Guest Post: Elijah Rising: End Human Trafficking in Houston, Texas by Benjamin Fort

Today’s guest post is from my brother-in-law, Benjamin.  

A few months ago Ben learned about the modern day slavery that exists not only around the world but in our own back yard.  He recently learned of Elijah Rising, an organization in Houston with the mission of stopping slavery and educating the populace.   Did you know that Houston ranks in the top 2 cities in the nation for sex trafficking?

 Below is a short reflection of Benjamin’s experience.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Originally posted on Emerging Disciples

One moment you are in the seedy, shady den of the Human Trafficking underworld; the next moment, you find yourself surrounded by strip malls, restaurants and shopping centers. This is the reality of Human Trafficking in Houston, TX.

We met up with our tour leader Cat French, and the rest of our crew around 7 p.m. Elijah Rising started as a once-a-month prayer meeting. Now they do intervention, van tours, music and prayer. The headquarters was once a brothel until Elijah Rising intervened. Now, Elijah Rising is located in the hotbed of human trafficking in Houston.

Beautiful, Spirit-filled music echoed in the Elijah Rising building. I felt the Holy Spirit come over me very quickly and strongly as Cat gave us some introductory information.

The tour weaved in and out of the back alleys of Human Trafficking. We learned that many types of Human Trafficking fronts exist such as, Spas and Cantinas. The spas are what you would imagine. Showers, massages, and back rooms. The Cantinas are set up like bars, where, “Johns (normal consumers),” can purchase sex. They have outhouses where one takes the trafficked human.

The tour was extremely convicting about human trafficking. We learned that human traffickers pray to demons. One theory of why there is such a cluster of human trafficking is that where one person opens a dark, evil portal, others will follow. In other words, the hotbed of human trafficking is an open portal to evil. Call it crazy if you will, but when you experience it, you might agree.

At the end of the tour we saw a building that had been raided and shut down. We saw a painting of a woman in chains surrounded by flags of different countries where they traffic humans. There were white flags representing countries not yet trafficked.

America is not one of these. We have compromised and become a hotbed of human trafficking. America has sadly become a new Babylon. We need to make people aware.

Awareness is the first step.

Contact Elijah Rising at www.elijahrising.com


Benjamin Fort graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2012 with a Bachelors in Studio Art and Mass Communications. He serves on the Praise Band at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Longview, TX.
He is a Christian social activist to end human trafficking. Check out his website www.emergingdisciple.com

 

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And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part XI (Transportation Edition)

batcopter_01It’s been a while since I have written on of these particular posts, not for the lack of material, rather I like to at least try to give Christianity a fresh perspective. However, this particular story needed to be shared.

The Christian Post recently reported that mega church minister, Bishop, I.V. Hilliard, of the New Light Christian Center in Houston Texas, made an interesting proposition to his congregation. According to the article, the church’s “Aviation Department” (yes, you read that correctly… aviation department) declared that the pastor’s helicopter (yes, you read that correctly… pastor’s helicopter) needed new blades. Click here to read the appeal letter.

This event is the same song but different verse of the prosperity gospel; this gospel promotes a tit for tat relationship with God. Since God wants you to be blessed and rich and prosperous, then giving to God will active that Divine power within your life. This issue here is not only is Bishop Hilliard requesting money from the congregation for new helicopter blades, Bishop Hilliard says that you will have divine favor in 52 days or 52 weeks if you donate $52. My initial reaction was “why not $40, that at least is a Biblical number?” Also, that’s quite a lengthy time frame you are giving me aren’t you?– either a little over seven weeks or an entire calendar year… The problem with this mentality is that you will then start to look for it even if it is nowhere to be found.

It’s like having a pain in your leg and thinking that you have a serious medical condition because one article on WebMD or some forum post confirmed your suspicion. When we do that we often disregard the mountain of other articles that state that your leg pain is merely a muscle pull. We want it to be one way so badly we are willing to disregard everything else. After those seven weeks are up and there still is no brand new Cadillac with a sun roof, XM Radio and a V-8, then we are going to use the remaining time of our year to make the puzzle piece fit. This is not what God called the church to do; God does not call the church to try to solve the puzzle of whether or not something is a blessing because the church bought new helicopter blades.

What about that single parent who is faithful to their God and needs a car for work or school as the Bishop is touting but can’t fork over $52? Are they just up a creek? Do they not reap the rewards of God’s blessing under this theological framework?

This type of theological frame work is predicated on the notion that God only does for you when you do for God. Last time I checked, that is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Giving to God does not mean that one will receive back from God. Giving in all of its many forms is about one’s response to God. God has gifted humanity with many different things and how are understanding of God and our relationship God dictates our type of giving. The thought is that people should give 10 percent of income or goods, but study after study show that this is not the case for much of the Christian populace.
Is this the reason so many people have joined the Christian faith over the centuries? Is a relationship with God and with Christ merely about a new car and a financial stability? If this is the case then I believe we have missed the point of the gospel. The gospel compels followers of Christ to be selfless and to give up our possessions that can rust and break down. The gospel is centered on the notion of the other, the lonely, the downtrodden, the outcast; they are the ones we are called to serve. Our faith should not be dictated on giving just because we want something. Our giving should be a expression of our faith in thanksgiving for what God has done for us. God does not care how big or how small it might be.

Bishop Hilliard did release a statement in response to the uproar; he mentions a few scriptures here and there but the one that he discarded was the one where Christ said one cannot serve God and money.
I’m not a minister of a mega church but I would hope that if I were I would not have a helicopter but rather use the money to feed the homeless or dig wells in Africa or something else more useful. This type of theology is appealing to some but some see the plight of the world, the hungry, the struggling, the hurting and believe a helicopter for a minister is a waste of money. If the minister has nicer suits and transportation that most of his/her congregation then is there disconnect between the printed words of Christ and the real world.

If Christianity is about giving to get… then it is doomed to fail.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


EDIT: Formatting and additional text added (2:00pm)
EDIT 2: Sojouners picked up this piece as well click here

I’m One Of The Coolest Dads On The Internet??

Today I found out that I was listed in the Top Five Coolest Dads on the Internet by People Magazine!  They ranked me number 3!

Here is what they wrote:

When Evan Dolive, a reverend from Houston heard about Victoria’s Secret’s Bright Young Things collection, he wasn’t exactly running to the mall. Based on observations of the collection – which ranged from polka-dotted hipsters screen-printed with the phrase “Feeling Lucky?” to thongs emblazoned with the words “Call me” on the front – he was worried the iconically sexy retailer was targeting middle school-aged girls. And so he thought of his daughter, a 3-year-old who loves princesses, peanut butter and jelly and drawing pictures for people.

“I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence,” he wrote in a March letter on his blog. “Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? … I want my daughter to know that she is perfect the way she is; I want my daughter to know that no matter what underwear she is wearing, it does not define her.” –Written by Alison Schwartz on people.com

I am honored to be selected for this list.  As I have said many times before (and will say many times again), I never thought that my letter to Victoria’s Secret would ever garner this much attention.

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting me on this journey!

A BIG THANK YOU TO PEOPLE.COM AND THE AUTHOR ALISON SCHWARTZ!

If you would like to see the others listed click here for the full article.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan