Ancarrow..the blog

Welcome to "Ancarrow...the blog," a place for us to share some random thoughts as we help start new churches in MD.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The better side of Sunday

Sunday night's loss was so devastating that I failed to tell two really interesting stories from this past week's Sunday at Revolution. Both are ministry firsts for me, and help support the fact that there is never a dull moment at Revolution Annapolis.

Story One:

During second service, a very uncomfortably pregnant woman came to the lobby, just as I was getting ready to go in to listen to Josh's sermon. It's obvious that her pain is beyond the standard aches, pains, and issues of the 3rd trimester, and she has come to the lobby to make sure that she doesn't audibly express pain during the service.

The lobby, at that point, was comprised of four guys, all of whom are dads. We exchange pleasantries with her, uncertain what to say to a woman we've never met who's contracting in front of us. After all, each of us are dads - which means that we were each scolded at least once for saying something stupid during the labor and delivery process (I talked about food the 1st time, and reminded my wife how much money we could save if she delivered naturally the 2nd time). So,we quietly get here a chair, and, as a group of guys, slowly learn this woman's story. We find out that there is a delivery date already scheduled, and that she suspect these to be nothing more than intense Braxton Hicks contractions....But every few minutes, they keep coming.

The band clears to go on stage. Now it's just her and I. We talk about something. Contraction. Awkward pause. Heavy breathing and muffled groans that last about a minute. I say something like, "okay, you're through that one. Should I go get your friends now? No...um, ok." We talk some more. Contraction, then repeat conversation. I can hear the band starting the last song, and I help her move to another seat in the lobby.

Sure enough, she was right. The baby never came (and hasn't to this point). However, I can honesty say this is the first time I've timed the contractions (albeit, in my head) for a woman I wasn't married to.

Story two:

There are a few ladies who had arranged rides to our 2nd service. One recently left the Mormon faith, much to the chagrin of the LDS church. They've been "calling," - and by calling, I mean harassing and badgering on this lady's departure, which was based on her finding out more about their teachings (like many, she was unaware how it deviated from mainline Christianity). It's gotten so intense that she's had to threaten to call police.
They came calling again last Sunday morning. This time, they brought a van to give her a ride. Knowing she arranged a ride, she assumed it was her ride for Revolution. She gets in the van, and is half way to the van's destination before she realizes that the van is going to the temple - and not RA. She freaks out, and demands to be take to Revolution. The driver obliges. Officially, this the first time in my ministry career (that I know of) where a Mormon picked up a person to take to temple, only to drop them off at my church instead.

If I think about stories like this, rather than the final minute of a football game, then Sunday seems pretty amazing.





Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ugly losses

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Dropped touchdown Pass

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Okay, Kick the Field goal, see what happens in over time.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

Miss the field goal and go home.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

My head and my heart are at odds. I want to believe it...and I'll get there, but right now, I'm nauseous. It was there...the table was set. A last hurrah for Ed Reed and Ray Lewis ,a man who has done more for his city than many of the Christians that spend their time calling him a killer on their facebook pages. Baltimore going to a Super Bowl in Indy, the destination of a team and ownership that didn't want to foot the bill for their own futility in the late 70's and 80's, and thus left the city. They slowed down Brady...they did it all right, and the kicker choked. Outsiders don't know how much this city wanted this game. This great city: maligned and misjudged, eager to be put on a national stage.Their reward: two weeks of hearing how great the Pats are, and nine more of wondering what might have been.

It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's just a game.

If I keep saying it, maybe it'll feel true.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Ugly Wins








Here we are - the Monday before the AFC Championship, and the Baltimore Ravens are still alive. (and the people rejoice). After following the Colts for almost a decade, I know what it's like to lose a game in the playoffs saying, "but we're better than them - if we played best two out of three, or if we were at home..." That's why, despite the national (and even local) crybabying about yesterdays game, I'll enjoy this week. Two of the recent media darlings (and latest bandwagon favorites) went home this weekend. Hmm, maybe these games aren't played on an Xbox after all (Sorry Madden fans, defense still matters)? I'll wear my purple proudly this week, and I'll let ESPN anoint Tom Brady as Super Bowl Champion before the AFC title game is even played. Hopefully, I'll be the one laughing next Monday.

Ugly wins are a part of winning. Not every sermon is your best. Not every show a band plays is impeccable. Not every sales conversation goes as planned. Leadership isn't so much about robotically being perfect every week, but instead finding ways rise about the variables, and pull off the best performance possible. A leader must excel in preparation and consistency SO THAT they as prepared as possible for all of those variables.

Youth Ministry and Church Planting have taught this well. Take yesterday, for example. Yesterday, Revolution had 203 people in attendance. Did everything go perfectly - EXACTLY as planned? Absolutely not. In fact, I could tell you three things right now that I could improve (smoother transitions, not enough chairs in the room, and a thin tear down crew). Other times, (one youth event comes to mind), I planned things ALMOST PERFECTLY. Everything went as written: I marketed things correctly, I did the proper diligence, and built the proper excitment. The result: I was rewarded with an event that went 100% over budget due to poor ticket sales.

If I could tell the 2005 Scott something - it would be, "keep your eyes forward and keep doing your thing." The best thing said about you isn't true, but neither is the worst thing. People will say what they want -and they'll always find something to talk about. It's never going to go away, so if you lose sleep over it, it's no one's fault but your own. Turn critics into coaches in the context of good community - and change things when you need to so that you'll continue to excel. Otherwise, keep winning and move forward."

Go Ravens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy Human Trafficking Awareness Day - Here's to not needing this day 20 years from now

TO START, Please check out this video from Unearthed Pictures.

As for the rest of this blog. I wrote this a while ago - but never published it. Since it's Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I thought I'd share this. It's longer than a blog should be, but give it a try, particularly if you're unaware of the extent of this injustice.

Let's begin with a quick quiz:

Girls and boys are sometimes lured or kidnapped into sexual trafficking – TRUE

The trafficking of human beings for modern day is a lucrative criminal enterprise – TRUE

This issue may happen, but it happens far away from the United States - FALSE

There are always dads who possess the “special set of skills” required to rescue their kids from this atrocity - i.e. Liam Neeson in "TAKEN" – FALSE. IN FACT, FAMILIES ARE SOME OF THE ONES DIRECTLY RESPONSBILE FOR THEIR CHILD BEING IN SLAVERY.

Here’s a few more hard stats (http://love146.org/sites/default/files/the_problem.pdf):

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) now believes that the number of children trafficked annually is around 1.2 million (2006)

It is estimated that 2 children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries.

Approximately 80percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors.

The majority of transnational victims are females trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. (2007 Trafficking in Persons Report, U.S. State Department

It is estimated that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world, many who have been enslaved through being trafficked. This is more than double the number of Africans enslaved during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The U.N. and other experts estimate the total market value of illicit human trafficking at 32 billion -about $10 billion is derived from the initial “sale” of individuals, with the remainder representing the estimated profits from the activities or goods produced by the victims of this barbaric crime. (UNODC)

These numbers make trafficking in persons the 2nd most lucrative crime in the world. The first is drug trafficking. (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006).

About $28 billion of this is generated from commercial sexual exploitation. (International Labor Organization)

There are a myriad of other stats to throw around. Needless to say, there’s a huge market today for the sexual exploitation of people. As stated above, this doesn’t just happen far away from us in Annapolis, MD. In fact, the Port of Baltimore, coupled with the I-95 corridor, make us a prime area to face this issue.

As a father of two daughters, I’ve asked myself the question, “What if this happened to my daughter(s)? ‘ What would I want someone to do for me - for my kids? So, a few years ago, I helped my friend/former student (w/several other key students) start an organization called LOVE CAN’T BE BAHT, a group that raises awareness regarding this issue. LCBB talks to whoever it can, partnering with the rock community to activate a new generation of freedom fighters. The proceeds go to a safe house in Cambodia, RAPHA HOUSE (www.raphahouse.org). Last Summer, LOVE CAN’T BE BAHT just completed a national tour promoting awareness. Though Tyler has since stepped down from leadership of LCBB, it's a group of people passionate about speaking for those unable to speak for themselves.

In my mind, a problem still remains...even if we can save every girl , ala “Taken,” why is this something that happens? Why are girls, as young as 5 years old, robbed of their childhood? Why do people justify the purchase and trade of people for sexual gratification?

Here are two of the issues facing this “issue.”

1. Poverty –

Both globally and locally, human trafficking tends to happen in areas of abject poverty. Sophie, a girl whose story is feature in the documentary “Baht,” was sent by her parents into the arms of traffickers, who had lied to Sophie’s parents by telling them that she was going get a waitressing job in Bangkok. Families who are worried about feeding their children are prime real estate.

In the United states, I would point to the family brokenness. Teenage runaways make up a huge portion of American trafficking victims, with almost 1/3 of them disappearing into trafficking within the first 48 hours. The cycle of broken families in the US has created a wound in many people that seems to contribute to the problem. Wounded people are easily preyed upon, and human trafficking/sexual exploitation is no different.

I know some people who are beginning to help by creating “exports” for certain at-risk areas. Others are using microfinance to help. We knows of a group in Cambodia that has started a Kids Club that meets on their property. In giving these students a meal a day, and teaching them a trade, they are giving them opportunity to contribute to their family.

Fair trade and living wages matter. Abject poverty matter. Unemployment matters.

2. Pornography.

Here's the heart issue. This is simple supply and demand. Traffickers and pimps have to market what sells. If cheeseburgers were illegal and exciting, and elevated to a warped status in a culture, I'm convinced they'd sell them instead. Sex sells, especially to a culture that believes that whatever feels good behind closed doors is both edifying and no one else's business.

James 1 and Romans 1 both speak to sin’s insatiable appetite. Rescue houses and safe houses for trafficking victims are necessary - but are a band aid, at best. So long as guy and gals think it's okay to drive into they city the suburbs and have sex with a women who has been robbed of her dignity, her passport and her hope, who has been hooked on drugs by a predator "boyfriend" and lured into this trip - the issue will continue.

One of my friends tells a story about a time she was in Southeast Asia. She came upon some westerners, a father and late teenage son, about to purchase a young teenage girl from a brothel. As she approached the men, she heard the father say to the son, “Now Son, remember that this is okay here…but not at home.”

$%#&?????

Pornography slowly makes people into products. It took a western father and son, and tricked them into thinking that this little girl, who is being held against her will, who is daily beaten, drugged, and then raped, is not a person with a soul.

The porn industry, worldwide, makes more money then the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL COMBINED….more than NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX COMBINED.

Pornography creates an appetite that gets harder and harder to satistfy. It distorts sexuality to an unrecognizable version of its intended purpose. It promises much, and delivers little.

Most (especially men) approach pornography with a “who does it hurt” attitude. What happens in the bedroom or hotel room, after all, is our business, right? After all certainly everyone is paid, and certainly everyone wants to be there. What if we looked at it another way:

The lady (or guy) that you’re looking at, getting pleasure from, is somebody’s mom. She’s somebody’s sister. She’s somebody’s daughter. There’s guys right now who are driving from the suburbs into the dark, seedier parts of their cities, exploiting a lady whose name they are never forced to know. But they are known, or were known, to some one.

Pornography’s greatest lie is: no one gets hurt. No, a person is not trafficking a female every time they look at porn. But they are creating and sustaining an economy. Additionally, porn warps your own sexuality. Many of us have a hard time understanding sex tourism right now – but many who are the chief supporters of it now once had that same thought. The desire for gratification takes people anywhere they can find it. This is what connects pornography to trafficking.

So, what do we do?

The church was way too silent during the last great slave trade. Too many Christians, to support their way of life, turned a blind eye to reality - and chose to stand idly by while people were robbed of their dignity in the name of profit. At the same time, it was the church who began to recognize that people weren’t products: men like Wilberfoce, who took unpopular stands to restore dignity.

I’d love to see stiffer laws, harsher punishments, firmer regulations from international governments on this issue. All of this is a good start. I am convinced that the local church can make the biggest dent– a body of believers who are ready to stand for the defenseless – willing to restore dignity to others, when other would exploit. As we see as God sees, we will do as God does. We will love how he loves. We will not just turn a blind eye to the plight of others.

Here are a few “freedom fighters’ that could use your support today .

1IJM (International Justice Mission)- http://www.ijm.org/ -

2.The Samaritan Women’s Home (Baltimore, MD) - http://thesamaritanwomen.org/

3. Rapha House - freedomforgirls.com

4. Awareness groups like: Love Can't be Baht - www.lovecantbebaht.com & Love146- www.love146.com, and The Acts 21 Campaign - http://www.thea21campaign.org/

These organization could use our support, both volunteering and financial.


Indvidually:

1. Pray. For a great list of what to pray for on this issue, click here.

2. Think globally. Be aware of what brother and sisters all over the world are dealing with and facing.

3.Model Biblical Sexuality. Christian guys and gals need to stop making excuses for their sinful behavior. Kill the addictions and make sure you're not part of the problem. Additionally, help those who are struggling with this addiction.

4.Read. Learn. To start having your heart wrecked - check out Daniel Walker's God in a Brothel

SA