now that you have seen...

Few song lyrics have infiltrated my soul in the way that Brooke Fraser's "Albertine" has... the words of the chorus ring in my heart... "Now that I have seen, I am responsible..." 

Click. Listen. Be challenged.

Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Now that I know of the pain of a child, the hurt of a woman, the loneliness of a senior, the cold of the homeless.... Now that I have seen, I am responsible.

As I type this, there is a video that has gone beyond viral... it's become a pandemic. A pandemic of awareness and knowledge, opening the eyes of those blinded by the comfort of the American dream to atrocities occurring a world away.  As of this moment, 52,591,704 of you have clicked, likely on a facebook post, and watched the "Kony 2012" video on YouTube. [If you have not seen it, you can find it here.]

52,591,704 of you have seen. 52,591,704 of you are responsible. 

Children are being forced into slavery... and it is not okay to turn a blind eye. It is not okay to pretend we haven't seen. It is not enough to click "share" beneath a video link and hope that the next person will do something.

Now that you have seen, you are responsible. It's up to you to do something.

As I type, the anguish of these children is welling up with in me. Tears streaming down my cheeks as the faces of the enslaved flash before my eyes. I have seen them. I have seen the pictures of enslaved children, the vacancy in their eyes. Vacancy where hope once resided.

Kony is a terrible man. A horror. But he is not the only one.  Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda... these are not the only places darkened by the cloud of human trafficking... It is happening everywhere, even here in quiet Indiana [the I70 corridor is a known pipeline for traffickers. believe it].  It's happening on a Lake in Ghana.

I have seen their faces. I am responsible. 52 million of you have seen. You are responsible.

Children as young as 4 are sold into slavery
in Ghana for as little as $20. Their families think
that they will be fed, cared for, and educated.
Instead they are forced to work 14-16 hr
days, abused, and neglected.
I think about a conversation I had with my daughter and some friends last August. Telling them about friends going to Africa to rescue children from slavery... the look of horror on those little girls faces as they said "slavery still exists???". I imagine that same look of horror darkening faces of millions of Americans as they sat in shock watching the Kony 2012 video. Not only does it still exist, there are more people enslaved today than there were when Abraham Lincoln fought to abolish it.

Little girls who saw... and within their souls knew that they had become responsible. They had to do something. They started Kidz 4 Freedom ... and have since raised about $2000 toward the cause of ending slavery in Ghana. If two little girls can do that with duct tape... what more can YOU do? What more can WE do, banded together, hearts toward the cause of ending this horror!? 

It is not good enough to watch the video and be moved. It is not good enough to share the video. You have to do something. As Kidz 4 Freedom would say... Refuse to do nothing. Refuse to be the person who wipes the tears from her cheeks, and then goes on to giggle at a funny picture on Facebook, or update her status about dinner plans later that night. Refuse to be the person who lives in the very lap of luxury and so quickly forgets the desperate look of a child forced to fight as a child soldier, or work as a sex slave, or dive into the murky depths of a man-made lake to free nets beneath a boat. Refuse to be the person who hopes and prays that someone else will do something.

The next line of Brooke Fraser's song says.. "Faith without deeds is dead". Church, we have to do something.

I am so thankful for the makers of the Kony 2012 video... for the way they have used their gifts in filmmaking to raise awareness of these atrocities! But I want you to know that Invisible Children is NOT the only organization helping free children. In fact, some of my best friends have had their hearts turned toward this cause and are actively working toward caring for former slaves from their homes right here in Southern Indiana.

There are an estimated 7,000 children enslaved on Lake Volta
today. It costs less than $100 to buy a child back out of
slavery, but there is no where for the children to go. They
can't go back to families, that may sell them again... schools
are desperately needed so more children can be freed.
These women have walked the shores of Lake Volta... looking out on the children trapped there by poverty and slave masters who beat them with oars if they disobey. My friends have visited the schools that house these children. They have seen with their own eyes the good work being done there by Touch a Life Foundation.  They came back to the States forever changed. A passion in their hearts to do something, to do more. They partnered with Touch a Life Foundation [For the record, we did some research and found that only 13% of Touch a Life's funds are set aside for administrative costs, the rest go to direct programming. This is exceptional in the world of not-for-profits!], starting a "Find Your Mark" chapter which raises funds to support children who have been freed from slavery.

William and the woman he calls "Mom"... my friend Christy

Yet my friends were not satisfied with supporting a few children. Looking out on the Lake, they know the need. They have heard the desperation of child workers there who say "There are so many more children... but no where to take them". Children that must be left out on the lake, because there is no place to care for them. To teach them. To house them.

And so, friends... it's up to us. Now that we have seen, we are responsible.

We will be joining my friends Christy & Stephanie at Matthew 25 Ministries in building a vocational center in Ghana that will house and educate former child slaves. Children who right now are working up to 16 hours a day, fed one meal, denied an education. In this moment, they sit on a lonely lake, wondering if they have been forgotten by the world.

Don't be the one that forgets.

Since she returned from Ghana in October, Christy has worked tirelessly to get partners to join with her to support William, a Touch a Life Kid she met while in Ghana. A few have come along with her (this is where Kidz 4 Freedom money goes), but how many more Williams could be helped if each of you reading this now would commit to sending Matthew 25 Ministries $10 a month? I know how many of you read... I know how many of you are responsible... and I know the faces of the children that can walk in FREEDOM if you would commit even at this level!

But, what if you committed to $100 a month? A little more than $3 a day. A Starbucks sacrifice... that would result in a children being offered a hope and a future. What if you had a fundraiser, and offered a one time gift of $1000... or more. What if you share this challenge with your Facebook friends? Include them in the call to save the lost and free the captives!? Think about the mark that we can leave on the face of eternity. Children lost... now found.

It costs $1800 a year to fully support a former child slave in Ghana. That's school, clothes, food, therapy, training. $1800. The average American family spends about that much on Christmas. [Stop. Think about that.]

Now that you have seen, you are responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.

How many of your friends would it take, committing to a monthly giving program, to raise $1800 a year to support a child in a far off country? Ten friends, willing to give $15 a month... would support a child, a real child, for a year. Will you step up to the challenge?

What will you do?

There are countless organizations out there doing this same kind of work. Invisible Children, the force behind the Kony 2012 video, receives millions of dollars in donations a year. Their mission is three fold, movie making, movement, and mission- which means that 32% of the funds given to them go to direct programming... goes to freeing children. This is not a criticism of this organization at all. I am so thankful for the powerful work their movie making (which is supported by another third of the funds donated) has done to raise awareness. The final third of donations goes to cover overhead costs including salaries, advertisement, websites, accountants, etc which are necessary to sustain the movement. If you are led to give to Invisible Children, do it. If you click "see more" beneath the YouTube video, there is a direct link for donations.

But if you are led to give to people who saw with their own eyes, and felt the seed of responsibility growing within them... look into Matthew 25 Ministries (website coming soon). It is a young organization, with God-sized dreams. And we need your help. You can earmark funds to go to  Find Your Mark, which is sent to Touch a Life to support William, and if enough funds are garnered, other children.   Or if you are interested in building a place so that even more children can be brought home from the Lake, earmark your funds for the Micah 6:8 project. This is an enormous undertaking, and your help is desperately needed. If you are interested in acts of social justice here within the States, Matthew 25 also does regular outreaches in local prisons, homeless shelters, etc and your funds can go to support these causes as well. They are also prayerfully considering how to impact human trafficking that happens outside our own front doors, with a project coming soon to address this need as well. This is an inter-denominational organization, seeking to unite the Body of Christ and meet the needs of His children, locally, nationally, and world-wide.

There are a lot of child sponsorship organizations.  Many of them are extraordinary in the care they provide for children and communities. But my friend got to talk to William last night. She spoke with him, heard his voice! I know that the money that Tali and Grace raise with their duct tape projects is going to a real child, walking in real freedom. I know that he is being cared for physically and emotionally. And that is so important to me.

A few days ago I blogged about Mary Magdalene, how she found freedom in Christ, and out of that abundance of freedom came an abundance of love and devotion. Friends, do not take the freedom you walk in for granted... use it to bring freedom for others. Don't let your love of Christ be one of words, but one of action. One of being His hands and feet. One of sacrifice. One of going wherever He leads. Scripture reminds us that of whom much is given, much is required. We have been given much. So much more than we could ever possibly need. We have new iPads while others have no food. Extra bedrooms while others have no home. The finest of clothes while others sit in a boat in underwear. We have been given much, friends, do not ignore the fact that  much is required. Now that you have seen, you are responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.

Won't you join Matthew 25 Ministries? Won't you help them in their dream of building a vocational center in Ghana to house other Williams. To make a place for kids who are trapped on a lonely Lake? Won't you get with your Bible Study group, and covenant together to raise $1800 a year to support one of William's friends? Won't you donate toward their mission trip to Appalachia in June?  Won't you make blankets for them to take to the homeless next winter? Won't you share this challenge with your friends?

Won't you do something?

Find out how you can help by emailing Christy and Stephanie at matthewtwentyfiveministries@gmail.com.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-Emily Dickenson

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