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Archive for the ‘Social Justice Issues’ Category

 

Statistics on suicide in the United States (These statistics are the most recent statistics available from the Centers of Disease Control as reported on www.save.org):

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages.
  • Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide.
  • There is one death by suicide in the U.S. every 12 minutes.
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year.

Statistics on suicide worldwide (These statistics are the most recent statistics available from the World Health Organization as reported on http://www.save.org):

  • Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly ONE DEATH EVERY 40 SECONDS.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

 

“I don’t want to live anymore!” I never in a million years thought that I would ever feel that way, much less give voice to those words. But as I stood there with the door of my daughter’s car open I started sobbing and the words just came out. I completely shocked myself. I had not realized that my mind had wandered that far off the path. It scared me to realize that my mind had taken on a life of it’s own.

This was the middle of July of 2017. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t suffer from anxiety. There have been times in my years of raising my kids as a single mom when I did feel overwhelmed, but it had never gotten to this point. There had been times when I wanted to hide, but I had never ever thought of not wanting to live. I had started becoming more anxious and overwhelmed around the end of April. I felt hopeless. I didn’t think that anything in my life was where it should be. My job caused me overwhelming anxiety on a daily basis. There were things on the home front that I was stressed out about and I felt a disconnect from God. I knew that God was still there, but I was struggling to feel His presence. I cried out in my despair, “hang on to me! Please God, don’t let me go!” I constantly prayed for a healing of my mind. I was aware enough to know that only God could make me mentally whole again. After that morning in July, when I uttered those words of hopelessness, I prayed with all of my heart that God would heal my mind. I was scared. I felt out of control and it terrified me. I was not happy. I felt alone and I cried tears of helplessness and fear. At one point during that time, I had had a rough morning at work and I sunk down in a corner in the dining room and sobbed. The dining room was empty at that moment and I was able to pull myself together rather quickly, but I was not happy and the tears flowed freely. It took until the end of October until I felt more like myself. I felt better and I wanted to live.

I still struggle with anxiety. I still struggle to connect with people. The constant chaos in my mind is real. But, I am better. I have my ups and downs, but I will survive. I will hang on to God and I trust that God will hang on to me.

There are so many ways that the Church is missing the opportunity to reach out to those who are suffering with anxiety, depression, mental illness, and hopelessness. When someone is suffering with any of these issues, they need a support system. There is a feeling of helplessness. There is a feeling of not being able to cope alone. And yet those who suffer don’t always ask for help. As helpless as they feel, they may not be able to reach out for help on their own. It is up to the rest of us to watch out for those around us to make sure that if anyone in our sphere of influence is suffering mentally, that we reach out in love and hope.

Love in Words– We won’t always know if someone we know or come in contact with is suffering, so it is important that we love those around us by the words that we use. When we encourage, build up, speak kindly, and use words of love, we give hope to those who may desperately need hope in their lives. Loving others through our words is such an easy way to let someone know that they are loved. Why would we not want to let others know how much we love them?

Love in Action– When we look for ways to show others how much we care about them, we might be giving hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. When we step in to ease the burden of someone who is overwhelmed by life, we may be saving a life. When we take some action to help someone who is struggling in their circumstances, we allow love to grow and God to work. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures. Little things matter just as much. Look around you and see where you can reach out and love someone by your actions.

My Challenge To You

Look around you every day to see how you can use your words and actions to show love to someone you come in contact with who may be suffering. Don’t let the busyness of life keep you from reaching out to someone that you KNOW is struggling in life. Don’t let opportunities pass you by to love those around you. Don’t let your frustration in the check out line cause you to make nasty remarks to the cashier adding to the burden he or she may already carry. You never know what the people around you are dealing with. You have a choice. We all do. We can either save a life with our words and actions. Or we can destroy one. It is completely up to each one of us. Personally, I would rather save a life. There is so much death and heartache in this world. I don’t want to think that my words or actions caused someone to even think about taking their own life. We may never know when that harsh word we said in frustration or anger was the last word they heard, because it was that last straw that pushed them over that edge. Please be kind. Choose to save a life.

RESOURCES

If someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please do NOT ignore it. Do not just chalk it up to someone being dramatic or wanting attention. Seek help for this person and urge him/her to seek help for him/her self. I have listed some resources below:

suicide prevention lifeline

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

National Alliance for Mental Illness

Recklessly Alive Ministries

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, please get help! Use any of the above resources or talk to someone you trust. Please get help! YOU MATTER! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR MIND IS ALLOWING YOU TO BELIEVE! Get help!

 

 

 

 

 

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dv

 

October is domestic violence awareness month. I wanted to write a post that brings awareness, not only to domestic violence, but to human trafficking and child abuse as well. Abuse and oppression of women and children is on the rise due to the increase of addictions, poverty, and human trafficking. Women and children are still at risk of abuse in today’s society. Abuse crosses socioeconomic, religious, racial and educational lines. I will let the statistics speak for themselves:

Domestic Abuse

These statistics were found at www.beaconofhopeindy.org:

*Nearly 1 in 4 American women between the age of 18 and 65 have experienced domestic violence.

*Up to 6 million women are believed to be beaten in their homes each year. Only 4 million incidents are reported, and up to 90% of battered women never report their abuse.

*On the average, a woman is battered in the United States by a partner every 9 to 12 seconds.

*50% of all homeless women and children in America are fleeing domestic violence.

*According to the American Medical Association, family violence kills as many women every 5 years as the total number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War (approximately 58,000).

*4 million women require police or medical attention each year due to severe beatings.

*According to studies, up to 30% of arrested batterers who receive treatment will hit, slap, kick, or strangle their spouses within 6 months.

*Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These batterers included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.

Human Trafficking

These statistics were found at dosomething.org:

*Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.

*According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.

*There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

*According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.

*The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.

*Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.

*The International Labor Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.

Child Abuse

These statistics were found at www.americanspcc.org:

*The latest 2015 Child Maltreatment Report from The Children’s Bureau was published in January 2017. The report shows an increase in child abuse referrals from 3.6 million to 4 million. The number of children involved subsequently increased to 7.2 million from 6.6 million. The report also indicates an increase in child deaths from abuse and neglect to 1,670 in 2015, up from 1,580 in 2014. Some reports estimate child abuse fatalities at 1,740 or even higher.

*The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average almost five (5) children every day to child abuse and neglect.

*Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.

*207,000 children received foster care services.

*Annual estimate: 1,670 to 1,740 children died from abuse and neglect.

When it comes to the abuse of women and children, we have a long way to go to bring justice for these victims of abuse and oppression. It is time for us to speak up for those victimized by these injustices. We need to be a voice for those who do not have a voice. We need to be a voice for those women and children who can not speak up for themselves. NO MORE SILENCE! If each one of us uses our voice to advocate for the women and children who are victimized, we have the potential to save the lives of millions of women and children. Why would we not want to do that? I think the statistics speak for themselves. We need to stand up for women and children. We need to be that voice.

NO MORE SILENCE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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skid row

1 John 3:17

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Proverbs 21:13

13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
    will also cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 28:27

27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 22:9

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.

I can’t think of anyone, outside of Jesus, who exemplifies Christianity better than Mother Teresa. She was a modern role model of self sacrifice and she lived what she taught. One of her main priorities was to make sure that her Missionaries of Charity lived as the poorest of the poor. Each Sister has 2 habits, a bed mat, a pair of sandals and a pail that she uses to wash up. When the Missionaries of Charity receive a donation, that donation goes to helping the poor. It never goes to benefit the Sisters in any way.

Mother Teresa lived and breathed giving generously. She did not care what others thought of her. She only cared about obeying God and God poured out His favor and blessing upon her. Did she live in a mansion, drive a fancy car or wear fancy clothes? No, she didn’t need to. She felt joy in being the hands and feet of Jesus to the poorest of the poor. This was success to her. Her ministry flourished and continues to prosper even after her death, because the Missionaries of Charity continue to live in obedience to God.

Personally, I choose to live as Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. I don’t need to live in a mansion, drive a fancy car or have the latest in modern technology, when I know that there are millions of people who are living with much less than I do have.

I would like to see Creflo Dollar sell all of his possessions and donate the money to the Missionaries of Charity. Will it ever happen? With God ALL things are possible!

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G650

Pastor Creflo Dollar asks his megachurch for donations to buy $65 million private jet.

James 5:1-6

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Proverbs 23:4-5

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
    do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
    for they will surely sprout wings
    and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Matthew 19:24

24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Let me start off by saying that I don’t believe that God intended every one to live in poverty. I believe that His intention was for us to live as the early Christians and share what we have with those in need. I don’t believe that buying a $65 million dollar luxury jet is in line with God’s word. There are churches all over the United States that send aid to other countries using ministries that are already set up for that purpose. There are pastors and missionaries that travel to spread the Gospel and they don’t need a $65 million dollar jet to get them to where they are going.

This is an outlandish misuse of funds and I feel sorry for those people who are being taken advantage of. This is my opinion. God does not want us to hoard our riches. He wants us to share what we have. Unfortunately, we will always have the mega-rich and the poorest of the poor. It isn’t right and it isn’t necessary. What really bothers me about Creflo Dollar is that he thinks it is okay to hoard his riches. I’m not saying that he doesn’t do any good, but until he sells off some of his fancy cars and house, gives it to those in need and starts living like the early Christians, I will never be convinced that he is doing anything more than selling a gospel that is opposite of God’s word.

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Phase1-Van-DriveMercy

The Issue

  • Annually, 21,000 women are hospitalized from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Abortion is a volatile topic in Kenya.
  • 13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school for being pregnant. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • 25% of pregnant women in Kenya are HIV positive (ObGyn in Kenya)
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums (CNN)
  • More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked in Kenya (Human Trafficking)
  • 1500 women die in childbirth every day across Africa (WHO)

The Vision

  • Provide a safe place-a guarded home with 12 maternity beds
  • Partner with local churches
  • Prenatal Care- checkups, medical assistance for healthy deliveries
  • Proper Nutrition-protein and regular healthy meals
  • Counseling-post abortion/prostitution, rape recovery
  • Ministry-prayer, Biblical teaching, regular devotions
  • Education-help catch girls up in school thru 8th grade, then continue on to high school, or vocational tract
  • Livelihood Skills-cooking, jewelry-making, art, sewing, etc
  • A nurturing environment in-which to give birth and breastfeed babies
  • A safe place to stay and learn and heal until they graduate
  • An account to start small business or go to school (from products they make and sell)

The Plan

Our residents are invited to stay in the program for a minimum of two to four years, but our desire is to support each mom and baby throughout their lives. Each girl earns money through our Sustainable Skills Program and it will be dispersed over a long-term period to continue their education and even start a business as a part of our Graduate Program. Since our residents are at-risk- abused and even orphaned, we will assist them for as long as needed. We want to be their forever family and will tailor our help to each girl’s situation. Our goal is quality, not quantity and total discipleship.

It is the desire of The Mercy House team to fulfill Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy, to walk humbly with your God.”

mercy house

The Girls

Mercy House is home to 12 teen moms and their babies.

mercy house girls

The Goal

The goal is to raise $74,000 by Christmas for a various projects that have been pinpointed to make life easier and more efficient for the girls and the staff.

In this first phase of fundraising, the goal is $8,750 for a new van. The van is needed to transport the 24 residents and 6 staff members and to doctors appointments, church and the market without making multiple trips. Consider giving a gift that will make the lives easier for these precious young women and their babies.

To contribute to phase 1 click here

The information for this blog post was taken from the Mercy House website.

 

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teen pregnancy

 

According to http://www.Dr.Phil.com:

  • Teen pregnancy is the number one reason why teen girls drop out of school.
  • Only one-third of adolescent mothers will graduate high school, and only slightly over 1 percent of those will earn a college degree before they turn 30.
  • Eight out of ten fathers in cases of teen pregnancy don’t marry the mother of their child, and these absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support. Children who live apart from their fathers are also five times more likely to be poverty-stricken than children with both parents at home.

According to http://www.teenmotherchoices.org:

  • The United States has more teen mothers than any other country in the world!
  • 51% of all teen mothers will never finish high school!

Around 700,000 teen girls between the ages of 17 and 19 become pregnant each year! Of those, around 50% choose to keep their babies. Around 45% choose to have abortions. This statistic does not count the teen pregnancies of girls under 17.

This statistic makes me very sad for these girls. I chose to write this blog post because of the high rate of teen pregnancy in my own city. I watch these beautiful girls walk a path that will forever change their lives and it breaks my heart. They are lost girls. They have no idea what they want. Many believe that having a baby will make everything right with the boyfriend. This rarely happens.

These girls deal with identity issues. They deal with lack of self-esteem. They are looking everywhere for someone to love them. They are looking in the wrong places.

We, as the Church, are not doing enough to reach out to these girls. They need God. They need a support system. They need a loving family of Christians to guide them. We become isolated and hide behind our church walls, when there are girls in our communities needing what we have to offer: JESUS.

Why do we hide? Why do we expect these girls to come to us? Why do we sit back and say, “if they really wanted Jesus, they would find a church?”

They may not know what they need! They are running around trying to fill that empty hole in their hearts. If they do know that they need Jesus, they maybe afraid of walking in a church. They are afraid of being judged. They are afraid of being hurt.

WE need to step out of our comfort zones and meet these girls where they are. WE need to go to them. WE need to be that example of Jesus in their lives! The next time you see a teen mom or a pregnant teen, offer encouragement, offer to pick her up and take her to church, offer to mentor her, just love on her.

Reach out to these lost girls. They need God. We are NOT doing enough to make sure they find Him.

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Going to church on a Sunday morning.

According to http://www.missionaloutreachnetwork.com/profiles/blogs/some-statistics-on-the-number

  • The most recent research studies by the Barna Group reveals that one out of every three adults (33 percent) is classified as unchurched–meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months. When these statistics are projected across the aggregate adult population, the numbers are staggering. An estimated 73 million adults are presently unchurched. When teens and children are added, the total swells to roughly 100 million Americans.
  • Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by 15 percent. During that same period the number of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled, rising from 39 million to 75 million–a 92 percent increase.
  • In America, it takes the combined effort of eighty-five Christians working over an entire year to produce one convert.

There are approximately 312 million people in the United States today and there are roughly 100 million people who are unchurched. This is staggering! It is no wonder why the United States has become one of the largest mission fields in the world. It is also, no wonder why other countries are now sending missionaries HERE to spread the Gospel.

I find it sad that one of the leading countries in the world has fallen so far behind in carrying out the great commission. There are so many mission agencies and churches that focus on sending American missionaries to other countries to spread the Gospel, but we are overlooking those in our own backyards who desperately need and are seeking God.

So where did we go wrong?

I think we gradually got away from where God wanted us. We started looking at how to satisfy our flesh. We started building huge buildings to house our mega-churches. The buildings are beautiful, but is that for God, or for us? We started entertainment ministries, like zumba, martial arts, and in one church I know of, even a weekly showing of the series The Walking Dead. You name it, we now have a ministry for it. I’m not saying that’s a completely bad thing, but sometimes we get so focused on what’s going on inside the church that we forget about what’s going on OUTSIDE of the church. We have plenty of inside ministries, but what has happened to OUTREACH? We sit back and say, “we have plenty going on for people to get involved with, so it’s up to them to walk through the doors.”

I don’t know the exact statistics, but I would venture to say that there are thousands of people out there that do not walk into our churches because they have been hurt by the church in the past. I understand that, I’ve been there. It makes you a bit cautious. If we hide behind our church walls, then those on the outside will NEVER know what is going on on the inside. We need to step out and love those around us the way that Jesus loved. We need to reach OUT to those around us the way the disciples did. They went out and loved people to Jesus. We need to do the same. I don’t want to be just a christian, I want to be an example of Jesus. This should be what we all strive for in our daily lives! There are enough churches in America, that if each church focused on outreach in their own communities, those living in spiritual poverty would be saved. We would not need other countries sending missionaries here to do what God commands US to do.

I feel I need to clarify that reaching out does not mean just to the poor woman living down the street. There are many wealthy people who live in spiritual poverty. Just because they have money, does not mean they have God! Spiritual poverty does not discriminate. Remember Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10? He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy, but he lived in spiritual poverty, until he met Jesus. Zacchaeus turned his life around, gave half his possessions to the poor, and righted any wrongs that he had done. As a result, he and his household were saved. The big thing here is that Jesus went and stayed with him at his house. Jesus went out, loved on him and changed not only the life of Zacchaeus, but of his household too.

There are millions of unchurched people in America. If we, as the Church, made a commitment to reach OUT to those around us, living intentionally to reach those who are living in spiritual poverty, through love and the building of relationships, we CAN reach America for God! The United States CAN be built on a Godly foundation.

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