Sunday, April 13, 2014

Karlene's Role: Our Role

She's Got My Back

I would not be telling the whole truth about the Slave Beard idea if I didn't address my beautiful wife's involvement in it. Actually, it was her idea for me to grow my beard out to do a Duck Dynasty theme for Trunk-or-Treat at our church. At the same time I had been considering how I could get more involved with fighting child sex slavery. I knew I wanted to do something creative that would catch people's attention while educating them about human trafficking. Karlene's suggestion combined with my desire gave birth to Slave Beard. Growing your beard for an entire year (when that's not normal for you) is not something you want to take on without 100% support from your wife. She has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this experience. Sure we have sacrificed comfortable kisses (which is a HUGE reason I look forward to it's completion), but I know Karlene has my back!

Going Alone is Difficult

I can't imagine doing this without Karlene's support, or even worse against her will. There have been times where I considered shaving along the way, but she encouraged me to stay the course. Doing something different with a heavy cause like child sex slavery can be difficult. I can only imagine how hard it must be at times to be on staff with Destiny Rescue or Rapha House. Encountering the things they do on a daily basis is enough to wear anyone down. This is why those of us on this side must make sure they they know we have their backs, and that we are their biggest cheerleaders.

Do Something Today

Now that you are aware of what an important role you can play in the lives of those fighting child sex slavery, let me challenge you to do something today. Be specific, and go BIG. It could be you make a one time donation to them, or even better commit to giving monthly for a minimum one year. How about dropping them an encouraging email and tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing to make a difference in the world? Or imagine this, pick up the phone and call them directly while giving them audible words of encouragement and praise. I promise that if you do any or all of these suggestions, YOU will help ensure that the fight against child sex slavery continues. Who knows, you might just find a new passion in life to be a Barnabas to those who I call my heroes.

 

Just don't forget to tell them Slave Beard sent you!

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Real Business Opportunities

SoapStonz
The Slave Beard Movement is in its 8th month and still going strong.  T-shirts are on order, my beard is out of control, and more people are being educated about the reality of child sex slavery.  Many people that I encounter with this message often ask me what they can do to help fight this monster.  Some feel as if they need to move overseas and start a new ministry, others feel as if the subject matter is so overwhelming that they feel helpless .  I try to steer people into immediate action by getting involved on a level that is normal for their current lifestyle. Often I suggest fighting back by making real business opportunities!

What Business are You in?

Do you own a business, or have you considered starting one?  Do you have influence in the marketplace in which you work?  Do you have a desire to see child sex slavery end?  Then consider how your business or the business you work for can make an impact to abolish child sex slavery.  Designate an item that you sell to give all or a portion of the profits to a group who is combating child sex slavery.  Set up a display in your store that highlights groups like Rapha House and Destiny Rescue and their effectiveness at restoring children who have been rescued.  Have an "awareness" day at your work and donate a portion of the proceeds purchased that day to help rescue child sex slaves.  

Be like SoapStonz

SoapStonz is an independent company owned by Dave and Joyce Tugan that makes excellent soap from essential oils as well as other products.  A few months ago I approached SoapStonz about creating a soap that would bring awareness to child sex slavery.  Since then they have consented and now will be creating a soap called "Flowers of Innocence."  This soap will be marketed to raise awareness of child sex slavery AND financially support Rapha House.  All proceeds from purchasing that particular soap will be donated directly to Rapha House, and the recipient will receive a brochure about Rapha House and their great ministry.  I'm excited to encourage more businesses to help do their part to bring child sex slavery to an end. Be sure to support companies who make such efforts their priority!  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lift Them Up!

I recently had the great pleasure of going on a family trip to Homer, AK. It was a much needed break from the norm and provided me with the opportunity to focus a lot of my attention on my two boys. We spent so much time walking up and down the beach, playing at the local park, and enjoying the outdoors. A pattern developed that I enjoyed greatly while we were there, my boys kept wanting me to lift them up onto my shoulders while we walked. I'm sure that up there they felt safe, free, and taller than the world. This is exactly what we need to do for the children who have been rescued from sex slavery, we need to lift them up.

Lift Them Up in Prayer

Lifting others up in prayer is essential in our walk with God. It takes the focus off ourselves and places others' needs before ours. It is even more crucial for these children who have been rescued. Their lives have literally been destroyed physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The kind of intervention they need is supernatural. Through prayer, the lives of these children can begin to heal so that they can develop trust and be restored.

 

Lift Them Up in Support

There are various ways to help rescued children financially. You can sponsor children who have been rescued, sponsor children who are in preventative care groups, or sponsor a rescue mission to save another child out of sex slavery. I have a friend who once said, "Ministries cannot survive without someone to financially back them." There is much truth in his words, so consider how you can make a sacrifice in your life so that others can be lifted up in support. For many of us, it is as simple as skipping dining out one night a month and giving those funds to a ministry like Destiny Rescue, Rapha House, or Operation Underground Railroad.

 

Lift Them Up in Person

Both Rapha House and Destiny Rescue have short term mission trips where you can go and experience the work they are doing first hand. Not only will you get to see their facilities, but you play a part in the restoration process of the children as you interact with them personally. These children are in great need of knowing what true love looks like and to see people who will treat them as precious children instead of objects. Consider making a short term trip a priority in your near future so that you can lift one of these children on your own shoulders as you help them feel safe, free, and taller than the world!

 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Marathon Mentality

8 months of growth
I have never ran a marathon, but I watched closely as my wife trained for and ran the Flying Pig in Cincinnati.  What I observed was fascinating.  She began running 3 miles at a time, slowly increasing her distance until she could run a full 8 miles without stopping.  8 miles became 16, then 20, and finally 24.  Throughout her experience, she encountered pain, discomfort, muscle cramps, and soreness.  So why would she push through and run the 32 plus miles that day in Cincinnati?  Because she set her eyes on the goal, and she was determined to finish.  This beard idea is much less painful, but I can relate to how she had to stay focused on her goal to succeed.


What's up with your beard?!

I found it funny about a week ago that people were noticing the migration of hair on the top of my head to the hair on my face.  For many it was as if they suddenly noticed that I was not trimming my flowing locks of love.  The best part about it is that it has helped me focus on my goal.  Almost everyone that I encounter now comments on my beard and asks why I'm not trimming it, and then I get the pleasure to talk to them about the reality of child sex slavery and how we can fight it.  Something else that is neat is that when people introduce me to someone that I don't know they typically say something like, "Tell them why your beard is so long!"  Excellent!

What does the future hold?

Eight months into this "experiment"and I have had all sorts of ideas about how to continue the awareness campaign indefinitely.  I will trim my beard at the end of the year period, but I know that I will continue to fight for the freedom of all sex slaves.  My thoughts have gone all over the board as to what I can do, and for now I will keep it between myself and God as I look for specific direction.

The Marathon

My hope for myself, and even more for those who read this blog or know me, is that we engage this fight with a marathon mentality.  Truly my purpose of educating others on this topic would be meaningless if it were only a "flash-pan" experience.  I want to fight this atrocity for the remainder of my life or until all sex slaves are freed.  Considering the glorification of sexuality in our culture and cultures around the world, I expect the former to precede the latter.  (That's a rant I will blog about later).  So please continue to educate yourself on this topic.  Continue to support Rapha House and Destiny Rescue as well as many others who live in the world of hope and restoration for the survivors of child sex slavery.  Run the marathon with me!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Confessions...

Wearing Destiny Threads
This is going to be a tough post to write because I'm about to get REAL personal.  I figure transparency is a great way to show others that you can learn from your mistakes.  Read this with an open mind and consider the implications it could have for you and your loved ones.

Just one bite...

I was in the 6th grade and struggling a bit with identity.  I was a little chubby, had freckles, and a haircut that was straight up Moe from the 3 Stooges.  I didn't really have an interest in girls which was good because they didn't show any interest in me.  I just loved riding my bike, hanging with friends, and making people laugh.  My interests were going to change that year...significantly.

I was at a friend's house for a sleep-over which was very common for me then.  That night as we were supposed to be sleeping, I was handed something that turned my world upside down: a pornographic magazine.  Initially, I didn't know what I was even looking at and I could barely process the images that I was seeing.  Something in me told me that it was wrong to look at these pictures, but something else kept me from turning my eyes away from the new images.  The curiosity of "one bite" took over and started an appetite that couldn't be satisfied.

I knew it was wrong

After that night I knew that what I had seen was not truly intended for my eyes, and that I shouldn't look at something like that again, but my 6th grade brain and my developing hormones could not shut it off.  My craving for the images was almost overwhelming, yet the more I looked at anything resembling those images the more I needed to look.  As the years began passing by, I began taking greater risks.  The "old stuff" wasn't enough anymore and I kept seeking something more, whatever "more" was.  I found myself in my high school years watching pornography whenever I had the opportunity.  My cravings were only increasing...I felt all alone...and I didn't know what to do.  The biggest problem I had was my faith in Jesus Christ and my lifestyle choices were colliding head on.  I felt like a fake.

Celebrate the victory!

I remember this next moment as if it were yesterday.  I was a senior in high school and was watching another video by myself hoping not to get caught.  Years of knowing it was wrong, yet pushing the thought aside so that I could continue in my sin was about to end.  I was watching the video and then I realized something...I was crying.  Right there in the living room I broke down and cried like I had never cried before!  In the moment of sadness I cried out to my Savior, "God, I don't want to do this anymore!"  I have no idea how long I laid on the floor crying, but in the moment of silence before I stood on me feet I knew God was with me.  I guess I expected His rejection and punishment, but I felt His grace and peace.  I didn't hear an audible voice nor can I explain how I heard it, but I clearly heard God in my heart say, "Celebrate the victory!"

It was a marathon

I figured with a moment like that I was instantly cured, but I learned that old demons die hard.  I wanted to stop looking at pornographic material, but I kept finding myself going back there.  I began to feel defeated again and wanting to just give up when I remembered what God said, "Celebrate the victory!"  Instead of focusing on how many times I messed up my senior year with my secret problem, I began focusing on how often I did NOT mess up.  I began celebrating each victory with God and focusing my life on Him even more.  I was transparent in my prayer life, and I included Him more in my thought process.  By the end of my senior year, and mostly through the help of God, I laid my problem at the foot of the cross for good.  20 years now, I haven't viewed pornography!  That isn't to say that temptation isn't lurking at every corner of my life.  I am bombarded with opportunities to lustfully gaze at commercials, ads, magazine covers, internet images, etc.  But I rely on the commitment that I have made to God not to go down that road again...I'm celebrating the victory...and it is truly freeing!

What does this have to do with sex slavery?

I might have been a 6th grade kid when all this stuff began, but I can clearly remember the effects and affects that pornography had on me:  an unsatisfying lust for more.  It caused me to take risks that a "normal" person wouldn't take.  It is a cycle that never plateaus, but only continues to spiral downward out of control.  I believe in my heart, though I don't have the evidence to prove it, that a man (with no pornographic influence) doesn't just decide one day to fly overseas to have sex with a child.  That simply doesn't make sense.  I believe that a young boy who is influenced by pornography will continue to seek more and take more risks to that point that MIGHT lead him to engage the sex slave market as an adult if he doesn't get help.  I also believe that our sex education in schools is getting it all wrong when we are encouraging children as early as 10 to "explore their sexuality" and discover who they are sexually.  What a tragic thought!  This thought makes sense in the arena that we descended from animals.  A better thought is this: we were designed by a loving Creator to explore the pleasure of sexuality within the parameters of His design.  That means we exhibit self-control as we keep the "marriage bed pure" (Hebrews 13:4).  After all, one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

What should I do?

If you are struggling with pornography, there are great resources available today to help you with that struggle.  Covenant Eyes and XXXChurch are innovators in this area.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  You are NOT alone in this battle.  If you know me, I would love to talk with you about your struggle as well as equip you with some tools to see you though it.  Finally, parents: talk with your kids!!  They are flooded daily with internet images, school buddies who send them text messages, and smart phones that open a gateway to infinite pornographic material.  If you talk with them, as awkward as it may seem, they are listening and they will respond.  Let me know how I can pray for you!

As transparent as I can be,
In Christ's love,
Adam

Friday, January 10, 2014

No Laughing Matter


I usually try to avoid articles that make me extremely upset, but from time to time I come across one that makes my blood boil.  Tonight I was reading an article from theblaze.com that completely disturbed me.  Here's a summary of the article: a woman bought a tablet at a flea market in which she discovered child pornography on depicting the man she purchased it from with an 8 year old; she took the evidence directly to the police only to be told to come back in four days when the investigators were back from vacation.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Why did it take 4 days for them to even look at the evidence to make an arrest?!  I have a theory: many people don't take this issue seriously enough.  Well, I'd like to introduce you to a group that I have recently discovered that take this matter very seriously.  They are called Operation Underground Railroad or O.U.R.

These Guys Don't Mess Around

O.U.R. is made up of former Special Ops, C.I.A., and Navy SEALs and have made it their mission to ramp up the frontal assault on child sex slavery.  With their specialty background training, they work together with government agencies to gather intel and raid the brothels and hideouts where gangs keep children held captive.  They don't take the law into their own hands, but I imagine that they do bring the perpetrators into a reality they have never faced before.  What's even better is that they are a God-fearing group who have their priorities straight.

Dog Tags

There is a story of dog tags that were part of an initial rescue mission.  The necklace and tags became a launching point for the ministry of O.U.R.  Take a moment to read the unbelievable story and see how it played a part, and how you can have your own set of dog tags.  There is a verse engraved on the tags that reads, "Man of God, Pursue Righteousness, Godliness, Faith, Love, Perseverance, and Gentleness."  1 Timothy 6:11.  Also each set of tags is stamped with a number that corresponds to a current mission that O.U.R. is on trying to rescue more children.  By typing in the number on their website, you can see the progress of the mission.

Get Involved & Spread the Word

Like I have said so many times before, it is important for us who want to make a difference to support those who are leading the cause and are in harms way to save these children.  Take a moment right now to pray for O.U.R. and then consider supporting them financially.  Buy a set of dog tags for yourself and a friend or family member and spread the word about this new abolitionist ministry.  This is a very exciting new ministry, but they are going to need a ton of support from us to make a major impact in this world.  Become part of their team today!

 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Resolutions

Feel the Resolve

2014 is here. My beard is six months old. Slavery still exists. Three simple, yet real facts. I have six months left on this journey of growing my beard to grow awareness of child sex slavery, and I'm already feeling like it's going too fast. Obviously I'm not going to stop my efforts to see slavery end when I shave off my beard, but I wonder what the next six months will produce? So, if you are a New Years Resolutions type of person, I would like to challenge you to make a resolution to do the 5 following things in the next six months:

 

Resolutions

  1. Share this blog with as many people as you can! Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to direct people to it. Use the hashtag #SlaveBeard when talking about it.
  2. Make a donation to Destiny Rescue or Rapha House. It can be a one time donation, or better yet commit to a monthly donation for a year,
  3. Buy a tshirt from Destiny Threads www.destinythreads.com and wear your support.
  4. Buy a gift for someone you know from the Rapha House online store. It could be a shirt, hand bag, wallet, or various other items. Be sure to tell the person you bought it for the story behind it.
  5. Pray at least once a week (pick a day and make it a habit) for the workers of Destiny Rescue, the workers of Raph House, the survivors they have rescued, and those still trapped in slavery.

2013 was a great year in many ways, so let's not lose momentum! Let's stand up against this horrible evil until all the children are safe in the arms of those who will show them their the value and love!