Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Heartbreak of Human Trafficking

Last Saturday night at the Salad Supper, one of the ladies talked about the problem of sexual abuse and how often she saw it's wounds in the women to whom she ministers in the jail ministry. Our conversation wandered on a bit from there to the problem of human trafficking.

Some of the things I heard frightened me and broke my heart. I wanted to do something to help, but the doing required more knowledge. I've read more than I wanted to know about human trafficking this week.

Here's some of what I've learned:
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing activity of organized crime world-wide. 

- Human trafficking is a $32-150 billion industry. (estimates vary widely)

- The average victim of trafficking is 12 years old. 

- 100,000-300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked each year.

- The average cost of human trafficking is ~ $90,000/person.

- The Polaris website estimates that 68% of trafficking involves forced labor. 26% of victims are children and 55% are women and girls.

- Trafficking involves more than prostitution. It includes forced marriages, labor trafficking, trafficking for organ trade, forced sex acts and performances, and child sex tourism

- Worldwide, according to Wikipedia, 2 million children are trapped in trafficking of child sex tourism. (I was stunned to hear that people schedule vacations in order to have sex with children. Fishing trips to the Amazon in Brazil. Trips to Thailand. You can include any brand of perversion if you wish.)

- Sex trafficking victim numbers vary widely, but there are at least 4.5 million victims worldwide.

- Interpol rescued 2,700 victims of sex trafficking in July 2016 alone.

- In Israel, six people were recently arrested for running a trafficking ring in which their victims were speech and hearing-impaired people kidnapped from the Ukraine and forced to beg.

- According to the FBI, 750,000 predators are online at any given time, trolling in 40,000 public chat rooms. During a 10 week investigation, offers to pay for webcam sex performances were made to undercover officers from 20,000 different internet users.

- According to Wikipedia, 10,000 prostitutes (many of whom were victims of sexual trafficking) were brought from out-of-state to Miami for Superbowl 2010. The weekend of the Superbowl is one of the most profitable of the year for sexual traffickers. 

I did a Google search for "prostitution in Tupelo MS" and found a few news reports of arrests for prostitution over the last few years. It certainly didn't look like the problem you might imagine in a big city, but it wasn't non-existent in this area, either. Whether there is an organized structure to it or not, prostitution exists at some level in our area. 

If you're like me, you want to help. The first step in making a difference is to be informed. There are imbedded links above, as well as specific links below. The first link below will help you learn to identify a victim of human trafficking. 

It's also important to understand who is at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking. According to (accessed 8/26/16) 

"Possible risk factors associated with child trafficking include the following:
  • lack of personal safety
  • isolation
  • emotional distress
  • homelessness
  • poverty
  • family dysfunction
  • substance abuse
  • mental illness
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delay
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • promotion of sexual exploitation by family members or peers
  • lack of social support" 
The risks for human trafficking are similar, no matter your age or gender. Those who are weak and unable to defend themselves are always at risk of falling prey to those who are stronger. (Here's the link to an article that discusses the risk factors in more detail.

It's easy to look at the facts and decide it's a problem for law enforcement officers, and it is. The reality, though, is that it will take all of us to make a difference. 

Internet pornography is highly addictive, and is one of the reasons the trafficking industry has expanded to such an incredible degree. People who use pornography find that, like a drug addict, they need more to achieve the same result. Deeper levels, worsened forms. 

If you dabble in pornography, confess your sin, repent, seek help if needed, and stop. (I was shocked to learn that a small but significant percentage of pornography users are women.) 

Get an internet filter.

If you know someone who uses pornography, urge them to get the help they need in order to stop.

Learn what to look for in trafficking victims and those who are at risk.(The link is below) There is a 1-800 number for victims of trafficking to call for help. I do not recommend trying to get between a victim and the trafficker. That's a job for law enforcement.) You can call the 1-800 number to report a suspected trafficking situation, as well as call 911. 

Volunteer. You can make a bigger difference than you realize by volunteering to help with the jail ministry. You might be the one who helps a person trapped in a terrible lifestyle to break free by the power of God.

Consider volunteering with organizations that serve at-risk youth. Prevention is always better than trying to extract someone after the fact.

Most important, don't underestimate the power in prayer, both individually and corporately. We serve a God who hears and responds when we pray. He cares about the women and children who are victims. He will not turn a deaf ear to our pleas. He will not fail to move.

Now that we're informed, we can begin by praying with insight. Today, let's start by making a commitment to do exactly that.

1) Pray for traffickers to be exposed and stopped.

2) Pray for those who are victims to be recognized, freed, and receive the help they desperately need.

3) Pray for at-risk women and children to receive help in advance that keeps them out of the hands of traffickers.

4) Ask God if you should volunteer with your church or other organization to help those victims who are incarcerated. (Expect a yes on that.)

5) Pray for law enforcement officers to recognize victims and get them the help and protection they need.

6) Many of the victims are held in bondage because of drug addiction, so pray for them to have a desire to be sober and clean. 

7) Pray that victims will find the freedom and healing only Christ can give.

8) Join me in praying that those who have taken, or are taking, a child-sex-trafficking vacation will be caught and arrested before they can traumatize a child, and that the children involved will be rescued.

9) When SuperBowl weekend rolls around, pray that those who are being victimized can be rescued. Pray for the law enforcement officers who are investigating human trafficking to be wise and recognize every instance. I'm praying that the next SuperBowl weekend will be the least profitable weekend for traffickers ever.

10) Pray about volunteering with at-risk youth and welcoming them into your home. (You can expect a yes on that prayer, too.) The organizations working with troubled and at-risk children and adults appreciate your donations, but they need your time equally as much. Volunteers are always in short supply. 

Be the one who loves those in need, just as they are, and demonstrates the love of Jesus to them. 

There is a worldwide problem, but boys and girls, men and women in our area are at risk of falling victim to traffickers, too. Sometimes, they are victimized. 

We can make a difference, if we will. 

When I wonder what Jesus would do about this problem, the answer is clear. 

He'd roll up His sleeves and wade into the fray. 

He'd stand up for those who need Him most.

He'd love with abandon, and invite them to follow Him. 

That's how Jesus loved me, and He revolutionized my life. The people in at-risk situations need the love of Jesus every bit as much as I did. If we are willing to lead them to Christ and help disciple them, He can revolutionize their lives as much as He did mine. 

In fact, that's exactly what He wants to do... and He's depending upon us. Let's be the ones who love like Jesus, give like Jesus, and rescue like Jesus.

Frank Pollard once quoted a poem by C. T. Studd. One line has stuck in my mind for decades.

"Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell.
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."

When I heard those words, I thought Dr. Pollard said, "rescue ship". I wanted to be a rescue ship, too. There are plenty of people living within a yard of hell. Let's run the rescue ship (or rescue shop) that brings them to the safety of Jesus.

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." 
2 Peter 3:9 nasb

Here's a link to help you learn to identify a victim of trafficking.
Here's a link to the MS Attorney General's brochure on Human Trafficking.
Here's a link to the MS Attorney General's list of resources
Here's a link to the MS Human Trafficking Act of 2013. It provides for a relief fund for victims and forfeiture of assets for those convicted of trafficking.
photo above courtesy of

Here's a link to yesterday's post: Salad Supper Sweetness
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

Friday, August 26, 2016

Salad Supper Sweetness

Last Saturday night was the long-awaited Hosea Saturday Salad Supper. I'm still savoring the sweetness of the evening.

The plan began to unfold when I wrote "THE END" on the Hosea study. My friend, Edith Wilhite, who is always ready for fun, suggested we have a party to celebrate. Saturday night, we finally did.

I had no idea how many people to expect, so I prayed that God would send the perfect number of people. He did. Literally. I laughed when I realized He had sent seven, which is (in Biblical numerology) the number of perfection. 

I'd planned to share a little Bible study, but it wasn't necessary. We taught ourselves as we shared what God had done, how He was moving, where He was leading. My leadership was superfluous because the Holy Spirit gave us all the leadership we needed. 

We ate. We laughed. We were silly. Serious. Impassioned. Determined. Joyful. Victorious.

Not everyone was acquainted before that evening, but everyone was family once they arrived. Deeply loved. Completely accepted.

We were the body of Christ at its best, and it was beautiful.

After everyone left, I sank into my big green chair and the dogs piled into my lap. I closed my eyes and savored the time we'd just had together. I chatted with the Lord about it, of course. "What a sweet night, Lord. We were family. I loved it." 

That Still, Small Voice in my heart whispered the sweetest thing. "You weren't just family. You were the church."

In case you've wondered, that's how "church" is supposed to be. Believers who may be different on the outside but are united by the Holy Spirit on the inside. Mutual respect. Deep love. Great joy. Celebrating the works of God in the lives of one another.

It's not all about having fun together, of course, but it should definitely be a part of our time together.

Something else happened last Saturday night, and I've been processing it all week. Some of the women knew about a problem that touches our area. I'd heard rumblings, but I hadn't heard a report from someone who knew more than rumors. That night, I did. 

When the church gets together and someone shares a need, we don't just talk about it. We don't just wish each other well. We ask God what to do. That's what I've done.

The issue is human trafficking. The problem worldwide is bigger than I thought. (Check back tomorrow to read more and find out how you can help.)

As I listened to those ladies talk about how our Lord was using them in the Kingdom of God, I couldn't help but wonder how different our world would be if we were all as involved. What if everyone in the body of Christ stepped up, reached out, did their part? How much suffering could be alleviated? How many broken lives could be made whole by the power of Christ?

We'll never know unless we all do what God has uniquely designed each of us to do. Today, let's ask ourselves two big questions.

What has God equipped me to do?
What will I do about it?

None of us can do all the things that are needed in this world, but we can all do one thing. Ask God what your "one thing" is and begin, today, to do it. 

We can make a difference, by the power of God, if we will.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 esv

"and He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Luke 10:2 esv
Don't forget to share this blog post. If I've done my part well, those shares will help send the truth of God to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Answered Prayer I'd Forgotten I'd Prayed
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis M.D.

#DailyDevotional #Jesus

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Answered Prayer I'd Forgotten I'd Prayed

I was going through the unpublished drafts in my blog file today, and found something I'd written two years ago. 

At the time, I was worn out from the practice of medicine and had taken some time off. I'd go back to medicine after Christmas, I thought, when I had done some of the things I'd planned. It would work out perfectly. 

God must have laughed.

Looking back, even I'm laughing at the plans I made. I wanted to expand my little publishing company. Write and publish the two books I'd been pondering. Build tiny cabins on my farm and rent them out. Start an agritourism business. Go back into a different kind of medical practice.

As I pondered my future, there were so many things I wanted to do that I finally did the only thing that made sense. I asked the Lord to clarify my "next step". 

It seemed like ages passed as I waited for God to make my path clear. As I prayed, the only answer I received was "safe pastures". More than one time I asked God what kind of answer that was. I needed something I could recognize.

In the meantime, I looked at my own pastures and did what needed to be done. Weed eating. Watering. Mowing. Building raised beds. Gardening. And, of course, writing.

I began to wonder whether He'd told me what to do and I'd missed it. It didn't seem like it at the time, but now I know that those months were actually spent resting in safe pastures. He was training me as an effective writer and digital communicator. He was expanding my reach. 

So much time had passed, that I had forgotten all about the prayer for "next steps". When I read those words today, they were like a lightning bolt from heaven. 

I instantly remembered one Sunday a few months ago when our pastor announced the new sermon series. Next Steps. That day, we'd all bowed our heads and asked God for our next step.

That day, God answered my prayer from two years earlier with such clarity I'm still astounded. 

Of course, God knew the plan all along, but He had some fine-tuning to do first. If He'd told me back then that my next step was at Global Outreach, (especially doing a combination of intercessory prayer and digital outreach) I'd have balked. 

"Who would want to do work like that?" I'd have asked Him. 

Today, I know the answer to my own question. The one who's called to it is the one who will do it (even if it seems like too hard a job), because obedience matters.

If you're in a transition place, maybe you're asking the same question. "What's the next step?" 

Take a lesson from my experience. While you wait, do whatever God places before you. Be faithful. Keep seeking. At just the right time, He'll surprise you with the beauty of His plan and the breadth of His orchestration. You'll find out the same truth I learned. 

God's plan is worth the wait.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and nor for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Lou's Grave Garden
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis M.D.

#Faith #Christian

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lou's Grave Garden

Ole Lou was a big dog. I didn't realize quite how big until I started digging the hole to bury him. After I'd dug as much as I could dig, and had a hole that seemed enormous, Sam took a turn. When Ryan came home, he looked at the grave, shook his head, and picked up a shovel. He kept at it until the work was done.

After Lou died, I wrapped him in a sheet, and lowered him into the hole we'd all worked to dig. There wasn't an inch of extra room. I filled it in and mounded the dirt on top, just like Sam told me to do.

The red dirt piled high has left a raw, ugly scar in the backyard that jars me every time I see it.

I've given considerable thought to beautifying the spot and making a kind of memorial to the dog we loved for fifteen years. Ryan and Lou grew up together. He was a much-loved part of our family, and stayed as cheerful as ever to the very last. 

I wanted to plant something over his grave, but the summer heat was too hot for new shrubs. At last, I made my plan. I'd plant zinnas now, and put a re-blooming azalea there in the fall. It would be a kind of grave-garden.

My seeds arrived in the mail one day last week. When I plant those seeds just under the surface of the ground, I don't have to worry about what will grow. Zinna seeds grow zinnas. Every single time.

That's what happens when we plant seeds. Watermelon seeds always grow watermelons. Spinach seeds always grow spinach. Flower seeds always grow flowers. 

In that same way, the choices we make on a daily basis are like seeds sown in the garden of life. We have the option, every day, to sow seeds of righteousness or seeds of idolatry and futility. The choices we make, in lifestyle, in actions, and attitudes, will bear fruit consistent with those choices. 

It's vitally important for us to sow wise and godly choices every day, for those seeds of choice bear fruit both now and in the hereafter. 

Worldly choices bring worldly rewards, but that isn't the kind of yield that carries over into eternity in the way we'd hope. It's only the seeds of righteousness that yield both a beautiful life now and joy in the hereafter.

Today, let's take a look at the harvest from our choices and make sure we're bearing fruit that yields an eternal reward.

"and the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Matthew 13:23 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Stinky Hearts and Circling Vultures

Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stinky Hearts and Circling Vultures

When the work of writing the Hosea study began, I didn't know how immense the effort would be, nor how many hours I'd spend over the next four months in studying and writing. As it turned out, I didn't know as much about Hosea as I initially thought I did.

To my surprise, I found that Hosea wasn't just a heartbroken husband. He was a writer who used numerous literary techniques throughout the book, including quite a few instances of agrarian imagery.

One of the word pictures Hosea painted was of a vulture circling the temple, drawn by the scent of death. It wasn't the scent of a rotting carcass that attracted the vulture. It was the stench of spiritual death in God's people.

The vulture analogy reminds us that we either emit an aroma of life or death. Of Christ or of the world. The aroma of Christ is a sweet-smelling incense to God. Not so the aroma of the world. 

We would do well to consider what kind of aroma our own life presents to our Lord. Do we offer the same sweet fragrance of Christ we once did? Has our faith diminished? Our obedience faltered? 

We seldom lose our faith all at once. Instead, we walk away from our Lord with one compromise at a time, usually in a slow meander of ever-increasing sin. The further we drift from Christ, the more we carry the scent of the world. 

Today, let's check our spiritual proximity to Christ. Are we as close as we once were? Are we as close to our Lord as we need to be?

If not, let's do what must be done. Admit our failure, ask for forgiveness, and open our Bibles. Let God speak to us through His Word and respond as He leads.

If we must emit a spiritual aroma, let's make sure it's the sweet aroma of Christ that draws people to Him.  

"For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;" 2 Corinthians 2:15 nasb
Here's a little extra vulture-info: 

Israel's vultures are a bit different from the ones we have in this country. They have Griffon Vultures. I wandered across a surprising article, and included it in the Hosea study because it was interesting. 

An Israeli Griffon Vulture was detained in Lebanon in early 2016 on charges of spying. I found this story fascinating. (The Vulture was eventually released.)

photo above courtesy of
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Miracle of Grace-Gifts
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD
#faith #sin 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Miracle of Grace-Gifts

It's easy to overlook the miracles of grace with which our lives are filled, isn't it? 

A roof over our heads. Food in our bellies. Clothes on our backs. Children in our homes. All are gifts from God. 

Every heartbeat, every breath are miracles of grace, yet easily taken for granted. The heartbeats, the breaths of our loved ones are miracles of grace, as well.

The sacrifice of Christ in payment of my sin and yours is another miracle of grace that is tragically undervalued. 

As if those gifts were not enough, our Lord, through His Spirit, offers a relationship that is breathtaking in scope and depth, an attention to our daily needs that is nothing short of intimate, and a friendship that is beyond all others. 

It's a miracle of grace that God would offer such treasure, yet how often do we embrace those gifts wholeheartedly and with the reverence and gratitude they deserve?

God's blessings don't come in sprinkles or tiny trickles. If we acknowledged the magnitude of His blessings, we'd see they are dispersed in such abundance, we can barely receive them.

If we counted our blessings instead of our pain, sorrow, trouble, and hurts, we might see God's hand at work around us with greater clarity.

As we begin this new day, this new week, let's take note of those grace-gifts that God pours out upon us like water from a firehose and give thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow. 

"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow." James 1:17 nasb

In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterday's post: Having Eyes That See
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis M.D.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Having Eyes that See

I wish I could follow up today with something as funny as yesterday's post about the Watusi-buffing experience. 

Instead, I'm writing about something unexpected that happened to Ezekiel, and it's even better than buffing. Every time I read this passage from Ezekiel 8, I'm surprised. 

Ezekiel was in the second wave of captives taken in exile to Babylon. He'd been there for six and a half years. It might not have felt like home by then, but he'd probably become accustomed to the situation. 

On this eventful day, Ezekiel was sitting in his house with some of the Jewish elders who had come to visit. It was an ordinary day. No one expected anything extraordinary to happen, especially not in exile, so far from Jerusalem. 

Suddenly, when he least expected it, "the hand of the Lord God fell" on him and Ezekiel began to see a vision.

"...behold a likeness as the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal... And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there..." Ezekiel 8:2,4 nasb

In the comfort of his own home, with people filling the room, Ezekiel had a personal encounter with God and beheld His glory. It was completely independent of what was happening around him. 

The sad part is that not one of the people in the room with him experienced the glory of God, even though they were the leaders of the faith. Ezekiel was the only one with the heart and eyes to see.

On this Lord's day, many of us will attend church services with fellow believers. Some of us will have a personal encounter with God. If truth be told, many of us will not. It all depends on the state of our heart. 

We, too, can experience the hand of God. 

We, too, can behold His glory. 

We, too, can have a personal encounter with our Lord.

We can, that is, if we're willing, but be forewarned. Ezekiel's experience was so profound that he responded by telling everyone he saw. 

Today, let's ask God to cleanse us and give us a heart to experience Him, eyes to see Him, and a willingness to tell the world all He's done.

Do you want to see Jesus? Ask God to open your eyes today.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog: Baseboards, Wooden Floors, and Bucking Buffers
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Heres' the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

#Bible #God