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At Providence Church, we believe that our vision is an inspiring picture of our chosen future. A vision story paints a vivid description of our envisioned future, and “puts a flag in the sand.” The flag is a little ways off, but it’s high enough and big enough that we can all see it and head toward it. We may not travel in an exactly straight line (the way we plan to), and we may move the flag (change the vision) a little as time goes on… but we’ll all get there, together, eventually. We wrote the following vision story in 2016, envisioning what Providence Church would be like 10 years later, in 2026.

Read the Vision Story

Prov Blog

Social Justice Month: Guest post by Jenna Carnuccio
Aug 29, 2017
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I recently spent three months in Cambodia and Thailand involved with safe homes and the red light district. I became aware of the prevalence and growing stamina within the sex trade industry all over the world. In Southeast Asia, I observed girls trapped in vulnerable economic situations where their families either sold them for money or girls lacked employment opportunities, so they prostituted themselves in order to make an income. I learned very quickly that most trafficking victims are not bound by chains, but by pimps who use psychological coercion and manipulation through the use of drugs, financial methods, or emotional strategies. Most girls become addicted to drugs, therefore in debt to their pimp or owner. Thus, they are usually put into a brothel where they essentially never come out of debt and are forced to prostitute themselves until they die. Upon returning home, I felt the conviction and responsibility to become an active advocate for the prevention, intervention and restoration of human trafficking.

Through my volunteer experience in safe homes in Philadelphia and Lancaster, I have become aware of those at risk for being targeted by traffickers. Despite the stereotype that only women and children are trafficked, I learned that men are also trafficked.  I have learned and seen that the most common age to be trafficked within the U.S. is 12-14 years of age due to the vulnerable stage in life. Individuals who lack the skills and basic necessities to live on their own are all at risk. Those most at risk are runaways, the homeless, those with language barriers, victims of parental abuse, those in foster care, those who lack employment, those exposed to domestic violence, and those who lack supervision. As I have been back in the United States, God has given me a vision and passion to eventually start my own safe home.  In learning that 300,000 U.S. teens were trafficked this past year from every state and understanding that there are only enough safe homes for approximately one percent of victims, I see safe homes as a vital need. Without intervention, most victims are likely to die within seven years.

 Today, sex trafficking is the largest growing criminal industry in the world. The latest global assessment according to the International Labor Organization calculates that nearly 21 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide. About 4.5 million of those victims are trafficked for the drive of sexual exploitation.

 Ending human trafficking begins with each of us. Every person can play a role in ending and preventing this horrific industry through prayer, awareness, education, and action. God is bigger than human trafficking and I have seen Him more present than ever in the darkest places. True restoration and healing is found in Jesus Christ and it is important that we are battling in prayer for the hearts of not just the victims, but pimps, traffickers, families and every individual involved in organized crime. Human trafficking affects everyone and each person has a role to play. There are a variety of ways I have learned about prevention, intervention, and restoration within human trafficking. Becoming aware of the signs of trafficking victims along with the being aware of who is at risk is vital.  

Online recruitment has become the most common approach used by pimps and traffickers. The internet and social media greatly contribute to the exploitation of victims. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, dating apps, and pornographic sites are all sources and avenues for traffickers to lure in and use individuals for exploitation.  In addition, each of us can make choices every day about the products we purchase and the health of those working in manufacturing. These sites https://projectjust.com/ and https://madeinafreeworld.com/ have become two great sources in finding products that are ethically manufactured.  

Exodus Cry is a Christian organization actively involved in the prevention, intervention and restoration of human trafficking worldwide. Their list of educational resources is very helpful: http://exoduscry.com/

http://exoduscry.com/resources/

Exodus Cry has a podcast for anyone who wants to learn more about sex trafficking and how they can fight it. 

http://exoduscry.com/podcast/

The documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” is another excellent resource to learning more about trafficking. This documentary can be accessed through http://exoduscry.com/. 

A God of Justice study will begin on September 21st (every other Thursday night) and I encourage anyone who is interested in gaining insight to attend.  If you are interested, you may email me at or Sarah Racine at .

Getting educated about trafficking is one thing that ALL OF US can do to help bring a stop to this horrific injustice.    

 

 

 

 

Prov Blog

Social Justice Month: Guest post by Hannah Clark
Aug 21, 2017
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As I reflect on all the Lord has taught me about social justice, I distinctly remember a visit to Yangon, Myanmar during the summer of my sophomore year of college. My parents served with Operation Mobilization, teaching English to students after school. During one week of our stay, we had an opportunity to visit a safe house for young girls rescued from human trafficking in Thailand, Myanmar, and neighboring countries. An excerpt from my journal during that time recalled:

This morning we visited a safe house for girls rescued from the red light district of Yangon. After just opening up from over 60 years of military rule and civil war, the developing economy has brought a sharp increase in traffickers who pray on the poor and vulnerable. I learned that kingdom work sometimes looks like sitting and coloring with a 12-year-old girl while local team members convince her traffickers to let her go; sometimes the kingdom is moving in a hidden fourth-floor flat where girls who just escaped from being trafficked across the border call home. A missionary told me that some of these girls still go out onto the streets on the weekend to make money, and statistics agree– many women and children rescued from sex trafficking return to their old lifestyle within a few months. But isn't that the spirit in all of us, really? Constantly running from the light, from justice and what's good for us. How big is grace, that it covers red light districts in our hearts and in our world?

As an American college student, I felt empowered to use my voice to stand up for the needy and oppressed, but somehow this experience reminded me of just how reliant we are on Christ in our own slavery to sin– we cannot undermine the power that spiritual warfare plays in oppression in this world. Since that time, I've learned many practical ways to fight the human injustices that occur in our world each day. 

My own ignorance to supply chains in the United States was drastically challenged when I traveled to Myanmar. I didn't realize that the cost of cheap products was cheap labor, perpetuated by unfair working conditions, abuse, and neglect of employees. I found the following resourced extremely helpful in my search to make informed purchases:

Slavery Footprint:  Figure out how many slaves work for you by taking a short quiz about your purchase habits, belongings, and lifestyle.  

Project Just:  Project JUST empowers you to make informed and thoughtful decisions about the clothes you buy, so you can align your purchases with your values

Fair Trade: Make informed purchases when you buy products at the grocery store, and ensure that you're supporting fair wages and ethical supply lines. 

While we may not be able to become full-time missionaries, or change the behaviors of others, our influence as Americans becomes powerful in supporting a fair economy. Consider that part you can play in supporting ethical supply lines all over the world. 

Prov Blog

In Response to Charlottesville
Aug 18, 2017
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Church, in light of what is happening in Charlottesville, I thought it was important to express a pastor's heart towards the issue. As we've learned in our study of Exodus, every human being is made in the image of God and loved by God more than we can imagine. Because every human being is precious and valued by God, every human being should be precious and valued by each of us. 
 
We will not and should not be engaged in the hatred and oppression of others. Genesis 1:27-28
 
My colleague, Pastor Peter Nelson of Goshen Baptist Church wrote these words that I would love to share with you.
 
–Pastor Phil Carnuccio
 
 

The recent rally of white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, is deeply disturbing—and from multiple angles.  Let me name just two—the national, and the spiritual.

Right at the heart of being an American is affirming the vision of humanity that's enshrined in the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”  All people—including those of any and every racial background.  Therefore, the drive to elevate one racial group above others is fundamentally un-American.

And right at the heart of following Jesus and living as a Christian is affirming his love for people of all races.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  God’s open arms of love reach out to all the world—to all people groups, all languages, all classes, all races.  Therefore, any effort to associate white supremacist values with Christianity is profoundly wrong—it amounts to outright defiance against Jesus Christ.

In the midst of the sorrowful news of racial hatred and hostility, numerous Christian leaders have spoken out to call evil evil and to draw attention to the unifying love of Jesus.  Let me encourage you to read and reflect on a few recent articles:

We do well to remember, and to rejoice in the fact, that heaven will be populated by people from every race!  “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).

Joining you in prayer for God’s gracious and powerful work in these troubled times!

–Peter Nelson, Goshen Baptist Church

Source

Prov Blog

Social Justice Month: Guest post by Jordan Kauffman
Aug 14, 2017
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Note from editor: Each month, we highlight a partnership, ministry, or topic on the Prov Blog. During the month of August, join us as we hear real stories about social justice, and learn how you can play a part in seeking Kingdom Justice in the world, leading up to Freedom Sunday on September 24th. 

I first encountered human trafficking in the Middle East, and I still was not sure if what I saw was human trafficking for many months.

An all-too-common practice in the Middle East is to hire East Asian woman as house maids. The women live with the their employers, and often the families that hire them become their whole lives. Some of the best families treat their maid like another family member, allowing them to eat at the table, celebrate birthdays, and enjoy going shopping. But even in the nicest of homes they are the only one cleaning, cooking, and caring for the home. The worst of the homes, the family takes the passport from the maid, claiming that it is for their own safety. The families themselves believe these women are incapable of taking care of themselves, and need to be in bondage to survive. They don’t have a room, are not acknowledged by name, and forced to work beyond their capacity, with no end in sight.

My only encounter with this nameless East Asian woman was in the home of a wealthy family in the Middle East. She was on the floor sleeping on a thin cot too small for her, in the corner of a dark kitchen. No one acknowledged her, but rather brushed off her presence. I looked at her and did all I could at the time, I prayed.

This specific instance was surrounded by debate about what was willful employment and what was bondage, and this girl was caught in between. Disagreement over what was ‘good’ for the house maid and what was dangerous was deeply discussed in social circles. To her employers freedom was dangerous, but to her the home was her prison in which she wasn’t even allowing her to live. But the young maid was suffering whether or not we knew her whole story, or the reasons for her slavery.

Human trafficking is defined internationally as recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for labor or commercial sex acts through force, fraud or coercion. This is exactly what Middle Eastern society lives with every day, and this is exactly what is around us in the US and most of the world. Most attention for human trafficking is sex slavery, which is indeed a horrid crime. But the most prevalent form of human trafficking around the world is through labor trafficking. It is in the US, not only through the use of forced labor, but purchasing goods made through forced labor around the world.

This East Asian maid opened my eyes to the horrors that can come out of poverty and desperation for money - she could have been bought, sold, or even willfully put herself into slavery. She has a story, and it is similar to so many others whose lives are no longer their own. Who are unsafe, uncared for, and hopeless. Individuals in factories, producing goods for cheap exports are facing similar horrors every day.

With every purchase there is a story, behind every good is an assembly line of people that may be forced labor or child labor. They have stories, faces, and souls for which Christ died. We cannot know everyone’s stories, every face, or every reason human trafficking takes place. But we can do our part to prevent trafficking, and to share Christ’s love with those who have been harmed by it.

 

Some tangible ways to act:

  1. Pray for human trafficking victims. Christ knows their faces, names, and stories. We can lift them up to our Creator and Redeemer, asking for them to be saved, both from earthly bondage but also from the bondage of sin into salvation and complete freedom.
  2. Know what you’re buying, and where they are made. Demand brings supply,and if we make a stand for goods free from the slave trade, companies will listen. This site, among others, shows who made our goods, and how https://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/
  3. Go and serve! Much of the needs revolve around prevention and rehabilitation. TEAM has many opportunities to go serve around the world, to serve vulnerable women, create stable economies, and bring education. You can finds specific ways to serve here https://team.org/ministry-areas/social-justice

Prov Blog

Social Justice Month: Guest post by Melinda Snow
Aug 08, 2017
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Note from editor: Each month, we highlight a partnership, ministry, or topic on the Prov Blog. During the month of August, join us as we hear real stories about social justice, and learn how you can play a part in seeking Kingdom Justice in the world, leading up to Freedom Sunday on September 24th. 

45 million– That’s a hard number to wrap my mind around. I can imagine 100, 1,000 or even 10,000, but beyond that– I have a difficult time relating to large numbers. Typically, I ignore them, but not this time. Why is 45,000,000 important? It represents the number of people who are enslaved today in the 21st century. Today, International Justice Mission (IJM) estimates that there are more than 45 million people suffering from slavery today. That’s more than at any other time in human history. What? How can that be? Often when I read statistics like these I am emotionally moved. I might bring up the facts in a dinner conversation or post an article on my Facebook page. Yet, within a few days, I move those nameless millions of people to the back of my mind. I mean really, what can I do about it,
anyway?

But this time my attention kept being drawn to the problem of slavery in our world through IJM's concept of Freedom Sunday. Freedom Sunday is an invitation for the church to set aside one day to learn about slavery and partnering with IJM to end it. One day to learn about slavery seemed reasonable to me; I could do that! As I started exploring IJMs materials about Freedom Sunday the concept of a tipping point: the critical point in a situation, process or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place came forward. I was reminded that in 1786 William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson began moving a nation toward a tipping point with a simple diagram of a slave ship. These men understood that “many small actions conducted in great faith can overpower even the most formidable odds.” Today the International Justice Mission believes we are closer than ever in reaching the tipping point that will end slavery in the world. Imagine, Providence,
lending our voices to that cause. Join me on Freedom Sunday, September 24th and learn how

Join me on Freedom Sunday, September 24th and learn how we can play a role in ending modern-day slavery.

 

 

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