Welcome to the new Just A Thought

So a few things have changed:
  1. I put all of the 5 question interviews under the 5 questions tab.
  2. All of the Just A Thoughts, the original emails I send out, are now in one place as well.
  3. Recommended Books - Self Explanatory.
The B-I-G change will be what is posted here.

I am moving more into storytelling, further away from "teaching" posts. You'll still find interviews and book reviews and the occasional teaching may slip through but the goal is to share more from my heart.

Hopefully you'll stick around and enjoy the change.

The 1st new and improved post goes up Jan. 1


5 Questions With Rick James

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Rick James.

Rick currently serves as Publisher of Crupress and is responsible for writing and producing ministry resources for the Campus Ministry. Rick is also a traveling speaker for Campus Crusade, speaking on campuses and at conferences across the U.S. His books include Flesh: An Unbreakable Habit of Purity in a Pornographic World, Jesus Without Religion (IVP, 2007), and A Million Ways to Die (Cook, 2010).

He and his family live in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Now, without further delay, my interview with Rick James:

Hi Rick,

1. In a nutshell, can you explain what your new book, "A Million Ways To Die" is about?

The goal of this book is not to inflate the biblical concept of death but to shrink it, make it bite size: to show its relevance to our daily lives and spiritual growth. The Bible focuses on the concept, the practice, and the process - the small "d" of death - far more than on the capitol D of death.

The small "d" of death relates to every Christian. While we may never die in our attempts to witness, our reputation certainly can. As everyone has an ego, the death of pride is a martyrdom to be shared by all, just as everyone can experience the death of a dream, a job, a hope, a relationship. our ego, our reputation, etc. Everyone gets a chance to die.

What I hope to show in the book is that the principle of death is operant in just about everything of spiritual value, and that it's something we can and should experience every single day in some way, shape or form, even within our unique cultural context.

That is half the point of the book: recognizing the daily deaths of the Christian life - seeing them for what they are - and there are at least a million ways to die.

The second point of the book is to illuminate the reason, motivation, and value of dying, because dying to self is not the goal of the Christian life, it is only the means. The goal, the point, and the dynamic of the Christian life is experiencing the resurrected Christ living in and through us.

This book is about the joy, peace, power and victory of the Christian life - the subject matter that lines the Christian bookshelves. It's just an honest, biblical accounting of what it looks like and how to get it - the blueprint that Jesus lays out:

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)

If the reason or value of dying to self is to experience the resurrected Christ living in and through us, then that makes you and I pinatas - all the good stuff being on the inside. How do you get the candy out of a pinata? You beat the stuffing out of it. That's precisely what Paul means when he says, "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."

The supernatural dynamic of the Christian life (Christ in us) is accessed, experienced and unleashed through our daily deaths. The Christian life is the resurrected life.

2. You mention in your book about "daily deaths". Can you explain that?

When we hear of self-sacrifice, giving our life away, carrying he cross, dying to self, etc. etc., we tend to think of horrific suffering or persecuted third-world believers. But we miss the fact that in its theology of death, the Scripture's primary focus is on the far-from-fatal daily deaths of the Christian life: the little deaths, the domesticated house-cat variety. Humbling ourselves for example is a little death. The apostle Paul refers to his trials as a series of little deaths. Repentance is a form of death. Any time we say 'no' to our flesh or love sacrificially we are dying to self. Letting someone else have the last word, refusing to do image management or defend our reputation - this is the subject of Scripture, and the fabric of daily life.

Let me give a couple practical examples: I would say abstaining from gossip is a little death. When someone tells you all the glorious dirt and details of someone in, among, or outside of your social click, there is the experience or sensation of life - an infusion of energy. When we recognize that our umbilical cord is tied to the gossip, providing a steady flow of life to our Flesh, well then, we have a choice to make. To choose not to gossip is cutting the umbilical cord. A small but significant death.

Here's another example: "I looked at porn on my computer last night." I mean, I didn't really; I'm just giving an example. In the humility of confessing our sin to one another, there is a death. To make such an admission is tantamount to putting our ego in front of a firing squad.

3. What is so great about dying?

Absolutely nothing...except it's the only way to experience resurrection life and living.

Jesus' summation of discipleship is that it's a path of death not a path to death. The path itself is one of death, but where the path leads is to life, and it's life that we want, not death.

Death has exactly zero intrinsic value. It's just that death is the only road that travels to these destinations: resurrection, transformation, and transfiguration. By definition resurrection can only be experienced by something that's dead, and this is what inflates the value of death.

If the Christian life is a string of little deaths - and it is - it is more importantly a string of little resurrections.

Someday, we will physically die and be resurrected. But it's important to observe that each day is filled with dress rehearsals: little overtures or echoes of death and resurrection that will ultimately crescendo in our actual death and resurrection.

4. In your book, you also talk about "The passion of love." What part does love play in the process of death?

What embraces both the idea of love and the idea of death is the concept of passion. Passion is not the willingness to die for something you love; it's the desire to. Passion is a paradox: finding joy in pain, pleasure in sacrifice. The only way to satisfy the burning desire of passion is to give, spend, or pour out our life in some measure.

I think this is an important point and distinction. The Scriptures view sacrifice as an opportunity to express love: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil. 1:29); "Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross" (Heb. 12:2). Only love sees sacrifice as an opportunity, and I feel that much of what we do "in love" is done grudgingly or perhaps willingly but not excitedly.

A love that desires to sacrifice is one that has been fanned to flame through worship, and that is our responsibility: to pursue God, to cultivate our affections toward Him. He is turn "sheds His love abroad in our hearts" and we in turn brim with a love that seeks to sacrifice - a dance around a flame.

5. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

A fundamentally different perspective of the Christian life and of he struggles and trials that come with it.

In Scripture it says that, 'death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:54); "swallowed up in life" (2 Cor. 5:4). Death is something for eternal life to consume, digest, metabolize, and transform into life.

What's true of all food chains, is that hawks and people and lions don't really occupy the top rung. Death in fact is at the top of the food chain: death devours everything but is itself devoured by nothing. The resurrection changed this. In Jesus' rising from the dead, death was "swallowed up in victory", "swallowed up by life." Resurrection is now the vulture picking at the carcass of death.

Death has been tamed. Christians can embrace death in whatever form it takes, knowing that God can and will transform it into life. The Genesis principle - out of death, life.

Thanks Rick.

I can not emphasize enough that this book is a must read. Make sure to pick up a copy of A Million Ways To Die today and while you are at it you should also check out Rick's blog.


To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


A Million Ways To Die

I think it was the image of the toe tag that first grabbed my attention. Then I saw the title, A Million Ways To Die. I had to purchase this book.

When it arrived I dug in, not quite sure what to expect.

What I found was a challenging book that I had to put down repeatedly. Le me explain, What I read drove me into the Word of God and repeatedly throughout the book I would encounter a Biblical truth I wanted to look at more closely in the Word. I would also put it down long enough to make notes on some really exciting point I had just read.

Rick examines death in a "fresh" way. He takes the concept of dying to self and unpacks it. I thought I understood dying to self, then I read Rick's book.

Now, I find myself re-examining what it truly means to die daily.

The nice thing about this book is that even though it talks a lot about death, it is NOT a depressing book. In fact it also talks about passion and love.

Rick places the book in the here and now, referencing recent movies and his own life experience he draws you into a deeper understanding of the one way to truly live.

I want to encourage you to order this book and put it on your must read list.

You won't be dissapointed.

A Million Ways To Die: The Only Way To Live
is published by David C. Cook and available via Amazon or your local Christian Bookstore.


Christmas Ideas

People are always looking for the perfect gift idea. Here are a few.

This Christmas why not give:

A Mosquito Net

A Soccer Ball

A Chicken

A Goat

A Cow

You can find these and a myriad of other awesome gifts in the new Gifts of Compassion Catalog.

There is also a catalogue for Canadians as well: Canadian Catalogue

Or you can make the same life changing decision that my family made almost a decade ago....

You could sponsor a child in need.

In the US just click here: Sponsorship

or in Canada click here: Sponsorship

If you sponsor a child please let me know!


Christmas - The Gift That Matters

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:8-14)

On Dec. 25th we stop to celebrate Christ's birth. The celebration usually has some form of singing, gift giving, reflection, etc. Thinking back through our life, we probably all have at least 1 favourite memory of this time of year.

I remember the year my family was struggling financially and were losing everything. My parents were only able to get each of us 1 gift. That gift came out of my parents love for us and I know it cost them a lot. (Though not very expensive, when times were tough financially any amount was a huge expense.)

Here, we see an angel of the Lord appear in the sky to tell these Shepherds that a Savior has been born. Think about that birth announcement: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. We get place, reason and identity. We don't get weight, length, etc. It's not a typical birth announcement.

We get a fulfillment of some OT prophesies. The entirety of the Old Testament was all leading up to this crucial point. All of history, past, present and future hinges on this event. This is THE moment. The birth of Christ changes things. We are told, He is the savior. God’s plan as foretold in the book of Genesis is now being fast tracked.

I like the oft-quoted and rarely thought about scripture in John 3:16: "For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) I say rarely thought about because we all learn this verse but rarely do we truly stop and meditate on it.

God loved us so much that He sent HIS Son to die. Jesus was born to die. He sent Him to die on the cross for your sins, for my sins. God's gift to us was His Son.

We celebrate Christmas in Dec but we should celebrate His birth year round. Easter is in the spring time but we should remember His work on the cross, His death and resurrection YEAR ROUND.

He came to die. The gift that matters was the work Christ willingly did on the cross. The gift He gave His life for. The gift that His resurrection made complete. Salvation. Have you accepted that gift?


It's God's fault I dropped the ball

I wanted to wait a week before posting about this to allow some of the public scrutiny to die down.

In the U.S. a football game was going into overtime. Not an unusual event. With the game on the line a pass was thrown deep into the end-zone where Steve Johnson caught and then dropped the ball. You can see that play here:

The play became a major story though when Steve Johnson posted this on Twitter after the game:


Of course this brings up lots of thoughts and conclusions. Two in particular were rattling around in my brain.

1. His blaming God when things didn't go his way is nothing new. The blame game has been happening since the Garden of Eden. King David wrote many songs of lament. Asking the why questions happened quite a bit in the Bible. It still happens today. David ended his laments with praise to God and Mr. Johnson later posted that he himself was not angry at God. I think it's ok to express our confusion, hurt, doubts and fear AS LONG as we take them back to God and leave them at His feet!

2. His blaming God is what I have heard a lot of Christians do over the years. When we don't get what we want from the "genie" we call God then it's all His fault. Not to offend but I have heard to many people speak of God like a genie that will grant you numerous wishes if you just rub His lamp. If we get our way, our wants and desires...God is good. if we don't get that promotion, significant other, toy, etc than it's all His fault. The attitude of presumption. If I want it God must want it as opposed to ...hmm I wonder what God's will is here...let me see if mine lines up with His!

We need to be real with God and quit trying to manipulate Him through "keys to spiritual success". It is NOT our will that we should be seeking...it's His!

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked God to take the cup of suffering from Him. He was asking, in a nutshell, that God work salvation out another way. However, He ended that prayer by submitting His will to God.

An example for us all.


Hitting the Reset Button

Reset - To set again.

I wrote a short piece about slowing down this past week and Paul Wilkinson, one of my favorite bloggers,, wrote a comment:
As my eyes defocused for a second reading this I noticed the great similarity between the word "rest" and the word "reset."
He calls his blog Thinking Out Loud and, by doing that, God used Him to open up a whole other line of thought today.

It has to do with that word I mentioned in the beginning of this post. RESET.

I think that most accurately describes where I am at in my faith walk right now. The Bible talks about working out our salvation daily with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) That daily working out is what i am experiencing right now and it is taking me back to basics.

If my the baseline of my life is my relationship with God than right now I am not where I want to be. I see that I have gotten a bit distracted by "religion" and lost a bit of my daily communion with Him as I focus more on the "stuff" we tend to add to make our relationship with God more "palatable" (comfortable would be another word.)

So I am hitting the reset button on my faith. I am trying to "Seek first the Kingdom of God." (Matt. 6:33)

Actually right now my focus is more along the lines of 1 Corinthians 2:2, " For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

Like I said...back to basics.

Where are you at in your walk with God?

I might have to hit the reset button a few times...just so I don't lose focus.


Slowing Down


Mental or emotional tranquility.

This is one definition I found this week for the word rest.

It kind of describes where I have been these last few months. I have been learning to say the word "No" a bit more. I am trying to get to a place where I don't jump at every opportunity and try to disentangle myself from an overabundance of activity.

Psalm 46:10a, "Be still and know that I am God..."

It is so easy for me to distract myself with stuff.

It's harder for me to listen.

So I have pulled back on my writing for a season and have also been practicing my listening skills.

I am in a season of rest.

What season are you in?


What would you ask?

Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."

I was thinking about this Scripture this week.

It brought up a question in my mind:

If you could ask God for anything....what would you ask?


I would like to be all spiritual and say revival, salvation for others, etc. I would like to.

However, if I could ask God just 1 thing...I don't know if I could say that. It would probably be for health...

Yet whatever I ask for, I believe it should be according to His will:

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

So what would you ask?


Justice for All, Mercy for Me!

I mess up.

There are times when I blow it and do not act the way I know God would have me to act. It seems I reflect Paul's struggle in Romans 7. It is times like this I have to call out for God's mercy and forgiveness.

I recognize my need for God's mercy. Without it I would be dead...literally! I want God, and others for that matter, to forgive me when I have done wrong.

Honestly...I don't always want God to extend that same grace to others.

I am ashamed to admit, I wish at times God would do a bit more smiting! I want vindication for those who are victims. I want the guilty party to receive the justice they deserve. Drop the hammer...or at least a lightening bolt or three!

Frankly, it boils down to justice for others and mercy for me!

I am reminded of Matthew 7:1-3 which says, "“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?"

Why is it that I want to hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself? Why do I want to hold the sins of others against them?

More to the point...who am I to play God?

It's a struggle.

I see lots of "guilty" people in my line of work. Drug addicts, abusers, sinners...yet they are all where I was once...lost.

My prayer is that each finds the same measure of mercy through the work of Jesus Christ that I did.

Forgiven...a name we all need.


If We Do Nothing, Nothing Gets Done - Just A Thought #45

The world seems to be falling apart at times. You turn on the news and hear major stories of crime, abuse and other sordid events. Commercials show starving children and play heartfelt music with the intentions of getting you to give money to the latest charity or disaster relief.

It would be so easy to stick our head in the sand and ignore the trumpet calls of help! Even easier would be to toss some money at the problem to massage our consciences. Our minds tend to rest easier if we can pay someone else to help fix the problem.

If it was only that easy.

Giving money to the latest project may help solve a problem half way around the world and it is something I believe we should do as we can afford it. However, this does not release us from our obligation at home.

People are dying and going to hell.

People are hurting, worried, lonely and bitter.

They need Jesus Christ....they need you! You are the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world. It isn't that hard to invite a stranger out for coffee or to open your home to someone in need. It isn't hard...but it is uncomfortable.

Yet, nowhere in the Bible does God call us to a life of comfort. He calls us to love with action. (1 John 3:17-18). He calls us to set aside the "I" and to look out for the interests of others. "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4)

Lives are changed when we step out of our comfort zones and reach out to those we meet on a daily basis.

I find God is challenging me to step out of my comfort zone more and more each day. I want to allow God to make me a life-changer? What about you?


A Pivotal Moment

Do you remember the words and kind acts that encouraged you when you were young? Who was the adult that spoke into your life? Hopefully, they spoke words of love and acceptance that encouraged you to explore an interest or talent that is uniquely yours.

This is the question Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International, posed on the Compassion Blog this week.

It brought to mind a pivotal moment in my life. I recall the impact my Aunt Mitzie had on my life. It's something I never actually told her about.

I was 10 years old and had read a Robert Frost poem in school. We were studying the poets and for some reason his poem Fire and Ice just spoke to me. I remember we had to break the poem down and write what it meant to us.

I decided to try my own hand at poetry. My Aunt was staying with us at the time and I showed her my poem. She praised my youthful attempt and encouraged me to keep writing poems. I began writing more and more poems and giving them to my Aunt Mitzie. She would continue to build me up with each poem I gave her.

One day she asked me to put one of the poems I gave her in a drawer for her. When I opened it up, I saw every poem I had given her. She kept them all. I remember how taken aback I was, but also how loved I felt. She never said a word about it but occasionally I would peek into the drawer to see if they were still there. They always were.

My desire to write increased and over the years I moved away from poetry and began writing devotionals, articles and now conducting interviews with others.

It all began with a word spoken in love.

I should call my Aunt.

That's my story. What is yours?

Compassion International's President, Wess Stafford, would like to hear your story. You can read more about what he is looking for on their site: Tell Us Your Story.

You can also watch Wess Stafford on this You Tube video


I Drew My Shoe!

Back in the 5th grade, our art teacher decided the students should draw their shoe!

Now, I can't draw. My daughter is quite the artist but I peaked at stick figures and never really progressed beyond that. I knew this project would be a challenge for me.

Each student took off one of their shoes and popped it on the desk. For the next few days we each struggled to make a rendition of our footwear of choice.

I knew the stick figure approach wouldn't work here.

So I drew, I erased, I drew some more. It seemed as if I took 3 lines fw and 2 lines back as I tried to make an accurate copy of my Nike! After finishing my project I presented it with joy to my teacher who rewarded me with an A. (I still have that drawing!)

Now, as I watch my daughter draw...I see the same persistence, the drawing and erasing as she seeks to create a masterpiece.

God is an artist as well. The masterpiece He is creating is our life.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 talks about the Potter and the Clay and how the Lord can shape Israel the same way. I look at those verses and think back over my life. I can see where the Lord also shaped me, molded me, rubbed out the rough spots, carved out some really bad spots, etc. I am not egotistical enough to think He is done.

Yet I know He is creating a masterpiece with my life. The erasing, the rubbing is painful at times. Yet ultimately He will receive the glory!


5 Questions with Dr. Kevin Bales

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's Guest is Dr. Kevin Bales. An expert on modern slavery and President of Free the Slaves, Dr. Bales lives in Washington DC. Free the Slaves is the sister organization of Anti-Slavery International (the world’s oldest human rights organization). He is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Roehampton University in London, Visiting Professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the International Cocoa Initiative.

He is the author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and numerous other books on the subject of slavery.

Here is my interview with Dr. Bales:

Hi Dr. Bales,

Question 1: What was the catalyst for you co-founding the non-profit organization
Free the Slaves?

When I published my first book on modern slavery, Disposable People, it seemed to set off a chain reaction. Many people have said that the book introduced them to the existence of contemporary slavery. I had served on the Board of Anti-Slavery International in London (the world's first human rights group, founded in 1787) and I had come to wonder why there was no broad-based anti-slavery organization in the United States. So, when I came over on a sabbatical and book tour just after Disposable People was published, I was asking everyone - "Would you be interested in an American anti-slavery group?".It was through this book and book tour that I met Peggy Callahan and Jolene Smith. They contacted me after reading it, and together, we envisioned a global organization that would raise awareness about modern day slavery—and work to eradicate it. We sat around a kitchen table in Oxford, Mississippi, where I was teaching at the time, and hashed out the blue print of what became Free the Slaves. We officially launched in 2000.

Question 2: Your website says: We don't waste time debating which kind of slavery is worse— brick kilns or carpet looms, sex or domestic, new or old—it's all horrible. Do you feel too much time is spent debating the issue?

For those of us who live in freedom it is absurd to make invidious comparisons about different types of slavery, we simply cannot fathom the reality of slavery. For the person who is enslaved, no matter what kind of slavery it is, it feels like the worst kind. And slavery can take almost any form. As long as there are communities where there is corruption and failure of the rule of law, there will be slaves. As long as impoverished people are driven away from home in search of work, there will be people vulnerable to traffickers. Slavery is the end result of a complex web of “push factors,” specific to each community it occurs in. So it is a mistake, I think, to only focus on the end result—this or that particular kind of slavery. To eradicate slavery, we have to work to stop the conditions that cause it to happen in the first place.

Question 3: What kind of work does Free the Slaves actually do?

Our work can be put into three main categories: the absolute core of our work is liberation and reintegration of enslaved people - everything else is aimed to support this work and it is where we spend the majority of our funds and the majority of our energies. I am proud to say that if you look at how our staff is divided, for every person in the office there are ten liberators on the ground getting people out of slavery. We can achieve this remarkable ratio by partnering with organizations around the world to do the frontline work of rescuing and rehabilitating victims of slavery. To support liberation we also raise awareness about slavery, and educate the public; and we influence policy and legislation. We also look at supply chains. There is slave labor behind many commonly used goods, like the steel in our cars and the minerals in our phones and laptops. We work with industry and policy makers to eradicate slavery in supply chains.

In our frontline work, our approach is to work with local organizations. Free the Slaves doesn’t believe in parachuting in and calling the shots. Slavery looks different in every community. So we find organizations that are plugged into the local communities, and have a track record of bringing people out of slavery, and guiding them into full emancipation. We also look for an organization’s ability to nurture a free community—to eradicate the push factors that create a population vulnerable to slavery.

We also give out annual Freedom Awards to organizations and activists who exemplify the most successful anti-slavery methods. Most of these awards go to survivors of slavery who now dedicate their lives to bringing others to freedom. These survivors are the leaders of the anti-slavery movement.

Question 4: How big is the current problem of slavery?

There are 27 million people enslaved in the world today, more than any other time in history. But as Bill Clinton said in a speech last year, this is actually a very small population of the world—less than half a percent of the world’s people.

(Here is footage of Bill Clinton’s speech: http://ftsblog.net/2010/09/24/bill-clinton-on-ending-slavery/)

Slavery is not an insurmountable condition. If we all work together, we can end slavery in our lifetime.

Question 5: How can people help? Specifically what can the church today do to help?

The first thing anybody should do, is educate yourself. Learn how slavery affects your own community. Many common household items have slave labor in their supply chains. Find out if there are any local organizations that specialize in human trafficking and slavery. Many rely on volunteers for their day to day operations. Organize fund raisers. It is a little mundane, but one of the greatest needs of the modern anti-slavery movement is stable income as opposed to one-off grants that come and go. Liberation is a 24/7, 365 day a year job - and we need a stale reliable income - so we urge everyone to make a small (painless!) direct payment to their favorite anti-slavery group - something like $10 per month. These are some of the ways that you can get involved in the anti-slavery movement.

Some good resources: the Free the Slaves website and blog:



A good resource for finding leading anti-slavery organizations:


My thanks to Kevin Bales and the staff at Free the Slaves for participating in and helping to arrange this interview.

There you have it. It would also be worth mentioning again the Freedom Awards, which Dr. Bales spoke about. They are taking place November 7 in Los Angeles. It is the biggest anti-slavery awards show in the world (possibly the only one, at this moment!). And tickets are now on sale.

You can find more information on the Freedom Awards here: http://www.freetheslaves.net/Page.aspx?pid=542

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


Top 10 Facts About Modern Slavery

Today I want to draw your attention to Free the Slaves.

Free the Slaves is an international NGO and lobby group, established to campaign against the modern practice of slavery around the world. It is the largest anti-slavery organization in the US. It is the sister-organization of Anti-Slavery International (the world's oldest human rights organization.

As any reader of this blog knows, I have posted on here before about slavery issues. One recent post brought my blog to the attention of Kevin Bales, the founder of Free the Slaves. I checked out his website and wanted to point out 2 things in particular:

You can also view an awesome interactive map of where modern slavery exists around the world:

Free the Slaves - Interactive Map

Check it out and if you come back on Monday you can read an interview with Kevin Bales.


5 More Questions with Kary Oberbrunner, Part 2

Welcome Back to Part 2 of an interview with Kary Oberbrunner. Youc an read Part 1 here.

Kary Oberbrunner founded Redeem the Day, a movement connecting people to a process that ignites their souls on fire. Author of Your Secret Name, The Fine Line, Called and The Journey toward Relevance, Kary earned a Doctorate in Transformational Leadership and a Master of Divinity. Besides life coaching, he serves as a pastor at Grace Church in Ohio.

Let's resume the interview:

6. Yesterday we talked about some of the criticism you received due to this book. How are you handling the criticism?

I believe God is telling me to roll with it. I think the world is full of many broken and hurting people who wear their Given Names every day. These are the people I pursue, not those who throw stones. These people take up too much time.

7. Why is this book so important for church leaders to read themselves?

Church leaders set the pace. If church leaders prefer wearing masks and posturing for position, than the non-leaders are even 10 steps behind them. Church leaders must model what it means to live freely as the people of God who've discovered how to walk in their New Names.

8. Are there any resources that go along with the book to help leaders implement it into a ministry context?

I wrote Your Secret Name with the church in mind. In fact, I have a whole page on my website devoted to Pastors, Teachers, Leaders and Counselors. They hold a special place in my heart.

I also wrote Your Secret Name with small groups in mind. It's why I:

  • created a page for small group leaders with some special tips and tricks.
  • made a video to help kickoff your group’s first night.
  • wrote a Secret Name test so group members could go deeper on their own.
  • asked people to share their Secret Stories so you could witness the impact of the book firsthand.
  • just uploaded a sample chapter so you could read it and decide for yourself.
  • included free discussion questions in every book so the group leader wouldn’t have to over-think it.

I hope pastor's tailor the message of Your Secret Name to their unique context. I'd love for them to preach through it in their own way. After all, it's the biblical story of Jacob discovering his Secret Name.

9. What do you hope to accomplish with the book? What's the take-away for the church?

I hope to spread the message of hope and freedom that Jesus offers. A take-away for the church is to realize that there is a huge group of people in need of discovering their New Name. The target audience of Your Secret Name has evolved into what I call the 3D's.


DEPRESSION – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is 1 of the leading causes of disability. The National Institute of Mental Health states that 18 million people suffer from depression in America. Among teenagers 20 percent will suffer from depression by the time their adults.

SELF-INJURY – Experts estimate that 4% of the population struggle with self-injury (biting, cutting, burning). Many write words onto their bodies.

ADDICTION – Each year only 10 percent of Americans who need alcohol and drug treatment get the help they need.

SUICIDE -- The WHO predicts that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one suicide every 20 seconds.


According to the Gallup Organization* =

· 29% of the U.S. working population is engaged in their lives.

· 55% of the U.S. working population is not engaged in their lives.

· 16% of the U.S. working population is actively disengaged in their lives.

These 16% actively disengaged, are set on sabotaging their lives, jobs, and families. (* http://gmj.gallup.com/content/379/Passion-Work.aspx)


Those without a past relationship to the church are called unchurched, but there are many with significant past church involvement who are exiting-the de-churched. The de-churched are guilty of a false gospel of “moralistic deism,” which believes that if you obey God’s rules he will bless you with what you desire.

The problem arises when God’s blessing doesn’t come—or doesn’t come in the form we want. Divorce, illness, poor grades, failed relationship—virtually any hardship has the potential to destroy one’s faith in Christ and the church that represents him. People walk away and enter the ranks of the de-churched.

Another group within the de-churched population have simply lost confidence in the institutional structures and programmatic trappings of the church. For them the institutional church is not an aid in their faith and mission. Rather it’s become a drain on time, resources, and energy. It feels like a black hole with a gravitation pull so strong that not even the light of the gospel can escape its organizational appetite.

(*Excerpt from Skye Jethani) (*Matt Chandler on the De-churched = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzTm3W2Ai7s)

10. What's next for you? Any other books coming like "Your not-so-secret-or-important middle name?"

I hope to walk in my New Name and the calling surrounding it. At this moment, my church has joined me in an Outreach to the 3D target audience. God's brought a super cool team together, committed to helping others discover their Secret Names and who God created them to be. Here is a website with more information. http://yoursecretnamesaturdaynights.eventbrite.com/

Thank You Kary for doing this. I appreciate you and your book very much

Thanks so much for your kindness.

That concludes my interview with Kary Oberbrunner. I hope these past few days have peeked your interest enough that you will go out and get a copy of Your Secret Name today!


5 More Questions with Kary Oberbrunner, Part 1

Welcome to 5 More Questions With.....

Today's Guest is Kary Oberbrunner. Kary did an interview with me back in July 2009 and has returned for a follow up discussion regarding his new book, Your Secret Name. This will be a 2 part interview over 2 days.

Kary Oberbrunner founded Redeem the Day, a movement connecting people to a process that ignites their souls on fire. Author of Your Secret Name, The Fine Line, Called and The Journey toward Relevance, Kary earned a Doctorate in Transformational Leadership and a Master of Divinity. Besides life coaching, he serves as a pastor at Grace Church in Ohio.

He and his soul-mate, Kelly, have 3 kids. In his free-time Kary enjoys reading, the outdoors, and playing disc golf.

So let's get to the interview:

1. Kary, how this book came about--what was the “reason” behind it?

I guess growing up with a girl's name (Kary) left me perpetually wanting more in the whole name area. You might say I was "name deprived." I've always been utterly intrigued with the verse in Revelation 2:17 about the new name written on the white stone. Like most people though, I never knew what this verse meant. To me it sounded like fiction. And let's be honest most people don't know anything about this verse. Even as a graduate of two seminaries with a Master's and Doctorate degree, I've never heard one single talk on this verse. It's kind of like God hard-wired us to desire a Secret Name and put a verse in His word about it. Strangely, for the most part, church history has left us in the dark about it. So by accident I set out on a task to explore the epic truth surrounding this concept of Secret Names.

2. Names were very important in Bible times, are they still important today? In what way?

We've lost a sense of who we are. And so we're on a quest to discover our true identity. There was once a world without names, but one single choice in Eden changed all that. Ever since the Tower of Babel, we've been trying to make a name for ourselves outside of a relationship with God (Genesis 11:4). Our experience with names is incredibly impoverished comparatively speaking, but our need to discover our true name is just as poignant as in Bible times.

3. The book is very real, you don't pull any punches, was it a tough book to write--especially considering the personal nature of the book?

I remember early in the writing process sitting on the floor in my basement staring at my computer, with my medical/mental health/counseling files spread out in piles all over. This book took a real chunk of me with it. In some respects the book is my heart and my life. I didn't hold anything back, including my detailed struggle overcoming an addiction to self-injury, even while functioning as a pastor. I couldn't have written this way seven years ago when I wrote my first book because this process of removing my mask has been a slow, but rewarding endeavor. Emerging into freedom always is.

4. How does knowing your secret name change your life?

Every follower of Jesus has 3 types of names:

Birth Name–the name assigned to you when you arrived in this world.

Given Names–the names you inherit while walking in this world (positive and negative).

Secret Name–the name granted to you by the One who made you.

God’s whisper alone satisfies your soul ache because God alone knows you better than you know yourself. Until we learn our Secret Name we’re either a mass of frozen potential yet to come alive, or we come alive prematurely, acting out our Given Names because they’re the only names we know. When you discover Your Secret Name, you also discover your divine destiny.

5. You've faced some criticisms about this book, what's so controversial about it?

Humans fear what they don't know and because most of us haven't grown up knowing the story of Secret Names we're afraid. This is a tactic of the Enemy. His mission is to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to keep us in the dark regarding our divine destiny.

Many of us fear the possibility of being powerful, the possibility of actually kicking back the darkness. And so we prefer living small, because it's safer.

Most people also don't know that Jesus has a Secret Name (Revelation 3:12 and 19:12) or that His followers will have His name on their foreheads for all eternity (Revelation 22:3-4).

The bulk of us exchange a life of bold adventure for a predictable, bland, and dutiful religious one.

The truth is that the story of Secret Names is found throughout the Bible beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation. The truth is that this epic tale resides in us all.

We know this. We feel this. And we taste this. As a result, we kill the one thing that could set us free. We'd rather be slaves to our Given Names than liberated, walking in our New Names.


This will conclude part 1 of my 2 part interview with Kary Oberbrunner. Come back tomorrow to read Part 2.
In the meantime, check out the Your Secret Name website and order a copy of the book today.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


What is Your Story?


Molested and Suicidal

Manic Depressive



We all have stories and people are sharing their story on the Your Secret Name website.

The beautiful thing is that it doesn't end there. These people are being vulnerable, but they have also either discovered their Secret Name or are well on the way to discovering it.

We all have stories. I was angry and bitter due to the names I was given on my journey through life. I remember the feelings of rejection I struggled with and how my identity was wrapped up in that and other names I had picked up.

I found Hope. I found out what my name truly was. Loved. With my new identity in Christ I began the daily process of walking in my new identity.

Read the stories, take the test, read the book...let God transform your life.


Your Secret Name

If you read one book this fall, please do yourself a favor and make it Your Secret Name.

Kary Oberbrunner has written what is surely his Magnum Opus. This book is an eye-opening look at the story of Jacob. Interspersed with his own journey, Kary leads you on a Biblical discovery of your Secret Name.

We were all given names at birth. From there, as we journey through life, we are given other names as well. Some of my given names were klutz, rejected and fearful. It took many a year before I discovered my Secret Name. This is why I find this book to be so powerful. Kary doesn't shy away from the pain of his own journey.

I cannot accurately describe how blessed you will be by reading this book but I want to encourage you to check it out for yourself. You can also go over the books website and take the Secret Name Test.

Watch this video and then go check out Your Secret Name today.


Ecstasy and the Love of God

I knew the punch was coming before it was even thrown.

After he hit me in the chest 3 times, I was able to convince him to sit back down on the sidewalk and sip some coffee.

With that, my day had taken an interesting turn.

When the guy had wandered into my store 20 minutes before, he plopped into a chair and began to drift off to sleep. I encouraged him to wake up and come outside with me. As we sat on the ground, he told me he was tripping on Ecstasy. He might have been...I really don't know. I do know he was not with it. I also know I felt God's presence.

Years ago I would have avoided these situations like the plague. I never used to feel comfortable around people who were "tripping." God, well He had other plans. Instead of fear, trepidation or general anxiety, I felt an overwhelming peace and genuine care for this guy having a bad reaction to something in his system.

Philippians 4:7, "and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

I knew he needed to be in a safe place, he was liable to hurt himself or others. While getting his coffee I asked one of volunteers to call the police. He needed to be off the street, for his own safety.

As I walked back out and set his coffee down I immediately knew the blow was about to come. After his 3 quick hits, I asked him if he was ready for his coffee. Then I sat with him as we sipped coffee and chatted.

After a time (still waiting for the cops) he began to put his hand close to my face and started to tap me on the side of the head...I looked at him and said, "You can stop now." With that he lowered his hand...a bit...

He then began to curse some more...and then he said something else..."Why are you an Angel. Why are you being so kind to me."

"Jesus loves you and I care...you are obviously in a bad place right now and I don't want to see you get hurt."

He shook my hand and got up to leave...spewed a few more curse words, then began to stagger towards the road.

He walked right into the arms of the police and quietly let them handcuff him and take him away...

Whatever happens next, I thank God for His peace, His protection and His Love. While this guy was tripping I felt love, while he was smacking me in the chest...I felt love, while he was cursing me and raising his hand to my face...I felt love. Loved by God and love for this stranger.


Holding My Tongue

Sometimes it is better to leave things alone.

I learned that recently when an issue of gossip cropped up on my radar. Keeping the details sparse, let me just say this:

Things were said about others by others and it got back to them. As it came up at work, I tried to speak into the issue and see if it could be resolved and the outside rumoring stopped. I thought that by going to the source, I could bring resolution.

Yeah that didn't work. Mushroom clouds were fairly obvious and it only created more issues.

I think it's under control now...

But I learned some lessons...

"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

and the best answer of all:

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." Titus 2:7-8

Needless to say, even though I was not involved in the gossip, only trying to bring resolution, I will be seeking to guard my tongue as well.


It's the little things - Just A Thought #46

As I woke this morning to a house that was almost too quiet, I struggled to wipe the sleep from my eyes, poured myself a cup of rapidly cooling coffee and let the dog out. Praise was the furthest thing from my mind.

Psalm 150:6, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!"

I wasn't feeling too spiritual. It has been a rough few days. I was a bit taxed mentally from some job stuff and as I found my attention shifting, I noticed my personal time with God was waning as well.

Saturday was kind of a breaking point for me. I struggled through where I was at and ended up sitting on my couch in exhaustion both mentally and spiritually. Why was I doing all these mental gymnastics?

Oh yeah, I wasn't living out of my identity! I was back to trying to solve the worlds problems in my own strength.

Thankfully, God used these last few days to bring me back to reality.

In the stillness of the dawn, in the midst of a 9 hour power outage, God spoke to me in the darkness. It wasn't an audible voice. It was a gentle nudge. A nudge to His Word.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

There is something about a house without power. There was no hum of background noise. I couldn't "distract" myself with TV or the net.

It was just me and God.

So I gave up.

I let go of my strength..

I listened...

Now, as I sit here writing this, I feel like a boxer after 15 rounds. I am tired, exhausted....and free.

Thankfully God was here all along, waiting for me to rediscover who I was meant to be. A child in His arms!


Thoughts on Unity

I was re-examining some Scriptures on unity this week. Things popped up in our community that got me thinking about what unity was and what my role as a believer is.

Psalm 133:1
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!"

This is probably the most oft-quoted Scripture on unity. I believe unity is a God thing and can change, not only our life, but the lives of those around us.

However, look at that Scripture again. It is pleasant for BRETHREN to dwell together in unity. My brother and I are a part of the same family. The same thing goes for my spiritual family. I can have unity with those of the same faith, Christianity. However, it is kind of hard to have unity with someone who doesn't believe in the same God as me. It is hard to have unity with someone who doesn't believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Coffee, yes! Unity, No!

Ephesians 4:1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Let's be honest. God's children have not always modeled unity. It is hard to convince the world Jesus loves them when we can't even demonstrate that to someone from another denomination! Jesus ate with sinners and yet, I see pastors who can't share a coffee with one another!

Romans 15:5-6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is the key...following Christ Jesus. If we, the followers of Christ, would focus on what we share instead of where we DENOMINATIONALLY differ, I believe God would be glorified even more.


More Lessons From My Son

I love learning things from my kids.

Over the years my daughter, and now my son, have taught me a lot about God's character. God has also used them to teach me more about my character as well. Like my need for patience, understanding, compassion, etc.

This week I have been watching my son. He is getting more expressive and his facial reactions are priceless.

One thing I have noticed is his reaction to me as his father.

When I come home from work his face lights up. We start are day together as I lift him from bed and he "helps me" let the dog out, feed the dog, etc. He expects it now, waking up and looking for me to pick him up.

He likes to fly to the ceiling...as I lift him up and let him touch the smoke detector he get's giddy with excitement, and now, when I pass the doorway, he looks to the ceiling and smiles...

There is a devotion, a longing on his face to spend time with me...with his mom, his sister. He wants to interact with us.

It's the same devotion and longing for interaction I should have with the Heavenly Father.

It reminds me of Psalm 63:1-8

1 O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Kids are wonderful!


What, Me Worry?

I felt a ball in the pit of my stomach as I hung up the phone at work. Audit. The word conjured up images of IRS agents going through years worth of records looking for a period missing on an obscure document long forgotten in the the bottom of a box.

Of course this was Canada...and not a government audit. No, this was a company auditor flying all the way from Toronto to go through everything with a fine tooth comb.

Over the next few weeks, the burning sensation in my stomach got worse with each email from the auditor. I took over the job with all of the paperwork handed to me in boxes. I did not even know what was in half of them.

Finally, the fateful day arrived.....

and it wasn't so bad!

After 3 days and many hours the auditor filled me in on areas needing improved and nothing that I worried about came to pass.

It was actually fun. There was a word I never expected to use when in the midst of an audit.

Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Matthew 6:27, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

In the end, I worried for nothing. I wasted time and energy projecting what might happen instead of praying and trusting God.

I'd like to say it won't happen again.....

I don't think I can. However, I can say I will be seeking God for strength in this area. I covet your prayers.


5 More Questions With Martin Smith (Delirious?)

Welcome to 5 More Questions With.....

Today's Guest is Martin Smith. Martin did an interview with me back in June 2009 and has returned for a follow up discussion regarding CompassionArt.

Martin was the front man for the wildly successful Christian rock and worship band Delirious? and is not only an excellent vocalist but a talented songwriter and guitarist as well. His songwriting hits include "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever","Shout to the North","The Happy Song","Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" and "Deeper". Before Delirious? Martin was a producer. Working mainly with UK artists. One of the original three founders of "Cutting Edge" (the previous incarnation of Delirious?).

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Martin,

Question 1: The initial funds from he CompassionArt project came in and so far £48,000 ($74,000+ US) has been distributed to various projects. How did it feel to see the first wave of grants go to much needed projects?

It was a truly great moment to see the first wave of funding being released. We are due to release some more funds in the near future which is even more exciting, and so we pray daily that God will bless the usage of these songs and get them into the hands of companies and individuals who can direct them into places where they can continue to generate income for these 16 CompassionArt projects.

The sales of the album and book have dropped off now and so we are relying on royalties from third party usage and CCLI. God will find a way when it seems sometimes, there is no other way.

Question 2: The funds are still coming in as the songs recorded on the CompassionArt project are played around the world. How will CompassionArt continue to sustain the outlay of grants?

Yes, a few of the songs are beginning o travel and are getting picked up and played by radio stations, churches and worship leaders. "King of Wonders" is becoming popular, so to is "You Have Shown Us" which is currently being used for the Micah Challenge 10.10.10 campaign. See www.compassionart.tv for more details and please support 10.10.10. We must keep praying every day. My mum used to day when I was growing up, "seven prayerless days makes one weak"! So true. CompassionArt is not a big organization. We have deliberately kept overheads to a minimum to enable the money generated to flow through to projects. We have one member of staff who works for us just 1 day a week........my brother, Paul. He's a saint and keeps on top of all the administration including liason and communication with our trustees.

Question 3: Any chance for more CD's or books coming from CompassionArt?

Anna and I do not have any plans to create additional books or cd's for CompassionArt. Obviously it will take a lot of time and money o produce another product, and so if there is anyone out there who would like to get on board, donate, support or financially endorse a second album please come forward! Songwriters such as Michael W Smith, Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc. are always booked up 18 months in advance and so if we were to plan another similar songwriting retreat to the one we did in 2008, the earliest we could try and get everyone together would be sometime in 2012 and if the songs turned out to be any good then the recording would take a further 10-12 months before being complete. But we never say never, and continually seek God for clarity and direction knowing He is always one step ahead of us. We would need to know that making a second album is the right thing to do, but for now we are entirely happy with the way everything turned out the first time. We get e-mails on a daily basis from people telling us that one of the CompassionArt songs has blessed them in some shape or form. Its all very encouraging.

Question 4: What kind of feedback have you gotten from those involved, both artists and organizations?

We have partnered with various organizations this year. To name a few, Tearfund (global poverty prayer week), Christian Aid (christian aid week) and Micah Challenge (10.10.10). I can honestly say working alongside these professionals has been amazing. Feedback would suggest they also have enjoyed working with CompassionArt. Christian Aid have already invited us to journey with them again in the future in some shape or form. They managed to raise a staggering
£13 Million overall. The artists/songwriters continue to be supportive but as you can imagine they all have separate focus and very busy lives. A percentage of the income stream is directed towards their nominated project and so there will always be communication between us on that level. I am so appreciative of them all lending their time and talent, for something greater.

Question 5: How can people continue to help the work of CompassionArt?

Well there are many ways people can help. Firstly, we need help to get these songs taught to congregations and sung in churches. We need people to further understand that if they adopt one or two or three of these songs and sing them regularly in their churches it is actually raising funds for the 16 different CompassionArt projects. There is no easier way to fundraise.......just open up and sing!

Churches are adopting the idea and realizing the benefit of people and local communities coming together and inviting people to use their God given talent. Events, and concerts are being hosted by communities involving school bands, choirs, comedians, opera singers, dancers and solo singers. Churches charge an entrance fee and the money is donated to CompassionArt projects. It doesn't have to be music related events. It could be a bunch of athletes organizing a mini Olympics or a group of cake makers getting together to bake and sell delicious cakes to raise money. There are so many creative ways to fundraise and so many talented people that could step up and do it. Over to you!

Thanks again for coming back for a second interviews Martin.

There you have it. If you missed it the first time around I would encourage you to pick up the CompassionArt book and CD. You won't be disappointed. You WILL be helping to meet the needs of those in abject poverty. For more info on CompassionArt check out their website: CompassionArt

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


CompassionArt - 1 Year Later

Last year 12 artists: Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, Israel Houghton, Graham Kendrick, Steven Curtis-Chapman, Andy Park, Stu Garrard, Martin Smith all got together to write and record songs for charity.

The proceeds from this project, called CompassionArt, and other projects they initiated all go to 4 charities picked by the group and 12 by the individual artists. I covered the CompassionArt project quite frequently on this site..

In addition to mentioning the original project and the book, I had the chance to interview a few of the artists.

Martin Smith, Andy Park, Darlene Zschech and Matt Redman all took time out of their schedules to discuss CompassionArt with this blogger.

Now, thanks to permission from CompassionArt, I can provide you a bit of an update:



Jan-June 2010


In December 2009, CompassionArt released its first wave of funding (£48,000) to various church based projects it has committed to support. The grants were distributed and divided up as follows:


At a total cost of £12,000, CompassionArt has contributed £6000 towards a boat purchased to support people living on remote islands situated on the banks of the river Amazon. The government in Brazil refer to these families as the forgotten people as no one really knows how many families and children exist on these islands. The waters are infested with piranha fish and tree stumps which makes it dangerous to reach these people. The CompassionArt boat will enable doctors, teachers and missionary’s to visit safely to provide much needed healthcare, education and pastoral care.

Rwanda (Darlene Zschech)

In the village of Hope based in Kigali (Gasabo) £2000 has been contributed towards the provision of 16 rainwater tanks. The rainfall in Rwanda is not a problem. Catching it and keeping it clean is. There is no underground water to be found in this area so women are currently walking two hours to the local, poor quality, community tank for 5 litres of water. The new water tanks will need little or no ongoing maintenance.

UK – Helping Ex-offenders (Tim Hughes)

A grant of £2000 has been used towards providing support to caring for ex-offenders registered churches as well as linking ex-offenders to these churches. Between January and June 2010, a total of 70 ex-offenders were helped due to improved relationships with chaplains, resettlement governors, probation services and community chaplains. During this reporting period 48 ex-offenders were linked to supportive churches. Future developments are taking place with preparations to deliver a 17 week pan addiction course based on a 12 step process, a 4 week money course for those struggling with their financial situation and production of a “so help me God” dvd.

China ( Steven Curtis Chapman)

Marias big house of hope has received a £2000 contribution to continue with the daily care of special needs orphans in china. The money has done so much to provide for these children in the area of housing and food which in turn has further made it possible for doors to open in desperately needed areas such as medical care and surgeries. To date this money has supported the lives of 200 special needs orphans and in the last six months several have benefitted from a physical and occupational therapy programme. A medical team visited the home in March to perform the first round of cleft lip/palate surgeries for children awaiting these procedures. This is a picture of Clarissa when she was admitted to the centre and three months later after receiving physical and occupational therapy.

Manilla, Phillipines: Tondo Rubbish Dump ( Martin & Anna Smith)

An investment of £2000 has been made into community healthcare training. Healthcare teaching and training was carried out in January over four sites, more than the original two envisaged – the Tondo dump clinic, Tondo dump school, Navotas cemetery and Baguio dump. The main focus of training was on simple infection control.

South Africa (Graham Kendrick)

Funds amounting to £2000 are helping children who find themselves caught up in the crime and gun culture on the streets of South Africa. A music teaching facility is being developed to shift the attention of these youngsters to give them the opportunity to learn a musical instrument leading to exams and certification. The school teaches music theory and practical and includes performing, arranging and recording of musical pieces. Life skills’ training is also built into the programme. The London College of Music and Yamaha are also helping to develop this facility.

Kenya (Israel Houghton)

The children’s Mosop orphanage based in Sotik, Kenya, has used their £2000 contribution from CompassionArt to restore and repair ceilings in their school classrooms. Fortunately this work has been completed just before the rainy season starts.

Other projects being supported

£6000 supporting two buses regularly visiting a rubbish dump in Cambodia providing education food, showers and a place of shelter for children working in the area hoping to find food or earn a dollar a day.

£2000 is being held to start an animal husbandry programme starting later this year in south east Asia, primarily in India. The programme will help kids with HIV learn how to harvest milk, raise and breed animals and participate in their daily care. Buffalos, chickens and goats will provide food and milk to local communities.

£6000 is helping to spread a global awareness campaign for young people called “Start Freedom.” School age kids all around the World are taught what trafficking is, how it affects their life, and what they should do to combat it.

£2000 to a Compassion church based child survival programme based in Uganda. The project is having a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of mothers and babies in need of support.

£6000 is in a reserve fund in an effort to help Watoto in their bid to raise $300,000 to build a creative centre in Kampala, Uganda. The centre will be a facility for orphaned children to learn to dance, sing, learn to play musical instruments, songwright, and learn production tools. The hope is to see future generations become worship leaders and teachers.

£2000 is supporting the on-going monthly costs of a baby centre situated in Kampala, Uganda. The rescue centre takes in abandoned babies needing urgent care and attention and looks after them until they are well and strong enough to live with a surrogate family.

£2000 is contributing to a life skills programme serving 766 HIV affected children per month in the townships of South Africa. Over the last six months Life skills educators have managed to reach a total of 4601 children needing urgent help in the areas of drug, alcohol, sexual abuse and Aids.

£2000 has been sent to a very depressed area in Hong Kong where drug abuse and crime is a serious problem. Jackie Pullinger and her team are helping to provide food and education for children in need and are awaiting government authority to build a meeting shelter situated next to a big car park where a lot of the affected kids hang out, committing crimes and taking drugs.

A £2000 contribution is being held to build a safe house in Texas later this year. There are 300,000 victims of child sexual exploitation in the United States, but only five specialised aftercare homes exist to meet their needs. Trafficking in the U.S. is growing much faster than our collective response to it.