girl child hidden face in hair bruised hands over ears.

Your Witness to Black Market Slavery /Spiritual Meditations

We hear of child abduction and feel helpless to improve the lives of the victims.  However, your reaction to this crime of worldwide scope can save a lost child without putting yourself in jeopardy; it is a crime hidden in plain sight.

Again, I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive; but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

Human Trafficking – a Global Blight

  • Human trafficking is a global problem affecting people of all ages.
  • It is estimated that approximately 1,000,000 people are trafficked each year globally. 
  • It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Enslaving an estimated 45 million, human trafficking generates more than 150 billion dollars each year.
  • Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority (up to 100% in parts of West Africa). Shockingly, the average worldwide age of entry is 12.

Between 20,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States, which is one of the largest destinations for victims of the sex-trafficking trade. In its 2019 report, the US State Department found the top three nations of origin for human trafficking victims were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.  Slavery was abolished 150 years ago in the US yet there are more enslaved there today than any other time in history, many in the multibillion-dollar illicit massage industry and more in agriculture. 

The United Nations (UN) divides human trafficking into three categories:

  • sex trafficking,
  • labor trafficking, and
  • the removal of organs.

The UN defines human trafficking as the induction by force, fraud, or coercion of a person to engage in the sex trade, or the harboring, transportation, or obtaining of a person for labor service or organ removal. 

According to the Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm. 

The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor (18%), although this may be a misrepresentation because forced labor is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation.

According to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 of the more than 23,500 runaways reported to the nonprofit organization were likely victims of child sex trafficking.  A report from the Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Ms. Foundation for Women supports that finding. Their report entitled “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline,” states that girls who grow up in the instability of the child welfare system, particularly those placed in multiple homes, are “vulnerable to the manipulation of traffickers who promise to love and care for them. Indeed, some traffickers purposely troll for youth in certain group homes because they are aware of this vulnerability.”

The Trafficking Scheme

Traffickers look for victims that are susceptible such as young women, children and refugees. They look for the forgotten. Although a  high percentage come from foster homes or are runaways, others could be trafficked and still live with their families.

Human traffickers often create transnational routes for transporting migrants who are driven by unfavorable living conditions to seek the services of a smuggler. Human trafficking usually starts in origin countries where recruiters seek migrants through various mediums such as the Internet, employment agencies, the media, and local contacts.

Middlemen who recruit from within the origin country commonly share the cultural background of those migrating. Migrants view the services of a smuggler as an opportunity to move from impoverished conditions in their home countries to more stable, developed environments.

Because such circumstances make it difficult for victims to obtain legitimate travel documents, smugglers supply migrants with fraudulent passports or visas and advise them to avoid detection by border-control agents. Transporters, in turn, sustain the migration process through various modes of transportation: land, air, and sea. Although victims often leave their destination country voluntarily, the majority are unaware that they are being recruited into a trafficking scheme. Some may be kidnapped or coerced, but many are bribed by false job opportunities, passports, or visas.

Transporters involved in trafficking victims from the origin country are compensated only after they have taken migrants to the responsible party in the destination country. Immigration documents, whether legitimate or fraudulent, are seized by the traffickers. After this, victims are often subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and many are forced into labor or the sex trade to pay off their migratory debts.

Although trafficking seems to imply people moving across continents, most exploitation takes place close to home. Data show intra-regional and domestic trafficking are the major forms.

So Many Complications Dealing with Human Trafficking

It is impossible to ever reach a consensus on the true scale of the problem but, regardless of the figures, what matters is that human trafficking is big and getting bigger and every number represents a human life destroyed. It is happening on every continent and in almost every country: whether the place we live is a source, destination or transit point for trafficking, none of us can claim to be wholly unaffected by this crime.

It must be emphasized that the essence of trafficking is the forced exploitation of individuals by those in the position to exert power over them. Moving people may take a variety of forms. If they have been tricked or deceived, a person may even willingly transport themselves into a situation of exploitation. But unlike those who pay to be smuggled into another country, victims of trafficking have no prospect of making a new life for themselves.

International trafficking will inevitably raise issues of immigration, but its victims cannot simply be treated as illegal migrants, nor can the efforts to tackle it be reduced to stricter border controls. We can find sex trafficking abhorrent without taking a particular stance against prostitution, and policies to reduce or control the sex industry are just one approach to end the trade of human flesh. Finally, despite the similarities between the organized trafficking of drugs, arms and humans, which may require comparable police tactics to combat, we commit a grave injustice against the victims of human slavery if we reduce them in our minds to the status of commodities.

The first step to preventing human trafficking and prosecuting the traffickers is therefore to recognize the complexity of the crime which cannot be tackled in a vacuum. Anti-trafficking strategies must be embedded in every policy area, from improving female education in source countries so that girls are less vulnerable to trafficking, to increasing police pay in destination countries so that officers are less susceptible to bribery. We cannot allow ourselves to marginalize the issue of trafficking, viewing it as something that can be ended with a few extra taskforces or dedicated units. We need everyone to be aware of how it affects them, and what they can do to stop it.

How the Average Person can Recognize Human Trafficking

Often victims are people we walk by every day but unless you know what to look for you won’t notice them.

For example, when you’re passing through an airport, you’re usually focused on getting to your destination as quickly as possible.  But glancing around and noticing your fellow passengers could help save a life. It’s not just vacationers who travel on planes; airports are also hubs for human trafficking — when adults or children are transported into forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.  Seeing something and reporting it could potentially keep someone from becoming a victim of modern slavery.

The red flags of identifying victims of human trafficking:

Lack of control – Victims are continuously monitored with little control over their money or IDs. They may not be allowed to speak for themselves, or a third party may insist on being present. They are not free to come and go at will.

A ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ who is significantly older will control who the victims will associate or correspond with.

Poor mental and physical health or abnormal behavior. Victims may have a sudden change in mood or fashion choices.  There may be a negative impact on grades and a change in the friends that they keep. They may be anxious, fearful, and avoid law enforcement and won’t look you in the eye. They may also show signs of substance abuse or addiction, poor hygiene, malnourishment, physical or sexual abuse or physical restraints (especially at wrists ankles necks and arms).

Tattoos – Commonly used are roses, dollar signs, crowns, barcodes or QR codes which are especially common in the United States.  These designate whose property they are.

Other signs – They have few or no personal possessions.  They ae subject to verbal or physical abuse by their supervisor.  They may live and work at one site with high security measures at work and/or living locations.

How You can Help Reduce Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Hotline Numbers

The following information is derived from internet searches as of January 2021.  Over time some numbers may change.  Please confirm for your area.  If no hotline number is available contact local law enforcement.

In Australia, if you are a victim of trafficking or know someone who is, contact the AFP on 131AFP (131237) or email NOSSC-Client-Liaison@afp.gov.au

In the USA, if you suspect human trafficking you can call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888 373 7888 or text “help” or “info” to  233733  (be free).  Or call law enforcement at 911.  The National Human Trafficking Hotline is confidential, toll-free and available 24/7 in more than 200 languages.  You can also chat @ humantraffickinghotline.org.

In Europe, if you suspect human trafficking you can call your national hotline as listed alphabetically by country in this link: National Hotlines | Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings (europa.eu)

If you live in Kazakhstan, The Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan, contact the corresponding numbers listed at the bottom of this link. Surviving Human Trafficking | Program Update | Kazakhstan | U.S. Agency for International Development (usaid.gov)

To report a potential trafficking situation in Singapore, please contact the local authorities at: Police hotline 6435 0000 or email SPF-Report-rafficking@spf.gov.sg
Ministry of Manpower 6438 5122 or email mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg
All information provided will be kept confidential.

0800 222 777 is the South African National Human Trafficking Hotline

Another alpha listing by country can be found on How to help: Global hotlines – The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery – CNN.com Blogs  

Financial Support for Organization Fighting Human Trafficking

If you would like to support an organization that is fighting human trafficking in the USA, the following link lists those organization by state and provides their phone numbers.  Sex Trafficking Prevention and Intervention Organizations – Child Welfare Information Gateway 

If you do not live in the USA and would like to support an organization in your country that fights human trafficking, the following link provides their names and location.  Scroll down to find an alpha listing by country.  Anti-trafficking organizations around the world – CNN 

Conclusion

The extent of human trafficking is overwhelming when we consider the numbers, but we can make a huge impact on the life of an individual victim.  Our choice to recognize the red flags of trafficking and report what we see, is to follow in the footsteps of the Good Samaritan.  It is our natural impulse to help – it is fear that keeps us from doing so. But faith and trust in God pushes us past the fear, to free a man, woman or child from slavery and abuse.

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
    the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy. (Psalm 72:12-13)

If you see a child, woman or man being trafficked, God has put you there for a reason.

Relevant Scripture

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matt 5:7)

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil,
    and is pregnant with mischief,
    and brings forth lies.
He makes a pit, digging it out,
    and falls into the hole which he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head,
    and on his own pate his violence descends. (Psalm 7:14-16)

The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates him that loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.  (Psalm 27:12)

but these men lie in wait for their own blood,
    they set an ambush for their own lives.
Such are the ways of all who get gain by violence;
    it takes away the life of its possessors. (Proverbs 1:18-19)

O Lord, thou wilt hear the desire of the meek;
    thou wilt strengthen their heart, thou wilt incline thy ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17-18)

References

Seeing the Unseen: How to Recognize Human Trafficking – YouTube by Brittany Ketter

5 Common Types of Human Trafficking – Public Health by Public Health Nigeria

Prevention, Prosection and Protection – Human Trafficking | United Nations by Ruth Dearnley

13 trafficking statistics that enormity of the global sex trade (usatoday.com) by Cara Kelly published July 29, 2019.

You Can Be God’s Called Chosen Elected Faithful Saint /Spiritual Meditations

Have you been called to be a Christian?  Are you one of the Chosen, Elected, Saints or one of the Faithful?  If you don’t know, this post is for you.

One of the largest groups to which many of us belong is that of Christian.  There are more than 2.5 billion Christians in the world.  Yet when we look through the Bible, we find mention of the Called, the Chosen, the Elected, the Saints and the Faithful.  Who exactly are these people and how do they fit into overall Christianity?  Some groups duplicate each other, while others line up in a spiritual progression.

Who are the Called?

In the Greek language of the New Testament, the word for “called” is kletos. It is related to the noun klesis, which means “a calling” and is used “especially to God’s invitation to people to accept the benefits of salvation” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Call, Called, Calling”).

It is important to understand that one’s calling is an act of God. Only He calls (invites) someone. That is quite evident in John 6:44 when Jesus told the crowds, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” So, the Called are those who are invited by God to understand His plan, to repent of their sins and to receive His Holy Spirit.

There are several scriptures that speak of a Christian’s calling.

When the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, he referred to his audience as “the called of Jesus Christ,” and the “beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:6-7).
Later, when writing to the Corinthian brethren, Paul wrote: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

How were the Disciples Taught about Their Calling?

As you know, Jesus often taught in parables.  Jesus taught about God’s calling in the parable of the sower.

Behold, a sower [a farmer] went out to sow [plant seed]. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear [who can understand] let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

How to Interpret the Parable of the Sower

Like the disciples, not everyone who heard this parable understood what Jesus was talking about. Although the entire multitude heard the same words, different reactions were taking place in those who heard the message.

In the parable, a farmer planting seed is likened to the work done by Jesus Christ and His Church. The seed is the gospel of the Kingdom.

Notice how Jesus explained it:

When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. (Matt 13:19)

Some people hear the gospel message  and receive it joyfully but without conviction, only to let go of it as soon as it creates a conflict in their lives. Others hear it but neglect to give it the time and attention it needs to thrive.

In other words, not everyone hears the gospel of the Kingdom. And of those who hear it, not everyone understands it. And of those who understand it, not everyone accepts it.

You Can Know if God is Calling You

If you understand what you are learning from the Bible and you see the need to change your life, God is beginning to work with you. If you see a need to obey His Commandments while you see how hard it is for you to do so, God is working with you.

If you do not respond, God will eventually stop working with you. If you respond, God will open your mind even more, and you will begin to build a stronger and stronger connection with Him.  Choosing to respond to God’s calling means embarking on a life of personal spiritual growth. 

The seed only grows in those God is calling and who choose to follow His way of life. 

Who are the Chosen / Elected and how did They Make the Cut?

The word for “chosen” in the Greek language is eklektos, meaning “chosen out, select.” It can also be translated as “elect” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Choice, Choose, Chosen”).  This tells us that the Chosen and the Elected are the same people.

Election refers to the concept of how people are chosen for salvation.  Election is based on God’s foreknowledge of those who would believe in Him through faith. In other words, God elected those who would choose Him of their own free will. Conditional election is based on a person’s response to God’s offer of salvation.  You become the Chosen by choosing God; it is a reciprocal relationship.

This is what Christ was telling us when He said,

Many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt 22:2-3).

This may be understood as ‘many are called, but few choose to follow the teachings of Jesus’.  God will not force anyone to respond to His calling against his or her will. It is up to you whether you will respond to His invitation.

This is further explained in Ephesians 1:13:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Of all the people who hear God’s calling, only those who respond with belief, repentance, baptism and receive the Holy Spirit become His Chosen people—His Elect. Then they embark on the Christian life in which they are changed to become more and more like Jesus—being converted.

Responding to God’s Calling is a Lifelong Commitment for the Faithful

Being faithful comes from the Greek word pistos. There are two senses in which this word can be understood. It means “to be trusted, reliable” and, secondly, “active, signifying believing, trusting, relying” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 402).

The chosen must be faithful. They must continue to actively believe, obey and rely on God.  The spiritual life is truly a process that requires time, prayer, study, effort, change—and more.   The chosen will need to faithfully endure, both in good and in bad times. But every step taken is greatly rewarding!

Once chosen of God, you may still receive a calling for a particular ministry.  I have friends who have made huge commitments to which God called them.  One lives in Kenya, building a dormitory and school for disabled children.  Another will be going to Sierra Leon to improve the living conditions, including clean water access, for a community.  Another is fostering children.  And another became a minister. Not everyone is urged in such life-changing directions, but everyone has a part in God’s overall plan and their response may play a greater part than they can imagine or will ever know.

As Peter implied, one’s calling must not be neglected. Since the called and chosen have “exceedingly great and precious promises”, it is “for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, … knowledge, … self-control, … perseverance, … godliness, … brotherly kindness, … love” Peter continued, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:4-8).

The hope of the chosen and faithful is to receive eternal life. It is a belief and trust that is deep within each one of us. Paul reminded Timothy to

lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called (1 Timothy 6:12).

All Christian Believers are Saints.

Saint originates from the Greek word meaning “holy” or “set apart.”  Christians are referred to as saints because, as believers,  they are set apart from the corruption of the world and they are called to be holy.

The New Testament uses the word saint or saints 67 times. In every instance, the reference is to all believers. Never is the word used for a special group of believers who serve God better than others.

And I did so in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. (Acts 26:10)
To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom !:7)
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: (I Cor 1:2)

Conclusion

If you are not sure if you have been called, pray to God continually for clarification until you know.  If you are not sure if you have received the Holy Spirit, pray to God to send the Comforter to you. “Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened” and continue to knock until you know the Counselor has arrived. Once you have received the Holy Spirit you can be assured that you are Chosen/Elected. Then your connection with God begins and will be for you to nurture.  By continuing Bible study, prayer, meditation and listening for God in your daily life, you will gradually have peace, joy and the experience of being one of God’s beloved. You are a saint.

Relevant Scripture

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions you were taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15).

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15).

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).

He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

 but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:15-16)

References

Many Are Called, but Few are Chosen by Harold Rhodes

Called and Chosen by John Foster 

 What does the Bible say about Christian saints? What are saints? by Compelling Truth

Family Astonished by Son’s Faith Healing /Spiritual Meditations

Have you or someone you know experienced a healing miracle?  Have you known someone who performed a healing miracle?  Many healings can be rationalized as coincidental, but then there is this one.

At the end of “Her Rejection Forced My Forgiveness”, I promised to reveal how Tim and Anna’s relationship resolved.  Since this isn’t a romance novel, I will only say that God brought Anna and Tim back together.  They married and after a couple of years in Hong Kong for Anna’s job, they returned to the USA. 

In the following excerpt from his book The Long Road to Eternity, Pastor Tim describes a miraculous healing during his first year of seminary.


Anna and I moved to Durham North Carolina in the summer of 1984 so that I could attend Duke Divinity School. Within a week of starting school, I was hired as a student associate pastor at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. It was my first job as a pastor, and I was completely inexperienced: I had never read a responsive reading in church or led a public prayer. I had read the Bible cover to cover twice but knew virtually nothing substantive about it. I only knew that God had supernaturally confirmed to me that I was supposed to be a pastor, and that gave me all the confidence I needed.

One day I came into work at Trinity and Flo, the office manager, told me the son of a family who attended the church had been in a terrible car accident three days before and they were desperate for a Pastor to visit with them in the hospital. Their son had crashed his car going over 110 mph through downtown Durham and was in a coma. I drove to the hospital past the site of the wreck. It must have been a spectacular collision; his car had hit three or four telephone poles and a brick wall on the side of the road, and his car had been ripped to shreds. I drove slowly past and there were pieces of car scattered all around the accident site: an engine block here, an axel there, a fender somewhere else.

I didn’t see how he could have possibly survived that amazing destruction; it seemed completely miraculous. Getting to the hospital, I found his family in the waiting room. His parents described the accident and the extent of his injuries: his back, arms, and legs were all broken, but the main problem was that his skull was not fractured. Had it been his shaken and bruised brain would have had room to swell. The doctors called it a closed skull injury and said the pressure was causing him to be in a semi-coma.

The situation for the family was brutal and made worse by the agony their son was suffering. His every breath was accompanied by a deep groan. It was unbearable for them, knowing that he was in constant excruciating pain.  They told me, “We have been praying for God to heal him for the last three days, but we can’t bare to see him like this anymore, so we are praying now for God to take him. Will you please pray for God to take him quickly?” No one had ever asked me to pray for someone to die before. I said, “First, let me pray over him and see if God will heal him.” 

The nurses issued me in to see him alone; it was my first ever solo pastoral hospital visit. As I saw the broken telephone pole and the pieces of his car along the side of the road it had certainly seemed like a miracle that he had survived, but when I saw him in his bed, the price of the miracle was plain to see. His face had cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over it; his chest, both arms and legs were in casts. His arms and legs were suspended from poles that ran the length of the bed and his back was also in traction. He was indeed breathing in and letting out a loud heart-wrenching moan with each exhale that could be heard around the whole ICU. I spent a few moments taking in the scene and centering myself for prayer. It was sickening to see the extent of his injuries, and troubling to hear him moan. I could understand why his parents were asking the most horrible thing a parent could ask of God – to take their child.

I walked around his bed praying and taking it all in, and finally I stood at the head of the bed behind his head. I prayed to be worthy of the responsibility of ministering to this young man and his family; I prayed for wisdom, and I prayed for the healing power of Christ to be with me. Then I prayed, “God, you hear the torment this young man is going through, you know the pain it is causing his parents. So, I am asking Father that you cure him or take him, but either way please take this young man and his parents out of their misery.” I prayed that twice and then I felt very strongly that I should do a laying on of hands to pray for his healing. I put my hands one on either side of his head, and I prayed for God to allow me to be a vessel of his healing power, that he would let his healing power flow through me. Then I concentrated on letting the healing power of God flow into me and through me into the young man’s head.

I prayed in this way for about 10 minutes, and as I prayed, I felt strongly that something was happening. I could feel God’s healing power flowing through me into him. I felt it so strongly that I was surprised that when I stopped praying, I could see and hear no change. I shrugged, saddened, and turned to walk out towards the waiting room. I was resigned that since there was no change, I would pray with the family for God to take him. But before I reached the family, a nurse came running out behind me, “He’s stopped! He’s stopped” she told me as she rushed past to tell the family. Finally, the horrible moaning ceased after 72 hours. The family rushed in and I followed behind them. He was still, resting peacefully. He went on to make a full recovery though it took 9 months.

Theological Implications of Healing

The theological implications of this experience are clear; God is a God who responds to the prayers of His people and has the power to heal. Today, I think about our ability to access the healing power of God in this way:

  • There is a door between us and God, the barrier between the spiritual and the physical.
  • There is a lock on the door and our prayer is the key that opens the lock.
  • To release the lock, that key (our prayers) must hit a multitude of tumblers in the lock.

I have identified in the scriptures the bumps on the key;  essentials that must be met to open the door.

  • One of the bumps on the key that is our prayer is for someone that God want to see healed and healed at this time.
  • Another bump: our prayer must be for what is best for the person or situation we are praying for or about.
  • Another bump is that God must want the person who is praying to be the instrument of His grace.
  • Another bump is that the person who is praying must have his or her heart right with God so that when he or she prays they can live into being what Paul called us: temples of the Holy Spirit.

You can refer to “The Key to Effective Prayer” for a discussion of all the bumps on the key.  In this case all the tumblers lined up for this young man; the lock turned, and he was healed.

Conclusion

I would like to point out that it was not Pastor Tim’s extensive Biblical knowledge or pastoral experience that allowed him to be an instrument of God’s healing.  It was his personal connection with God that was the conduit for this miracle.  If you would like to develop a closer relationship with God a good place to start is by reading and practicing what you will find in:

How to Meditate to Reach Higher God Consciousness 

A Clear Mind Improves God Awareness

Demystifying Spiritual Growth

Are You Listening to God’s Messages?

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Relevant Scripture

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days.  His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. (Acts 28:7-9)

Reference

The Long Road to Eternity by Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Ehrlich
Hands holding bubbled tree

10 Ways to Save God’s Priceless Creation / Spiritual Meditations

Whether you take the Creation Story literally, believe God created the Big Bang or have another theory, Genesis tells us that God created all that is. And one does not have to look far to realize the amazing intricacies and magnificence of nature as a confirmation of this.

The earth is full of the glory of God. It is given to us to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to smell and to enjoy. Thus, when you see the glorious sunsets, it is not just a thing of beauty, it is the Lords way of seducing us or calling us to himself. Likewise, the cool breeze stirring the trees, the birds that we see coasting on the air and the music they bring to us. The color and taste of food is all about seduction; it is the Lord calling to us and is part of what it means for God to be one with us, Emmanuel.  The more we recognizes the presence of the Lord via our senses, the greater is the context of the gospel understood.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Gen 1:24)
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food…. everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Gen 1:29-30)

All of it is ours, not only for our enjoyment but for our sustenance which means we need to maintain it to survive.  This is something that we have increasingly neglected to do, either through ignorance or greed, until we are on the brink of world-wide food deprivation as you will see later in this article.  And renewable energy alone isn’t going to solve the problem; in fact, it may create new problems as will be explained shortly.


What Have We Done to God’s Garden?

According to David Attenburrough  in his film “A Life on Our Planet”, our impact is global. Our assault on the planet has come to alter the fundamentals of the living world.

  • We are experiencing the fastest warming of the earth in the last 10,000 years. The oceans can’t absorb the excess heat caused by our activities. Sea ice in the Arctic has reduced by 40% in 40 years. Carbon that we’ve already put into the atmosphere will take decades to centuries to reduce. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in 1750 we have put 1000 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Reducing emissions alone will do little to remove it.
  • We’ve overfished 30% of fish stocks to critical levels.
  • We cut down 15 billion trees each year. 
  • By damming, polluting, and over extracting rivers and lakes we’ve reduced the size of freshwater populations by over 80%. 
  • 1/2 of fertile land on earth is farmland, which typically eliminates biodiversity.
  • 70% of birds on the planet our domestic birds – mostly chickens.
  • 60% of the animals on earth we raise to eat.
  • Since the 1950s our wild animal population has been more than cut in half. We replace the wild with the tame.

The planet is run by humans for humans – there is little left for the rest of the living world. We have nearly destroyed the nonhuman world. If we continue our current trajectory:

  • The Amazon rainforest will become a dry savanna, resulting in a loss of species and the water that is contributed to the global water cycle.  60% of our rain come from the oceans, 40% from smaller inland water cycles.  We are losing these microclimates.
  • The Arctic will become ice free in the summer, therefore less of the sun’s energy will be reflected out to space. Without the reflection from the polar caps global warming will increase. In the North, frozen soils will thaw releasing methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change dramatically.
  • As oceans heat and become more acidic, coral reefs will die and fish populations will crash.
  • Global food production will enter a crisis as soils are overused. Pesticides are causing pollinating insects to disappear.  According to the UN the world’s remaining topsoil will be gone within 60 years. So, in other words, we have 60 harvests left. As fertile farmland turns to dirt, the disappearing water evaporation produced by plants will cause weather to become more and more unpredictable. 
  • The earth will become 4C degrees (39F) warmer resulting in regions becoming uninhabitable. 2/3 of the earth is turning to dessert with 40,000,000 people every year being pushed off their land as a result. Poor land leads to poor people, increased flooding and droughts, mass migration across borders and into cities and ideal conditions for recruitment. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 1 billion refugees due to soil desertification. This is the beginning of a 6th mass extinction.

The Important Role of Soil

Erosion is caused by plowing and tilling the soil. Historically, civilizations have died because they’ve overworked the land around them. In the 1930s the United States experienced the worst environmental disaster in history (the Dust Bowl), as 200 million acres of cropland was permanently damaged. President Franklin D Roosevelt started the soil conservation service, now part of the Department of Agriculture. The division is called the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).

As the NRCS teaches farmers, carbon is pulled out of the atmosphere by plants. 40% of that carbon goes to the roots which feed the microorganisms and goes into the soil where a universe of life exists. In every handful of soil there are more organisms than the number of people who were ever lived on earth.  And this healthier soil holds and uses the  greenhouse gases creating healthy plants without chemicals. With healthier plants you have healthier animals and humans.  The plants also increase the rainfall cycles which creates a more consistent climate.

Our health and the health of our planet are connected. We humans are made up of 99% organisms. Taking care of organisms in soil, the source of our nourishment, is connected to human health. Toxic chemicals put on soil causes them to be almost devoid of microorganisms. Makes you wonder what our food is putting into our bodies.  Since chemical agriculture ramped up in the 1970s there has been a worldwide loss of 1/3 of the earth’s topsoil. As soil is turned into dirt, carbon dioxide goes back to the atmosphere, especially in the spring when fields are tilled  as evidenced by NASA photographs from space.  Desertification is the result – when fertile land is turned into desert.

Some say we will never be able to remove the CO2 that we have already caused.  But through drawdown agriculture, it is possible.  Project Drawdown estimates that regenerative agricultural practices such as the NRCS teaches, could be practiced on up to 332 million hectares by 2050 (from 11.84 million hectares today), which would result in a reduction of up to 22.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, with an enormous return of financial investments.

If we can achieve drawdown (pulling  CO2 back into the soil through regeneration) by planting farms and trees without pesticides and nitrates we can grow more food per acre and expect the beginning of climate cooling in 20 years. And farmers can make more money without government subsidies.

What Else Can We Do to Restore God’s Garden?

We can restore biodiversity everywhere.

The world cannot function without a healthy ocean. it’s a critical ally in reducing carbon in the atmosphere and the more diversity the better it does that job. The ocean is important as a source of food. If we do fishing right, it will continue to be. Coral reefs are important for fish populations so they must be protected. No fishing zones over 1/3 of the world’s coasts will allow fish to increase and spillover to fishing zones thereby providing all the fish we will need.

As nations develop, people choose to have fewer children as can be seen in Japan during the second half of the 20th century.  By raising people out of poverty, giving everyone access to health care and keeping girls in school longer, we can make the world-wide population peak sooner and at a lower level. This improves the global standard of living without increasing human impact on the earth.

We can reduce areas needed for farming by changing our diet. When we choose meat, we are demanding a huge expanse of space to raise the animals. If we had a plant-based diet, we would only need half of the land  used today and we could increase the yield through education. The Netherlands have multiplied food production by 10 while using less water, fertilizer, and pesticides. They are now the world’s second largest exporter of food while using less land.

We can reverse the land grab. Forests are necessary for locking carbon and are centers for biodiversity.  100 years ago, Costa Rica consisted of 3/4 forest. In the 1980s logging reduce that to ¼.  The government offered grants to plant native trees and it only took 25 years for forests to cover 1/2 of Costa Rica. Imagine if this were done on a  global scale. Some say that the planet would absorb 2/3 of the CO2 that we have created by our activities to date.

We can phase out fossil fuels and move to solar, wind, geothermal and waterpower. Morocco now generates 40% of their power from renewable power plants – in the 1900s the country solely used oil and gas energy. They now have the world’s largest solar farm. With renewable energy we will never run out and cities will be quieter and cleaner. But there are some concerns.

Are Renewable Energy Sources the Best We Can Do?

Problems with renewable wind and solar energy include environmental issues related to the transmission lines running from the solar & turbine fields to the cities and the amount of land needed for the fields. Renewables have been resisted by conservation biologists concerned about the large birds, bats, and other animals. To build a solar farm you must clear whole areas of any animals. It is estimated that 6000 birds are killed every year over solar fields because their catch on fire.

Wind and solar energy can only provide electricity for 20- 30% of the year.  The variability of solar and wind production will require a supplement of natural gas, which increases carbon emissions, or hydroelectric.

Solar and wind electricity is more expensive than nuclear as noted by the 4x increase in cost to California residents as compared to the rest of the US and Germany. France, on the other hand, uses 75% nuclear power, which is more reliable.

But are nuclear plants safe and what do we do with the waste? You may remember the nuclear power plant fiascos at Chernobyl and Japan. However, with technological improvements  scientific studies that have been conducted over the past 40 years now say that nuclear energy is the safest. According to the WHO, 7 million people die each year from air pollution. Nuclear plants do not emit any pollution. Uranium fuel is energy dense and therefore more efficient and takes up less space. You don’t need much land for a nuclear plant. Solar energy fields require 17 times the space and 17 times the materials to generate the same power as a  nuclear plant.   According to Michael Shellenberger in his Ted Talk, the waste from nuclear power only fills a room the size of an auditorium. 

Another concern is that when solar panels reach the end of their life it is expected that they will end up being shipped to poor countries as are expired electronics. There are toxic elements in the solar panels that will be difficult to get rid of.

What Can You Do?

  1. Compost to enrich the soil
  2. Plant trees
  3. Recycle
  4. Don’t overfish
  5. If you are a farmer, stop tilling / plowing the soil but use regenerative techniques instead 
  6. Conserve biodiversity
  7. Don’t pollute water
  8. Reduce poverty and provide health care to reduce the population stress on the planet
  9. Convert to a plant-based diet
  10. Buy organically grown wherever possible (for the health of your body & planet)

Just choose 1 or 2 that you feel you can work toward and share this post with your friends so they can do the same. Together we can make a difference.

Conclusion

Nature is our biggest ally in the fight against global warming and food deprivation. If we take care of nature, it will take care of us. We need to live not apart from nature but to be a part of nature. This is about saving ourselves. God gave us all that we need to do so.  It is up to us to be good stewards of those gifts.

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Relevant Scripture

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was chaos and waste, darkness was on the surface of the deep, and the Ruach Elohim was hovering upon the surface of the water.

Then God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light. God saw that the light was good. So God distinguished the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” So there was evening and there was morning—one day.

Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water! Let it be for separating water from water.” So God made the expanse and it separated the water that was below the expanse from the water that was over the expanse. And it happened so. God called the expanse “sky.” So there was evening and there was morning—a second day. Then God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered to one place. Let the dry ground appear.” And it happened so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the collection of the water He called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. 15 They will be for lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the land.” And it happened so. 16 Then God made the two great lights—the greater light for dominion over the day, and the lesser light as well as the stars for dominion over the night. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine on the land 18 and to have dominion over the day and over the night and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So there was evening and there was morning—a fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Gen 1)

References

Honest, revealing, and urgent, DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET (2020) is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. Created by award-winning natural history filmmakers Silverback Films and global conservation organization WWF.   As of Dec 2020, this movie was available on Netflix.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11989890

Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis. Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. As of Dec 2020, this movie was available on Netflix.  https://kissthegroundmovie.com

Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet – (Ted Talk) by Michael Shellenberger https://youtu.be/N-yALPEpV4w