Saturday, April 14, 2012

21st Century Abolition Meeting

Today's meeting was powerful! 

Many came out to share and be a part of the growing movement to eradicate human trafficking. We had prolific speakers.  One young sister gave a Powerpoint presentation that got right to the heart of the issue - giving us a statistical informational view of just how deeply the human trafficking pandemic is entrenched, and just where our nation and the world stands in fighting it. 

The numbers are staggering.  We know that the conservative estimate is 70% of the victims are female and 50% are children.  We know that the average age is now 14 years old, and the victims can be as young as 10 years old.  Possibly younger. We know that the human trafficker is often known by the victim.  We know that there is a high level of coercion and mind manipulation.  The language used by the perpetrators often obscures the vicious reality of the crime, even to the victim.  She often doesn't even understand what's happening to her.

The 21st Century Abolitionists are attacking this slavery on many fronts.  They are going out and snatching the children right off the streets and whisking them to safety.  Some are creating safe havens for young mothers and children, some are working to help them overcome drug addictions and self esteem issues.  Some of these modern day Harriet Tubmans are becoming the surrogate parents of a few at a time - loving and supporting them throughout their teen years. Others fight to educate and empower in order to prevent.  It's quality over quantity in many instances; its a supporting hand up towards self sufficiency for a period of time; it's shouting in the urban wilderness to let everybody know that slavery is truly happening; it's spiritual and Godly support and teaching; it's attacking the problem from every conceivable angle!

There are numerous facts and statistics that delineate this heartbreaking practice of human trafficking.  But thank God there is a fast growing number of Abolitionists stepping up to the plate and doing the work necessary to fight against it.  The A.T. Streets Disciples Ministry is becoming the information hub in the Bay Area. We are helping to connect the dots by forging alliances with all who are working - whether quietly or loudly and fiercely in their chosen places.  Our aim is to chip away at this boulder of social sickness until it finally cracks and crumbles into dust.  

We are working to be that light shining in the darkness. We are also working to connect with and support our comrades who are doing this work.  The work belongs to God who is bringing the victory.  And each time freedom is won, we cross back into slavery to free even more from bondage.  We Modern Day Abolitionists quietly lead God's precious people along the New Underground Railroad, away from the kingdom of darkness and towards the Light and True Freedom.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For Sisters Only #4: 3-18-12

The week leading up to Saturday, 3-18-2012, was a stormy one.  It rained off and on.  I started visualizing our For Sisters Only posters sliding off the places they had been strategically posted.  On the day of our fourth gathering, we Streets Disciples were hard at work setting up the various stations for the event:  in the gymnasium, we had a large clothing area that the ladies could browse, which included shoes and handbags.  There also was our jewelry area as well set up with beautiful pieces.

There was Rev. Barbara's sacred prayer area, which was beautifully appointed with dramatic African artwork and woven kinte cloth.  Surround the sacred space were plants and set upon one of the tables was a beautiful cascading waterfall artwork. Many sisters went over to the place to receive prayers and love, and to unburden themselves of their troubles - to have an open ear to bear witness to their trials and tribulations.

On the opposite side, was an area stocked with toiletry filled goodie bags - shampoo, soap, lotion, and other necessities.  Then there was a station for doing the ladies' hair, with a hair dryer and many magazines to read, making it a nice salon style setting.  As an added perk, we had our manicurists on site and ready to give the ladies beautifully painted and manicured hands.  I saw one sister unable to stop looking at how beautiful her simple manicure was.  She was so pleased.

Not to leave out the children, there was the section just for them with coloring books and games.  Children were free to play and run in the space of the gymnasium. Right in the midst of their mothers' watchful eyes. Children ranging from babies to 11 or 12 years old. They ran, they jumped they tussled and tossed balls, they tackled and played in safety and peace in the large space of the gymnasium.  

Then the manicurists, doing a wonderful job by painting the Sisters' nails and making them pretty.  Allen Temple has a full shower area, which we also made available to our Sisters, and quite a few of them took advantage of the opportunity for a hot shower.

Then the centerpiece of the meeting:  A wonderful meal was prepared by Minister Lana's mother - succulent fried chicken, tamale pie oozing with cheese, green salad, and other goodies as well as a variety of cakes.  There were also refreshments and water.  I wasn't able to serve this time, since I had a horrible cold.   But a cold was not enough to keep me from coming out and supporting this wonderful outreach and connecting with our Sisters!  I stayed off to the side to avoid infecting anyone though.

This day, there were not as many sisters present as the previous event.  Yet many of us noticed that this time, the Sisters were more open and free with us.  We can see the connections being set.  The relationships are coming together and the love is starting to flow.  The ladies felt more relaxed and so did we.  We can see their beautiful spirits starting to emerge.  Their personalities are starting to shine through.

Glory to God!