Archives for March 2012

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Interview with Abolitionist & Author Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning author who writes from the heart about some of the most important issues of our time: human trafficking, sex slavery, homelessness, border issues, freedom of religion, and historically courageous women. She is also an abolitionist, fighting and rallying others to fight, against modern-day slavery with her Freedom Series, a collection of fiction novels published by New Hope publishers. The second book in her series, Special Delivery, follows the inaugural title, Deliver Me From Evil.

In book two of the “Freedom” series, readers find Mara fighting against her attraction to Bible college student Jonathan Flannery even while wrestling with risking her own precarious safety to become involved in the rescue of another girl who is pregnant and desperately wants to escape her captors and save her own life, as well as her child’s. Halfway around the world in a brothel in Thailand, a young girl is rescued with the promise of being reunited with her younger sister who was adopted by an interracial couple in the States, friends of Jonathan’s family. Meanwhile, Jefe—Mara’s uncle, who held her as a sex slave in his brothel in San Diego for years—seeks revenge for Mara’s testimony that put him behind bars for life. Will his underworld connections be successful in kidnapping and killing the girl who believes she has finally won her freedom?
 
“I’m not writing about a dark topic; I’m writing about the Light that shines in that darkness” – Kathi Macias
 
 
 
Special Delivery is book two in the Freedom (human trafficking) series. For anyone who may not have read book one, Deliver Me From Evil, can you fill us in on the focus of the series in general, and Special Delivery in particular?
 
The Freedom series is a three-book fiction series built around the horrifying topic of human trafficking. People often ask me why I decided to write about such a dark topic. First, I explain that I’m not writing about a dark topic; I’m writing about the Light that shines in that darkness. And second, I believe the Church should be at the forefront of the modern-day abolition movement to set the captives (modern-day slaves) free. The three books in this series specifically follows the life of a young woman named Mara, who was sold into sexual slavery by her own parents in Mexico, and then smuggled across the border into San Diego by her uncle who then served as her pimp. A strong sub-plot throughout the series tells of two sisters in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Chanthra and Lawan, who are also trapped in a brothel. Finally, a teenage girl named Francesca, kidnapped in Juarez, Mexico, and forced into prostitution, is introduced in book two. Special Delivery picks up two years after book one, Deliver Me From Evil, ends, and continues with the stories of Mara and Lawan, as well as others carried over from book one. Mara hopes she is finally free to pursue her own life because she was rescued from the brothel and her testimony helped lock up her uncle for life. But the man has underground connections and is driven by revenge to reach out from behind bars and deliver the ultimate punishment to his niece.
 
This isn’t the first fiction series you’ve written on nationwide and even worldwide social issues, the one previous to this being the persecuted Church. What draws you to these difficult topics?
 
As a Christian, I believe I am compelled to use my God-given gifts to honor God in all I do—and that includes exposing the deeds of darkness, calling sinners to repentance, and taking a stand for righteousness by doing all I can to help rescue those who are suffering. I dare not turn my back on “the least of these.” I also believe that God placed this sort of burden on my heart even before I became a Christian at the age of 26. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog, a “soap-box” preacher, if you will. When I met Jesus, I simply redirected that passion toward His people, realizing I couldn’t effect real change in my own strength anyway.

With your obvious passion to right social and moral wrongs through the power of the Gospel, how did writing and speaking enter into that?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a child—never wanted to do anything else. When I was a teenager I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I was going to be a writer one day. What a blessing that God allowed me to fulfill that dream! After becoming a believer and growing in my faith, it was natural to take my passion to fight for others and incorporate it into my writing. Speaking, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. I was terrified of public speaking when I was young, and the day I received Christ I made a “bargain” with God, promising to do anything He asked of me—so long as it didn’t include public speaking. (Does God have a sense of humor or what???) Now, when I stand in front of audiences where I believe God has called me to speak (and actually find myself enjoying it!), I tell my listeners that if God has called them to do something and they feel it’s impossible, they can consider me their “visual aid” that NOTHING is impossible with God IF we will simply take that first step of obedience and let Him fulfill His purpose in and through us.

With the topics of the worldwide persecuted Church and human trafficking under your belt, what other issues are you dealing with in your writing?

My Christmas 2011 book, A Christmas Journey Home, dealt with the immigration/border problem, and my Christmas 2012 novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, will be about homelessness in America. The next issues-related fiction series I have on tap—which I am just starting to write, by the way—is called the “Patches of Courage” series and will begin releasing in late January 2013. Book one is The Moses Quilt, based on the life of Harriet Tubman, and will be followed by The Christmas Quilt and The Impossible Quilt. This series of books will highlight historical American women whose Christian faith enabled them to walk in great courage and make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Where can people find out about you and your books/speaking/appearances?

They can go directly to my website (www.kathimacias.com or www.boldfiction.com) or my Easy Writer blog: http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and various other social sites. Would love to hear from all of you!

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!  To be considered for the SPECIAL DELIVERY free book giveaway, simply post a comment below. Help spread the truth about human trafficking by re-posting this interview on Facebook and sharing it with your friends. The winner will be announced at the end of this month!
 
Where can people find out about other free book giveaways on this blog tour?

The blog tour host is giving away a set of two books from the Freedom Series –  Book 1 (Deliver Me From Evil) and Book 2 (Special Delivery). Also, readers can follow @ChristianSpkrs on Twitter or follow on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.TheFreedomSeries for more book giveaway locations on the tour.

Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com). 

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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Joseph Kony’s Aboke Girls: Child Abduction & Sexual Slavery

Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda is a true story written by journalist, Els De Temmerman. It is a heart-wrenching account that unfolds the systematic abduction and sexual enslavement of girls from St. Mary’s College in northern Uganda. As shocking reports surfaced of the bold and heinous crimes committed against children under the leadership of the LRA commander, Joseph Kony, the world sat up and took notice. 

Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda

On October 9, 1996, Kony’s rebel army broke into the Aboke girl’s school in northern Uganda like a thief in the night, kidnapping 139 girls between 12-15 years old.  During his diabolical reign of terror, Joseph Kony turned on his own people. Under his command, young boys were forced to become killers, often of their own parents and family members. Young girls were plucked from their homes, or, in the case of the Aboke girls from St. Mary’s College, an upperscale Catholic girl’s school, they were abducted in the night and forced to become sex slaves for Kony’s men.

Child Sex Slaves & Soldiers

These child sex slaves and killers lived in constant fear of their own lives being taken, and the lives of their families. To survive, they did what they were told.  One ex-child soldier tells of  time he was forced to watch 50 small children being massacred to “teach them a lesson”.  Not with a single bullet, but stabbed, beaten or stoned to death. The brutality was always meant to send a message. Often the private parts were cut off of those already murdered. New child recruits were forced to take part in the killings as part of instilling fear and mindless obedience to Kony’s authority. All, as the book details, on the altar of Joseph Kony.

The girls were given to the adult soldiers for their sexual gratification and servitude. Often made to fetch water from miles away, walking through the night in the treachourous bush for miles to evade capture with nothing more than banana leaves to cover their bloodied feet, surviving regular rapes, beatings to keep them in line, and subsisting on little food or sleep.

Although this story is a part of many parts, it is the story of the Aboke Girls. And although much restoration and healing have taken place and the people of northern Uganda are now peaceful and rebuilding their lives, we remember their sacrifices and courage. For those of us a world away, it may seem like a brief period in time. For those living it, an eternal hell on earth. 

Women Who Lived To Tell Their Stories

Ayako survived a vicious attack of the LRA, but they murdered her husband and two children, burned down her house, and plucked out one of her eyes with a wire. For no reason other than she was moving on the roadside when the LRA approached her, Carcy’s lips and nose were cut off and she was forced to eat them. If she cried, they threatened to slit her throat. Nine other people were brutalized in the same way. This was no conventional war.

Human Rights Violations & the Conflict of War

Aboke Girls takes us through the conflict of war, Kony’s twisted idealogies including the cleansing of the Acholi people after their disloyalty to him, stories of the abductions, two girls who escaped, and the tenacious advocacy and voice of Sister Rachele and her tireless search for her students, along with their parents. In 1998, the UN Commission for Human Rights accepted a resolution demanding immediate release of more than 10,000 abducted children. But to no avail. Then, after years of political posturing, the last Aboke girl returned home in 2000, with 20 still missing. That same year, over 400 children were again reported missing, including a two-year old baby.

Fast forward to 2012: The demonized terror mastermind, Joseph Kony, who once lurked and schemed deep in the bush, has again captured the world’s attention. As documented in the film, Kony2012 by Invisible Children and An Unconventional War, one of the most arrogant and perverse human slave masters, child abductor, murderer, rapist and antagonist is now on the run.  The hunter has become the hunted. 

“He who allows oppression, shares the crime” -Desiderius Erasmus

Els De Temmerman has been an award-winning African correspondent for print and television serving in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. In addition to Aboke Girls: Children abducted in northern Uganda, she also authored The dead are alive: Rwanda, an eyewitness, Africa: Continent in Motion and The Horn of Agony: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of  Uganda’s New Vision, and  has recently launched, The New Nation, a bi-monthly newspaper published by Sudan Advocacy for Development, an NGO registered and based in Juba, South Sudan.

 

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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FOREVER FOUND: Artists Create Change for Sexually Exploited Children

 

It’s hard to imagine, but did you know that young girls are being sold to sex traffickers for less than twenty dollars? Worse yet, in some cases, by their own mothers or family members. These girls (and boys) are then forced into prostitution by the traffickers. Forced to have their little bodies used and abused as sex slaves. And not only are they physically and sexually abused, but their minds and emotions become enslaved and ravaged by unthinkable pain, fear and shame.

Forever Found is a non-profit organization born out of that reality and supports safehomes for sexually exploited and trafficked children. While on a heartwrenching trip to Thailand, founders Shannon and Taylor Sergey saw the devastation child prostitution and trafficking caused up close, put a stake in the ground, and chose to make it personal.

Forever Found exists to support the rescue and restoration of victims of child trafficking and prostitution through:

  • Locally based awareness efforts and events
  • Child sponsorship programs
  • Recruitment, development and promotion of artists willing to donate part or all of their proceeds to help rescue a child

Forever Found partners with artists to raise awareness and support for rescue organizations, aftercare and safehomes in the U.S. and abroad including Streetlight PHXF.A.C.E.S.S., International Crisis Aid, and Life Impact International. 

As an artist and advocate, I’m a true believer in creative advocacy. I love that Forever Found bands together with artists who are catalysts in creating change. Forever Found collaborates with musicians, writers, painters, photographers, designers, actors, and other artists to bring justice, freedom and restoration for sexually exploited children.

Art and music bring people together in a unique way that crosses man-made barriers and touching all of humanity. On top of that, 100% of money received from artist partners goes directly to the rescue homes they support!

"Immeasurably More" Album by Shannon Sergey

Shannon Sergey’s album Immeasurably More is described as an eclectic album full of passion and beautiful instrumentation fueled by talented musicians who donated their time to support victims of child trafficking. The track “Daddy” is about a child she met who was rescued from child prostitution.  Shannon has also written an autobiographical book called, Something Beautiful: The Story of Us–a book about directing love, heartbreak and passion. Other artists share their creative advocacy and proceeds through music, leather wrist bands and even hand crocheted baby blankets!

Aftercare homes provide safe and sane environments for rescued children as young as 4 years old. They provide shelter, food, medical care, education, skill and vocational training, along with emotional and spiritual counseling. Above all, safehomes provide the opportunity for a fear and abuse-free life, providing child victims a chance to heal and to find a path to living the lives they were destined for. 

Maybe you’re an artist, or know someone who would love to share their talent in exchange for giving a sexually exploited child the gift of life more abundantly. Learn how you can get involved. Connect with Forever Found online at foreverfound.org, or join them on Facebook, Twitter or on their blog.

How can you partner to become an advocate for freedom?

Related Article: Simi Native Rescues Sex-Trafficked Kids

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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