Human trafficking-Are you aware?

 Human trafficking – Are you aware?

Are you aware that nearly 150,000 children are “sold” into this country every year?

Are you aware it isn’t just girls?  And the average age of human trafficked boys is 11?

Are you aware trafficking victims come from EVERY type of economic situation?  Not just the poor.

Are you aware all 50 states have reported cases of human trafficking?

Are you aware our country is 1 of the top 3 worldwide destination points for human trafficking?

Are you aware Florida has the 2nd highest human trafficking incidents in the United States?

Are you aware human trafficking is a $30 Billion a year industry?

If you’re not – don’t feel bad.  We don’t see it on the news either…

A Muddled Message from Mitt…

As the presidential election nears its last few weeks, I think it’s important to know where the candidates stand on the issues.  After all, their policies are going to set into motion the way we deal with major issues, such as homelessness, unemployment and health care.  During both conventions, each candidate made it clear what their policies would look like.  The lines between the candidates were drawn, so to speak.  But after Mitt Romney’s recent appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, his lines don’t seem to be nearly as defined.
Here’s an excerpt from Eugene Robinson’s Washington Post article entitled, “Romney’s Health Care Dither.”  What do you think?
“Well, I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their — their family up to whatever age they might like. I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

So Romney wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with Obamacare, or at least the consumer-friendly parts of Obamacare that Romney knows are popular. What he would leave out is the part he knows is unpopular: the individual mandate compelling some Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine.

But as Romney knows, it’s the individual mandate that makes the other benefits possible by preventing young, healthy people from gaming the system. They would just wait until they got sick to purchase insurance, knowing they couldn’t be turned down because of the “pre-existing conditions” measure.

Romney is familiar with the problem of these so-called free-riders because he solved it when he was governor of Massachusetts. With an individual mandate.

To review, Romney was for Obamacare before he was against it before he was for it again, except the keystone element that makes the rest of Obamacare work, which he developed and implemented but steadfastly opposes.

Ostrich or Ignorance

Sanford Small Group Leaders: Ostrich or Ignorance?

Sanford, Florida has been in the news a lot lately.  Last year CBS told us of a nationwide epidemic that’s taken hold in our backyard; homeless children who live in cars, cramped in the backseat while parked underneath bridges and light poles in Wall Mart parking lots.  This year the national media, happy to have found their new “Casey Anthony story” descended on Sanford to begin their endless coverage of Trayvon Marten.

For a small town (the population is just over 50,000) they sure have their share of big city problems.  So we spent a day in Sanford looking to see if we could help find some solutions.

What we found was far more alarming.

It was mid-afternoon, and extremely hot.  So we didn’t expect to find many homeless folks out and about.  Instead, we thought it might be a good idea to stop at a church, and inquire as to how exactly we may be of some help in the days and weeks to come.

We passed several small “mom-and-pop” churches, but settled instead, on a large one just a mile or two outside Sanford’s Historic District.  Surely, with a congregation so large, they’d be able to point us in the right direction.  Turns out, stopping there was point-less!

Not only did they not know where the homeless were, they gave us the impression the problem no longer existed.

“Oh, they tore a bunch of buildings down, so they just scattered.”  One lady told us.  “They’re all gone now.”  She said, with a wave of her hand, as though she was swatting away a fly.  Making it sound as if the homeless suddenly just left town, walking south towards Orlando in great masses.

When we mentioned the CBS story, another lady had an answer all ready to go. “That girl in that news piece?  Well, she got all taken care of.  Got a full-ride to Stetson.”  She said satisfied, as if the Sanford homeless problem was instantly eradicated with a single individual’s enrollment to university.

Perhaps we just expected a little more…our sanitized version of Christianity, putting on our “Sunday best,” listening to sermons and paying our tithing.  Maybe that image just got in the way of what we expected.  But these problems that exist in our communities…they’re real.  They’re dirty.  And if we’re going to address them – if we’re going to clean them up – then we need to move.  We need to sweat.  We need to get our hands dirty. Pretending they don’t exist, or simply wishing the problem away makes as much sense as putting a band aid on a broken arm.

Politics and Parables

I spent 8 days in Tampa listening to the RNC events, I spent half that time watching, from the comfort of my home, the DNC in Charlotte.  When both conventions were over, I was left with this:

One group claims to be the party of inclusion – the other, boasted a “you’re-on-your-own” style of leadership.  Maybe I understood their messages incorrectly.  Regardless, it seems most of America assumed the same.  Either way, it reminded me of a parable I recently heard:

A man was allowed to visit both heaven and hell.  First, he chose hell.  When he arrived he found a group of people sitting a table weighted down with an endless supply of food.  But the people seated were howling with hunger.  It seems they each had a spoon that was too long to fit into their mouths.  This was their torment.

Later, when the man visited heaven he saw another group of people, seated at the same type of table and with the same amount of food.  Each person had a similar spoon – the same length as those he saw in hell.  But each stomach was satisfied.  Satisfied because they were feeding each other.

So maybe it does take a village.  Maybe I am my Brothers keeper after all.  I understand those who feel they may have “built this” without any help…but what about those who need a little assistance to get started?  Are they to be held to a lesser standard?  And what of those who try and fall short?  Are we supposed to just leave them, or should we help them get up and try again?  And if we do that, and they become successful, did that just mean they didn’t build their business alone?  I’m confused…