For Those Who Are Weak

“I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia.

“And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”

Consider him acting well or really convincing – the testimony that Ashton Kutcher gave at the Senate hearing this week was nerve wrecking. He spoke out on child trafficking and child prostitution which happens frequently, right under our eyes – online.

Human trafficking is a topic that has been on my heart for a while now (ever since I visited Vegas) and the more I read about it, the more I am horrified.
“How can people do that?” is a question I keep coming back to.
Children are weak and helpless. They can be manipulated in the most simple and horrible ways to do the most horrible things for adults. They can be abused and treated badly just because adults get a kick out of it. Most of all, they can’t speak up for themselves. If they ever make it out of it (many don’t) they are left traumatized and scared for life.

But the real problem is not far away.
It is as close as the ads we’re watching, the clothes we buy, the food we eat, or the electronic devices we use.
It is as close as the low prices we pay for cheap products and constant novelty.

Trafficking starts with all of us – whenever we allow other people to work for us. Trafficking starts when we care more for our own pleasure than other people’s lives.

Well, what can we do about, you may ask.
The solution is equally close to home.
We are solution. You are. I am.
You might feel weak. You might feel hopeless and helpless.
But you can do more than you think.

index

Think about the people who made your clothes before you make a quick buy.
Consider other people’s lives before you buy a new phone every year.
Buy local food and cook seasonally.

Next Thursday (February 23) is Shine a Light on Slavery Day. Share about this topic on social media. Paint a red X on your hand and talk to the people you meet that day. Read up on the subject. Organize events together with others. It’s as easy as that.

Human Trafficking is real.
What are you going to do about it?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
And yes, this post took longer than five minutes – but sometimes you have to break the rules.

The Terrible Difference of Now

Now.
Now we are in the final days before Christmas. Our houses are filled with candle light and the smell of Christmas cookies. We are rushing through the department stores in search of the perfect presents and let’s hope we don’t forget anyone. We spend hours planning the Christmas meal. After a long and busy year we just long for a few quiet days with family, rest and peace.
This is our now.

Now.
Now the people of Aleppo are in the final days of their war, their lives. Their houses are nothing but a pile of bricks and burned down structure, all they have left is what they can carry on their backs. They are running through the streets in search for some safe place, some last fortress against the terror going on outside. They spend hours waiting for help and support to come. After another year of war and suffering they long for a few more days, a bit more hope, change after all.
This is their now.

The difference is appaling, terrible, embarrassing.

I spent all Wednesday afternoon reading news on Aleppo, watching final messages, listening to pleas of help. After so many years of war in Syria, this seems to be it.
Is this the end?

The conflict is complicated and in our media-saturated world it’s not easy to figure out what is truth and what isn’t.
But this is no excuse.
No matter how much we know or don’t know – we can never say we didn’t know.
We knew.
I knew.

The more I read and watch, the more I have to admit how little I actually know. While I have been so busy with my life, they were fighting hard to not lose theirs.
The more I get to know what their NOW looks like, the less I feel like enjoying mine.

This is what leaves me so angry, confused, helpless, hopeless.
This is what makes me wonder how there can be such a difference of now.
This is what makes me cry out to the One who says he sees all of it, their now and our now. Do you really see?
Are you really there?
Have mercy.


Writing the last Five Minute Friday of 2016 today.
It’s not beautiful, it’s rough, messy and honest.
That’s life.

[Five Minute Friday] Yes

Yesterday a picture went viral. 
A police officer carrying the dead body of little boy out of the Mediterrenean sea in Turkey. The boy had tried to flee across the sea and had drowned in a boat that’s been way too small and way too old for such a precious load.
This is not the first incident, it’s just the peek of inhumanity in a series of terrible events going on in Europe at the moment. People trying to enter our countries, and all they hear is NO.
NO to a place to stay.
NO to something to eat.
NO to transport.
NO to a job.
NO to them as people, as human beings who have something to offer to this world and community.
The daily news of burned down refugee homes, aggressive demonstrations and the most horrible posts on social media make it hard to believe in a bright future, in something better to come.
There’s just NO and uncertainty.

But in all that darkness, in the midst of desperation, there’s a YES.
A YES that resounds from the beginning of time when it was first spoken.
The YES that the One God uttered and then made people.
YES to create fragile, tempted, vulnerable, often horrible, hurting human beings.
YES to beloved children who make a lot of mistakes and are more lost than they would ever know, yet are also more saved than they will ever dare to hope.

His YES starts ringing like a whisper in our hearts, gaining strength until it fills our entire being.
He said YES to us. And His YES can give us the courage, faith, and strength to say YES to others.
YES to welcoming people into our countries.
YES to opening our doors to them.
YES to listening to their stories, holding their hands when they’re shaking with fear.
YES to giving away food, housing, any kind of support.
YES to mirroring Jesus in places of despair and uncertainty. 
Let there be YES and a bit more hope in this broken, broken world.

If you’re as disgusted and compelled as me by the happenings in Europe at the moment, please check out more resources. And pray, if that’s all you can do.

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Writing for Five Minute Friday today. 

 

[Five Minute Friday] Visit

Teaching isn’t always easy. 
Passing on content you’re not really interested yourself can be challenge.
Speaking about things you’re really passionate about can be a real struggle.
I enter the room and 25 more or less interested students look at me. 
Expectantly, hoping I don’t do grammar with them.
No, no grammar today.
A question instead: How many slaves work for you? 
Blank faces.
Surprise.
Question marks.
A joke about mom doing their laundry quickly dies when I ask them to do research.
They get onto the computers, visit the first websites. 
They read stories about child labor in Bangladesh to produce clothes the students are wearing everyday.
They look at pictures of Chinese production lines and people working day and night so that people over here can get a new phone every year. 
They encounter the term human trafficking for the first time and are shocked that prostitution and organized crime exists right in front of their eyes.
Ninth grader cockyness turns into surprise, horror, shock. 
I can hear quiet murmurs, people exchanging facts and questions.
Slavery is real. 
It happens right in front of you. 

In this globalized world this is our burden. 
Today is “Shine a Light on Slavery” day. 
The 27th of February – speaking up for the more than 27 million people in slavery. 
And I hope that my students don’t just visit these websites. 
That they don’t stop at talking about it. 
That their shock and surprise turn into action. 
And that I may join them.
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As always I am linking up with Kate Motaung and other fabulous writers. 
If you want to know more about this topic, start with Slavery Footprint.

[Five Minute Friday] Messenger

What makes a messenger powerful?
Is it the words he uses – only if they fit together perfectly, only if his arguments are logically and powerful will he convince his audience to believe his message?
Is it his personality – only with great confidence and empathy for others will he get his point across?
Does a message have to be spoken in order to be heard?
More and more, I am beginning to learn that the most powerful messenger is the one who doesn’t say anything at all. 
Who doesn’t climb tables to raise his voice. 
Who doesn’t have to be on stage in order to be heard. 
Who doesn’t preach and complain about all the things that are wrong in this world. 
Instead of speaking, he ACTS. 
He doesn’t come up with any logical arguments – he simply acts out whatever he has come to believe. 
He doesn’t worry about his personality – he practices confidence and bravery in the face of challenges and turmoils. 
He doesn’t complain about this world – he shows love and empathy to people in need and makes their world a little brighter.
He doesn’t preach of injustice – he stands up to make the world a little better. 
One thing, one person at a time.
 
He doesn’t SPEAK the message. 
He IS the message. 
And I believe it will be clearly heard. 
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Today I am linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday!

[Lost and Refound] Give – and Give Generously! /Gib – und gib großzügig!

This post might be mostly a message to myself, but maybe also to a few others in my generation. I also don’t intend to preach morals here; I rather want to stir up a discussion about an issue I’m dealing with and would love to hear other people’s insight on this!

People in Western countries today have more money at hand than ever before: in bank accounts, in investments, in savings, in large amounts they can spend everyday in shops or online.

Yet, I feel that people in Western countries today spend less money for and in the kingdom of God than ever before. I cannot give any statistics or exact numbers, so I might be totally off with this assumption.
But when I observe my own way of handling money or talk to a few others (as well as the almost absence of this topic from church teaching)  I feel we don’t necessarily link up our money and God’s perspective on that.

Here are some questions and issues I tend to struggle with…

What does God say about handling and giving money?
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)

It seems the riches and blessings we’ve been given are not just meant for ourselves. Even though we work and earn money, everything we own is still a gift of God. And this gift has to be handled carefully. We should appreciate it (and its giver) by sharing our blessing with others. This also includes our money.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrew 13:16)

Sharing is not always easy. It might even be a sacrifice. But we can be sure that it is not in vain. It is so easy to cling to money, even though it cannot really offer us any security. By giving it up and sharing it with others we might also make a statement about who we actually put our trust in. 

So why don’t we give more?
I think the tricky part about many of God’s promises is to actually stand on them, to apply them to our own realities, to turn them into practice. The reality is a fixed figure in our bank account, the amount of bills and coins we have in our wallets, the list of regular expenses per month. 
That’s when I realize that my faith reality is often marked by a great lack of trust. No more bold song lyrics or pieces of advice. Just the simple realization: I don’t trust you with my money, God. If I give I might not have enough for myself. If I share I might end up losing.  
There might be other reasons like not knowing where exactly you should give your money to, drowning in a sea of opportunities. Or doubting that your money will be used for a good purpose. 

I love the way God refutes our hesitations, questions and doubts:

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10)

The ten percent we give up for God’s kingdom and his purposes will always be rewarded. Our willingness to give will not result in lack or need. 

But what happens when we give? 
In human terms, giving away means having less. Spending means losing. Well, this is not how God works. His principles seem to contradict our often so set ideas:

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
    
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    
and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24&25)

There is the story of the poor widow who gives just a few pennies (Mark 12). And yet God values her gift so much more than the rich people who might not even realize their money is gone. I don’t think God cares so much about the exact amount we put in the offering box. He is after our heart and our attitude while we give. Are we ready to let go of certain things and experience a change of heart in return? 

This is the mystery of faith: Everything you invest will be given back to you in amounts you can never possibly imagine. I am not saying you’ll be trouble free. I am not saying we’ll all be millionaires. But the water you give will come back to you in streams of life, grace, and blessings. Withholding equals want, but giving freely will lead to a richness only the giver of all riches can provide.

Now this was/is me rambling…What are your thoughts on this? How do you handle your money? Do you invest financially into the kingdom? How has God blessed you through this? Would love to hear from you!


Dieser Post ist vielleicht nur eine Botschaft an mich, aber vielleicht trifft sie ja auch ein paar andere in meiner Generation. Ich möchte auch keine Moral hier predigen; es geht eher darum, eine Diskussion anzustoßen über ein Thema, das mich beschäftigt und bei dem ich gerne die Meinung anderer hören würde!

Leute in westlichen Ländern haben heute mehr Geld zur Verfügung als jemals zuvor: auf Bankkonten, in Investitionen, auf Sparbüchern, in großen Summen, die sie jeden Tag beim Einkaufen oder Online ausgeben. 

Trotzdem kommt es mir so vor, dass Leute in westlichen Ländern heute weniger Geld für und ins Reich Gottes investieren als jemals zuvor. Ich kann euch keine Statistiken oder genaue Zahlen dazu bieten, deswegen liege ich vielleicht auch völlig daneben mit meiner Annahme. Aber wenn ich mich selbst beobachte, wie ich mit Geld umgehe oder mit anderen darüber rede (oder die fast Abwesenheit dieses Themas in Predigten) denke ich, dass wir nicht unbedingt unser Geld mit der Perspektive Gottes darauf verbinden. 

Hier sind also einige Fragen und Probleme, mit denen ich normalerweise kämpfe…

Was sagt Gott über Geld und Geld geben?
“Aber niemand soll mit leeren Händen vor demHerrn erscheinen, sondern jeder mit dem, was er geben kann, je nach dem Segen, den der Herr, dein Gott, dir gegeben hat.” (5.Mose 16:17)

Es scheint, als ob der Reichtum und Segen, der uns gegeben wurde, nicht nur für uns bestimmt ist. Obwohl wir arbeiten und Geld verdienen, ist alles, was wir haben, immer noch ein Geschenk Gottes. Und dieses Geschenk muss man kostbar behandeln. Wir sollten es wertschätzen (und seinen Geber), indem wir unseren Segen mit anderen teilen. Das gilt auch für unser Geld.
Wohlzutun und mitzuteilen vergesst nicht; denn solche Opfer gefallen Gott wohl!” (Hebräer 13:16)
Teilen ist nicht immer einfach. Es kann auch Opfer erfordern. Aber wir können sicher sein, dass es nicht umsonst ist. Man hängt sich so leicht an Geld, auch wenn es uns eigentlich gar keine Sicherheit bieten kann. Wenn wir es aufgeben und mit anderen teilen, machen wir vielleicht gleichzeitig auch eine Aussage darüber, wem wir wirklich vertrauen. 
Warum geben wir also nicht mehr?
Ich glaube, das Schwierige an Gottes Verheißungen ist, sich wirklich darauf zu stellen, sie auf unsere Wirklichkeit anzuwenden, sie in die Praxis umzusetzen. Die Realität ist ein bestimmter Betrag auf unserem Bankkonto, die vielen Scheine und Münzen in unserem Geldbeutel, die Liste an regelmäßigen Ausgaben im Monat. 
Immer dann merke ich, dass meine Glaubensrealität von Glaubensmangel bestimmt ist. Keine mutigen Songtexte mehr oder Ratschläge. Nur die einfache Erkenntnis: Ich vertraue dir beim Geld nicht, Gott. Wenn ich etwas gebe, habe ich selbst nicht genug. Wenn ich teile, habe ich am Ende zu wenig. 
Es könnte noch andere Gründe geben, wie etwa nicht zu wissen, wo genau man sein Geld hingeben sollte, da man in der Flut der Möglichkeiten ertrinkt. Oder der Zweifel, ob das Geld auch wirklich gut genutzt werden wird.
Ich liebe die Art, wie Gott unsere Zurückhaltung, Fragen und Zweifel ausräumt:
“Bringt den Zehnten ganz in das Vorratshaus, damit Speise in meinem Haus sei, und prüft mich doch dadurch, spricht der Herrder Heerscharen, ob ich euch nicht die Fenster des Himmels öffnen und euch Segen in überreicher Fülle herabschütten werde!” (Maleachi 3:10)
Die zehn Prozent, die wir für Gottes Reich und seine Zwecke geben, werden immer belohnt werden. Unsere Bereitschaft zu geben, wird nicht im Mangel oder Not enden. 
Was passiert, wenn wir geben?
Menschlich gedacht bedeutet geben, dass man am Ende weniger hat. Ausgeben heißt verlieren. Tja, aber so arbeitet Gott nicht. Seine Prinzipien scheinen unseren festen Ideen so oft zu widersprechen:

“Einer teilt aus und wird doch reicher;ein anderer spart mehr, als recht ist, und wird nur ärmer.Eine segnende Seele wird reichlich gesättigt,
und wer anderen zu trinken gibt, wird selbst erquickt.” (Sprüche 11:24&25)

In Markus 12 gibt es die Geschichte der armen Witwe, die nur ein paar Pfennige gibt. Aber Gott schätzt ihre Gabe so viel mehr als die der Reichen, die vielleicht gar nicht merken, dass ihr Geld weg ist. Ich glaube, Gott geht es gar nicht wirklich um den exakten Betrag im Opferbeutel. Er will unser Herz und die Einstellung, wenn wir geben. Sind wir bereit, bestimmte Dinge loszulassen und dabei zu erleben, wie er unser Herz verändert?

Das ist das Geheimnis des Glaubens: Alles, was du investiert, wird dir in Summen zurückgegeben, die du dir nie hättest vorstellen können. Ich sage nicht, dass alle deine Probleme gelöst sein werden. Ich sage nicht, dass wir alle Millionäre sein werden. Aber das Wasser, das du gibst, wird zu dir zurückkommen in Strömen des Lebens, der Gnade und des Segens. Zurückkalten führt zu Wollen, aber freies Geben wird zu einem Reichtum führen, den nur der Geber aller Dinge geben kann.

Das waren/sind meine Gedanken…Was denkst du darüber? Wie gehst du mit deinem Geld um? Investiert du finanziell in das Reich Gottes? Wie hat Gott dich darin gesegnet? Ich freu mich, von dir zu hören!


[Five Minute Friday] She

She.
A pronoun refering to a female single person.
A simple world opening up a sphere of personhood, a sense of identity, a feeling of belonging, of being. She is part of an entire group of she’s- women being proud of being women, females, an essential part in the gender system.

Yet, there are beings that have forgotten to see themselves as “she”. There are some that have been denied the right to simply be “she”. They are still female, but that is all they are allowed to be. The woman in all her beauty is lost, denied behind it. “She” is reduced to the female body, the object of male lust, the slave of human desire.

She needs to hear again that she is so much more than this pronoun. That she is a person, a beautiful woman with a heart and soul and body that belongs to her. That she opens opens up this world of love, belonging and identity again.
She who stands on the outside seeing HER needs to say it, act it out, do it. Tell others that she is important, write it down, put it into gifts or actions. One way that many other beautiful women do that for many years now is the A21 campaign. They are women who recognize the need to preach these wonderful news and help other women in need to re-discover their beauty as women, human beings- she.

For more info, check: The A21 campaign

It’s almost midnight in Germany- but it’s still Friday. And this means linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and a whole bunch of writers. Come join us!