SixEight Life


The Hidden Plague

On Sunday I asked you to take a journey with me. We went halfway around to walk alongside people who are at risk. On the outside there was innocence, but the reality is that the little girls I described are very vulnerable to a hidden plague that many of us don’t even realize exists. I apologize if I seem a bit dramatic, but it’s very true. The little girls I’ve worked with around the world are at great risk. Their parents and siblings are at risk. There are billions of people in our world who live in fear of this plague. Watch this:

You may not consider violence as something that’s hidden. After all, we hear about it on the news nearly every day. But the reality is that there is a huge, systemic issue in the developing world that isn’t talked about. When we discuss issues and progress in the developing (formerly called ‘third world’) we usually talk about clean water, education, malnutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other physical and health issues. But usually we don’t talk about violence. We don’t talk about the law enforcement systems that aid and assist child sex traffickers. We don’t talk about the justice system in parts of the world where a wealthy person can literally get away with murder by paying an attorney to steal evidence. We don’t talk about law enforcement and legal systems that operate solely on bribes. We just don’t discuss it. Gross human rights abuses are being committed every day and we are not talking about it. To a certain extent I can understand why. It’s pretty hopeless to think about such huge issues. I’m just one person, what can I do?

book-detailBut this is a plague of violence that is set to obliterate everything in its path. And Gary Haugen, the founder and president of the International Justice Mission, wants us to stop this plague. His new book, The Locust Effect, is a powerful tool and resource to get this essential conversation started. His argument is that we “can’t end poverty without ending violence” and after reading his book I definitely agree. He tells us tragic stories of people in the developing world who have been severely victimized and traumatized. Then he goes through and explains what is going on in the systems that are causing these grave injustices. And finally, he gives us hope by sharing stories of his colleagues and many others who are combating this plague and winning battles.

It’s easy to remain disconnected from huge social issues like this one. I know sometimes I feel so small and insignificant in this huge world- I think that there’s no way I can do something to make an impact on a problem of this magnitude. But that’s not true! We can all play a part in fighting for justice for the oppressed. We can all begin to have new conversations about poverty that include this concept of violence against the poor. And if you are a follower of Jesus like me, then this is your responsibility. All of us have different roles, but we are all called to seek justice.

“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern”. -Proverbs 29:7

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

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” – Luke 11:42

It’s clear and convicting. We can’t sit around any more. There are grave injustices in our world and you and I have the ability to address 150300_10101034241733303_626411828_nthem. It seems daunting or even impossible, but it’s not. Awareness is the first step. And I’d like to help you with that first step.

I’m giving away one copy of “The Locust Effect” to one reader. I’ll draw the winning name on Saturday, February 8th and will ship your book to you the next week. But if you just can’t wait until then, you can find the book at your local bookstores or online. Check out for more details.

Even if you don’t win the copy, you can still make an impact on fighting this plague by purchasing the Locust Effect. For every bookpurchased this week (through Sunday the 9th) $20 dollars will be donated to the International Justice Mission, up to $40,000. All of the royalties from book sales will also go to IJM. Your purchase of the book makes an impact against this issue, which is a great starting point!

So how do you win a copy of this amazing book? 

Take action! Share in the comments what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘justice’. Tweet this post or share it on Facebook to spread the word. Let me know in the comments section what you did. Each ‘action step’ will get you one entry to win.

A Million Steps Away

Parumsheela and me. Mumbai, India

Parumsheela and me. Mumbai, India

Take a journey with me. Walk down a dirt, trash lined path in Mankurd, Mumbai, India with me. The smell is pretty strong at first, but after a few minutes your nose gets used to the unusual scents. To your right, a man naps on top of a table with his goat. Up ahead to the left, a few women in brightly patterned saris squat outside small wood and aluminum huts, washing dishes. Their dexterity and ability to keep such a steady flat footed squat to do chores is astounding. You watch them for a moment before you nearly trip over a small grove in the side of the path. That was a close one, that grove houses all sorts of dirty water and sometimes waste. You realize where that smell is coming from. You’ve been walking for awhile when you finally arrive. There they are. A crowd of little ones run towards you. Some are in school uniforms, others in street clothes, but all are excited. And amidst the crowd, Parumsheela emerges. Her big brown eyes and wide smile bring a smile to your face. She grabs your hand and guides you to the small schoolhouse. The journey was worth it, just to spend some time with her and her friends.

The picture looks a little different in another part of the world. In Kajo Keji, South Sudan Nancy wants you to walk with her to get a little water in jerry cans. The walk is a couple miles through a winding dirt path with thick brush on either side. You aren’t as concerned about waste or human hazards on this trek, but your eyes scan the thick brush for any signs of snakes. You’ve been told that an encounter with a snake in Southern Sudan usually means that you’re in deep, fatal trouble. It’s sobering to think that this walk is normal for Nancy and so many other little girls in Kajo Keji, a several mile trek daily just to get some meager water for her family.

Precious Nancy, Kajo Keji, Sudan

Precious Nancy, Kajo Keji, Sudan

Another plane ride would take you into a community of tents and partially collapsed buildings. A short ride in an SUV and you’ve arrived in Kampung Mulia. You walk past the shell of a mosque and up a small rock lined hill. A few more steps along the bank of a muddled river and you’re at a small shack built from mismatched, warped wood. Everything in this community was destroyed by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, but a couple families came together to build a coffee shop out of driftwood. Rupiah equal to about a quarter gets you a steaming cup of black coffee with a little sweetened condensed milk mixed in. It’s pure bliss, but the company makes it all the more better. Nurul approaches, excited to see you. You do what’s customary when you visit: you hand her your digital camera and away she goes. The pictures she and her friends take tell a story words can’t adequately tell.

These sweet girls are a part of my story and I was recently reminded of them. I just finished reading a new book by one of my heroes, Gary Haugen. “The Locust Effect” comes out tomorrow, and I was thrilled to be selected as part of a ‘launch team’ of bloggers to read and review the book. The book is incredible, and as I flipped the pages, engrossed in the stories and concepts laid out, I couldn’t help but think of my sweet girls. You see, this book reminded me that they are at risk.

Nurul and me, Kampung Mulia, Aceh Indonesia

Nurul and me, Kampung Mulia, Aceh Indonesia

My sweet friends Nancy, Parumsheela, and Nurul are a mere step away from becoming victims. They walk a delicate line in their communities of relative safety and extreme exploitation and victimization. Their families may be one small loan away from complete slavery. They could be one short walk to a well away from being raped.  Their lives were challenging but still so innocent when I met them. Even Nurul had innocence about her. She had lost everyone and everything in the Tsunami, but she still hoped. She still dreamed. She still loved to pose for pictures and play dress up. Parumsheela loved to play tag and jump to pop bubbles. Nancy could spend hours braiding my hair, wrestling with its unfamiliar texture and many knots.

After finishing The Locust Effect I feel even more inspired to action. I was reminded that while these girls are a mere step away from systemic violence, you and I are a million steps away from the painful stories of many who are just like them. We need to step closer to them. A million steps is too far, we need to walk alongside and take the journey with people around the world who are desperately poor, and desperately vulnerable. This post is just a teaser for the meat of the book. It comes out tomorrow, and this week I’ll be featuring it. My tweets and at least one more blog post will be dedicated to discussing the concepts and lessons I learned from the pages of  “The Locust Effect”. And, I’ll be giving a book away to one reader at the end of this week. So stay tuned my friends, let’s dive into discover how “the end of poverty requires the end of violence”.

Worship + Justice

end-it-movementI had the privilege of serving at the Passion Conference last weekend at Phillips Arena. There are very few things I’ve experienced that are anything like the Passion movement. I attended a Passion conference in 2006 as a student, and this was my second year serving as a ‘door holder’ (volunteer). This year was shorter than last year and there were fewer students. I’m not going to lie, I’m getting older and going for four days straight with little to no sleep is hard for me, so having a two day conference was better on the exhaustion level  (I’m pushing 30, I need my sleep!) But the time was amazing and God moved.

A special part of last year for me was serving with the “Worship+Justice” team to help facilitate the students’ giving to the “End it Movement”. I was so thrilled to play a small part in such a huge movement, it was humbling and very exciting. This year there wasn’t a team centered around End it or Worship+Justice, and I was admittedly a little disappointed. I was thrilled to be able to serve in any capacity and really enjoyed serving on the resources team, but I was looking forward to a big push for a new, big movement to do huge things for God. Last year’s press, the light, the funds raised, the energy in the area- all of it was so incredible and powerful. I loved it.

But this year it was much more quiet. There were fewer students but they donated a significant amount of money to printing Bibles for the persecuted church in Iran. The End It movement was mentioned but it wasn’t at the level it was last year. I was wondering about the movement and what the plan was on the Passion leadership end, but then God reminded me of something. I heard that still small voice say that when His son came to the Earth he didn’t come in with fanfare. His birth was announced to lowly shepherds in the fields. He was born in a stable and was placed in a feeding troth. Much of his ministry was very private. He didn’t need the fanfare, because He is God.

We don’t always need the fanfare and the fame either. The act of individual and corporate times of worship inspire us to do acts of justice. Momentum is great and can be really powerful, but all God really needs in order for Him to use us are willing hearts and open hands. When we are worshiping God and are focused on His truth, He will inspire us to acts of justice. Our acts may be big or they may be small, but any act of worship that leads to justice matters to God. He finds value in our obedience and we don’t always need to have a huge movement in order to make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t get me wrong, I love the End It Movement and all the momentum that has come from our collective efforts to end slavery, I just want to encourage you and I to do the little things as well. Small acts of obedience can lead to amazing things.

End It is still happening this year though: mark your calendars for an awareness day on Feb 27. It’s be a chance for us to collectively come together to further the awareness campaign so everyone knows the atrocity that is modern day slavery and has action steps to help proclaim justice.

Are you “In it to End It?” What are you doing in this new year to fight for justice as a form of worship?

(Shameless plug: Go here to find out some information about an incredible event our team at Not for Sale GA is hosting next week on ways we can all fight trafficking- especially you men out there)

The Quiet Place

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God's presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God’s presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

The new year is in full swing and if you’re like me, you’re wondering how we’re already 19 days into 2014. Part of me feels like I haven’t been able to catch my breath since the holidays, which were insane. New year, new semester, new commitments, renewed responsibilities- there’s not much time left in the day after my ‘to do’ list is done. I was thinking about the myriad of things going on and a little word came to mind.


Sometimes I feel like I attract stress like a magnet. This week was absolutely crazy and I haven’t had a chance to stop, and it’s almost Monday again. I feel so thankful in where God has me right now, but while my cup runs over with blessings, my plate is also completely full. I had a full, fun weekend but in many cases my thoughts were overrun with insecurities, my to-do list, and the myriad of ways I didn’t have it all ‘together’.

There are many things in play here that result in stress, but I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about boundaries, saying no, and over commitment. Those are certainly aspects of my life that I need to work on. I imagine I’m not the only one.  I could also talk about society, how we’ve created a culture that is completely nonstop. It’s a culture that applauds the woman who can ‘do it all’ while still looking perfect 24/7.  I feel like we have conversations about society and boundaries a good bit. We know the deep cultural ideals that lead to stress being our norm, and we know that healthy boundaries can decrease our stress.

But what we don’t talk about very often is this term in my profession (social work) that we call “Self Care”. Self care is essentially what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. It’s taking time to relax, unwind, and refuel. It’s something that we all should do but very few of us consciously take the time to practice. It’s practical, simple and even Biblical.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Gen 2:2

God rested, Jesus went away to a quiet place, and if we dwell in the secret place, we will be under the shadow of God. These are just a few verses that come to mind when I think about “self care”. Many of us bustle around like Martha when we should be resting at the feet of Jesus like Mary. (see Luke 10:38-42). We think that we are supposed to be busy busy busy- which usually means we are also stressed, stressed, stressed. When I am constantly on the go, I can miss out on ministry opportunities and just miss out on the simple beauties of our world. I know God didn’t intend for us to live in that way.

My encouragement for us today (including myself- I need to hear this over and over) is to take some time to go to your ‘quiet place’. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes and you have to sneak away, find things that help you relax and do them. Take time to read your Bible and pray, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do your devotional a certain way. Just sit in the presence of God. Take deep breaths and visualize your stress going away. Go on a walk outside and breathe fresh air. Do a favorite hobby just for the fun of it. For a few minutes each day, take care of you. God cherishes you greatly and loves you so much- He doesn’t want you to stress yourself out to burnout.  You were worth Him sending His son, and He wants you to be healthy and resting in his presence.

New Things: SixEight

He has shown you, O mortal, 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. – Micah 6:8

Photo Credit: quinn.anya (creative commons)

Photo Credit: quinn.anya (creative commons)

When I first started this blog I had a simple purpose- to spread activism and social justice and to spend ‘everyday’ working towards the cause of freedom. Micah 6:8 was one of several verses that really spoke to me as I started on this journey. I’m having a hard time articulating exactly what my expectations were for this blog, but the goal was activism- pure and simple. I wanted to educate the masses on injustice and social causes I thought were important. I wanted to change the world, one word at a time.

But things evolve and things change. Pretty soon after I began writing I realized that stories resonate with people. We all love a good story. I was also shocked that the posts that got the most ‘hits’ were the posts where I deviated from my ‘focus’ and got raw and honest with the world. When I shared my stories, my struggles, my doubts and my goals it seemed to resonate with my friends and family. All of the blogging experts out there said that I should stick with my blog’s goal (in my case social justice) and any other posts would just be confusing. But after I started writing about my struggles, victories, goals in addition to my passion for justice, I felt like my blog became more complete. It was a complete picture of me and my quest to live a life for others and for Jesus. But what did that mean for the blog? “The Everyday Activist” didn’t really seem to fit as well with how the site evolved.

I revisited Micah 6:8 and I started thinking about the last few words in that little verse: “walk humbly with your God.” What does it mean to walk humbly? What does it truly mean to act justly and love mercy? I focused on the justice part, and some of the mercy while not really diving into the journey. Those three words: justice, mercy, and journey (from walking humbly) really seem to encompass a full life lived for God and for others. It’s simple and straightforward, which is something today’s complicated world is lacking. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s what I’m striving for.

So as of today my blog is officially renamed from “The Everyday Activist” to “SixEight Life” . Nothing will change content wise and posts will be centered on the three topics from Micah 6:8.

Justice – My heart is to proclaim freedom by spreading awareness about major social issues like human trafficking, extreme poverty and inequality.

Mercy – The church needs to continue to have difficult conversations about how we extend grace and mercy to ‘outsiders’. We can’t keep labeling certain sins as worse than others, and I want us to talk about the radical life of mercy Jesus lived and how the church should emulate that.

Journey – We’re all on this journey together to walk humbly with God. I want my journey to be for others, but I also want it to be full of adventure and radical acts of service.

The blog has been re-branded, and over the next month or so I’ll be continuing to work on creating a place where we can have conversations about this journey. Bear with me because I am terrible with web design (if you’re good at web design and want to help me I wouldn’t say no).

Thanks for reading friends, it means more than you’ll ever know.

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