Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Prayer for the Clapham Circle

I’m finally recovering a bit from a crazy work schedule, a trip to Asia, a nasty cold and last-minute Christmas preparations. Aside from a clogged right ear that gave out on the final leg of the plane trip home, I’m feeling pretty good.

This morning I was reading Philippians 1, and Paul’s words reminded me of the Clapham Circle.

First, Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:3-4, NIV).

I’m thankful for the co-laborers who have answered God’s call to fight against human trafficking and are working and praying together to find the most effective ways to do that.

Paul also records his prayer for the Philippians:

“That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1: 9-11, NIV).

I pray that same prayer today for the Carolina Clapham Circle and for all the others who are involved in this cause. Phrase-by-phrase, here is how I see this prayer applying to these friends:

“That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best …”

Most of the modern-day abolitionists that I know are motivated by love. We don’t know the victims, or many of them, but somehow God has put His love in us and made us want to defend, rescue and restore them. May that love abound in knowledge and depth of insight so we may be able to discern what is best—in other words, we need to know the best way to defend, rescue and restore the victims of human trafficking. A couple of months ago, three of us got together and watched a short human trafficking video that broke our hearts. We spent about a half hour in prayer, amidst sobs, and at that point I was so ready to go out and fight the bad guys. But I had no idea how. We need knowledge and depth of insight if we’re going to be effective in this fight.

“… and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ …”

As we fight against forces that are truly dark and evil, we face risks. We can be driven by anger instead of love. We men, especially, can be drawn away by the very lust that fuels the largest segment of human trafficking, which is sex trafficking. And we can forget that the traffickers, too, are hopelessly lost and need to be saved from the evil that controls them. In all our efforts, we need to pray that we remain pure and blameless.

“…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”

When God makes us righteous—by grace, through faith in Jesus—it is not just so we can avoid hell. It is so we can join God in His work of redeeming the world, expanding His reign (the kingdom of God) in this world. The fruit of righteousness is the “produce” that comes when we live under the rule of God, and that produce includes the lives of people around us that are transformed, restored, filled with love, joy and peace. One of our Clapham Circle members has spent time volunteering at a safe house for young women who have been rescued from sex trafficking. She has told us of the wonderful changes she saw among those who had been at the safe house long enough to start building a new life. New lives, transformed by the love of Christ—this is the kind of fruit Paul had in mind for the Philippians, and it’s the kind of fruit I pray will be produced by the Carolina Clapham Circle.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Back soon

I'm going to be out of commission for awhile--we've been through a pretty horrendous stretch at work, and I've got about 10 more really busy days ahead of me. But the Clapham Circle will still meet Dec. 13. Please join us; we'll be talking about some great ideas for how to fight human trafficking right in our own region, and we've got members who are doing fantastic things to fight it internationally.

Pray that God will free slaves today and that He'll use us to do it.