In Monday’s devotional, I (Melissa) shared a story about how the ordinary act of someone buying me a cup of coffee served as a great reminder of God’s gifts to us.
Following that post, a friend of mine shared a comment about how much she loved doing those physical acts for others because each of them carry the unmistakable message of Christ’s love delivered in a way that is real to us. (Paraphrased)
I’ve thought about her comment a lot this week. It speaks to my heart. And it convicts me.
There’s no doubt that it’s a great thing when we can see those undeserved gifts from God in the random acts of kindness that someone bestows upon us. Certainly, we should relish in those moments. But as followers of Jesus, it’s equally important for us to be on the giving end of those little acts that send the big message.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
Once I’ve spent some time praising and thanking God for His unconditional love and for His gifts of grace, forgiveness, peace and salvation, it’s time for me to find ways that I can share that message.
Friends, today it’s my turn to buy the coffee.
It’s my turn to seek out those everyday physical acts that I can offer to one another - both friends and strangers - to send the unequivocal message that God’s love is offered to each and everyone one of us.
It doesn’t have to be a cup of coffee (although it can be!).
It can be a phone call or text to someone I know is struggling.
It can be a handwritten card to the woman I pass by at church week after week.
It can be offering my place in the grocery store checkout line to the mom behind me struggling with her toddler’s tantrum.
It can be a plate of cookies for the elderly neighbor.
It can be letting the other person have the closer parking spot at Target.
It can be a heartfelt apology to someone who has said or done something that hurt or angered me.
Today, I’m shifting my focus. Instead of merely looking for ways that God’s gifts are made tangible to me, I’m also looking for ways that I can be the gift-giver. I want to seek out the opportunities and I want to choose to take action with the sole intention of sharing the love of Jesus.
No expectations. No paybacks required. Just as He did for us.
Will you join me?
Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to share our family's adoption story at a fundraising dinner for an adoption support organization run through a local church. While the main goal of the night was to raise money to help families who wish to adopt, we wanted to stress the importance of other ways to support those same families.
We spoke about the support network we had when we went through the arduous process of adoption and how important it was, especially during those first couple of years after bringing the girls home. Those years are a blur in my memory, when all we could do was focus on survival and the difficult process of attachment. People brought us meals, watched the kids for an hour or two so my husband and I could run out for a break, and patiently listened to us talk for hours about our struggles. I was struggling with post-adoption depression and all I could was try to make it through each day. Our friends and family sacrificed their gifts and resources to support us and love up on us. Without everyone there, I don't know how we would have made it out of the fog.
We stressed that not all are called to adopt, but we can all be a part of adoption. Adoption truly takes a village, and when all the parts of the village work together, the process goes much more smoothly.
We all are given different spiritual gifts, and God calls us to different types of service. We all have the same big goal of encouraging one another and glorifying God, but we do it in a variety of ways.
Some roles are in the spotlight and some are behind the scenes, but all are important.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. - 1 Peter 4:10
For example, some of us will be called to be missionaries in a foreign country. Those of us who are not may be called to use gifts of financial giving to support the missionaries, gifts of intercession to pray for the missionaries, gifts of administration to help with paperwork, or gifts of mercy to uplift the missionaries when they are struggling. Every role is important in helping the missionaries be effective where they are placed.
In Monday's devotional, I encouraged you to find out your spiritual gifts. Today, I encourage you to pray about how God will use you for the advancement of His Kingdom. Don't think you are less of a Christian if God doesn't call you to Africa. If we were all called to be missionaries in foreign countries, then there wouldn't be givers, exhorters, or helpers. How ineffective we would be!
We need to learn to be OKAY with where God has placed us and not waste time and energy wishing gifts upon ourselves that He has given others.
When we are in the roles God called for us, we are glorifying Him most with our time, energy, and focus.
I never listen to Word FM – the local Christian talk station. Like never. I (Alayna) like music, not talk. So, normally, I’d be listening to my Hillsong United CDs on my drive home from work, but not this particular day. And I think it’s because God wanted to catch my attention.
One day, years ago, I happened to catch a radio program on that station I never listen to… Word FM. I think it was Focus on the Family, and a woman named Linda Smith was on. She was talking about her book, “From Congress to the Brothel” and the problem of sex trafficking. I don’t honestly remember everything she spoke about in the radio show, but it was awful and disturbing enough for me to call my husband and tell him about the horrible problem of sex trafficking.
Unbeknownst to me, he had been listening to the same program. As a result, he was fired up about the very same issue!
I ordered her book, and read – no, sobbed – my way through it. In this book, she very vividly and explicitly details the horrors of the global sex trafficking problem. She details how God called her to an elected government position (that she didn’t campaign for and still won – that has to be God!), and how from there she ended up travelling to India to witness sex trafficking first hand, as part of a Congressional inquiry into modern day slavery and human trafficking. Her story was amazing, and the problem she described was heart and gut wrenching.
Linda talked about how one simple hug of a very young, dirty, used and abused prostitute was life changing for both of them. The young girl was a hollow shell, who was only touched when some guy wanted sex from her, which could have been upward of 50 to 100 times a day. She had been abused, beaten, starved, and raped, and she was dead on the inside – her dull and lifeless eyes said it all. God told Linda to hug her. In her filthy, dirty, and used state, Linda hugged her, and the girl broke down.
And I did too.
The stories of young girls who were forced into sex slavery around the world, sold by their families, sometimes to pay off debts, sometimes to pay the bills, broke my heart. I wanted to save every last one of them. Take them all home, and fix everything that was wrong. I wanted to do something.
I never knew the horror that was happening around the world, and in my own back yard. As I read more, found more groups with information about sex trafficking, human trafficking, and sexual slavery around the world, my eyes were opened to the pure evil that exists in the sex industry around the world. I wish I could convey to you just how deep and dark the evil of the sex trade is, but then I might be responsible for nightmares and terrible stories that you can’t get out of your head. The evil is real, and these women need our help. They need our compassion.
They need a hand. They need a hug. They need Jesus.
And they need our old bras.
Yep. Your old bras can make a difference. You can help a woman who has been rescued from sex trafficking, and it’s with your old bras.
SO… Send us your old bras, and we will send them to Free the Girls. Free the Girls uses the bras to help women become small business owners by selling second hand clothing – your old bras! Bras are hard to come by in many parts of the world, and the old bras from the back of your drawer will make an amazing living for a woman rescued from sex slavery, like up to five times the local minimum wage!
I was watching a video during our mom’s group, and the woman in the video works for Free the Girls. And I thought, what a great way to help women, combat the problem of sex trafficking, and clean out your bra drawer. So for the whole month of February, Deliberate Women will be collecting your old bras to send to Free the Girls!
If you have old bras to donate, you can mail them to:
Deliberate Women, 7016 Locust Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102
If you're inspired, you can have your own bra drive, right at your church, wherever you are!
If you don’t have old bras to give, that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to make a difference. Read about sex trafficking and slavery and spread the word. I have included a few notable organizations and their websites. Follow them on Facebook to see what they are doing, share so your friends can see! Find out what they do to help, and join in. Research organizations and ministries in your area, and ask if you can join them in the fight against sex trafficking. Together, we can make a difference, one woman and one bra at a time.
International Justice Mission www.ijm.org
Not for Sale www.notforsalecampaign.org
Free the Girls www.freethegirls.org
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