This past Sunday we kicked off our NEW SERIES "Small Things." It's doing the "right" small things faithfully over time that bring HUGE impact. Pastor Evan kicked off part 1 with "Big Sacrifice." He spoke on human trafficking awareness and the power of prayer and fasting. We will be praying and fasting as a church this month focusing on those who enslaved in human trafficking. If you missed it you can listen on-line at http://www.wyandottefamily.com/listen.html or you can listen on iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wyandotte-family-church/id478735158?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4.
Does fasting really make a difference? Is it just an empty spiritual ritual? Does it really matter if I assimilate this "small thing" into my life?
Yes, fasting does make a difference. Yes is does matter if we assimilate the "small thing" of fasting into our lives. No it is not an empty ritual. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced by Christians for centuries yet it's still has powerful and important as it was back then.
What is spiritual fasting? Spiritual fasting is giving something up for a specific period of time in order to spend more time in prayer and in the Bible. People usually fast for a specific reason or prayer concern. (ex. our church is fasting and praying for those stuck in human trafficking. We are praying for their freedom, healing, and hope. We are praying for the law enforcement to discover new rings and for God to bring justice.)
What does fasting do? Fasting does several small but HUGE things in our lives. First of all, it draws us closer to God. (James 4:7-10). As you give up something to spend more time in prayer and in the Bible you will find yourself growing closer to God. You will hear His voice more clearly and sense His presence. Secondly, it gives us a greater spiritual power and authority. (Mark 9:29, Matthew 7:21). Lastly, fasting helps us not be driven by our feelings or emotions but by God's spirit. When we fast, we find our "spiritual muscles" growing stronger and our ability to follow and obey Him often increases.
Is fasting easy? No, but it's worth it!
Will you join us as we fast this month as a church? For week #1 we simply asked everyone to fast a "freedom" or "luxury." Since those enslaved in human trafficking don't have freedom, we want to fast a "freedom" or "luxury" until the end of January. What can you fast?
My blog ends here but below is the take home page we past out after church this past Sunday.
BIG CHALLENGE: WEEK #1: Giving up a luxury or "freedom," and praying for those who are enslaved
Quick facts about human trafficking:
-Human trafficking is a 32 billion USD industry, affecting over 130 countries worldwide, making it one of the top three most profitable criminal activities (along with drug and arms trafficking) (UNODC).
- Despite previous estimates of slavery being at 12.5 million people, more recent estimates have increased that number to between 21 to 27 million people globally, with the majority being women and children.
-Out of these trafficked persons, it is believed 79% are exploited for sex, while 18% are exploited for labor (UNODC).
-The National Center for Missing and Exploited children estimates that there are 325,000 children in sexual slavery in the U.S. right now.
-Two hundred years ago, the price of a slave was equivalent to 40,000 USD. Today, that number is 90 USD (Kevin Bales, www.freetheslaves.net).
You might think it's not a problem that personally affects us at Wyandotte Family Church. Both Detroit and Toledo are among the top cities in the nation for international human trafficking,
Fasting from one of our luxuries or freedoms can serve as a reminder to us of the suffering that these people face. Not only are they not afforded luxuries, their basic needs are not being met. They are deprived of the human right of freedom.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor has found 121 goods produced using forced labor, child labor, or both, in 58 countries. When we shop, we could be unknowingly perpetuating the slave trade problem.- By fasting from one of our luxuries, if that luxury involves a product (food, clothing, etc.), we may also be keeping our money from indirectly supporting slavery. Imagine that simply by skipping ordering that latte, or not purchasing a brand of clothing, you could make a tangible difference today.
As we as a church begin this fast from a luxury/freedom, please take time to be in prayer for those in bondage today. We pray to God and ask Him to:
*bring freedom to the enslaved
*comfort and encouragement to all who are in slavery, awaiting their freedom
*healing and restoration for those have been rescued.
*aid and equip government agencies worldwide to combat human trafficking effectively
*raise up more people and organizations to stop trafficking, and help those affected.
*speak to the Body of Christ, giving us conviction, wisdom, and courage, so that we may be able to seek justice for the oppressed.
*help us as a church to find ways that we can help fight slavery, not only worldwide, but in our area as well.
Helpful Bible verses:
The early church practices fasting for many things. Check out Acts 13:2-3 & Acts 14:23
Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed. So mere people can no longer terrify them. (Psalm 10:17-18, NLT)
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed? Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. (Proverbs 31:8-9, NLT)
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. (Isaiah 58:6)
Additional resources can be found at: The A21Campaign (the a21campaign.org)