What is ‘Freedom’?
(by Salwa Elias)
After watching the movie Sound of Freedom I was motivated into writing my reaction, or ‘response’ for use of a better word. Apart from the trauma that was triggered in me, no tears were shed, only harsh, inexplicable emotions that God alone would be able to comfort. I do not recommend this movie to anyone who suffers from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) or who has experienced abuse of any form. Don’t expect ‘entertainment’ from this production, although many walking into the theatre appeared to be doing so – munching on their popcorn and slurping their drinks as they chattered in wait to watch a ‘movie’. This is not a movie; it is real life being portrayed by excellent actors on the big screen. It’s life on the dark side, and not some production to fill in recreational or leisure time. If you’re planning on watching this film, I highly recommend you pray a while, before the introduction to another soul’s nightmare begins. God have mercy.
The lights were turned back on, as the audience scattered, leaving their seats to walk out toward the ‘exit’ signs, with conversations flowing around little hubs of friends waiting to leave the theatre. All I could hear was the deafening sound of silence within my soul, enveloped by a darkness that couldn’t be described, as I sat in the stillness of my thoughts: “How do we fix this?” Mesmerized into an endless trance, I just sat there. The Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy that I prayed before the session began, had prepared me well, as I was able to control my emotions throughout the screening. Too many emotions were stirred in my mind and heart – mostly anger, followed by hopelessness and grief. Now what? There was nothing but silence; a loud, deafening silence within me.
Without giving away too much of its content, The Sound of Freedom resounded in the playful clapping of young children, who were once trapped, and now freed from the prison of their abusers. Only a handful of children. That’s right, just a small handful of children from the millions reported missing in the world of child sex trafficking. “How do we fix this?” We watched a movie. We saw 1% of the horror that is out there, but “How do we fix this?” Did the audience realize they just witnessed ‘real life’ on a big screen, and not just another ‘movie’? My silence, and the darkness I felt in my soul, are nothing compared to the trauma that would haunt these children for the rest of their lives. That’s where my darkness is triggered, in reflecting on their trauma and wondering how the other 99% of ‘unsaved’ children are surviving through each day of this monstrous nightmare. I can’t help but ask God “Why?” and “How can we stop this abuse?” I can’t help but ask myself “What can I do?”
I’ve seen and heard enough in my lifetime to confidently say that this horrific evil of all human trafficking is literally ‘hell’ on earth. This movie has left me perplexed as to the level of cruelty to which humanity can descend … to the absolute lowest form of evil – “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
Upon my return home from watching The Sound of Freedom my immediate reaction was to write … to express the pain and anguish I was feeling … to pray and beg for God’s mercy for those young souls who were lost and waiting to be found … wondering and asking themselves: “Where are the good people out there? Isn’t anyone coming to save me? Why isn’t anyone stopping this from happening to me?” Nothing but questions without answers. Prayer and offering reparation come to mind … then what? Hope? Faith? I don’t know what to pray for after seeing this eye-opener that reveals the reality of the high demand for such abuse which is created by pornography. This higher ‘demand’ automatically calls for a ‘supply’ which the dark web of human trafficking provides. Stop the ‘demand’ and you will cease the ‘supply’ but how do we stop the demand?
Do I pray for God’s mercy on the souls of those paedophiles? Do I pray for God to give the victims courage to endure the torture they are living? Do I pray for the parents of those children, that they may find some reason to continue living each day, wondering where their children are? Or do I pray that anyone who has a hand in this wicked business of selling children would be pursued and punished? Honestly, I don’t know what to pray for, or how to calm my soul from the unrest stirred within. What is ‘freedom’ after all? For me, freedom is abandoning my will into the Hands of God the Father, but what is freedom to those entrapped in the web of lies and abuse beyond their control? Can they abandon themselves to God? Or, are they blaming God doing this to them?
My heart that burns for love of Jesus, is weeping; the fire of that love is being tormented by tears of utter grief. Why am I so surprised, when I knew what to expect? I’ve been working in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault for 30 years. I’ve heard stories, seen legal battles, and even known victims who were murdered by their perpetrators. Why am I surprised? Perhaps it was the number of victims in this movie that shocked me … seeing more than a few children at once, in such vile circumstances, shocked me into disbelief despite having decades of experience with victims of abuse. Millions of innocent young souls are being traded for money, but “God’s children are not for sale!” This is what I must remember. This is what will reignite the Faith and Hope that is my stronghold, and it will empower others also to fight with the same battle cry: “God’s children are not for sale!” This is why we must not allow our grief and shock to paralyse us.
I’m writing all this down because I know that some relief will come from expressing the fears and anguish within me, aided by prayer and the Grace of God alone. I’m writing this down because I don’t want this production to be viewed as just another ‘movie’ or award-winning film. We must find a way to stop this evil. Prayer and reparation are only part of the solution. I don’t have answers, but I know that God will provide in some form. I just don’t know what He will provide, but I will continue to pray for an answer and direction. God will find a way to direct the path of ‘good people’ to do something in stopping this atrocity. Don’t allow indifference to justify us surrendering, and becoming complacent about the evil that is happening in our world. Ask the Lord to grant us the courage to find ways of stopping this growing web of abuse, and acting upon those solutions. Prayer, hope, and action where possible … God have mercy on us.
After writing this article, I was introduced by a friend to the organisation that is doing something to rescue children from such horrific circumstances – Destiny Rescue. Please support them in their efforts. They are one solution in answering my question “How do we fix this?” For more details go to their website: www.destinyrescue.org
Porn or Purity: The Choice is Yours
(by Greg O’Neill)
These days, many Christian men have lost all comprehension of living a life of purity. In fact, the word purity is hardly ever used, even in the modern church. Men are continually bombarded with images of semi-nude women wherever they turn. From adds on TV and social media, to walking through the local shopping centre, or even taking a stroll on the beach. These constant images saturate the mind.
Unfortunately, we have all been sold a number of lies. Over the years, from boyhood, through teenagerhood, to manhood. We have been drip-fed lies. As we age, we become desensitised and the lies become more and more reinforced in our thinking. They are confirmed by our struggles and experiences of the world around us and as we look at other Christian men, we confirm what we now believe to be our new reality. So, what are these lies?
The main lie is that purity is unattainable and out of reach. We think that it may have been attainable to men of earlier and more conservative generations. However, since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, any hope of walking out a pure life has been dashed.
God sets a very high standard when it comes to sexual purity. Perhaps the best example is found in Ephesians 5: 3, ‘But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.’ Now that’s a high standard. No ifs, no but, not even a hint. So, why such a high standard? Has God set the bar too high?
God standard comes from His wisdom. He knows that if we allow even a hint of sexual immorality into our lives, we are opening a door that will be difficult to close. He knows our level of temptation in this area and how easily a man can fall away. Men are aroused by what they see and can retain sexual image in the recesses of their minds for weeks, months, even years.
We make excuses and let in more than a hint. We allow ourselves a few indulgences now and again. We let our guard down. Just as we enjoy small amount of time relaxing, watching Netflix, eating chocolate and perhaps a red wine with dinner. In the same way we allow ourselves indulgences of sexual gratification. We indulge in watching nudity or sex scene in the latest block buster movie, a glance at that skimpy jogger as she passes by, or a quick look at pornographic images so easily accessed on our smart phone. As time passes, and as we continue to allow ourselves these small indulgences, a habit is formed. Our belief system is compromised. ‘It’s no big deal,’ we tell ourselves. ‘Everyone does it.’ ‘It won’t hurt me,’ ‘I only do it occasionally.’ Eventually, we have allowed in even more than a hint of sexual immorality.
For many, a lifelong struggle has now begun in the heart and mind that is not easily overcome. As sexual sin infiltrates the mind, over time, it begins to captivate one’s heart. So how do men find breakthrough in this area of their lives?
The answer is found in Romans 1, verse 25. There are two parts to this verse. The first part says we have ‘exchanged the truth of God for a lie.’ That is, overtime, we have developed beliefs and assumptions about God that are wrong. We may feel let down by Him and by others. However these lies penetrate, we begin to act on these wrong beliefs.
Sadly, we started out our Christian journey believing that God is all that we need, and He can be all satisfying. But over time, so many competing voices in the world challenged that assumption. It became difficult to let go of everything the world offers and find true satisfaction in Him. We begin to believe the lie that we need to look elsewhere for satisfaction.
Breakthrough comes as we turn back to God and believe His word. Believing what He says about Himself and rejecting the lies of this world. God’s word is truth, and as we press into Him and seek after Him above all else, we begin to believe again that freedom and victory over this sin is possible. But, we must take His word as truth and believe what it says. We must begin to live by those truths and stand on them.
The second part of Romans 1 verse 12 says that we have ‘worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.’ This is the heart of the problem. Our heart is no longer sold out for God. Rather, it is divided. As we believe the lies that ‘everyone does it, its no big deal, no one can truly walk a pure life,’ we allow in compromise. We are now worshiping God and worship lust at the same time. We are doing what God explicitly instructed the Israelites not to do. We are worshiping the idols of the world around us. We are now on a slippery slide away from worship of the true God towards potential destruction.
If we are to find breakthrough in this area, we must recognise that this is a heart issue. We must be so captivated by God, that we no longer want sin in our lives. When our heart is sold out for God, we begin to hate sin, we detest it. Why would we choose sin when our hearts are fully satisfied by the almighty God who loves us and is there for us, even in our darkest moments?
Thirdly, breakthrough involves understanding who we are as believers. We are children of God. This is our position in God and this does not change. We all have a position in our families. We are fathers, sons, daughters, and grandchildren. Positionally, we are God’s own sons and daughters. He loves us as His own adopted Children. We belong to Him and He does not stop loving us. Although we are unfaithful, He remains faithful. For transformation to take place, we must have a complete understanding of who we are as His children. Our identity, values and purpose are more clearly defined from the position of who we are as children of God.
The truth is, Jesus came to set the captives free (Luke 4: 18). His grace is sufficient for us, even in our present situation and struggles (2 Corinthians 12: 9). Jesus conquered sin once for all and he made a way for us to stand firm and overcome in the midst of trials and temptation (2 Corinthians 10: 13). There is hope for every one of us. As believers we are not destined to live in a continual cycle of sin. We must find our strength in Jesus and if we put the word of God to the test, we will find in it the truth we need to experience freedom and victory so that we can honestly say ‘I am not allowing even a hint of sexual immorality in my life.’
Praying in the Spheres of Health and Science
(by Kathy Williamson)
When focusing on prayers for the spheres of health, science and wellbeing, I’m reminded when contemplating what His word tells us in James 1.22. Not to be just hearers of the word but be doers of the word, and not be deceiving our own selves.
How can we deceive ourselves? When we look into the word to get what we want. We pick and choose and say “Lord bless me and my family, give me this, I’m believing for that.” I feel that God says He won’t be mocked and that we should be able to look into the word of God and see our own reflection because He is in us.
But what do we see? To be honest if someone said He is coming back soon. I’d say I’m not ready? I’m nowhere near the person I should be? And to be honest I look into the word and I’m convicted, we’re not living the way He wants us to live. Lives totally sold out to Him. Believing for miracles, praying for the sick and seeing healings. Having your shadows heal people. Feeding thousands. Being the hands and feet of mercy. Speaking out against the evil in the world, to turn back to Jesus, to repent.
In the latter days Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride and I certainly don’t see a spotless bride. I see people in turmoil and churches losing people like never before. Is this the falling away predicted by the prophets? Is Christ coming back soon? Are we in end times? Will we see tribulation? Will we be raptured?
In these latter days we need to be on our knees crying out to God to heal our nation to bring repentance to the church, to the remnant, the Ekklesia. Jeshua come!!
More and more people are doing this, but still only on a small scale. Prayer warriors!! These spheres of influence need to be red hot with the fervent prayers of a righteous nation unto God. Not a few, but many.
When I get overwhelmed at the weight of all this I remember my prayers are a sweet fragrance in heaven, my heart is quenched by His love for His people. I pray in tongues when I get overwhelmed and don’t know what to pray. Tongues are the language we pray and as Paul said pray at all times. When I pray in tongues it’s not just a few minutes, I’m talking about an hour…? In 30 minute or even 10 minute bursts, my spirit is talking to the throne of God. I am in the throne room. I am seated there with the Trinity. I am in heaven on earth. My soul is at peace and I bow my head and am undone.
In prayer we come closer to His bosom to hear His ? heartbeat. What is it saying? “Come to me all who are weary, burdened, and heavy laden. Place your weapons in the throne room, at the mercy seat, and take rest.” Oh dear God this isn’t prayer, this isn’t fervent red hot prayer? I should be storming the gates of heaven: mercy for our land!
“Your heart my child like a weaned baby
you wrestle with my word
you wrestle under prayer
and yet my heartbeat can only be heard
when you are quiet and in peace
resting on my bosom.
Rest and be in peace!
My peace is apon you,
my love is a banner over you.
My strength empowers you.
My Grace is your power,
rest in my Grace.”
Rest, this is where we storm heaven.