Archive for the Culture Category

Attitude Check

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine Clarity McDonald

Christine is a requested, featured guest speaker for many conferences and outreach events.

Luke 6:41-42 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. -Jesus

Examine yourself and your thoughts regarding homelessness, prostitution, the disease of addiction/addicts, and individuals who have been in prison.

Ask yourself:
• Do I have a clear understanding of poverty and breaking those cycles?
• Do I believe “once a criminal always a criminal”?
• Do I believe that the most helpful thing I can do for a homeless individual is tell them of a job opening, or give them a job application?
• Do I believe that prostitution is a choice?
• Do I believe that the solution for addicts is just abstinence? And that if they just wouldn’t use all would be well?

I encourage you to answer these questions now.

Dear Reader, I pray that as you read God will open your eyes to see every person around you through eyes of love and grace through the very eyes of Jesus. I pray that you will recognize each and every individual, regardless of their  background or choices or present state, as the same kind of human—precious individuals created in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26-27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Advertisements

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Featuring Paul Beverly

Posted in Culture, Our Daily Bread with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2018 by paulthepoke

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. National Suicide Prevention Week is September 9-15, 2018, with World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th.

suicide

September is suicide prevention month. Some of you know my story & why this is so close to my heart. I’ve lost friends to suicide. If not for God putting the vision of my children right in front of me, I was seconds away from taking this path. I hear others say that this is the coward’s way out. No, it’s Satan filling your head with self-doubt that you don’t matter anymore. That pain is so very unbearable & hard to take. It is worse than any physical pain ever felt.

Please be there for others going through hard times.  Show them that they matter. Show them you care & love them. Tell them about God’s love. Get them with a Pastor or counselor trained in helping these situations. Get them with me even. I wish every school & church would have programs about this.

Treat everyone with kindness & love because every life matters.

Don’t miss the opportunity to help others, it’s a blessing for them & you.

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good & share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have a helping month my friends!!!

Human Trafficking, Up Close & Personal

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 17, 2018 by paulthepoke

Colossians 4:5–6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Christine McDonald

Featuring Christine Clarity McDonald

Christine has been recognized by the Missouri House of Representative for outstanding civil service in the state of Missouri. She is an advocate for Mental Health Champions.

Human trafficking is a topic that has been making its way into the mainstream over the last several years. The awareness of this issue is greatly rising, and that is certainly good. As awareness about human trafficking and other marginalized populations—such as the homeless, addicted, and mentally ill—has risen, so has the impulse to address these real problems. People want to know how to help. They want to make a difference.

I have read a number of books about how to help the homeless, the commercially exploited, the prostituted, and those generally marginalized. Some have been written by authors who share their own journey out of these places of darkness and hopelessness. The majority, however, have not.

Most of the literature that exists in this field fails to inform and educate people from an insider perspective. The authors of most of these books do not write from personal experience. They haven’t felt the desperation of trying to find something to grasp hold of to continue living. They haven’t faced the barriers put up by service providers that prevent them from receiving services. They haven’t experienced the social and spiritual disenfranchisements that can occur. While they are well–meaning, I haven’t found these particular books accurate in their depictions, nor were their “helping” suggestions all that helpful.

Human_Trafficking_0

The need for something more true–to–life has stirred in my heart. It is something I have prayed about often. Perhaps a book on this subject should be written by someone who has walked in the very shoes of those we are trying to help. If we can see and understand the journeys the forgotten and overlooked have walked, then we can better understand the rejection, hurt, and struggles they face when people attempt to reach out to them.

And so I find myself writing this book, sharing pieces of my journey and the stories of others I encountered on my journey, to help the world better understand the thoughts, feelings, and struggles of those who have been exploited and marginalized in our society.

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Read more at…

 

It’s All About Perspective

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Awarded by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for Outstanding Civil Service.

“The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.” ― John Mark Green

 

Just cause you say you are of the church a leader of God a Christian with some folks just don’t mean that much at all…

Have you ever wondered how two people can stand side-by-side witnessing the same event, yet report seeing two totally different things? Our past experiences shape how we interpret nearly everything around us. People from strong loving families often have a more confident view of themselves as well as the world they interact with than those who grew up with less support.

Oftentimes these experiences also define our perceptions of who God is, as well as what our purpose is on this planet. Those who have been raised in the church may not always be aware of how far apart their understanding of Jesus and salvation is from those who have only ever been hurt by the world.

Jesus bridged this gap time and time again throughout Scripture. His anger and “judgement” were never directed toward those who were clearly lost. After all, they already felt like they were as far from God as they can get. They saw their need for him. Instead, we see his anger and cutting words repeatedly hurled against the religious leaders of the day who used the law to oppress people instead of freeing them or leading them back to their Creator. Such leaders had no idea of their own need for saving; hence they had no grace for others.

In John Chapter 8, we see Jesus intervene when a group of men wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery. We don’t know precisely what her story is. Was she a willing participant? Was she someone who had been used by others? What we do know is that while she was “caught”, there was no man being condemned alongside her. Whoever she was caught with wasn’t even part of the story. The man who stood up for her, however, was the only perfect and blameless being to ever walk the earth.

If anyone had the authority and was justified in condemning this woman, it was Jesus. He was, after all, the Son of God. But instead, Jesus addressed her accusers, challenging them, “…but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (Verse 7, NLT). Jesus alone held that right; yet when all of them had left, one by one, he turned to her and offered her freedom.

When we encounter those who need this Gospel, yet have been cast down by life over and over again, are we offering them freedom? People know who they are. Even without ever picking up a Bible, people know when their actions are morally objectionable. What Christ offers is more than a light to illuminate the darkness. His light offers freedom. This freedom does not require that we be changed before we accept it. In fact, we can’t. The changes we require to be clean and holy in His sight can only be made by Him.

Perhaps our job as believers isn’t so much about raising a mirror to people so they see their sins. Perhaps, deep down, they already see them. Perhaps our responsibility is to show them God’s reflection of love, grace and freedom. Perhaps, through our words and actions, consistently and patiently, we can offer them hope.

If you have not walked in the shoes of someone who has been exploited or marginalized by society, tread carefully when speaking about the hope of Christ. Be mindful of their past experiences and formulated ideas of Christians, people of faith, or believers. Their lived experiences may not have been that of goodness and love and grace. It takes one thousand good things to replace one bad thing, so tread lightly and gently, my Christian friends. You never know what brokenness someone might have experienced – even at the hands of a person who claims Jesus as Lord.

Tread gently, therefore, when speaking about the hope of Christ to those who are leaving the life, or those attempting to restore their lives from brokenness of any sort you don’t know. Many other “Christians” they have interacted with were antithetical representations of the gospel of Jesus. If this is all they know, then the concept of God and hope and goodness is a much more difficult sell!

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

 

Love, Condoms, & Moral Indignation

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is the current Director of Outreach, Advocacy and Curriculum for Restoration House.

http://restorationhousekc.com/

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. -God

A few years ago, I operated a street outreach. We went to the streets and parks where I myself had existed for nearly two decades. We took sandwiches and basic hygiene items to the women and men in that area.

I was contacted by a TV news show who wanted to join us. The news crew had done food service during the holidays, but always in an artificial environment. They had never actually gone to the streets where the many who avoided the long feeding lines dwelled.

We brought bean burritos from Taco Bell that night, as well as water and condoms. As I handed the condoms out, the reporter stopped everything. She turned off the microphone.

I knew the deal. I had heard it before from women of faith who had joined us on these outreaches. The ladies who had so much church. I suppose, that they forgot about the human in us all.

I listened as they ranted all the reasons she couldn’t be a part of us giving out condoms. I had heard all the reasons, so I’d just hear them again. My mind raced, thinking maybe she had a new reason. She didn’t; nobody ever did.

“We are promoting their actions of prostitution” or “We can’t promote prostitutes to sell their bodies out here” were reasons commonly cited. But I was geared up and ready. Goodness knows I had given this speech at least fifty times.

 

If you are one of those individuals who might have concerns about giving out condoms in ministry work, then please continue to read this. Give this a fair shot of thought. Consider for a moment that maybe your moral indignation isn’t as productive as you think it is.

We all know by now that I was prostituted. As a formerly prostituted person, my voice provides a different perspective. During my exploitation, I was rarely in a position to go to the store to purchase condoms. If I was working for my “man” or “pimp,” my priority was to make my funds as fast as I could so I could eat and avoid drama. To state it bluntly, condoms were a luxury I couldn’t afford.

Additionally, it wasn’t uncommon for a trick or John to pay an extra twenty bucks to have sex with you without a condom. Statistics tell us that about 68% of all tricks are married or in a “committed” relationship. Do you think their loved ones at home have any clue they are paying for a prostitute to have sex with them, much less without a condom?

The prostitute might turn twenty dates in a 24-hour period, not to mention the times she has been raped. Keep in mind that her man or pimp has other girls he is having sex with – other prostitutes who are having unprotected sex with many others. Are you doing the math here?

A girlfriend or wife learns she is pregnant, and during this joyous announcement from her doctor she is also informed of another piece of highly unexpected – but far from joyous – news that she is now HIV positive. This is an extra “gift” contracted from her husband or her boyfriend – the john who purchased sex from a prostitute. Of course, this means he is infected as well. So, stop and think of how this woman and her unborn child’s life are forever affected by the man’s urge to purchase sex from a prostitute.

Please note. I am not saying all prostitutes have HIV. I worked the streets for nearly two decades and am HIV free! But I have friends who have died of AIDS and some who live with it daily.

This is yet another reason we must end the purchase of human beings. This cycle of exploitation and suffering affects not only the purchaser and the prostituted individual. There are also innocent victims who are affected who play no role in the event yet end up suffering from it.

If we are truly attempting to connect to the humanity of this complex issue, then offering condoms for the prostituted persons we encounter is not only responsible help; it is loving help. Withholding something that could save a life simply because of our moral objections to its use doesn’t stop the activity. Nor does it convict the buyer or seller of sex. All it does is place additional conditions on love and help, therefore devaluing both love and help until neither is recognizable.

HIV is only one of many damaging effects these acts have on unintended victims. The collateral damage abounds in so many ways we can’t easily see. If we are going to truly help, we must be careful of misapplying our moral objections in ways that further compound, rather than help, the problem.

Our ministry is not only for the buyer and seller, but the unintended victims whose lives can be unknowingly changed forever by someone else’s choice to pay for another human being for their own sexual gratification.

 

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

Collateral Damage

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , on July 6, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is appointed by the Missouri Attorney General for the Trafficking Task Force.

“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every woman forced into unprotected sex because men demand this, we destroy dignity and pride. Every woman who has to sell her life for sex we condemn to a lifetime in prison. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation.” – Nelson Mandela

Collateral damage is what we call the loss, injury or victims incurred by an action or event who were never intended to be involved. Many times, when we venture out in a helping capacity, we have our sights squarely focused on the population we serve. Yet oftentimes, those individuals we serve touch the lives of many we may never encounter.

Compassion and love at their best grow and extend indefinitely. The things we do out of love for others can have a massive ripple effect across time and space. Likewise, the things we don’t do can carry greater, far-reaching ramifications. What if one simple, yet sometimes controversial, moment of service could save a life? Conversely, what if a misapplied moral objection costs a life?

When we consider human trafficking, exploitation, and prostitution, we tend to recognize the purchaser/exploiter as well as the person being used. However, there is another population that is inadvertently affected yet rarely lands on our radar. Sometimes our narrow view of the impact and our tightly-clung-to moral objections have unintended consequences.

human trafficking

When we think of serving and how we serve, the most important thing we can do is put on the love of Christ and remember how much He loves and would give all for just one person. We have to ask ourselves, is making a moral statement that will inevitably be lost more important than the individual?

Jesus was well known in His day for spending His time with those viewed as the biggest “sinners.” When the religious leaders of the day verbally lashed against Him for this, He told a parable about a shepherd who had one hundred beloved sheep and one ran away. In the parable, the shepherd left the 99 to go after the one. The Son of God did not withhold His presence from the “sinners” to make a moral statement. Instead, He left us all with a clear example to follow. He made it crystal clear that every one of those “sinners” was invaluable to Him.

Even while knowing His days were limited, Jesus didn’t spend His time with His family and loved ones. Instead He chose to spend time among the untouchables of His day. And though He – the perfect, Holy, God of the universe – had many moral objections to their actions, He didn’t let those moral objections become the focus or stand in the way of an opportunity to touch their hearts.

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

 

Be Living Water

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2018 by paulthepoke

Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me… -Jesus

Christine McDonald

Featuring Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is a Member of the Missouri State Advisory Council for Behavioral Health & Substance Disorders.

Trigger warning. Do you see them? The unseen all around you?

So yesterday we did street outreach. Every time I hear these words from women when I offer them food…

“I am starving, I have not eaten in days” or “I have been trying to figure out when I was gonna be able to eat again.”

I hear the almost tears as they say thank you for the food. I continually pray I never forget all those years I was hungry. I was just wanting someone to see me, to see my pain, see my hopelessness, my longing to be cared about. I just wanted my simple humanity to be noticed.

There are times when we all want to slip into crowds unnoticed. But there is still a part of us that deeply longs to be known and seen and cared for. Jesus offers this to believers. Being known by the Creator of the Universe is the most profound “knowing” we could possibly experience.

However, the world around us is full of broken individuals who feel invisible because they don’t yet know Christ. The rest of humanity either ignores them or only sees them when they can be used.

water well

In John Chapter 4, we read the story of Jesus and his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. The most profound aspect of the story isn’t that Jesus calls her out for being married multiple times. Nor is it that He knows that the man she is currently living with isn’t her husband. What is profound is that He truly knew her. He saw her. Because Jesus was able to see her. When He offered her living water, she believed.

We claim to feel moved by the hurts and sufferings of others. Yet we fail to truly see those who are hurting as individuals. Our efforts to relieve suffering or bring healing fail. Sometimes, such efforts even do more harm.

God doesn’t ask us to take on the world, but to offer the world hope. We are His ambassadors to a hurting world. Being intentional and thoughtful in our interactions can go a long way in offering hope to those in our sphere of influence. What if we open our hearts to Him? Let Him help us see those around us as He does.

Each and every soul on this planet was fearfully and wonderfully made. Each one is a treasure to the One we love most. He is calling us to see them as precious treasures too.

Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

 

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

PaulthePoke

Prophecy Watch

God in a Nutshell project

A Trey Smith project

%d bloggers like this: