Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Exodus Road 2013 Update


I was recently emailed the 2013 Impact Financial Report for Exodus Road. You can view the full report here. Below are some graphics that give a great snapshot of what they have accomplished in 2013 thanks to supporters like you.



 
 
 


 
 
 


 
 


On behalf of 250 boys and girls, 45 investigators, and 25 organizations, we say, "Thank you." Whether you gave financially or shared online, prayed in your room or volunteered at the office this past year, you have helped bring freedom to the front lines.

With Much Gratitude,


Matt and Laura Parker
and The Exodus Road Coalition



Thursday, March 6, 2014

When your heart is in Ukraine

In 1996 I had the opportunity to go on my first overseas trip. A group of 9 NC college students along with 2 leaders spent two weeks in Ukraine, just west of the Capital Kiev, to help a community build a church.

Since the unrest began last year my heart has been with the people. I rejoiced when an interim president was appointed, and selfishly that he was a Baptist, but again my heart is filled with concern as Russia has made its presence known in one part of the country. Even though this trip was 18 years ago the people I met flood my mind.

I write this post to show you why my heart is in Ukraine at this time.



 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 






 
 
 
 
I was there for only two weeks but those people became family. It was as if we had always known each other. I changed during those two weeks. I learned what it meant to receive even though I went with the intent to give. I learned of unconditional love, kindness, hospitality towards strangers and love of neighbor. I came back vowing to live as I had witness the Ukrainian people live in hopes I could make a small difference where I lived.
 
 
Would you please join me in praying for the Ukrainian people? Pray for dialogue, cooperation and for peace. Thank you.
 
 
 
*A note to my co-workers at HopeTree Family Services* - I have my photo album in my office. I would love to show you the photos, tell you about the people and about my time there. Just email me or leave a message on my voicemail.


Read more here about A Request For Prayer


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why I marched



On Saturday, February 8, 2014 the Moral Monday Movement of NC joined the annual North Carolina HKonJ for a Moral March. The March was for people across NC to join together, across party lines, race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation and walk in solidarity with the people who are suffering under long term unemployment, going hungry, lack of quality of education, being denied equal rights under the law, fighting barriers to the ballot box and living without health coverage. This is only a brief description of the movement. If you want to read more please check out this link.

What I want to share here is why I went home the first weekend in February to participate in the March. It is also the same reason I followed my Savior's call to full time ministry.

Deuteronomy 27:19
"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Psalm 140:12
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy

Proverbs 21:13
Whoever closes the cry of the poor
his ear to will himself call out and not be answered.


Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 10:1-2
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Zechariah 7:9
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.

Matthew 23:23
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Matthew 25:31-46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 10:13-16 (ESV) And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Luke 10:25-37

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”


John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."


Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


Philippians 2:4
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.


Colossians 3:12
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,


Galatians 5:
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
 
 
 


Galatians 6:2
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


1 Peter 4:10
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
 


1 Timothy 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Colossians 3:12
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,



All of these passages are the fuel to my faith, my ministry and conviction. As Isaiah called out rulers and kingdoms who forgot the poor and oppressed widows and orphans I too must call out oppressive rule in our country and around the world. In the same vain I bring attention to the atrocities of Human Trafficking I will  shed light on the destructive and oppressive deeds of elected officials that are conducted behind closed doors. In the same vain I am called to love my neighbor I am called to, in love, declare what is not of God and proclaim the grace, love and forgiveness that God gives and we are called to give as it is stated throughout the Bible. While I staunchly support separation of Church and State I see no reason why our government; local, state and Federal; cannot create legislation that embodies the message in the scriptures above. We should care for the poor, feed the hungry, ensure those who are sick have access to medical care, ensure that all people are treated equally. For it is not through oppression, judgment and hate that God redeems us all but it is when we love our neighbor, that through our love God redeems.

This is why I marched and why, as a Minister of the Gospel I will proclaim God's love for all and shine light on the evil and destructive deeds of man.

A story to close on:

 
 

"The woman on the left is a mother from Miami who was so desperate to feed her hungry family that she was trying to steal a lot of food.
The woman on the right is Miami-Dade County Police Officer Vicki Thomas. Officer Thomas was about to arr
est Jessica Robles but changed her mind at the last minute.

Instead of arresting her, she bought Robles $100 worth of groceries:

“I made the decision to buy her some groceries because arresting her wasn't going to solve the problem with her children being hungry.”

And there’s no denying they were hungry. Robles’ 12 year old daughter started crying when she told local TV station WSVN about how dire their situation was:

“[It's] not fun to see my brother in the dirt hungry, asking for food, and we have to tell him, ‘There is nothing here.’"

Officer Thomas says she has no question that what she did was right:

“To see them go through the bags when we brought them in, it was like Christmas. That $100 to me was worth it.”

But Officer Thomas did have one request:

“The only thing I asked of her is, when she gets on her feet, that she help someone else out. And she said she would.”

And guess what? The story gets even better.

After word got out about what happened people donated another $700 for Jessica Robles to spend at the grocery store.

And then best of all a local business owner invited her in for an interview and ended up hiring her on the spot as a customer service rep.

She started crying when he told her:

“There's no words how grateful I am that you took your time and helped somebody out. Especially somebody like me.”

And to think it all started with one veteran police officer trusting her “instinct” instead of going “by the book”."

Courtesy WSVN
See More
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thank You!

 
THANK YOU!
 
 
I want to send out a thank you to the 17 people who read my posts on Human Trafficking, These posts tend to have the fewest readers. It really saddens me because it either means people don't want to know the atrocities that occur around the world to children women and immigrants or either they just don't care. But to you who read, THANK YOU! I know that sometimes what I post is difficult to read an comprehend but your willingness to educate yourself and play a role in the work to end human trafficking keeps me going and empowers me to be a voice to the voiceless.
 
 
This post I will leave the harsh statistics aside for next month and today share the good side of rescue.
 
 
 

                      
A Long Line of Freedom. {A Thank You To Our Community} from The Exodus Road on Vimeo.
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250
lives were rescued in 2013 thanks to supporters of The Exodus Road. So what will 2014 bring? Hopefully with your help 250+ lives can know freedom this year.


 
 
 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Carpe Diem

Last night I learned that another friend from High School passed away. He was 40 and died from a stroke. I say another because in the 22 years since I graduated high school somewhere between 10 and 15, (I have lost count) have died to soon and to young. I just can't get use to it. Death has never been an easy thing for me. I want everyone to have a long, full and happy life, but that is just not the case. I could let the loss of so many friends get me down and stay in a rut or I could honor their lives by living fully, by seizing the day, Carpe Diem.

Reflecting on their lives I always thank God for my life. I may complain about the pains of growing old but I will never complain about growing old. Every birthday is a day to celebrate another year of life, another gift from God. In fact, everyday is a gift from God. We are never promised more than the day we have right now. What better reason to live fully into that day, live with no regrets, acknowledging that it could be my last day here on earth.

Today I will live and reflect, giving thanks for my friendship with Ben and giving thanks for the breath God has given me. How will you live fully today? Will you give God thanks for the gift of today? I hope you do.


Time Dispatch in Richmond, VA.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A new season, a new name

 
 


Just like every calendar year we have 4 seasons we have seasons in your life. I don't know about you but I would always associate any given season I was in to a story in the bible. It always helped me to know that what I was going through was not a foreign thing.


On January 8, 2014 I will begin a season of education. After 11+ years since completing graduate school I am returning. This time to pursue a Masters in Professional Counseling. My work at HopeTree Family Services has shown be the need for Faith Based Counseling. I continue to love my ministry there and want to better myself by furthering my educating so I can provide even more support to the youth and adults I work with.


I must say that I never had any intention of going back to school so as I enter this season it is with a bit of reluctance. With all the anxiety I am excited. I have learned that when I step outside my comfort zone (school is one of those) God is always faithful, steadfast and present.


So, are you entering a new season in 2014? Have you been in one for awhile and eagerly await a new one? Here is a prayer from a devotion this week that will speak to you whatever season you find yourself in.

 
 
"God has something special to give us in every season. If we try to skip ahead to the next thing, we miss out on being present where God is. As this new year begins, whatever season you are in, resolve not to wish away the time but be fully present and ready to receive the gifts that God has for you in this season, right now." - Sarah Councell Turner
 
 
 
Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Christmas means to me (and others)!

I am guest blogging again at We Occupy Jesus. Today me and other writers are writing about what Christmas means to us. The titles are below and are hyper linked. Just click on the title and you will be taken to the page.