America: We Can Choose Better

American Flag (Kevin Morris)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the current personal, national and now global discourse about our nation. About our future. About our families. About us as unique individuals. Sadly, the “discussion” phase buckled under the weight of disrespect, mistrust, hatred, violence and eventual anarchy. Tidal wave after tidal wave of blame. I suppose it’s nothing new to the human race. But it’s ugly and messy and us not at our best. We can choose better.

People are fighting for what they say they believe in for the whole. But in so much of the activity, it is not. It is for themselves. When our soldiers fight for our nation, they check their political party and personal beliefs at the door. Why? Not because these things aren’t worthy. Because they believe in something much greater than their own personal preferences and opinions. They are fighting together to secure and strengthen something that transcends the individual struggles. And importantly, they know that unity matters. There is power in unity. The same goes with families. Healthy families choose to go higher. They choose the greater good. When we step outside of our personal protective walls, we can see a world much bigger than ourselves. Humanity seems to trip on “self” a lot.

Unfortunately, we have come to a place in history where we can’t even agree on the definition of “greater good”. Therein lies the rub. A nation divided against itself. Sounds cannibalistic. And because of our collective intolerance, pride and catering to self-interest, we’re about to lose much more than an eye. I would like to see a nation fighting together, not AGAINST itself, fighting FOR its common good. But then again, we can’t seem to agree on what “common” means anymore either.

Sounds dismal. And it is, if you believe that’s the end. But it’s not. We still have the freedom to dream, create, build, speak, worship and to “become”. To become smarter, braver, kinder, more reasonable, giving, thoughtful, compassionate, prayerful, wiser, loving and discerning than we were before. But it’s a choice. It’s always a choice. Who do you want to become?

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

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Martin Luther King Day: Things That Matter

Today, January 20th, 2014, is a day set aside to commemorate humanitarian and human rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of his words remain immortal, as if suspended in time. In large part, because they cross man-made boundaries, borders, and heart lines. One of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes is:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

If there is to be any significant and lasting change, then our “weapons of warfare” must be tools that allow for the greatest good (for all of humanity). Tools that make room for forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding. It’s a type of violence of the heart–a formidable purposed action plan that invites sanity, promotes healing, cherishes true human brother and sisterhood, celebrates human potential for progress and good inclusive of all, and refuses to settle for less than pure truth.

Another Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that underscores the sacredness and the gift of life:

“Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

So, what are the “things that matter”? They are the things that bring life, and light, and love. Apart from them, we can go through our entire life believing a lie, basing our attitudes and actions on false evidences, promoting disharmony, and limiting all that was meant for us–never living our true potential. These are the threads that bind humanity together despite our uniqueness. They help us see that we are more the same than different. We celebrate our individual uniqueness with a concurrent understanding that we all share in our humanness, in that, we are each made up of body, soul, and spirit and wired with dreams, goals, and aspirations.

None of us placed ourselves on this planet. We are all pilgrims on a journey, co-travelers. We are individually responsible to discover and then propagate that life, light, and love. It’s profound in its seeming simplification, but there’s nothing ethereal about it. It’s owning the stewardship of our own lives, families, and responsibilities; being responsible for, and propagating things like justice–true justice, mercy, and compassion; and, being aware and intentional about the purpose of our lives–being about our personal destiny–the why to our being here. These are things that matter.

A recognition that hate against our fellow humans is a useless destroyer that invokes darkness. Unforgiveness kills the potential of the one who refuses to forgive. It invites a sickness that cannibalizes the one who holds it close to their heart. Then there’s selfishness. A pathetic desire to indulge ourselves above all regardless of the outcome–to hoard and cling to every good thing and opportunity for ourselves before others. And what about pride? A lie that allows individuals, people groups, and entire cultures to believe they are better, more worthy; and, more valuable or important than another. All of these petty and frivolous thoughts can become attitudes that eventually become behaviors. That’s why it’s so important to guard our hearts and think for ourselves. These “ways” can creep into our thinking and set up shop, creating mindsets that are destructive both for us and those we live alongside in this life. Ultimately, they insidiously weave their way (because we’ve invite them) into our way of “being”.

In remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I want to be about the things that matter. The things that underscore and highlight life, light, and love. The things that will make a positive ripple effect in the world. The things that have power to make a meaningful difference, inclusive of all. Apart from truth, nothing else matters.

Let us be radical about love, about moving toward the light, and radical about seeking out truth. We are all on this journey together, how will we steward our lives and our part in the lives of those we co-journey with?

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy

In DISPOSABLE PEOPLE: New Slavery in the Global Economy, abolitionist and author Kevin Bales makes a clarion call for the ending of modern-day slavery around the world.

Slavery is theft — theft of a life, theft of work, theft of any property or produce, theft even of the children a slave might have borne. -Kevin Bales

This book is well researched and documented through the author’s personal experience going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders. His investigation of slavery took him around the globe to Mauritania, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India.

Even with the resurgence of an abolitionist movement in modern times, the fact is, there are an estimated 27 million people living in slavery around the globe, yet many still escape our awareness or acknowledgement.  Why?

Bales argues that the increasing globalization of the economy–supply and demand–has fueled the “need” for coerced labor in the global supply chain, including forced child labor and debt bondage. What many readers will find interesting is his economic rationale for why slavery is not as profitable or sustainable as fair labor practices.

In what is referred to as the emergence of a “new slavery,” he asserts that modern-day slaves, unlike traditional forms of slavery, are not always considered a long-term investment. That means human beings lose their value. Many are viewed by slave masters as cheap, usable and sometimes (as in the case of sex slavery) reusable, “disposable” people.

Bales also illuminates the urgent need to raise individual and global social consciousness by connecting the dots from the slave to the end-user. He challenges our norms, by highlighting the necessity to re-think our purchase and consumption habits and preferences, and how supply and demand can directly affect slavery. The book challenges political, corporate *and* personal consumption mindsets and behaviors.

Kevin Bales

But he doesn’t just expose readers to this massive global problem and leave the research and case studies on the table. He offers readers strategic solutions. This book will open your eyes to the bigger picture and leave readers with a personal choice once they have been opened.

All of the author’s royalties from this book go to fund anti-slavery projects around the world.

 

 

Buy the Book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.

Kevin Bales is co-founder of Free the Slaves.

Watch & Listen to Big Think Interviews with Kevin Bales.

Watch Ted Talks Video of Kevin Bales: How To Combat Modern Slavery.

As an author, a professor of sociology, and consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Human Trafficking, Kevin Bales is one of the world’s foremost experts on modern slavery. He has made it his mission to eradicate global slavery. Read More.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

 

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Trafficked and Re-Trafficked

Children trafficked into one form of labor may later be sold into another, as with girls from rural Nepal, who are recruited to work in carpet factories but are then trafficked into the sex industry over the border into India. -ILO/IPEC, Helping Hands or Shackled Lives? Understanding Child Domestic Labour and Responses to It

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Celebrating Black History Month

 

Black History Month is a time to recognize and remember the importance of African American history in the fabric of the American story. Following are just a few links that allow us to learn, reflect, and celebrate black history, civil rights, human rights, and the significance of liberty for all people. 

About African American History Month

African American History Timeline in Brief

African American History Month Images

The March on Washington

The Civil Rights Movements

The Civil Rights Act

The Harlem Renaissance

Biographies of Famous African Americans

Black Women in Art & Literature

African American Entrepreneurial Spirit in History

The Meaning and Making of Emancipation eBook

The Abolitionists A PBS Documentary  

Legends of American Visionaries Exhibit: The Tuskegee Airmen 

Smithsonian’s Black History Month

“To be true to one’s own freedom is, in essence, to honor and respect the freedom of all others.”  –Dwight D. Eisenhower

(Photo: by TheRealEdwin, Flickr)

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

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Free Book Giveaway–The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias

 

The Quilt Series by Kathi Macias

The Moses Quilt is the first book in a new series (The Quilt Series) by multi-award winning author, Kathi Macias. The author often takes on topics that profoundly affect people groups and cultures weaving them into her novels in interesting and thought-provoking ways. This book spotlights generational belief systems and issues surrounding inter-racial marriage. Future books include, “The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt,” and “The Singing Quilt”. All three books pay tribute to women of courage (and the power of one) in American history.

Many of her books highlight issues and struggles including human and sex trafficking, gender-inequality, freedom of religion, immigration, homelessness, and more. Readers can expect to discover little treasures from history interlaced with the author’s creative writing and realistic storytelling. While in some instances, you’ll meet with heartache, discouragement, disbelief, and disgust at the human condition, you’re sure to eventually meet with faith, courage, hope, and the potential strength that lies within the human spirit.

The Moses Quilt

The Moses Quilt mingles the story of the famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad heroine, Harriet Tubman, and questions about modern-day prejudice, along with the unfolding story of a contemporary romance and a quest for personal discovery.

Answers and resolve come through the voices of those who have gone before. Through generational storytelling, the main character in the book, Mazie, learns about the story of Harriet Tubman–her fears, her courage, her hard-fought triumphs and faith beyond her own ability–and in so doing, learns about herself. The storytelling comes in the unique form of a patchwork quilt.

As Mazie’s great-grandmother shares pieces of truth, symbolized in individual and unique blocks of the Moses quilt, more and more is revealed showing that the past can heal, challenge, guide, and bring freedom to the present (or future), if we allow it. Harriet Tubman believed that God would do what he said he would, and that because of her faith, anything was possible.

My Mimi

My maternal grandmother’s name was Mary, but we knew her as Mimi. She also, was a courageous woman of faith. Every time I saw the name “Mimi” in the pages of this book, it warmed me just a little. One of the many things she was admired for were her beautiful and perfectly hand-stitched quilts, each one a masterpiece. That, combined with my passion for the oppressed to be set free, and women to see their own destinies fulfilled, drew me even more to this new series that celebrates freedom.

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!

You can enter to win a FREE copy of The Moses Quilt for yourself, or to give to a friend! Simply leave a comment below with your email address to be entered for a chance to win. (The winner will be notified via email by March 1st, 2013.)

Related Article: The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias

Purchase a Copy of The Moses Quilt

For more information, go to KathiMacias.com, or Book Tour Host ChristianSpeakersServices.com

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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THE MOSES QUILT by Kathi Macias

Can the pieces of a former slave’s story change the pattern of the future?

The Moses Quilt has been referred to as a “history lesson of love.” While challenging our modern-day prejudices, The Moses Quilt links creatively to the historical account of former slave Harriet Tubman who was often referred to as the second Moses. 

This contemporary novel bridges racial and generational divides. With a realistic and compassionate look into a twenty-first-century dilemma, multiple award-winning author Kathi Macias introduces readers to a confused and apprehensive young woman, Mazie Hartford. Facing major decisions about the love of her life and her future, she must also wrestle with a nagging question about her family’s past. She finds the answer to her questions in a most unexpected way—her great-grandmother’s Moses quilt. As her great-grandmother begins to explain how each patch represents a story of courage and freedom, Mazie must decide if she has the courage and freedom to overcome her own personal fears and prejudices.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman

 WATCH BOOK TRAILER – CLICK HERE

Human rights advocates and modern-day abolitionists fighting against Human Trafficking (aka modern-day slavery) will be encouraged by Harriet Tubman’s courage, faith, and strength in the face of slavery, and her tenacious battle for women’s rights.

About the Author

Kathi Macias, Author of "The Moses Quilt"

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al. 

Purchase The Moses Quilt

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

Book Tour by ChristianSpeakersServices.com

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

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10 Organizations Fighting Human Trafficking & How You Can Get Involved

When evil presides in a society and we as the individuals who make up that society choose to look away and do nothing, we become part of the problem.  

As with any of life’s insurmountable issues, we cannot possibly solve them as individuals. But by choosing to say “yes” and to get involved, our collective efforts take on power. Every set of hands and every set of feet strengthen a cause. Every heart (life) set on rescue, restoration, and the promotion of healing and hope for those who have been devalued and oppressed, has great value. 

Today, January 11th, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and this month has been flagged for us to remember, seek out, and serve those hidden in darkness.

“This month, we rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness.” –President Barack Obama Read the full Presidential Proclamation on National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2013 

I’ve listed 10 organizations below that are committed to fight Human Slavery and Sex Trafficking.  Take time to read the personal stories of survivors and inspirational rescues on their websites, but don’t stop with the stories. Choose to become part of the bigger story by getting involved.

Remember, it’s not just about fighting against “the bad guys,” but being for those who desperately need rescue. It’s literally about setting captives free, rescuing women and children from lives of torment, abuse, and shame.  It’s about helping people out of slavery and into their freedom.  It’s about giving a woman or child her dreams, destiny… her life back. Choose just one thing you will do to personally combat human trafficking this year.

International Justice Mission – A human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Get Involved

Polaris Project – An organization committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach. Get Involved

Not For Sale Campaign – Creates tools that engage business, government and grassroots in order to incubate and grow social enterprises to benefit enslaved and vulnerable communities. Get Involved

GEMS Girls – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services serves girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Get Involved

Somaly Mam Foundation – Mission is to give victims and survivors a voice in their lives, liberate victims, end slavery, and empower survivors as they create and sustain lives of dignity. Get Involved

ECPAT – Mission is to End Child Prostitution And Trafficking of children for sexual purposes. (U.S.) Get Involved or (Int’l) Get Involved

A21 Campaign – is comprised of individuals, organizations, and government officials committed to one goal: to abolish slavery in the 21st century. Get Involved

Love146 – Committed to he abolition of child trafficking and exploitation. Nothing less. Get Involved

Hagar International – Dedicated to recovery of extreme human rights abuses, particularly human trafficking, gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation. Get Involved

Innocents at Risk – Dedicated to protecting children from all forms of abuse, and work to end child exploitation and child trafficking everywhere. Get Involved

If I can encourage you in any way, it is to say, don’t imagine your small efforts as not enough to make an impact. Imagine your small efforts linked with millions of others who are combining their small efforts with yours, and because of that collaboration, changing the course of countless lives across this planet together.  Think about it this way, because you choose not to look away, someone will find their freedom.

Let us know how you are making a difference in the fight against Human Trafficking… Abolition!

Photo Credit: pixi_bebe/Flickr

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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New Book by International Justice Mission: The Just Church

 

Millions of people around the world are living in the grip of injustice today. Who will be their voice?  Who will see and hear them? Who will help bring them to a place of wholeness? Who will defend their cause?

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Although the concept of political advocacy can be a challenge for many churches, IJM takes the scriptures offer as a clear call for the church to become a voice for those living in the grip of oppression and injustice.

“Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9

The fact is that child victims of rape, slaves, and widows whose land has been stolen from them need others to advocate for them. IJM believes that churches, Christian leaders, pastors, and congregations can—and should—play a vital role in advocating for the voiceless.  While you may agree, you (or your church) may not know how to engage. 

Here’s the good news! Today, IJM released “The Just Church: Becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking, disciple-making congregation” by Jim Martin.  Finally, a “roadmap” filled with practical and relevant insights and information applicable and critical for any church’s justice mission. The author asks and answers: “Why is it that the glaring global justice issues of our day—issues such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, illegal property seizure and sexual assault—are so seldom addressed in our churches? Why is it that the widows, orphans, aliens, and strangers so often mentioned in the Scriptures are so seldom mentioned (or present) in our churches?”

Author Jim Martin

Jim Martin is the VP of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He has been on the front lines of the battle for justice in the world’s darkest and most dangerous places.

He (along with IJM) has “been there and done that”. They don’t just talk about the issues, they live the issues. The Just Church will challenge and equip any individual or church committed to justice!

Donations enable IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. 100% of author royalties will support the work of IJM.

What have you found to be the biggest obstacle or fear when engaging in justice in your church or community?  Are you ready to be a voice for the voiceless by becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking church? 

Related Articles:

When We Call Evil Good

International Justice Mission: Making Public Justice Systems Work for Victims of Oppression 

Bay area churches called ‘justice-seekers’ in book from anti-trafficking leader 

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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International Justice Mission: Making Public Justice Systems Work for Victims of Oppression

International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Through individual casework, IJM confronts aggressive human violence: violence that strips widows and orphans of their property and livelihoods, violence that steals dignity and health from children trafficked into forced prostitution, violence that denies freedom and security to families trapped in slavery.

Collaborative Model

Through a collaborative model, IJM investigators, lawyers and social workers intervene in cases of abuse in partnership with state and local authorities.  By pushing individual cases of abuse through the justice system from the investigative stage to the prosecutorial stage, IJM determines the specific source of corruption, lack of resources, or lack of good will in the system denying victims the protection of their legal systems. In collaboration with local authorities, IJM addresses these specific points of brokenness to meet the urgent needs of victims of injustice.

IJM’s Vision: “To rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible. ™”

Transformational Justice

In the tradition of heroic Christian leaders like abolitionist William Wilberforce and transformational leaders like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., IJM’s staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible’s call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

In all of its casework, IJM has a four-fold purpose:

  • Victim Relief
  • Perpertrator Accountability
  • Victim Aftercare
  • Structural Transformation

Defending and Protecting

IJM seeks to restore to victims of oppression the things that God intends for them: their lives, their liberty, their dignity, the fruits of their labor. By defending and protecting individual human rights, IJM seeks to engender hope and transformation for those it serves and restore a witness of courage in places of oppressive violence. IJM helps victims of oppression regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or gender.

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