Wednesday, March 7

hard things #1

This is the first installment of "hard things" posts, where I will be talking about—you guessed it—hard things.

My goals through these posts are to:
  1. Shed light on the severity of a hard thing without going into histrionics about it.
  2. Throw some prayer at the hard thing so that it will go away forever and ever.  
Life is hard. I get it. I think most of us do. Unless you've literally been pampered and protected by your parents all your life, in which case I say unto you, Time to go outside!

Even as I type these very words, people all across our would-be beautiful world are experiencing their lives being ripped apart by:
 famine • addiction • sex trafficking • war
domestic violence • hate crimes • disease

As I mentioned in my last hopefully-not-too-vague-and-depressing post, I've let myself get a tad overwhelmed by the grief of it all lately, and furthermore, by the fact that I feel helpless and hopeless in the face of some of these vast injustices.

I don't like feeling hopeless.
When something seems hopeless, all you can do is pray.
I can already hear some of you...

"ALL you can do is pray, Maddie? But prayer is everything!" 

Yah...I get that. And I'm trying to accept it. But the independent American-bred side of me wants to do, do, do. And sometimes prayer seems more like a lesson in passivity. 

I volunteer in Seattle with a grassroots modern-day abolitionist group called Not For Sale—King County. Our goal is to raise awareness of not only global, but LOCAL sex-trafficking that is taking place within our own county's borders. Through it I've learned some sickening statistics and gross realities of this very real and present problem that is infiltrating our society.


The Cold Facts of Modern Slavery 

  • A child is trafficked every 30 seconds. – UNICEF
  • The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery in the United States is 13 years old. – United States Department of Justice
  • Human Trafficking occurs in 161 out of 192 countries. – The United Nations
  • Pornography is a 96 billion dollar per year industry. – The Internet Filter Review
  • Up to 96% of women in prostitution want to escape but feel they can’t. – United Labor Organization
  • Human Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar per year industry. – The United Nations
  • In some countries it is estimated that 70% of men purchase sex. – Victor Malarek; The Johns
  • Over 27 million people are enslaved around the world. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. – Kevin Bales; Free the Slaves
Facts taken straight from Nefarious' website.

We had a big screening and panelist discussion last week, where we showed this documentary, called SEX + MONEY:


Because so much of the nature of Not For Sale is simply to raise awareness, I've seen more of these documentaries and interviews than I can count. Some are better and more well-rounded than others. But they all point to the same massive gap in our world.

A few months ago I went to a screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, which I was more impressed with and highly recommend watching:


In Amos 5, our God gets down to business and we, his people, get called out:

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
   and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
 Seek good, not evil, that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
   just as you say he is.

Hate evil, love good;
   maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy
   on the remnant of Joseph.
 Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says:
   “There will be wailing in all the streets
   and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. 
There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
   for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD. 

I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
   your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
   I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
   I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
   I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river, 
righteousness like a never-failing stream!" 

And yes, sometimes all we can do is pray.
Pray to the God who is sovereign over all of it somehow.


wildchild said...

i know what you mean about prayer not feeling like enough. we're told over and over that it's all we need, but it's so hard to believe that just a few words spoken in hope can make a difference. about anything.

but thanks for posting about this kind of hard stuff. it's real and scary and heart breaking and getting it out in the open can only help fix it.

laurenjeanallece said...

The lead pastor at my church recently wrote a book and in it he says something that really struck me:

Prayer changes reality.

Something in those three little words smacked me across the face and brought renewed hope to a seemingly hopeless situation.

Keep praying. God listens :)

Adam K said...

What a sobering, well-formed, informed, and hopeful blog, Madeline. Your heart is beautiful and God has made you (and is making you) into a Proverbs 31 woman.

These statistics are enormously distressing, depressing, and infuriating. They really illustrate the fallen state of the world (namely mankind). I think you're doing some great things in being active and in relying on God through prayer.

I think it is true that we are helpless people and are in need of God's work in our lives if anything is to get done, but what goes along with prayer is action. Paul, David, Moses, and especially Christ were all reliant upon the Father in prayer and worship, yet were anything but passive. God is always working and many times his outpourings of mercy come in the form of enablement.

In any case, prayer is important and a gift. It illustrates our helplessness, God's helpfulness, and our desire for good.

I readily recommend John Piper's book "Desiring God" to anyone. It has a fantastic and eye-opening chapter on prayer.

Thanks for the great post, Madeline.

Adam K said...

My folks read this blog and they wanted to let you know that they were very impressed and heartened by your Christian compassion and insight.

Marshall said...

I'm glad you shared this..

Makes me want to cry when I read those stats. And DO something too. It's going on here in Japan too..

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