
[P RODUC T S OF SL AV ERY]
In countries including China, India, Malaysia and Thailand, the garment industry frequently uses slave labor.
Forced labor is prevalent on produce farms across South and Central America.
In parts of Africa, kids are often born into slavery and have little hope for freedom.
In India and China, slavery is prevalent in industries that export goods to the West.
TOP 5 SLAVERY COUNTRIES 1 2 3 4 5
INDIA CHINA PAKISTAN NIGERIA ETHIOPIA
SOURCES: dosomething.org, National Geographic, productsofslavery.org
REJECT APATHY: HOW TO HELP Here are a few websites to help you learn more about human trafficking, how to stop contributing to the demand for slave labor and how to join in the fight for freedom.
SUPPORT THE FIGHT
Slaveryfootprint.org Productsofslavery.org > Free2Work.org
Endslaverynow.com Polarisproject.org > IJM.org
COFFEE Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico all were on the Department of Labor’s list of countries that use forced labor in the production of coffee beans.
2,100,000 701,000 651,000
In China, there have been reports of governmentrun labor camps, where prisoners are forced to aid in the production of electronics and gadgets sold around the world.
The Freedom Film at 268generation. com
Fruits such as grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, pineapples, bananas and melons have been linked to slavery in South and Central America.
20–50 percent of tantalum— a mineral used in smartphone processors—is produced in conflict mines in Congo.
86 percent of indigenous children in Mexico work six days a week, primarily producing agricultural items such as chili peppers.
The East African nation of Mauritania has the highest ratio of slaves in the world. 20 percent of the population lives in slavery.
CHOCOLATE According to the Food Empowerment Project, the West African nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast produce 75 percent of the world’s chocolate—often using child labor.
Human trafficking generates more than $32 billion a year. The average international cost of a slave is $90.
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CAN WE SEPARATE OUR SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL REALITIES?
by N.T. Wright
he Psalms celebrate the transformation of time; they stand at the intersection of space—God’s space and ours—and they do something very similar with what we may call “matter.” The Psalms celebrate—in fact, they positively relish—the sheer physicality of creation: its stuff and substance, its seedtimes and harvests, the winds and the rocks, the nights and the days. “Matter” may not be the best word to use for all of this, but our modern trio of time, space and matter enables us to get the picture and now to focus attention on the third of them. We have been heavily influenced on the one hand by Epicureanism, in which God or “the gods” are separated from the world we know by a great and unbridgeable gulf. And we have been shaped on the other hand by a residual Platonism, in which the material world is a shabby, corrupt place to be endured while we have to and escaped when we can. That is a fairly devastating combination, which has led many Christians to imagine that “this world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.” People quote Jesus saying to Pilate—in the words of the King James Version—that His Kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36), as though Jesus was endorsing that Platonic vision of leaving the present world altogether and going off to a different one, a world (perhaps) of pure spirit, not only away from the “material” world but outside time and space as we know it.
What Jesus said and meant was, in fact, that His Kingdom was not from this world. The kingdoms that grow up from within the world make their way by fighting, but Jesus’ Kingdom proceeds on a different basis. His Kingdom was and is most emphatically for this world. Our modern Western worldviews have made it difficult for us to hear Psalm 19:1–2 as anything but a pretty fantasy. The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. To think of this as mere dreaming, a kind of poetic license, is to miss the point, which is that all creation does, in fact, praise its maker. Our problem is that we have allowed the ears of our hearts to be closed to what is going on. But what looks to the flattenedout imagination of late Western modernity like “lifeless” matter is, in fact, a world throbbing with God-given life. That life is constantly praising its maker by being, particularly and peculiarly, what it is. Only humans, it seems, have the capacity to live as something other than what they are (God reflectors, image bearers). Trees behave as trees; rocks as rocks; the sea is and does what the sea is and does. And the psalmists look out on it all and see it as a great shout of praise to the God who has made it to be and to flourish: By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might ... Those who live at Earth’s farthest bounds are awed
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by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy (65:6, 8). That last line means, I think, that the psalmist saw, as we mostly do, something special and evocative in the quality of light at either end of the day. But he heard, as we mostly do not, something else going on: a shout of joy at this moment of strange, transient glory. And the joy is increased as, with every passing harvest, what we have come to see as “the natural order” is understood as the work of God Himself, making the earth fertile and fruitful: You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy (65:9–13). The whole countryside, in fact, is putting on its fine clothes as if getting ready for a party: God’s party, the harvest season that humans facilitate but do not create. Why should we not look out on the fruitful earth around us, whether it be mountains and lakes or simply a plant on a windowsill, and celebrate the fact that it is all singing praise to its maker? Unless our worship is joined—more or less consciously—with the praises of all creation, there should be a question mark as to whether it really is genuine Christian worship. This brings us back to a point we noticed before: in various passages in the Old Testament, we are told God’s glory either already fills the whole earth, as in the angelic hymn of Isaiah 6, or that it will do so one day. Psalm 72 expresses this as clearly as anywhere else. It begins with the king being endowed by God with the ability to do justice among the people, summoning the natural landscape to contribute, as well. RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM
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“MATTER” ITSELF, THE MATERIAL WORLD, IS DESIGNED TO BE FLOODED WITH GOD’S GLORY. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor (72:2–4). The central blessings of creation will then function both as a simile for the way in which the rule of the true king will bring justice and peace to the world, and also as a marker of time, praying that this righteous rule will last as long as the sun and moon: May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more (72:5–7). There then follows the prayer for the worldwide rule of the coming king, which is to be welcomed on the basis that he will deliver REJECT APATHY
the needy, rescue the poor and have pity on the weak and helpless (72:8–14). This leads into a prayer that combines the blessings of royal rule with the blessings of creation, taking the poem naturally into the prayer for the divine glory to fill the whole world. Reading the passage in reverse order, in fact, we see what this idea of the earth being filled with divine glory actually means. It means, on the one hand, the glorious combination of creation being fully alive, fully itself and, on the other hand, human society being properly ordered through justice and prosperity. Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long. May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field. May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun. May all nations be blessed in him; may they pronounce him happy. Blessed
be YHWH, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be His glorious name forever; may His glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen (72:15–19). The ultimate goal of the whole earth being filled with God’s glory is spoken of elsewhere in the Old Testament. What some had experienced, or might hope to experience, in the tabernacle or Temple (the tent or house being filled with the glory of YHWH) was now to be hoped for in terms of the whole creation. That, we may assume, is part, at least, of what Jesus taught His followers to pray for when they were to say, “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as in heaven.” But if this is the ultimate goal, there are steps on the road toward it—steps by which the material world can be seen as already taken up within that divine purpose, not simply waiting in a state of sorry decay for something new to happen. These stages on the way are already marked in those great psalms of creation, 103 and 104. Psalm 103 praises God for all the blessings of human life and especially for the compassion and gentleness with which God treats His frail and weak human children. All of human life is set within the larger vision of God’s Kingdom, His sovereignty over heaven and earth (103:19). The psalmist can therefore summon all of God’s works to praise Him, wherever they are, “in all places of His dominion” (103:22). This is then translated into a different mode in Psalm 104. First, instead of describing what God has done and is doing and summoning His creation to praise Him, Psalm 104 speaks to God Himself, so that the word “you” occurs 20 or more times: O YHWH my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty ... You stretch out the heavens like
a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment (104:1–6). And so on, and so on, celebrating the mountains and hills, the streams and valleys, the animals and birds that live on what grows and flows (as we say) “by itself” but, in fact, as the objects of God’s care and provision: By the streams, the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. (104:12–13) Humans are at last allowed on the scene, making their appearance, as in Genesis 1, when the stage is fully set: You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine and bread to strengthen the human heart (104:14–15). Then comes the moment, at the heart of the psalm, that I regard as one of the great lines in all of Scripture, a moment that draws together Genesis and Proverbs and looks on to the poetry of Saint Paul. God has created the world in such a way that the great lights of the sky—the sun and the moon—bring order to the life of animals and humans alike. Observing this, the psalmist celebrates the amazing multiplicity of God’s creation and the fact that it is done “in wisdom,” wisely: You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens. People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening. O YHWH, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures (104:19-24). “In wisdom”: the Hebrew is behokmah. Proverbs 8:22 says “YHWH created me at the beginning of his work”; and this, in turn, looks back to bereshith, “in the beginning,” the first word of Scripture. This is the line of thought Paul picks up in the glorious poem of Colossians 1:15–20, in which he sets out, after the fashion of a Hebrew psalm, the balanced account of all things being created in, through and for the Messiah, and then all things being redeemed in, through and for Him. Paul leaves us in no doubt that he is picking up this tradition of “creation through wisdom,” joining Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8. The Messiah, he says, “is the place where you’ll find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3); and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead—He, through whom all things were made: He is the image of God, the invisible one, The firstborn of all creation. For in Him all things were created, in the heavens and here on the earth. Things we can see and things we cannot—thrones and lordships and rulers and powers—all things were created both through Him and for Him. And He is ahead, prior to all else, and in Him all things hold together. And He Himself is supreme, the
Surprised by Hope In this book, Wright takes on the loftiest subject of all—Heaven—and shows where we got it wrong.
The New Testament “For Everyone” Series This guide to all the books of the New Testament with Wright’s own translation of the entire text is invaluable.
After You Believe Wright tackles the question of purpose and expands
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head over the Body, the Church. He is the start of it all, firstborn from realms of the dead; so in all things He might be the chief. For in Him all the fullness was glad to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all to Himself, making peace through the blood of His Cross, through Him—yes, things on the earth, and also the things in the heavens (Colossians 1:15–20). Everything Israel’s Scriptures said about “beginning” and “wisdom” has come rushing together in Jesus Himself. The resurrection has gloriously reaffirmed the goodness and God-givenness of the creation (over against any suggestion of Platonic dualism) and has restated God’s intention to fill it all to overflowing with His own love and life and glory. Thus, though creation as it now stands must go through the valley of the shadow of death, God will bring it to new life by His Spirit, and this will lead to the great prayer that the glory of YHWH may last forever, that YHWH may rejoice in His works. “Matter” matters because it is God’s “matter,” made not as a temporary ornament for a world doomed to decay and death but as the raw material for the new world full of glory. May the glory of YHWH endure forever; may YHWH rejoice in His works—who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. I will sing to YHWH as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in YHWH (Psalm 104:27–34). When we put this together with the testimony of the New Testament—which is not difficult—then we find a remarkable vista before us. The “wisdom” by which the one true God made the world and all its creatures is to be identified with and as the one we now know in and as Jesus the Messiah. This is the God who placed His glory in the Jerusalem Temple but who now wants His glory to last forever in the creation that, renewed by the Spirit, will be freed from all evil (Psalm 104:35) and become the wonderful vessel of that same glory. Once we learn to understand the overlap of time in the Psalms (past and future both coloring the present), once we learn to understand the overlap of space in the Psalms (God’s glory now in the Temple, now in the Torah, now in the whole of creation), it is not too great a stretch to see that “matter” itself, the material world, is designed to be flooded with God’s glory. And if this is so for the whole creation—trees and seas and birds and animals—it is so above all for human beings. N.T. WRIGHT is the former Bishop of Durham and one of the world’s leading Bible scholars. He now serves as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at University of St. Andrew’s School of Divinity.
the idea of faith to be much bigger and grander than a list of rules.
Adapted from The Case for the Psalms. Copyright © 2013 by N.T. Wright. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers.