Friday, July 29, 2011

Sex Trafficking in Michigan?

Yep. How about right in your backyard? The reality is that happens right in Kalamazoo. So what do you know about sex trafficking? 

The Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as:
(a) [...] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
(d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

This isn't a small problem. It's an epidemic. Four days ago mlive posted an article titled: 

Kalamazoo man charged in sex trafficking case involving minors near Chicago

In the article, the 'pimp' Delaney was reported driving three young women -- 16 year old, 17 year old, and one over 18 years old -- from Kalamazoo to Illinois to engage in prostitution. Delaney was taking them to a hotel bachelor party where the girls would engage in sexual acts for a fee of $150 to $300 per 'customer.' Little did Delaney know, the party was a 'sting operation' for authorities to nab him. They had apparently been tracking him since September. 

The article went on to describe how one of the girls was being used in commercial sex trafficking and was pregnant with Delaney's baby. 

The comment section below the article really intrigued me. Although some left comments about sex trafficking and how terrible it was, many of the comments if not all discussed the issue of abortion. Here is a sliver of one conversation: 

Commenter 1:
Isn't there a difference between "sex-trafficking" and willingly prostituting oneself for monetary gain? Are these young women being charged? As the story sounds, they were fully aware of what they were doing, so why is he the one to blame? They should all face charges on this case. And this situation, if anything, should be a reason for pro-choice, as the poor child born to a prostitute and her pimp is, most likely, not going to have the best life.
Commenter 2:

"And this situation, if anything, should be a reason for pro-choice, as the poor child born to a prostitute and her pimp is, most likely, not going to have the best life." I don't think the compassionate response in this situation is to kill the child. A better plan would be to let the child live, and let the child decide what they think about their life. That would be the pro-choice thing to do, rather than decide every child not born in a perfect life situation is better off dead.

I find it very interesting that Commenter 1 thought it was a pro-choice argument for the mother to abort her child because he/she would be born into an 'imperfect' life. Look around you! Our entire world is imperfect! Commenter 2 had it right; the pro-choice thing to do is to let the child live and make decisions on his or her own. If we based grounds for abortion on whether the child would be born into a 'perfect life situation' then there wouldn't be any children! People. Our world is completely IMPERFECT. 

Check out this comment: 
Commenter 3:
yea, what happened to "it is my body, i can do what I want with it"? they can murder their child but they can't rent out their body???
This a perfect example of an imperfect and contradictory world. When you allow something like abortion into your worldview or belief system, you are allowing a myriad of other self mutilating or self altering topics as well. Why wouldn't it make sense that if you are pro-abortion you are also pro-prostitution, pro-self mutilation, and even pro-self sacrifice? If you say it's a woman's choice, then shouldn't it also be her choice to engage in prostitution, and shouldn't it be her choice to self-mutilate her own body? After all, it is hers, isn't it? 
This is where the worldview breakdowns. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trials, Tribulation, Triumph?

I recently read an article by John Busacker called, Why You Need to Fail. In his article, John described how important it is for us to go through trials and testing because  "It is there that we learn what really matters and acquire the necessary humility to depend on God's great grace, rather than on our own inconsistent efforts."

When John was asked what the most important characteristic a leader should possess, his response was "She or he must have been broken—physically, spiritually, professionally, personally, relationally—and then gotten up, dusted themselves off and continued forward with the wisdom from that loss seared in both mind and heart. I would never follow a leader that is unbroken. He or she lacks the compassion and humility to lead others." 

It's funny how trials and tribulation help remind us how important it is to trust God. We are so quick to call God out when we are uncomfortable or angry, hurt or struggling. However, God never leaves us -- even when times are rough. It's in those times which we must cling to God all the more. And maybe that's the purpose of trials or testing: that we are broken to the point of letting go of all we know, in order for God to become number one in our lives. 

I know from experience that when God seems the furthest away, in trials and struggling, when I genuinely feel like giving up, it's in that moment that God Himself feels more real. 

This reminds me of Romans 5:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

and James 1:

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., wrote:
"When I'm going through a tough time emotionally or relationally or spiritually, I figure I'm getting an education in those areas. When it gets really tough, I think of it as graduate work. Everyone and everything become part of my education. God redeems them and uses them to shape me into the person He wants me to become."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kalamazoo Air Zoo!

Well, it's almost that time of year...leaves turning colors, heat subsiding and welcoming cooler weather -- Michigan is so gorgeous in the fall! Wait a minute! WE'RE IN JULY!

So it turns out that's true; it's only mid July and we're talking about the fall dinner?! That's only because it's sure to be a wonderful and incredible event.

Last year, many of you can recall the beautiful setting at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. Well we're back there again this year! It's a great setting for conversation, families, and general exciting atmosphere.

We're so thankful for the Kalamazoo Air Zoo's participation and partnership with us during the event. They are wonderful hosts and gracious people. So I know we'll remind you about our 22nd Autumn Dinner again down the road, but we do it because we just cannot contain our excitement! Everyone is waiting in anticipation for the beautiful and memorable experience at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life in Haiti: Tragedy Still Reigns

I just read an article by Roseann Dennery on Relevant Magazine's website: Haiti: 18 Months Later. She described the still tragic living conditions in Haiti, especially that of orphaned children. According to her statistics, there were 440,000 orphan children before the earthquake disaster in January, 2010. Since then, the orphan rate has only skyrocketed. 

Roseann describes the sadness and epic tragedy orphans are plagued with; their parents either do not have the means to provide for them -- physically or emotionally -- or they simply cannot cope with the responsibility of child rearing and therefore discharge the child to cramped orphanage. 

Although there are many orphanages in Haiti, there are not enough supplies to go around. Some orphanages, as Roseann explained, receive 5-10 phone calls or drop-ins a week from parents begging them to take their child/children. 

So what does this mean for us Christians here in the US? James 1:27 clearly lays it out:  "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." 

So how do we apply that to our daily lives? How can we make a difference in the incredible disaster of Haiti? 

God moves uniquely in each of our hearts when He calls us to take action. For some of us, it may be connecting with orphanages in Haiti and doing what you need to make resources available to them -- whether through a local Church, a giving business, or a partnering organization. For others, it may be taking a trip to Haiti and assisting where needed. For some still, it may be spreading the Truth about the Haitian people's needs and continuing struggle to survive, and making efforts to make teams to further raise funds for resources. There are so many many avenues and choices we can make or act on to make an impact and difference in Haiti. 

Now it's just time to move. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mike Long Coming Soon to Kzoo!

Wow! This year's fall dinner is sure to be the best one yet! We could not be more thrilled to have Mike Long coming to our fall banquet on October 13th. Mike is a gifted and passionate speaker, father, and man of God from Raleigh, North Carolina. He established his own abstinence education strategy to teach in public schools called "directive education."

Mike has spoken all across the country for thousands of parent/teen conferences, community programs, school assemblies and youth rallies nationwide. He also created a nationally acclaimed video tape series called "Everyone is NOT Doing It" and is one of the most persuasive abstinence education resources available today. He is also the author of 2 books, Teenagers: Everyone is NOT Doing It andParents: Everyone is NOT Doing It.

Mike also produced a 30 minute TV special on his "directive education" strategy as it relates to abstinence. The program has aired on major cable networks, as well as his 5-part abstinence education series "Sexually Speaking: Youth in Love" which airs on the INSP or Inspiration Network. Mike passionately shares the Truth in love.

Needless to say, we are so thrilled to have such a zealous and motivated speaker visit and share with us on Thursday, October 13th.We hope you will save that date and invite friends and family to join us! See you there!

Check out Mikes Bio here:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Day in the Town of Vicksburg

I just had a great time in the village of Vicksburg, MI! Great little town with a lot of personality. It's fun to be the newbie in a small town, building relationships with people who know all the ins and outs there are to know in a small town. Vicksburg is a great place to walk around and visit with townspeople and business owners. Everyone gave a "hello there" or a "good afternoon" while passing by. Overall, there was great company, great people, great relationships built. Thanks for welcoming me in Vicksburg! I'll see you soon again. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Power of Worry

Hey all, let's get real -- we all worry. Now, some of us worry more than others, however, whether we worry a little or a lot, we let the Devil take a foothold in our lives. It's not easy to fight our emotions especially when going through a traumatic or hard life event. But scripture tells us Jesus' s response to worry and anxiety:

And He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 

Luke 12:22-32

I love this passage. It's like a warm, fuzzy, slap in the face. I think we often read or hear this passage, feel convicted, but brush it off saying, "Easier said than done, Jesus. It's too hard to put all my faith and trust in You. If I didn't worry I, then who's going to look out for all those things I worry about?!"

I think we often feel like if we don't do things ourselves they'll never get done. But Jesus didn't say, "Well, do the best you can to not worry, but if the job's not getting done and no one is taking care of you, then that might be a good sign you should try to make it on your own again, worrying all the way."

No. Jesus said do not worry about your life! He said not to worry about food or clothes -- for life is more important than food and the body more than clothes. He said to look at the ravens, he feeds them even though they themselves have nothing to eat! He said to look at the lilies of the field, he clothes them with more beauty and splendor than Solomon, even though they have nothing to clothe themselves with! Jesus said that God knows we need these things. He knows we desire to have food and clothing and many other needs in our life. But the best part is this: "But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."

God is not asking us to try and stop worrying, He is commanding us to stop. There is no room in "do not worry about your life" for our instinctual human nature to insert "try to not worry about your life." I don't know about you, but reading this passage made me realize I haven't even been trying.

Jesus even said "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?"

Jesus knows it's bad physically and spiritually to worry. We take on too much sometimes; we try to multi-task too much to where we can't help but stress and become anxious. Don't let yourself get to that point.

Let's make it a priority this weekend and upcoming week to not worry or stress about anything. Now that seems like a really big deal and task -- but God commands it. The only way we can do it is through prayer and communion with God. He is our priority -- no one and nothing else.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mike Long Comes to Kalamazoo!

Hey everyone!

We are so excited to have Mike Long come to Kzoo for our annual fall banquet!

Mike is such an awesome Christian leader who is boldly going where not many churches or ministries go: the S-E-X word. Mike addresses and dispels all negative or red flags associated with the S-E-X word and instead replaces the ever-so-popular word ABSTINENCE with his directive education approach. Curious? Then visit his website and blog:

We are so thrilled to have him join us and we hope you are too! Spread the word about Mike Long at the Alternatives Fall Banquet!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Do Prayers Go Unanswered?

Check this article out:

This is a very emotional and confusing topic. When I talked to friends of mine who were not Christians, one of the common questions they asked was "If God is a loving God and truly cares about us, then why do prayers go unanswered?" Many of these friends had Christian backgrounds, but turned from God and left their faith behind because of issues like this. They went through a life experience where they felt God was not present or cared about their problem, even when they needed Him the most. 

It's hard to answer this question. I'm not sure anyone has THE answer, but many Christian leaders and godly people offer great insight. No matter what the situation, we must remember this: 

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:7-10

And also,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

We must always remember we belong to a loving God; whatever He does, never compromises what the Word tells us. There are times where we are confused about what He is doing in the situation, but we cannot understand God's beautiful character fully. But what we do know is that God is love, and He gave us the ultimate form of love: His Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation of our sins. So, as we pray, let us pray without fear or doubt -- because God hears us. 

Friday, June 3, 2011


It's not very often that you find a band who's not afraid to stand up for the Truth, even if it means hardship, threats, loss of fans, bitter name-calling, and a pro-life label. So props to Skillet, with their new song "Lucy." John Cooper, lead singer and bassist, wrote the song and added it to their album, "Awake." 

If you are at all familiar with the song, you know that it is steeped with emotion and narrative writing. Although there were a lot of misconceptions concerning what the song was actually about, this article reveals the true meaning:

itunes ranks "Lucy" as very popular on the "Awake" album. It's interesting how the John Cooper didn't share the meaning behind the song until November last year -- the album has been released since August 25, 2009. I think it was very smart to wait; it gave people a chance to think about it and try to figure it out on their own. It also created a bigger impact when the meaning was finally revealed. 

Here's the truth: abortion kills. And it kills more than one person -- it kills the whole family: the child, the mother, and the father. It creates massive heartbreak, pain, suffering, and intense regret and remorse. Why go through devastation willingly? 

If you haven't checked the song out yet, make sure you have a listen. It will move you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life Walk/RUN

All right all you runners and walkers, get ready for our Annual Life Walk/RUN coming up on June 11th at the Valley Family Community Center! We are so excited to have everyone join us! And there's going to be a phenomenal pancake breakfast and family festival after the race is over. And don't forget about the awards and prizes! So we will see you bright and early on Saturday morning, June 11th! Check out our website for more info!

Life Walk/RUN

All right all you runners and walkers, get ready for our Annual Life Walk/RUN coming up on June 11th at the Valley Family Community Center! We are so excited to have everyone join us! And there's going to be a phenomenal pancake breakfast and family festival after the race is over. And don't forget about the awards and prizes! So we will see you bright and early on Saturday morning, June 11th! Check out our website for more info!

The New Heaven and Earth

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ” Revelation 21: 2-4 NASB

This is a great passage; one that I am not too familiar with, actually. However, the imagery and poetic speech are so captivating and descriptive; they paint a very eloquent and vivid picture of Christ's return. Although, this passage remains a mystery to me. 

This isn't a passage to read without pondering or digging in deeper. So what do you think the imagery and analogies are referring to? What have you studied or learned from this passage? 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remembering Memorial Day

PBS gives a great summary of the meaning and tradition behind Memorial Day:

I found it very interesting that it was previously called "Decoration Day." This does, however, make sense; when we honor someone for what he/she has done, we "decorate" them with praises or rewards for a job-well-done. When someone passes away, we honor them with flowers and mementos of personal significance. 

Our country has been through so much; so many soldiers lost in wars and battles. I can't help but believe that every person knows someone who gave their life for the safety of others in war or battle. However, how quickly many of us move on or forget the real meaning behind National Holidays such as Memorial Day. 

No matter what we go through within our country, there are so many who gave everything to protect it and its people -- us. I feel like many of us are apathetic about National Holidays such as this; we get the day off and enjoy a long weekend with family and friends. Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying that time with family and friends, I think we need to be more patriotic and passionate about the country that we live in. 

So, now post-Memorial Day, what can we do to be more passionate and patriotic about our country, soldiers fighting for us now, soldiers now retired, and soldiers lost in war? How can we continue to honor, decorate, and remember what they do, did, and have done for us for so many years? Maybe a good start is remembering why we celebrate Memorial Day. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hidden Treasures: Can Good Come from Bad in Joplin?

It really was an excellent reminder about God's beautiful love and mystery amidst trials and disasters. The author of the article, Will Cunningham, quoted James 1:2-4, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

I love that passage. It's like a slap-in-the-face, convicting truth. I find it interesting that it says, "let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." What does it mean to let endurance have its perfect result? Does it mean do nothing about the situation and God will take care of everything? Absolutely not. From what I have read and learned from scripture, it means the exact opposite. We don't grow if we don't do something about the situation.  

Check out the next part of the chapter:

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:5-8

So we must ask God for wisdom! Taking initiative and going first to the only One who can give guidance and wisdom amidst trials. Here's what comes next:

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

So we must ask and then persevere, because God has promised us a crown of life in the end. We are acting and living through trials and disasters by asking God for help, believing and trusting Him without doubt --which takes all the strength and power in the world at times-- and persevering with God's grace. But it is not in vain! We will receive a crown of life as our reward. 

"This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." James 1:19-25

This passage reiterates what I studied and wrote about yesterday. We cannot be lazy in our faith; faith in God is a call to action. God commands us to be excellent listeners, to think before we speak, and patient people (vs. 19). We must put aside filthiness and wickedness, and put on humility. A very big undertaking that cannot be ignored. 

Finally, God commands us to be doers of the Word, not simply hearers. So, what does it mean to let endurance have its perfect result? 

"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:26-27

Prayer for Joplin

It's crazy how one storm can do so much damage. After hearing the news and seeing the pictures, it's almost indescribable. This article from RELEVANT Magazine, however, inspired me: It's so cool to see the family of God come together and reach out wholeheartedly to those in need. 

Two passages of scripture come to mind when I read this article: James 1:27 says,  "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." And 1 John 3:18 says, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 

The cool thing about these two passages is that the words "religion" and "love" are used as verbs; they produce actions, deeds, movement! James is telling us to visit the orphans and widows, and John tells us to " deed and truth." I love how, Convoy of Hope, and all the volunteers stepped up and put love into action. This should always be our mentality when it comes to serving others with Christ's love: love that flows from doing something and taking initiative. 

So what can we do do help Joplin? You can make donations directly to Convoy of Hope, Red Cross, or WorldVision, however if you would like to purchase a gift-card to send to the victims in Joplin, we will make sure it gets there. Contact me, Allie Goodrow, or Dave Bos at Alternatives of Kalamazoo.

phone: 269.345.1740 ext. 11 or 16; 
or email: &

Let's put Christ's love into action!