Monday, January 10, 2011


American criminals advertize jobs for nannies and waitresses in third world countries. Young women, the average age is 14, apply for these jobs, and are excited when they are accepted and provided passage to the United States. Upon arrival, they are greeted by pimps who beat them into submission and threaten to kill their families if they try to escape or tell anyone of their new position.

Whose hands picked the beans for cup of java you enjoyed today? Global Horizons Manpower, Inc. is an international labor company that brings agricultural workers to America from Thailand. GHM came under indictment last year when it was discovered that their practices include giving Thai nationals the "opportunity" to mortgage their land for the fee needed to secure high-paying America jobs, and upon arrival to the U.S., had their passports confiscated and forced to work for minimal or pay, long hours, and with threat of economic, legal or even physical violence if they sought to escape. American companies who used these "employees" include Kaua'i Coffee and Maui Pineapple Farms.

This is modern slavery. It's real. It's pandemic. It's nearby. As we celebrate the life of America's clearest voice for freedom in our time, Martin Luther King, Jr., we need to ask, what are we doing about it?

Over 26 million people are estimated to be enslaved worldwide today. Estimates from the U.S. State Department indicate that this year between 15,000 and 50,000 people will be kidnaped, tricked, or bought from family members in third world countries (sometimes from our own streets) and enslaved for labor or sex in America.

Slavery is a North Central Conference issue.

In November 2010, 29 American Somalians were arrested in Minneapolis (home base for the Somali Outlaws, Somali Mafia and Lady Outlaws gangs). These gangs fulfilled their mission statement for 10 years before being caught. Their mission was to "identify, recruit and obtain girls 14 and under for American prostitution." One of the victims, a high school student found beaten by authorities, reported being frequently raped by her gang member owners and shipped between three states for their profit. Minnesota ranks 10 in the US for incidents of slavery.

A Chinese girl was promised work by a restaurant owner, but when she arrived her passport was confiscated, family threatened, and she lived a life of servitude and abuse in Ames, Iowa. 200 cases of suspected human trafficking were reported in Wisconsin in 2010. Illinois generates the fifth largest amount of calls to the U.S. Human Trafficking hotline (888-3737-888).

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, and currently topped only by drug trade. Slavery is more common - and more lucrative - than illegal arms trading. A slave can be worth $400,000 a year in income to the criminal abusing this human being.

What is a human being worth to you? As Christ-followers and part of a church which began largely as an abolitionist movement, what are we going to do about it?


End slavery. Start by being a "FREEDOM SUNDAY" Church. If your church has not already registered as a Freedom Sunday Church, I urge you to do so. I believe every one of our churches must participate in some way to end slavery in our day. It’s our DNA. Registering will give you access to many excellent resources for awareness, prayer, advocacy and action that will end slavery in our time.

Freedom Sunday is March 13. But the war has been raging, battles engaged, and the time for action is now. Get started. Your church could be the next stop on a new underground railroad, your living room could be where teams are equipped to identify and aid victims of slavery, your phone call may provide the tip that saves a battered girl's life and family.

One of the largest neo-abolitionist groups today is "notforsalecampaign" - with which the Free Methodist Church is very involved. This organization needs state leaders for almost every state in the North Central Conference. Do you, or someone you know, have a passion to make a real difference in this world and become actively engaged in the struggle? Let Superintendent Mark know (, we want to partner to be a force for good in this dark world!

Join Freedom Sunday via
Join "Not For Sale" via

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolve to Love

What if in 2011 we focused not on growing churches so much as growing hearts – growing our capacity to love?  The theme this Conference year is “Making Contact,” based upon the idea that at Christmas “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14).  Love was God’s motivation (John 3:16).

Love fulfills the law (Romans 13:10).  The distinguishing mark of a Christian is love - not merely for family and friends, even unbelievers  share that kind of love - but love for your enemy (Matthew 5:43-48).  Proof that we love God is our love for our neighbor (1 John 4:20).

Free Methodists identify with the holiness movement.  Sometimes this has led us to replace the royal law of love (James 2:8) with a legalism that has done more to hinder the expression of the gospel than to further it (Galatians 5).  John Wesley, our theological forefather, called the first Methodists to pursue perfection, to experience entire sanctification, which he identified as “love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Grow in love.  Grow in love and your church will grow.  Your heart will grow. Your relationships will grow. Your happiness will grow.  Your resources will grow.  Love is expansive, expressive, social and warm.  People are attracted to loving people.  People are attracted to loving churches.  The warmth of love will melt away the icy hardness of self-righteous pseudo holiness that keeps men and women, liberal and conservative, dark brown and light beige, generation Y and the builders from experiencing Christian community together.

Resolved for 2011: North Central Conference Free Methodists will be known as the most radically generous, openly loving, self-sacrificial people anyone will meet this year.  In love let’s shovel our neighbor’s walk, offer a kind word to the harassed grocery clerk, set aside our agendas to listen to the complaints and hurts of others. In love feed the hungry, free slaves, protect aliens and widows.

When people experience God’s love through you, you will be an amazingly attractive and compelling person. When our churches are known in the community as places of radical, uncompromising, extravagant love I suspect growth will come.  Christ in you, the hope of glory, is how God intends the world to know the gospel (Col.1.27). This is “Bringing Jesus to the North Central United States.”