Atlanta

Fourteen

Atlanta is one of 14 United States cities with the highest rate of children used in prostitution.

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a seminar held by a United Methodists Women’s Circle on the topic of sex trafficking.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, sex trafficking is defined under these guidelines:

A person commits sex trafficking when he/she: a) recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains another person to engage in sexually explicit conduct, or knowingly subjects a person to engage in sexually explicit conduct, for which anything of value is directly or indirectly given, promised, or received by any person; b) uses coercion or deception to induce or obtain sexually explicit conduct from another; or c) induces or obtains sexually explicit conduct from a minor person age 17 or younger).

The first time I heard about human trafficking was in 2007, after the release of the film Amazing Grace the year before. It was during an assembly held at my high school, in which we were made aware of the very real problem of sexual exploitation of both adults and minors.

The statistics are appalling. And I had no idea how much happens right here in Atlanta.

The FBI released a report with statistics in which Atlanta was found to be in the 14 US cities with the highest rate of sexual exploitation of children.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation did a comprehensive study of human trafficking in Georgia. They found that 63% of law enforcement polled in the State of Georgia said they did not feel adequately trained to handle cases involving sex trafficking.

Innocence Atlanta posted statistics revealing that 40.4% of all suspected trafficking incidents were child-related and classified as “prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child”.

It’s easy to lose hope when looking at the numbers. But the fact that there are people behind these numbers sparks me to action. There is hope. Groups like youthSpark are working on prevention and care for victims of sex trafficking. The Polaris Project is actively combatting modern-day slavery. Not For Sale envisions a world in which every person knows that they are not for sale. There are several pro-active organizations listed on the End It movement’s website.

You can get involved. You can help. You can take action.

Atlanta is one of 14 US cities with the highest rating of children in prostitution.

Let’s change that number to 13.

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Learning to be a Learner

This past week I spent four days in Norcross, Georgia to complete my Greenlight internship training.

And it was INCREDIBLE.

While I could regale you with hilarious stories about the four of us who were there for training, I will hold back. Instead, I want to share three things I learned that stood out to me the most.

1. Be a learner

All four of us girls are going to live in cross-cultural environments for two months this summer. That’s an exciting prospect, as well as stress-inducing. Thailand and Peru might sound a bit more exotic, but Clarkston has been dubbed America’s Most Diverse Square Mile by Time Magazine. Point being, we will all be in places where we are unfamiliar with the culture. We were given the advice to approach this experience as a learner. We aren’t there to sell anything, we aren’t pushing agendas, we are simply there to learn.

2. Everyone should be able to follow Jesus within their own culture and their own language. 

It’s sad to me that this seems like a radical statement. Christianity is generally given the face of the white North-American. This is hardly true. Christianity looks like this:

And this.

The term “Christian” has garnered a negative connotation over the centuries, from the Crusades to Jim Jones. If the message Jesus taught is true, everyone should be able to follow him without giving up their culture and their language. As the author Darrell Whiteman said, ‘”Jesus” is God spelled out in a language humans can understand’.

3. Prevenient Grace

God is already in Clarkston. I am not taking him there. I am going to find him there. In the midst of transition, fear, and unknowing, God is there. It seems to me Jesus always had a knack for showing up where he was least expected, and where he was most needed. I have no doubt he has already been working in the lives of those I am going to meet this summer. And I am so honored and thrilled to go with the purpose of learning and sharing their stories.

This post was a bit wordier than I like, but I felt so strongly that I should share what I have been learning recently. And this is just a portion.

What do you think? Have you ever had a cross-cultural experience? I’d love to know what you think about missions or cross-cultural work. Get the conversation started! You know you want to.

P.S. We had fun exploring Atlanta, too. Pardon the crappy phone quality. I think the quality of the subject makes up for it. ;)

Piedmont Park | Atlanta

Piedmont Park | Atlanta

Hotlanta

Hello!

I am back in beautiful, hot Georgia. After the craziness of finals week, I feel a lot like this.  So many papers were written that I am not entirely sure I even know how to properly construct a sentence anymore. All words sound the same right now.

But I survived! And I am pumped to start my internship next month. You have no idea how excited I am to get to know Atlanta and the people in Clarkston. As June approaches, I am rapidly checking off things on my to-do list.

Prep for Documentary – check.

Get camera and audio equipment – check.

Sunscreen – check.

Prayer – check.

This summer is going to stretch me and I am praying that as I learn about the different cultures around me, I will learn more about myself. Please continue to pray for me as I prepare for this summer of missions and service. Pray that I will build lasting, meaningful relationships. Pray that I will not lose sight of the vision I have for this documentary and that I will not grow discouraged when things do not go as planned.

And if any of y’all want to help a girl out, I am still in the process of raising financial support for my 2 month internship with Centerform. If you have a few dollars to spare, shoot me an email and ask me how you can support me this summer. At this time, I am also accepting any and all suggestions of restaurants/coffee shops/awesome places to visit.

This is getting real. I’ve definitely still got butterflies in my stomach but I am growing more and more excited as June gets closer.

Stay classy!

Oh, Hello There Blog World

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Hello!

As a newbie to this whole blogging thing, I feel a lot of pressure to write an incredibly clever, wisdom-filled post. But that’s not really my style. So bear with me.

I may not be clever, but I do have some incredibly exciting news. I am preparing to begin my newest adventure in one month. Life has taken me to some crazy places (most recently Russia) but this time I am journeying to Atlanta for the summer! I am STOKED.

I was born in Georgia but I’ve only spent about 4 years of my life there. And let’s be real, Georgia is a pretty cool state. And Atlanta is a pretty cool city. So the fact that I get to live there, intern there, and get involved in some awesome ministry opportunities there…that’s exciting stuff (It’s seriously making me really happy).

I’ll be interning with the Mission Society and Centerform while I live in Clarkston. If you don’t know anything about Clarkston, hold onto your seats. It’s a multi-cultural melting pot right in the heart of Georgia. I’ll be working with the local church and getting to know refugees, third culture kids, and lots of wonderful people.

All of this is really awesome and exciting. But I’m also nervous (like so many butterflies in my stomach right now), because I’ve never done anything like this before. So pray for me as I embark on a completely new kind of journey. I’ll be keeping you updated every step of the way.

Stay tuned, folks. It’s going to be a good one.