Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Read through the Bible in a Year

Ahhh....New Years Resolutions are upon us. Every year, for as long as I can remember (since like second grade??)...I have had a "new years resolution" to read through the Bible in a year. And every year, I have failed dismally. In order to read through the Bible in a year, I have always tried to read a little each day in order to not have to read like 6 books in one day to get caught up. Last year, i had my reading for the day emailed to me. That worked till about April, when I got so far behind that I gave up on the read through in a year thing. The positive thing about 2009's attempt at reading through the Bible is that I now carry my Bible around with me at all times. So i can read it whenever I have a spare minuet, or if I am thinking of a verse and want to remind myself just how it goes, or if I ma facing a particular struggle and need to remind myself what the word of God has to say about it, etc. But the effects of my abandoning the Read the Bible in a Year plan is; My "quite time" gets reduced to a few minuets a day, a few days a week and my spiritual walk suffers. Its sad. Whats even sadder is that this has repeated itself for nearly two decades, year after year. While I am POSITIVE I have read the Bible in its entirety, I think its important for me to read the whole thing in a relatively short period of time so I can see some themes, patterns and so forth. In addition to the "reading in a year" I also usually do a devotional to help me focus on a specific part of scripture and really just dig in, looking for personal applications. "Better is a little with understanding" as the old expression goes. So, once again I am making it my goal to read through the Bible in 2010. sigh. I have renewed dedication this year though, Over the last several months I have seen some heresy develop in some of my friend's faiths. These are friends with whom I was raised side by side, and fed on a relatively similar diet of Biblical teaching. Ive given a LOT of thought to how this happens and the conclusion i have come to is that in my upbringing, and in my friends upbringing there was a strong emphasis on Spiritual connectedness with God. On the Spiritual feelings and leadings. I am not saying I don't believe these things are important they are, but these things I think were emphasised OVER Bible reading. My friends and I have all probably read through the Bible at some point. We memorized Scripture and some of us still do, but I think the danger came in when we "pretty much know what the Bible says." The Enemy will use any and all opportunities to poison of minds, and even our religion. The blessed thing about the Word of God is that if you follow its teaching and hold everything up against it as a measurement of accuracy, you can scarcely go wrong. I believe its a lack of being entrenched in the Living and Holy Word of God that breeds this heresy and in some extreme cases for people to abandon the faith all together. While trying to determine what to say to my friends who have adopted strange faiths, I realized Im at JUST AS MUCH RISK of believing a false doctrine when I am not studying the scriptures daily. AND, I cannot effectively talk with my friends about the things they now believe that are unbiblical, because I have a hard time finding specifically in the Bible where it teaches contrary to what they now believe. So, Read through the Bible in a Year, take 18 (or so)....
  • This year I am going to print out a chart with all the chapters of the Bible and cross them off as I go. I think this will encourage me and help me not fear when i get off track for a few days, because I can pick up again anywhere.
  • I think I will also start reading in the minor prophets and the epistles, instead of the books of Moses and the Gospels...just to mix things up....
  • I'm going to blog about my reading progress and about the treasures I find in the Word.
  • I'm going to once again enlist the support of my Christian Mentor...but in order to do that I have to start working on my devotional again because she believes that was helpful to me when I was doing it before. It really, really was. And, as my Mentor, I respect her opinion on the matter....I need to do a devo with this Bible reading anyways....
  • I'm going to look for other people who are reading through the Bible in a Year OR who are working on reading PART of the Bible every day or however many times per week...
Any of you doing the "read the Bible in a year" as your new years resolution? Any old pros out there who can offer me tips? Anyone looking for an accountability partner? I want to make this my New Years REVOLUTION!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When considering health care and immigration, its important to identify the different family forms and immigration status of each family and indeed each individual within the family. Immigrant families may consist of all legal immigrants, a combination of legal and undocumented immigrants, legal immigrant citizens and legal immigrant non citizens, foreign born children adopted by US citizens, and families in which the children were born in the US (and therefore full citizens and not immigrants at all) but the parents are either legal or undocumented immigrants as well as refugee families. The reason it is important to identify these family forms is that immigration status has a huge impact on an families ability and willingness to access health care. As little as 50% of immigrant children have health insurance (including medicaid) compared to only 15% of non-immigrant children, coverage is even lower for adult immigrants. One of the reasons that so few immigrants have access to health insurance is that in 1996 legislation called Personal Responsibility and Opportunity to Work Act which stops government assistance for legal immigrants for the first five years in this country. Undocumented immigrants generally have no health care. When an individual has no insurance they are less likely to seek preventative treatment such as well child visits, prenatal care and treatment for chronic conditions and more likely to use the emergency room as their primary form of health care. Many immigrant families are reluctant to seek health care even if they are here legally and have insurance because they have a close family who is in the country (and maybe living in the same home) as an undocumented immigrant and they fear triggering an investigation which could result in that loved one being deported. Other barriers to quality health care include lack of familiarity with accessing US health care, limited understanding and communication skills in English and limited financial means to pay co-pays etc. Immigrants are at increased risk for many health conditions not found in the general US population including preventable diseases that most US born children are inoculated against, such as Hepatitis B and chickenpox. As well, there may be health problems that boarders of the US as are undiagnosed, including tuberculosis, parasites, HIV, AIDS, diabetes, and Hypertension, to name a few. Limited money may lead to poor quality or insufficient food, anxiety and depression. Children in particular (who have no control over where they live) are at risk for mental health problems due to the trauma of a move and because of stresses that may have occurred in their country of origin to precipitate to move. Health care should be available to all individuals residing in the US because infectious diseases can be spread to anyone regardless of their immigration status. In other words, whole communities can be at risk when individuals are not receiving proper health care. Additionally when persons use the emergency room as their primary means of health care costs of care go up for insured individuals i order to compensate for the inability of some to pay their hospital bills for conditions that could have been prevented with care such as prenatal doctors visits. In the city of Hartford there are some services available to all individuals, with or without health insurance that do not actively seek to exclude undocumented aliens. Those include Burgdorf medical clinic which works on a sliding scale so that individuals can access affordable care. Their services include preventative and acute care for children, adults and pregnant woman. They have walk in appointments and HIV clinic hours and provide screening for a wide range of diseases. The Malta House of Caring is a mobile clinic that moves around to different areas in Hartford and provides non-emergency care for free. They treat basic ailments and administer medication and make referrals to other care providers in the Hartford area for conditions they are not equipped to treat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

O Christmas tree, O Chrsitmas tree!

As a family we trudge through the field, silent, ever ready for the attack. Eyes wide open we are alert, hunting for the perfect specimen. Sizing each each living thing up we compare it to the last, the next- this one is too skinny, that one has a full body...finally we spot it slanding boldly in a patch of golden sun. There, the one we have been looking for. Its perfect, magnificent. Its reaches into the air as if in a permanent salutation to the sun. Its perfectly symmetrical and the suns rays reflecting it gives it an otherworldly glow. its breathtakingly beautiful. We circle around it slowly, as if we are afraid that we might startle it into running for cover...We find no flaws. Yes, its the one...We raise our weapon and deliver the death blow. Helpless, our victim cannot move or run away, We wield our weapon again and again- mercilessly until it is completely cut off from its life source. It falls to the ground and we descend upon its body, binding it tightly. The children whoop from the joy of victory. As a family we drag its body off, the children pulling almost uselessly at its limp limbs. We pay the man at the gate and load our prize onto the roof of our four-door sedan. On the way home we sing carols as the windshield wipers flash back and forth, pushing snowy flakes from our path. Finally we arrive at our destination. The corps is unloaded and we drag it into the house. The mother pulls boxes from the closet, preparing for the next part of the ritual. The father curses as he attempts to make the dead body stand erect to give the illusion of life as the children look on. The ropes come off the body and are replaced by colorful bulbs. The family decorates the already decaying body with shiny baubles. Our lives seem to revolve around our prize for the next several weeks. Guests come in and admire our handiwork, not a word is said about the fact that there is a dead body in our living room, its as if nobody is aware or cares that it was once a living, breathing being. Three weeks later, the decorations are removed from its body after the mother curses about the pieces that fall from its dead frame. And its dragged unceremoniously to the curb of the family home, forgotten, with the rest of the Christmas trees. Like my prose? hehe...I'm not a huge fan of the whole Christmas tree chopping action that happens around this time of year- if you couldn't tell. It really disturbs me. I'm 23, most the trees that are killed and rot in homes around the country are my age. In their infancy, really, as trees go. Trees in town centers and ones like the one in Rockefeller center are much much older, some well over 100 years. They spent years basking in the suns rays, withstanding strong winds that sought to overturn them, using the nutrients in the soil and rain to grow stronger and taller, they housed and fed birds, squirrels and bugs- only to be chopped down, adorned with colorful ornaments and left to dry up in our living rooms for some number of days before we drag it off with the rest of the holiday litter. My father and his wife plan to get a "live tree" this year, an ironic term, if you ask me. They attempt to comfort me by telling me that it was a tree specifically grown for this purpose. I suppose that is meant to assure me, just as its meant to be a comfort when I'm told that the cows, pigs and birds that make their way to the table were "grown for that purpose," but that's another entry. While it bothers me on a micro level that trees are treated this way, I also finding it a concerning phenomenon in society. We spend about 48 weeks per year preaching that we need to save trees and plant trees and help the environment. The other four weeks or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas we turn our backs on the philosophy in the name of tradition. I think this ritual is particularly confusing to children who are very concrete and black and white in their thinking. Why would they grow up concerned about deforestation if they are trained from a young age to participate in it every December?Regardless of whether or not the trees used for the holidays are replaced sustainably or not, the whole idea seems in opposition to the values we are trying to promote as conservationists. I challenge those who want a "live tree" to opt for an actual *living* tree, that is one that is potted and can be brought in doors for the season then planted outdoors when spring arrives.Wouldn't that be a lovely tradition to begin with your family? Having a beautifully decorated tree living in your home for the Christmas holidays and planting it with the arrival of spring, perhaps around Easter for another tradition? For Christians that could be a handy way of reminding children of the necessary connection between the two holidays. For pagans and others it is a nice way to celebrate the changing of seasons. Most importantly, it would be a wonderful opportunity to replenish the earth and to teach the next generation about the importance of good stewardship for the planet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Doing my bit to stimulate the ecconomy and give job security.

I hear recently that Obama's stimulus plan with the "cash for clunkers" program was a total flop. I think this was a great way to get really polluting cars off the streets but do think its a little bit of a silly way to stimulate the economy. Well, The stimulus plan before Obama's was not really great either...the trouble is, that during and economic downturn artificially stimulating the economy is pretty silly. Most of the stimulus money during the Bush administration was used to pay for bills/debt/groceries/etc, in other words it was used on essentials- not on consumer goods like the hope was. I know I certainly used it to buy necessary things. So, those methods don't work, I'm not sure what will...I try to do my part to help people when i can. I occasionally use a full service gas station (and always tip even though Ive been assured they don't work for tips) and I pretty much refuse to use the self-check-out at the grocery store (although I don't tip my clerk ;) ) I'm realize this is like a tiny spit wad in the ocean of the problem, but if everyone made it a point to use full service a few times a month (even though they have to pay a little more for it) and quit using the self check out full stop (even though they would have to wait a little longer) at least two professions would have slightly more stable jobs.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Am I made to be a helpmeet or a person?

So. Gender inequality will be the topic of this post. And I tread lightly... So...I've made a conscious decision not to actively pursue romantic relationships right now. I feel like relationships take so much effort- effort that I want to put into other things....into things that I feel are more likely to be fulfilling and satisfying. Right now, I'm focusing on finishing school, becoming who I am meant to be and...well, changing the world. I have these ideas about how I want my life too look when all is said and done...I want to help people...I want to be a nurse and go and treat the poorest of the poor. I want to teach people in tiny villages how to boil the water to get rid of the bacteria that kills their babies with diarrhea...I want to foster children, I want to adopt children....I want to have a sanctuary for farmed animals...I want to set up clinics and train people how to cure each other...I want to teach children how to grow a garden and how to build a model of a cell and, and I want to do it all in a mud hut if need be! Man!...all that's soooooo important to me. And it takes a LOT of energy to do! It's all I've ever wanted to do-its what I feel called to do...My parents told me I have told them this since I could talk and I can't even fathom being happy doing anything less with my life. Growing up, I'd always just figured I NEEDED a man to do those things. I ASSUMED there would be a man. But now I realize I can do all those things on my own, and its really empowering. I have taken the attitude that I'm not looking for love...but if love finds me while I'm doing what makes my heart glad then, yea!!! But if not...that's okay too. i have tried dating, and yes...yeah, I have been hurt...but that's not the reason I'm not "looking." In dating I have come to realize that my life goals are NOT COMPATIBLE with the majority of the population. Not all persons would be okay with hiking three mile to pull there own water from a stream! So I don't see the POINT in looking for relationships and putting all the effort into one when I actually doubt that it could work anyways. And I especially feel this way because I actually had a couple girl friends who USED to want to do the same things I do, who have decided to give it all up and be married and live the "American Dream." I'd honestly rather be dead than end up like that! So, if love finds me as I'm covered in mud, digging a well with a bamboo shoot-grand, I'll take it. I'll welcome it with JOY. I'm not putting things on hold to find this "true love" or really even to actively date.... The last of my friends are getting married this month. By December it will just be me and my younger sister in the single gals club (and my sister is actively trying to get out of the club, her goal in life is to be a "house wife" and if that's what will make her happy- God bless it!) A friend of mine recently told me she finds what I am doing really selfish...that I'm not willing to sacrifice any of what I want in life to have a chance to grow with a person as a person and by knowing a person- that I wont quiet my busy life to look for this person who I suppose is supposed to complete me. Oddly, I found that really hurtful, even though I completely disagree with it. Maybe I just wish she could understand. Anyways...here's my point, since I have abandoned having traditional goals for my life i have heard all of the following "Well, its natural that you should be lonesome, women were made to be men's helpmeets...'it is not good for man to be alone.' Why are you so opposed to dating?!?! What are you HIDING from?" Soooo...apparently, the expectation is not only that I SHOULD be married, but that i cannot be happy unless I am married. Would I hear these things if I was a man? I don't think so. I wonder how much of what I hear is because I am so involved in the church? Or is it just society at large? Should I be looking for a husband? I totally agree with the concept of women being keepers at home- if they want to be. But what if they want to do something else with their lives? What if they feel a calling on their lives? And whatever happened to men being the one to pursue the woman? Why is it suddenly my job to "find" a husband?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

One of the many privileges of being a nanny is that my job often includes things like taking the children to movies I wanted to see anyways! I've seen Harry Potter, Toy Story 3D , Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and most recently Where the Wild Things Are. What I really liked about this movie (and the book it was based on) was that it dealt with anger...anger is such a taboo emotion in our society. In the film Max is faced with HUGE feelings of anger...he doesn't really seem like he knows how to deal with them, which isn't at all unusual either for a child his age or in this society where we tend to pretend anger doesn't exist. Max ends up running from his mom in rage and finds refuge in a clan of imaginary, great monsters who recognize him as King of the Wild Things. Max unleashes his angry energy by creating, destroying and wrestling...at one point in the film he sees that there may be some negative consequences of his rages when he sees how he has hurt some of the other Wild Things (as he hurt his mother.) Max eventually seems to ride out the tide of the angry emotion and decides to "return home" where his mom embraces him in a hug and seemingly all is forgiven. The Bible tells us "Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26) So there is no question then, that we may be angry. Further, we are created in the image of God, who is described many times as being angry with various situations in the Bible. Additionally, we see Jesus (rightly) angry at the people exchanging money in the Holy Temple. Anger is surely a core human emotion. Our charge then, is to learn to to be angry without sinning. Max may have messed up (sinned) in that he disrespected him mother, but he was right not to let the sun go down on his anger. Its essential that we all develop healthy and holy responses to our anger and teach them to our children or the children in our care. An important part of that process is to identify anger, not attempt top bury it but rather release it, and before the sun goes down!. Try things like tearing paper, making angry music on the piano, finger painting, screaming into a pillow, going for a run or punching a punching bag. If you notice you are often angry, and triggered by minor things, then it may be time to explore that further. Although anger is a core emotion...God is "slow to anger" and I think we should be too. Love in Christ, Zealia

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Have to Solution to World Hunger...No, really! As I was snuggled up with my coffee, reading the copy of the New York Times that somebody left behind in the coffee shop I came across this article... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/world/22food.html?_r=1&ref=world There seems to be growing concern about weather or not the worlds population is CAPABLE of producing enough food to feed the hungry in the world especially as the number of starving and hungry people has risen steadily as the global recession has impacted counties across the board. I, for one, am totally convinced that its possible- we just have to get the man/woman power behind it! I know that every one cares about world hunger. But I feel like I am maybe one of the few who is willing to give my life to see the stomachs of children filled and the health care needs of their families met. My plan since before Kindergarten has been to become a nurse so I could work in third world countries for the poorest of the poor. As I've gotten older and learned more that plan has grown rather than dissipated. As Ive developed more passions I now see my potential roll changing...I want to be a nurse, and set up clinics to meet peoples needs, but I also want to train lay people to provide medical care to others in their communities, I want to have public health education as a major component to my ministry...and I don't really see the point in having health care if the people are starving to death, so I also want to add a component of teaching sustainable agriculture. So, why haven't I done this yet? Well, I graduated from high school in 2004...so most the people I graduated with now have their bachelor's degrees in their field of choice. I do not have my degree because of a combination of health problems and not being able to make tuition. You see, I am one of four children from a family that was below the national poverty line during my growing up years. Neither have my parents have college degrees and my mother became permanently disabled when I was 12...So there was no family financial support to go to college. I also have fallen through the fafsa cracks and have not been eligible for grants any but my first two semesters. Now, before you get annoyed with my whinny schpeel, let me say that I don't feel sorry for myself. I have paid out of my own pocket for all 60+ credits that I have earned in college, Ive always had at least one full time job since graduating high school and have not lived with my parents. I'm truly putting myself through school in every sense of the phrase. I will admit that it gives me a lot of prospective about life. I appreciate more what I can do for myself and what it means to have access to an education. I know there are many less fortunate than myself.... My main feeling, though, is I should be "out there" by now, doing something for all these people I feel so passionately about. When I hear about the global food shortage and people dying of diseases that could be easily treated, my heart aches, if only someone could have been there for them...I hear everyone talking about this issue and it's all diplomats, running in circles, chasing their tales....how are we gonna solve this problem, how are we gonna solve this problem, how are we gonna solve this problem....I feel like they are over looking one of the most valuable resources in combating hunger.....the able bodied individuals who WANT to have an education but cannot afford one. The ones who are willing to work hard for their education (Ive met a lot of those in the community colleges!) People who would be happy to have an opportunity to "help out" before they settle into their career fields of choice. People who know about tragedies like world hunger, under staffing in orphanages, aids in Africa but don't do anything because they cant stop working to help a cause like that, because they have been made to feel powerless because of the seemingly never ending stream of need in the world. Why cant the government set up a program in which people can serve for four years in an impoverished area and receive and equal number of years of a college education. Maybe even count the work towards their degree? There needs to be incentive for people to go and do that with their time...I think that a solution like this would have to be workable, after all, the government is able to offer money to individuals who serve in the military, why couldn't there be a humanitarian form of that?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Persepolis: The story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

***Spoiler Alert!!!**** Although I was initially put off by the format of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis I found I was quickly drawn into the story by her charming and lively depiction of herself as a 10-year-old girl coming of age during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Marjane, her family and friends shatter all stereo-types I held of what it means to be a devout Muslim and gave me a view of the "revolution" contrary to what I have seen in the news and other media. Three central themes stood out to me as I read and I found myself unable to put the book down as I craved to understand this individual Muslimah. First, was her understanding of a compassionate, and personal god. Young Marjane considered herself to be a very religious person (pg 6) and seemed to draw strength from her understanding of god as she knew him. In several frames she depicts herself embraced in Gods arms and refers to him on a few occasions as her "friend." This depiction is contrary to the relationship with God I had come to believe the average Muslim had. Perhaps it was this personal understanding of God which allowed Marjane and her family to practice their faith without the need for militaristic approaches to obeying the orders of the Qur'an? The second surprising concept I saw it the book was Marjane's families desire to see her as a whole and unique individual. They praised her for having independent thought and seem to take on what I considered to be a fairly westernized concept of allowing her to experiment with life in general. In particular, her family did not discourage her from believing she was going to be a prophet- not even when they were asked to come into her school to talk with the teacher about it. When Marjane was older her parents allowed her to listen to music like Michael Jackson and Iron Maiden, let her wear Nike sneakers and music buttons and jean jackets. Before I read this book I based my ideas on what a family expects of their young Muslimah off of my Muslim friends and off of what I have seen demonstrated in other media. Even my very "liberal" Muslim friends who are allowed to attend medical school despite being women are required to defer to their fathers for all decisions they make...despite having the brains to pursue a career as a doctor, the family's GREATEST hope was still that they would find a "nice Muslim man" and settle down, and if they did not find one themselves, their father would find one for them. In the Muslim families I have known there was no emphasis on young women developing into unique individuals as Marjanes parents and Grandmother seemed to hope for her. I found this quite refreshing The third concept that struck me is perhaps an extension of the second concept, and that was the families involvement in the counter-culture. Marjanes parents frequently demonstrated against the order of the "Revolution," including the wearing of veils or Hijabs by women. They continued to throw parties, play card games and drink alcohol after they were outlawed. This rebellion went back at LEAST to Marjanes grandfather's generation. Her grandmother told her stories of times when her grandfather was imprisoned for his opposition. Marjanes uncle Anoosh was directly involved in counter-military activity and faced arrest, torture and ultimately execution for his convictions. Its no surprise then that Marjane idolized socialist like Cha Guavera, Fidel Castro, and others. Through out the book it is unclear what Marjanes parents religious beliefs are, as they did not seem overtly religious or atheistic- the best I can determine is they wanted a clearer distinction between what we call in this country, "church and state." As for Marjane herself, we see after her uncle is executed she tells god to get out of her life, that she never wanted to see him again and she changed her career ambitions from being a prophet of god to becoming a chemist like Marie Curie. The end of the book I found rather anti-climactic to the point of wondering if there wast a chapter or two missing. I felt let down that the author gave no resolution to the series of events that forced her from her home country. The reader is left to wonder if she ever went back to Iran, to wonder why she never again lived with her parents, to wonder if she ever became further involved in the counter military or counter oppression in her country, if her parents ceased their involvement in protests after she left and more. There was no answer to these questions in this book. Overall, I was very pleased with the book. The characters were engaging and the format was unusually pleasant. I would very much like to see the motion picture version of this book-although I must confess that much of that allure comes form hoping the end of the film will give more in site to Marjanes later life than the book did. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to a friend, particularly to one who enjoys dispelling popular stereotype!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground

Is Prostitution a "Victimless Crime?" Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground Shared via AddThis How effective do you think a "war on prostitution" is likely to be? It seems that prostitution is as old as time itself. In this post I'm talking strictly about "consenting" adults who work in the sex trade industry. Often referred to as a "victimless crime" I have to wonder if the men and women who are forced into "survival sex" are truly not victims. After all, research has distinctly displayed a pattern of childhood sexual assault in association with working in the sex trade industry as a matter of fact, the average age for a prostitute to begin her career is between 12-14 years old. Prostitutes are at risk for assault, rape, murder, poverty, substance abuse/addiction and sexually transmitted infections. There is also the factor that these individuals feel that selling their bodies is their only means to provide for themselves, and perhaps their children. The link between poverty and prostitution is so strong that prostitution is almost nonexistent in other socioeconomic levels. Often the choice seems to come down to making the rent or offering up their body for money. Frequently, prostitutes are undereducated and lack the skills to acquire gainful employment to support themselves and their families. They have often already exhausted the resources in their community, don't qualify for them, are unaware of them or they simply are not available in the area in which they live. Prostitutes with children may be afraid to seek out help because of the very real risk of losing their children. Sometimes they have addictions to drugs or alcohol and sell their bodies in order to feed the addiction. In short, a number of factors play into the choice to prostitute themselves and it rarely has anything to do with the sex worker *wanting* to trade their body for money. Survivors of the sex trade industry often look back on their history with a mixture of shame, guilt, and anguish. At the same time, many feel they were simply doing what they HAD to do at the time. Aside from the prostitute, there are other victims when humans are exploited sexually. Some of them include spouses and partners of the person soliciting sex when they become infected with an STD/STI or when they discover their partner has been unfaithful, they may feel ashamed or insecure. Children and dependants of both the prostitute and the solicitor become victims when a break down of the relationship between their parents occurs. Or when a prostitute's children are removed from her care and placed in foster care because they were in danger in the home where their mother worked and/or because she could not care for their needs on her salary or whilst in jail for her crime. Indeed, even the solicitor becomes a victim. There is often guilt and shame associated with soliciting sex, they may become infected with a disease that may prevent them from having normal sexual relationships in the future. Solicitors may suffer from sexual addiction, or an inability to have a normal healthy sexual relationship. Basically, prostitution is no "victimless crime." So what should be done about it? Is it good that police surf craigslist to uncover prostitution rings in order to bust the prostitutes and the solicitors? I guess my response is "yes and no." Yes, when they are finding prostitutes of all ages who are being victimized and exploited against their will or as minors. No in cases where individuals of legal age are consensually offering sex in exchange for money. But wait a second...didn't I just say that pretty much EVERYONE suffers where prostitution exists? Yes, I sure did, but my thought is that this is not a problem for law enforcers. This should be a problem for social workers, who help men and women find the resources to get out of or avoid prostitution. It should be an issues for policy makers to implement more programs for people living in poverty, for those with substance abuse issues, for victims of sexual assault, better housing for people who cannot afford housing and quality education that can lead to money-making trades. It should be an issue for therapists who help individuals overcome a sexual addiction that leads them to seek out prostitutes or to find other means of healthy sexual release and interpersonal affection through learning skills to build relationships. It should be a problem for couples counselors and family counselors that works to restore the broken relationships that occur in situations of past use of solicited sex or that have been split up after a parent begins prostitution. And, without question this should be a concern for the church. There are churches in every community across America. The church is in a unique position to offer hope and help to ALL victims affected by prostitution. The church is commanded to LOVE their neighbors- even the ones using or working as prostitutes. Its up to the church to ministering to these individuals with a loving and non-judgemental heart, not just passively (IE letting them sit in your pew on Sunday morning if they happen to wonder in off the street) but PROACTIVELY seeking out people and offering them the hope that ONLY Jesus can give, by praying for them and their families, by pointing them in the direction of services in the community, and by opening their eyes to the sin that is intrinsic of prostitution. We are called NOT to do this because we are holier than them, but because we are as retched of sinners as they are; because before we knew Jesus we were every bit as hopeless, because we were condemned before we were made aware of our own ugly sins. In communities where prostitution is a significant problem, specific outreaches should be established to help those suffering under the tyranny of the sex trade industry. Believers should search their hearts about volunteering with or financially supporting ministries like "Hookers for Jesus" (hookersforjesus.org) a ministry of former prostitutes and strippers for those who have been involved in the sex trade industry or the Dream Center's "Project Rescue" (dreamcenter.org) that offers housing and assistance to women escaping prostitution. After all, Jesus did not want the woman found guilty of adultery to be stoned to death under the law, rather he wanted to offer her love and forgiveness- with the commandment to "sin no more." Remember that Jesus himself was a friend to prostitutes- that he died for their sins as much as he did your own and that he commands us to love and reach out to the lost. In Christ, Zealia

Friday, October 2, 2009

Uncompromising, but lonely

Psalm 42

11Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43

1Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. 4Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. 5Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Hmmm...I think these verses flow well THIS way. Remember the Bible was not written with chapter and verse, those were added later t make it easier to find things, anyways.... I feel like this tonight. I feel the ungodliness of my nation causes me much grief. An interaction with a friend caused me to feel really depressed and the verse 42:11 popped into my head...I looked it up and read on...the rest of the following verse was actually exactly what made me sad about my interaction with my friend. I feel like I just see so many Christians around me making compromises. Compromises I cannot understand. I feel like the Christians I know should be with me, standing by my side on these issues and encouraging one another to live boldly according to the Word. Instead, I find many of my Christian friends don't share my convictions about contemporary social issues and about major life decisions, they actually attack me for my beliefs accusing me of being self-centered and self-righteous. But I just don't feel like I can compromise on some things, I feel convicted...I don't say this judgmentally of these people and their choices, its not to me to judge the heart, but I don't understand how they can attack me, judge me. Oh, this is the worlds lamest first entry...I can't be specific about the situation and there's no way for you to know if me or my friend are in the right or wrong without specifics, but that's not the important part. I guess I'm just hurt when I see people make decisions and then accuse me of being the one with the problem when I don't join them in something I feel convicted about. It makes me feel so very lonesome, which is not how I want to feel when the task of witnessing to the world seems so very big and I feel very small. I guess just this verse captured what I was feeling tonight and it helped to know I'm not the the only God-fearer who has ever felt like I was standing on the truth all alone...Ill just cry out to God like the Psalmist did. Take cheer, friends! -Zealia