Prostitutes, Abuse, and Thailand

4ddca121-053b-400c-981e-1e65c4d0cca7_profileEarlier this summer, on the eve of an exploratory trip to Thailand, I found myself asking the Lord again if we were supposed to go. The purpose of our trip was to meet with ministries, churches, missionaries, non-government organizations, etc. who were working with children, youth, and parents in some capacity or another, and see how GOV might serve them. The only thing more intimidating than going to an unfamiliar nation to see how you might teach on the issue of sexual integrity is going to that nation after you’d been repeatedly warned it was going to be very hard (perhaps even impossible) to do what you were setting out to do.

I had been to Bangkok several years ago to learn about the sex trafficking industry, so I had somewhat of an idea of what we were in for, but what I didn’t know was how we were going to “sell” the idea of proactively equipping individuals and families to pursue a lifestyle of sexual integrity in the midst of a culture that, in many ways, embraces things like prostitution. Would it even work?

I prayed again the night before we left Singapore. “Lord, are you sure?” The answer I got left me speechless. Straight from Matthew 21:31: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Once we were in Thailand, the main response we heard from ministry workers (precious people doing some very difficult work) after explaining the type of proactive and preventative work we’d like to do went something along the lines of “This is such a big need here” and “When can you come back?” Courage stirred in my heart as I realized I had heard correctly from the Lord. Yes, He did want us to come minister in Thailand.

As we met with orphanages and safe houses, the picture started becoming clearer. These children had almost all been sexually abused, or at the very least were at risk for being trafficked because of their families’ extreme poverty situations.

I quickly began to realize that I didn’t know what to do when faced with a child struggling to make sense of the abuse he or she had experienced. I asked the Lord, “Father, if we tell them how good it is to wait for sex until you’re married, and we tell them how to protect themselves from sexual predators, what are they going to think about what has already happened to them? There is a lot of pain here. They need your healing, Lord.”

Again the answer came from Matthew: “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (19:14) After reading that verse, I came to the conclusion that I would rather teach a child about sexual purity and guide them to the healer of any trauma they may have experienced than consider them “too badly wounded” to receive such teaching. Isn’t it the Lord’s will to heal us instead of just helping us cope with our wounds?

Our team certainly has a lot of work to do (and a lot to learn!) as we prepare to minister more extensively in places like Thailand, but I am convinced that this kind of ministry is something the Lord is very keen to have us do. I know we don’t have all the answers, but I do know the One who does. I am encouraged when I realize we do not labor in vain when we partner with Him to bring about His Kingdom.

To read about our upcoming trip in October, please click here.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

Raising Bully-Proof Children

BullyingFB-1
A friend of mine (a mom I met at a GOV event) has a dear 12 year old boy who stole my heart the first time I met him. He has dimples when he smiles, is rarely at a loss for something funny to say, cannot contain his energy, and genuinely cares for other people. I am convinced he is going to grow up to be a mighty man of God. But a while back he told me he was being bullied at school and that all of his friends tease him constantly. I watched the pain flicker across his face when he admitted this to me. I think the reason it’s so painful for him is because, like I mentioned, he is a genuinely caring person who makes an effort to help other people feel comfortable. He’s not perfect, but the fact that other kids could go out of their way to make him feel bad is probably baffling to him.

“Why would anyone purposefully be mean to you?” I thought as my friend’s son disclosed this information. I think this is the question most parents ask when they realize their child is being bullied. No one knows the exact answer to why kids pick on each other (sometimes to the point of serious damage), but one thing is certain: bullying is not about a flesh and blood battle. Especially when it comes to bullying, we need to keep in mind Ephesians 6:12:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

What Ephesians 6:12 says should comfort us. Because the good news is, mom and dad, there is a lot you can do in the spiritual realm to help your child affected by a bully. This is where you can roll your sleeves up and DO something.

I’d like to propose a tactic parents can use to respond in the opposite spirit of bullying. It’s so simple you can do it with your child before he or she leaves for school or meets the bully at the playground. You ready for it? It’s speaking and praying words of blessing over your kids. It sounds simple, right? Yet it can have a profound effect. If kids know the truth about who they are in Christ, they won’t believe the lies other people say (implicitly or explicitly) about them. They won’t listen to Jill or Jimmy when they say things like “You’re stupid” or assume they are unworthy of friendship when they’re given the cold shoulder on the playground. Instead, they’ll remember the scriptures you read about them and who they are. They’ll remember your words of blessing spoken in love, and they’ll choose to believe those words instead of the negative ones coming from their peers.

Here is a list of scriptures to get you started. For more ideas an practical tips for blessing your kids, please check out Project Blessing. I think you’ll find incorporating scripture into your prayers for your children gets easier the more you practice. My suggestion is to pick a few key verses that speak most specifically to your child’s situation and start by praying those over him or her.

Scriptures about a person’s identity in Christ (AKA: who they are, really):

  • I am made in God’s image (Gen 1:27)
  • I am God’s child (Galatians 3:26)
  • Jesus loves me (John 15:9)
  • I am Jesus’ friend (John 15:15)
  • I will bear fruit for Christ (John 15:16)
  • The Lord delights in me (Psalm 149:4)
  • I am accepted into the body of Christ (Eph. 1:6)
  • God is not partial. He loves me just as much as He loves anyone else (Acts 10:34)
  • I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
  • God is willing to forgive me (1 John 1:9)
  • My first priority is to please God, not other people (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
  • I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
  • I don’t need to be afraid because God is with me (Isaiah 41:10)
  • God will never leave me or forsake me (Deut. 31:6)
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • The Lord is my defender (Psalm 18:2)

Here is an example of how you can incorporate scripture into a prayer of blessing for your child being bullied:

Dear Lord, I pray your blood and hand of protection over (child’s name) heart, mind, and body today. Lord, I pray you would cause (child’s name) to know who he/she is in you and what you say about him/her. (Child’s name) is your child, Lord (Galatians 3:26), and he/she is very precious to you. You have made (child’s name) to have your mind (1 Cor. 2:16); you have made (child’s name) in your image (Gen. 1:27); and you are very proud of the man/woman (child’s name) is growing into. I pray you would help (child’s name) to feel your presence as he/she goes to school and interacts with the other children there. I ask you to help (child’s name) build good, healthy friendships that please you, Lord. Please protect (child’s name) if any negative words are spoken or actions taken toward him/her. I pray that you would help (child’s name) refuse to believe any lies from the enemy but choose instead to believe your word and what it says. I thank you, Lord, for sending (child’s name) to our family. We are blessed by (child’s name)’s presence. We’re so thankful for him/her. Lord, your word says you will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6), so I ask you please send your Holy Spirit with (child’s name) as he/she goes to school. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Click here for the printable version of this prayer and the verses.

It’s quick, it’s simple, and it is guaranteed to have a positive effect (Isaiah 55:11).

It’s a good idea to let your child read these scriptures (or read them to him/her) if they tell you of a bullying problem. Having your child read the scripture will show him or her that the things you are asking for in Jesus’ name are things we are instructed to ask for. It will also build their faith in God and help them to see how the Bible applies to our daily lives.

Another idea is to pray for God’s protection over your child while he or she is at school. Perhaps you know the hour your son or daughter shares a class with the bully. You could set an alarm to remind yourself to pray during this time. Another idea is to leave hand-written notes to your child in places where he or she will find them at school, like inside a pencil box, lunch bag, notebook, etc. These notes could include some of the scripture you prayed over him or her before leaving for school. They could also be quick notes of encouragement that say things like “Mom loves you!” “You are my favorite 8 year old!” “I can’t wait to see you when I get home!” “I hope you’re having a good day. I love you!”. My mom did this for me when I was going to school. What a bright note those were in the middle of an otherwise mundane or hard day!

The bottom line, mom and dad, is you want to counteract the negative messages your kids are receiving with positive messages. And if those positive messages come from scripture, they will have even more punch.

May the Lord equip you as you undergo this spiritual battle.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

The Supreme Court Ruling: 3 Ways Parents Can Respond

KeepCalm-1If you’ve seen any of the articles online about the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, you’ve probably sensed the issue is emotionally charged. People are so happy. And others are so mad. This is a critical time for the church and for Christian parents. What should we do in light of this ruling? Things are getting confusing. We’ve put our heads together at Generations of Virtue to give 3 ways parents can respond and help their children navigate this confusing time.

1. Talk to your kids about homosexuality. If you haven’t explained homosexuality to your children and they are at an age where they are starting to key into all the hype in the media (and possibly among their peer groups), now is the time. This is your opportunity to communicate what God’s word says about homosexuality. Our kids need to hear the truth from God’s word about this lifestyle. Some key verses to start with include Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28. Another point you might consider making with your children is that even though the Supreme Court made the choice to legalize gay marriage, it does not mean that this was the right choice. It’s an unfortunate truth we have to share with our children, but governments and rulers don’t always make the right choices (shocking, I know). Finally, tell your children the truth about the differences between men and women and why God designed a family to be a man, a woman, and children. (I’ll list some resources below to help with this discussion). It helps children to know this truth from a young age given all the press in our media trying to convince them of the virtues of alternative lifestyles.

2. Show your children how to show the love of Christ to gay people. We should take a lot of comfort in the fact that it’s not our job to judge people. When I was in university, I took a job where my immediate superior was another student who identified himself as a homosexual. I asked the Lord how I should interact with my new boss. He told me to be his friend and to respect the authority of his position. I did that. I became his friend and we got along wonderfully. The truth was, he was really good at his job, and it was easy to follow his lead because he was doing a great job. I don’t think we should be afraid of befriending homosexuals or teaching our children how to befriend them in healthy and beneficial ways. It’s true that we need to approach friendships carefully (whether they be with homosexuals or heterosexuals) and who we allow to spend time (especially time alone) with our kids. This is a topic for spouses to discuss. But please don’t let fear steal a chance to show a homosexual Christ’s love. The truth is, homosexuals are hurting people who need the truth of the Gospel. They are living a lifestyle of sexual immorality – the consequences of which are devastating. At the same time, I know many heterosexual Christians who are living in a similar state of sexual immorality. And as the church we embrace them.

3. Don’t be intimidated. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of emotional hype in the media right now concerning this decision. Don’t let it take you for a ride. Keep calm and parent on. The truth is, God is on His throne and He still calls the shots. A couple months ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Brown speak in Singapore. He had a great insight about the LGBT agenda in the U.S. As a way of paraphrase, he said we shouldn’t fear the separation that will come between the people who interpret the scripture (about homosexuality) through the lens of culture and those who will follow God’s word in spirit and in truth. There is some separation happening in the church right now. Which side do you want your family to end up on? Finally, don’t let the enemy intimidate you by the Supreme Court’s decision. Instead of responding in fear, take this opportunity to ask the Lord how to respond. And finally, speak to your children. Help them to know the truth of God’s word and what He has to say about homosexuality. Let them know the truth and let the truth set them free from all the confusion encapsulating this issue. To quote Rick Warren, “truth, is still truth, no matter how many people doubt it. I may deny the law of gravity, but it doesn’t change gravity. And just because we break God’s laws, does not invalidate them.” Don’t be afraid to share the truth with your kids. Kingdoms will fall and rulings will be forgotten, but the word of God will stand.

One final thought: be prayerful as you address this issue with your children. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and answers. Ask Him how your family should respond to this ruling.

Below I’ve listed some articles and books I’ve found really helpful in discussing the issue of homosexuality in light of our current culture. I hope you find them helpful!

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet
God’s Design for Sex Series by Stan and Brenna Jones (Book 3 – What’s the Big Deal – has a chapter specifically about homosexuality)
Focus on the Family’s How to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality
Interview with John Stonestreet webinar by Generations of Virtue
Short video with Dr. Michael Brown explaining the context of the Levitical scriptures

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.