The work we still need to do

In reading the book The End of Hunger, there was the good news combined with the challenge. The good news was that a massive amount of work has been accomplished in the past 25 years. Severe hunger is being reduced statistically. The bad news is that the last bit to go to eliminate the issue by 2030 is still costly. We can’t let up. We have to stay focused and work harder. It is easier to cut a problem in half than to eliminate it.

I thought of this as I sat in a historic black Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama this week. The subject wasn’t hunger. The subject was historic and systemic racism. The subject was justice.

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Freedom, religion, control

“Egypt was a thoroughly religious society, and Egypt was a thoroughgoing slave society. If you want to control a person or family or society, there is no better way than through religion. And that is just as true today as it was in ancient Egypt.” — Eugene Peter, As Kingfishers Catch Fire

The plantation visit

Traveling with visiting family the past few days we had an opportunity to learn a lot of history in and around New Orleans. Our last stop was a former sugar plantation called “Laura Plantation.”

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I am working on a World History lecture on slavery and the Belgian Congo.

I am haunted by this question: Why have we always abused Africa? Why do we still continue to abuse Africa?

Isn’t It Time to Leave Egypt?

4 You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. (Ex. 19:4, CEB)

There are so many thoughts, discussion, articles, etc., on the angst of the American Church. There are some I agree with, and some I don’t. There are certainly those who are so politicized that the only way for the church to return to Jesus seems to be to vote Republican or Democrat. (Ironically, neither side on THAT issue seems to think they’re being political.)

As I read Exodus again, I see the trouble in the church as well. I see it in my own life. As believers, we are having trouble seeing what God has delivered us from and what he is calling us to. 

We seem to forget that a loving God has called us to himself.  He has delivered us from the power of sin. Yet… we seem bent on wanting to go back to Egypt. We want to justify how we live because we like how we live. We fear change.

We think the shackles of the old life are actually gold bracelets.

We fear God’s direction and God’s best. We just don’t see it. So, we insist on justifying our own lifestyles and say, “Well, the God I know wants me to be happy,” or some other jibberish.

I am good at the excuses. I am good at avoiding God’s best. I don’t even need an excuse. I just avoid God’s best. And the shackles stay on.

As the church in America, isn’t it time to leave Egypt? Isn’t it time to quit glamorizing the motives and operational standards of this world and just admit that God may actually have our best in mind? Isn’t it time to lay down our selfish ambitions and think, “Well… maybe God DOES know what he’s doing?”

He has called us to himself. He has done all that is necessary for that to happen in our lives. The call is to trust him. We trust who we know. It is time to KNOW the Lord.

And get out of Egypt.

Slavery Hasn’t Ended

There are so many organizations responding now, it is hopeful. I heard another presentation today in my Kiwanis club on human trafficking. The statistics are astounding. Minnesota is ranked 13th in the nation for human trafficking.

It’s not something overseas. It is something here.

I love the story of William Wilberforce and his lifelong efforts to end the slave trade in Great Britain.

The question I ask is, “Are we in another era for a new movement of Wilberforces?”

Millions around the world are subjected to sex trafficking and slave labor. It is an enormous problem. So, where do we start?

These are matters of prayer. Is there something we can do locally? Is there something our church can partner with on a local level, or start something new?

I love the passion of youth and how they respond to these needs. They can raise money in a hurry for projects that work with slave trafficking all over the world. It may be time to harness that power and turn it toward home. What can we do locally with the passion of our youth driving it? What is possible?

This is Lent, but let’s not keep Lent at arm’s length. Let’s not talk about what the United Nations could do or Congress could do. What do WE do?

6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
   releasing wicked restraints,
   untying the ropes of a yoke,
   setting free the mistreated,
   and breaking every yoke?
(Isa. 58:6, CEB)