Kenya: Debbie Hogeboom thanks you for your prayers. Authorities announce that four of the Ocampo 6 will be tried for crimes related to the post-election violence in 2007-08. Security was high in the Eldoret area, but all has remained calm.
Rwanda: Pray for Julie Yerger's one-month visit in Rwanda beginning Sun., Feb. 5. While there she plans to talk with Kibogora Hospital leadership to see what their priorities are for the hospital and discuss how she can work with them to meet those goals. This will give Julie more information as she makes decisions and plans toward her return in June after a time of partnership building in the U.S.
Hong Kong/Philippines: Pray for God's continued healing touch on Kits Monencillio, missionary from the Philippines to Hong Kong, as she recovers from surgery for a burst appendix last week.
India: Pray for God's protection and for health to surround students from Helen Rose Training College of Nursing; some do not have safe living situations.
Mexico: Pray for newly appointed Mexican missionary Eunice Alvarez and God's direction for her place of service. Also pray God will direct FM churches in Mexico raising funds for missions.
Heavenly Treasures Team: Pray Kathy Gaulton, Keith Tanita and Christina Gaulton have safe travels and good meetings with artisans in Kenya and Ethiopia. They travel today, Jan. 31 through Fri., Feb. 17.
FREEDOM SUNDAY 2012
Pray for FM Church efforts to participate in Freedom Sunday this Feb. 26. For more information to raise awareness and funds to combat slavery click here.
Churches Around the World Call for an End to Modern-Day Slavery
By Jade Batstone
When Harriet Tubman waged her historic fight against slavery in America, she relied on churches along the Underground Railroad to provide safe haven for escapees. Now, faith-based communities are once again acting to end slavery – creating a network of abolitionist churches across the globe.
On March 13th, the first day of the Christian Lenten season, thousands of churches spanning five continents will unite in their dedication to fight the modern trade in human beings. Through worship, fasting and prayer, Freedom Sunday will rally people of faith to join an international movement confronting human trafficking.
Freedom Sunday is the brainchild of the San Francisco-based non-profit, Not For Sale (NFS). Focused on more than 30 million people around the globe who live in bondage and forced labor, NFS equips and mobilizes activists to fight modern slavery in their own neighborhoods and internationally.
“Not For Sale does not spend a lot of energy broadcasting what we do; we would rather inspire individuals about what they can do,” says Dr. David Batstone, one of three co-founders of the organization. “Forced labor and trafficking are a global problem. We need churches in communities all over the world to say, ‘Not in my backyard.’”
On March 13th, Freedom Sunday,Batstone will preach at a 60,000-member church in Seoul, South Korea. The service will attract an abundance of media attention, with Korea’s largest religious broadcasting network – CGNTV – bringing the sermon to two million viewers inside Korea as well as an additional 150 worldwide cable channels.
Other key NFS leaders will take part in worship services in distinct hemispheres around the world. Executive director and co-founder Mark Wexler will worship in northern Uganda at a school for ex-child soldiers. NFS funds the Gulu project in partnership with the Jesuit Community. Meanwhile, NFS’s third co-founder, Kique Bazan, will be holding a prayer service on a beach in Peru with kids that NFS teams have rescued from trafficking along the coast of Peru.
“Who are you?” Not For Sale’s website asks visitors, responding with tailored resources and tools for any aspiring abolitionist – whether student or teacher, business leader or consumer. Those identifying as people of faith are invited to recruit their own synagogues, churches, mosques and temples engaged in local anti-trafficking activities.
Using a “church-locator” - an interactive Google map accessible through the NFS website – worshippers from diverse Christian denominations can find a participating Freedom Sunday church in their region. Churches share sermon notes, songs, bible studies, as well as fact sheets and other worship resources.
“We are one community, working together despite differences, to stand against the evil of modern slavery” says Kevin Austin, director of NFS’s faith-based programs. “In short, Freedom Sunday is a day for collective worship and action.”
Austin’s own denomination, the Free Methodist Church, has its roots in the abolition movement of the 19th century; through Freedom Sunday they’re continuing their tradition of social-action.
“My denomination fought slavery back in the 1860’s then walked away from the issue because they thought it was over,” Austin explains. Last year the Free Methodist’s once again took up the call to abolition, pledging their 1,000-plus U.S congregations to participate in NFS’s first Freedom Sunday.
This year, Austin’s denomination joins a network of churches in over 40 different countries. Faith communities in the U.S, China, Australia, Thailand, Uganda, South Korea, Honduras, and Pakistan (to name a few) will use their worship services on March 13th to create a platform for people of faith to mobilize for an end to the injustice of slavery.
“Freedom Sunday is all about using the worship experience as a catalyst for action,” Austin claims.
One spiritual act that unites Christians during the Lenten season is a fast, an ancient tradition of foregoing eating in order to focus on prayer. Many congregations participating in Freedom Sunday will fast on the 13th, and pledge whatever funds they would otherwise spend on food that day as a donation to NFS’s global anti-trafficking operations.
‘Freedom for the captives’ is intrinsically linked to the Biblical story of the ‘exodus’ of slaves being held in Egypt. Hence, Not For Sale has created for Jewish congregations a parallel event, Freedom Shabbat, in April during the religious commemoration of Passover. Through their sermons and religious rites, rabbis and other leaders in the Jewish faith community champion efforts to abolish the modern manifestation of an ancient system of repression.
As these holy days become linked to social-activism, people of faith from disparate regions are inspired to end the crime of human trafficking. The commitment for justice born in worship centers in Bangkok and Managua, Cairo and Sydney, spills out to neighborhoods around the world, creating a dynamic network of modern-day abolitionists.
“It’s not just about singing songs,” says Austin in explanation of Freedom Sunday, “It’s about setting the prisoners free.”
The bishops of the Free Methodist Church have invited all Free Methodist congregations to participate in Freedom Sunday - March 13, 2011. Freedom Sunday is a day for the Church to rally once again to the call to abolish slavery in the world. Abolition of slavery played an important part in the establishment of the Free Methodist Church. It still remains an important part of our message.
Breckenridge Chapel will be participating in Freedom Sunday in February. Here is an article concerning Freedom Sunday.
by Kevin Austin, Free Methodist Missionary for North America
Our Free Methodist ancestors championed the cause of holistic freedom. One of the issues that caught their attention was slavery. One hundred fifty years later, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history. Real slaves – unable to walk away – forced to work under threat of violence. Slavery permeates everything from our cell phones, to clothing, to our chocolate, and tires. Slavery is not just an “over there” issue of Thai girls in forced prostitution or child soldiers in Uganda. It also exists in our backyards.
The abolitionist movement of the 19th century, in one generation, challenged the enormous, entrenched business of slavery and made slavery illegal. Unfortunately, the business of slavery went underground. It broke apart and fled to the dark corners of the economy. Now it thrives on our city streets and in our lifestyles.
It’s time once again for Free Methodists to be abolitionists. We can finish the work that our ancestors began. We can re-abolish slavery.
At the 2007 General Conference we adopted a very strong resolution against slavery. We can breath life into this resolution by taking action in three ways:
First, each church can participate in Freedom Sunday. Freedom Sunday is designed to give churches the tools needed to engage effectively.
Second, every person has unique gifts and callings, which can be used to fight human trafficking. The Not for Sale Campaign, in cooperation with the Free Methodist Church, wants to help each of us engage.
Third, when you help the homeless, feed the hungry, sponsor a child through International Child Care Ministries, partner with a missionary, or plant a tree through Eden Reforestation Projects you are indirectly or directly opposing modern day slavery. Support these works of Biblical Justice.
At the encouragement of the Bishops of the Free Methodist Church, Breckenridge Chapel has committed to commemorate Freedom Sunday on March 13, 2011.
Freedom Sunday is a worship platform that provides churches with what they need to become more aware and more active in opposing modern slavery. Soft launched in February 2010, more than 1,000 churches in over 30 countries participated in the first global Freedom Sunday. The goal for 2011 is 100,000 churches worldwide.
Freedom Sunday understands that worship is the catalyst for action. The worship of God does not just flow up to God and then down to us in the form of blessings. Worship also moves the worshiper outward. We give – we receive – we move outward to transform the world with love and prophetic action in the power of God
On Freedom Sunday the global church prays, proclaims, sings, and intercedes. This worship empowers the worshiper to move out beyond awareness to action.
The Bishops of the Free Methodist Church state:
We must remember that the abolition movement is a key part of our heritage. The “freedom from slavery” commitment we made 150 years ago must be revived as we acknowledge that the world has more slaves today (more than 27,000,000) than ever before. Free Methodists must and will continue to do something about this. We are pleased to inaugurate initiatives to address this which churches will be able to participate in and contribute to on March 13 ... and far beyond that day. Please make this commitment a priority. It is part of the “whole gospel” we proclaim.
Breckenridge Chapel becomes the first church of any denomination in Louisville to commit to participate in this movement.
Freedom Sunday can be observed any Sunday of the year. March 13, 2011 is the global celebration of freedom. For more information on Freedom Sunday go to Freedom Sunday.