Friday, May 25, 2012

A benefit event for Ratanak International

Westpointe Christian Church, where I fellowship and am one of the elders, has been getting involved in a fight against the child sex trade -- particularly that in Asia, where a shocking number of Canadian men go for the express purpose of sexual gratification with children. What follows is the media advisory for "Beauty Beyond", a fundraiser for Ratanak, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from this nightmare. For people in the Metro Vancouver area, this event would be of great interest.

... a fundraising event to benefit RATANAK INTERNATIONAL
Contact: Charrisse Mae 604-813-2726

Child sex abuse. Sex slavery. Sex tourism. For many people, these expressions conjure up an unreal world in a faraway place; but for countless numbers of young women and girls – some as young as 2 years old – they denote a dark, nightmarish reality that includes abuse, degradation and horrifying living conditions.

What’s even worse, for Canadians, is that this reality is not so far away. While the brothels and back alleys are in geographically distant places like Cambodia and Thailand, a shocking proportion of “sex tourists” – men who travel to these places for the express purpose of sexual gratification – are Canadians.

For several years now, Ratanak International has been working to rescue these children from this life and help them overcome its physical, psychological and emotional effects. Ratanak’s signature project, “New Song” home in Phnom Penh, gives girls a safe home with the love they need to leave that world behind.

Westpointe Christian Church is pleased to host “Beauty Beyond”, an evening for women with professional makeup artist Charrisse Mae. Charrisse will share tips and information to help women of all ages enhance their natural beauty. Admission is by a minimum $25 donation to Ratanak. There will also be a presentation on Ratanak’s work. By taking part, women in Vancouver can help restore a different kind of beauty to lives thousands of kilometres away.

“Beauty Beyond” will take place Thursday, May 31 at 7:00 pm at Westpointe Christian Church, 2715 West 12th Ave. (one block west of Macdonald). The event is open to all women, no matter what their religious or ethnic background may be: child sex slavery knows no religious definition, and all can play a part in fighting it.

For more information on Ratanak International, please visit

We are grateful to Waves Coffee for supplying coffee and tea for this event.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Picture of Healing - ours, or His?

On my other blog, I've just put up a post about a visit to Freedom's Door in Kelowna. There is a passage where I describe the nature of doing God's work with the urban poor in terms of different people rowing different boats towards the same goal. Let me expand on that in more general terms.

Anything that leads to distress -- poverty, broken relationships, things Just Plain Going Wrong -- is rooted in a falling-away from God. So -- as I explain in the other post -- any boat has to be moving not towards the worldly goal, but towards a deepening relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Christ, not the solution, has to be that goal.


Because as human beings, we can only see what we think the solution to any problem must look like. My favorite illustration relates to the gallstone attack I suffered just over three years ago. I prayed for healing, but I limited God by expecting that He would heal me by vaporizing the gallstones and I wouldn't have to have surgery. But I did have to have surgery, and in the process learned that the gall bladder was the "canary in the coal mine" for possible other ailments, like heart problems due to bad eating. I dropped 20 pounds during the peri-operative time and was forced to re-examine my unhealthy taste for fats and salt. The gall bladder, I could do without.

In other words, I was healed, alright, but in a different way from the way I was expecting. I may not be a poster boy for Mike Wendland's SuperHealthyMe, but God has laid the groundwork and defined true healing in this case. And in the mean time, my relationship with Him has deepened.

And so it is with anything else that requires healing. If we define the picture of healing, a number of things can happen, none of which is good:
  • we cut corners to achieve what we think we're supposed to get
  • we stop when we think we've arrived
  • we get frustrated and miss the healing when our picture doesn't match God's response
  • we think God doesn't hear our prayers
Take, for example, the situation on the Downtown East Side. What does "healing" for that area look like? If we define it as, say, ending homelessness, do we heal that by building more shelters? Requiring developers to include social housing in their chic projects? Sending a battalion of building and health inspectors to the Cockroach Condos euphemistically referred to as SROs*?

Do we define it as ridding the area of the drug and crime problem and (a) give out more needles to addicts, (b) legalize drugs and prostitution, (c) provide more "clean and safe" injection sites?

Or isn't it simpler to say that the solution is not to solve the problems but to re-focus people on Christ? If we set out to solve every problem we see using our own intellect, we're hooped. But if we shine the light of Christ everywhere we go, the darkness -- and the problems that come with it -- doesn't have a chance.

You can't snuff out darkness - all that does is bring more darkness; the Light of Christ trumps anything the enemy can bring.

As Jesus puts it, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16).

Simple to say, perhaps, but not easy. Let's not kid ourselves: that approach may -- like the gallstone experience -- take longer, be more painful and lead to something totally different from what we think will happen; but it will be complete and exactly in line with what God wants.

And from there ... we can break free from the mire of the past and move into the future God wants for His people.


*SRO = Single Room Occupancy hotels.