#TalkJustice Together October Edition




This past Thursday, The Office of Social Justice had a launch party for the Immigrants are a Blessing not a Burden Campaign at the Holland Museum. Your family can join in too. Visit the website to Sign, Share and Wear! My family shared below, as you can see immigrants are very dear to us. Open up conversation with your kids. Immigrants are all around us deepening our lives and contributing to our communities.


Holiday Kindness Camp

What?! How is it mid-October already? The leave are beginning to change colors here, which is beautiful and also a little bit of a bittersweet feeling to me, because I know winter is lurking. If you look at a calendar you know holiday preparations and fun will be filling our weeks soon. Join the sequel to Kindness Summer Camp, Holiday Kindness Camp. We’ll be giving out great ideas to incorporate kindness for five weeks in November and December.

Fall #TalkJustice Playgroups

If you are local, don’t forget our upcoming fall #TalkJustice playgroups, a veterans playgroup in partnership with Herrick District Library and Hope College’s Big Read, and a playgroup benefitting Kids Food Basket in partnership with Grace Episcopal Church. Join the Facebook Event Page to get updates!

Creation Care

Sit down together and look through the images in the article What Humans are Really Doing to the Environment. Ask about their thoughts on the photographs.


Get ready for #GivingTuesday, this year on December 1, 2015. Talk about what organization or family you might like to support. Make plans ahead of time to be able to make it a reality on Dec. 1.

Global Education

Watch the movie trailer He Named Me Malala, the story of Malala Yousafzai shot by the Taliban for attending school, and later winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism. If you have read the book, you will also see reflected in the movie the strength of Malala’s Father. He broke conventional beliefs to make education for Malala and other girls a priority. As adults we make a difference when we talk about justice with young people.



My Teen Daughter Asked for 17,000 Pairs of Shoes: Why I said Yes about the foster care system and the basic needs of children. When we pause long enough to take statistics in; we realize how much we have, and how much we have to give.

Trick or Treat

Consider trick or treating for UNICEF! Or maybe matching the number of treats your kids collect to a family donation. $15 provides safe drinking water for a year to a child. $30 provides Measles protection to 100 kids. Just $5 provides five meals to a hungry child. I’m going to have Ant Man and Scarlet Witch this year!

October is Fair Trade Month 

Check out the Buy Fair Trade Fair website. See if you can substitute a product you use in your life with a fair trade equivalent.


The busiest times for food banks is around the holidays. Before you take a hands-on shopping trip to donate, try calling first and asking about high need items. When we did a justice playgroup for our local food pantry this summer, they really needed personal hygiene items. We were able to gather and meet their greatest need at that time. Here is a list of high-quality items that can benefit most food pantries.

What are you all up to this month?

A Path Appears~ because of us.


Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn the fearless team behind the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwidereleased a new book this past September.

A Path Appears talks about transforming lives and creating opportunity. Their reporting provides encouragement and also tells the stories of everyday people making a difference. They teach us to do justice thoughtfully, wearing a path to those in need.

A Path Appears Book Cover

The Film, A Path Appears, will premier on PBS this month in a three-part series on Jan 26, Feb 2, and Feb 9.

You can download discussion and lesson guides here. 


A Path Appears for others~because of us.

Because we walk this way AGAIN and AGAIN. 


Drawing Up in Proximity

171The Roosevelt Monument in Washington D.C. 

169Let us bend our hearts

to the needs of those that surround us on every side. 

170There are people and places we need to remember,

help us draw up in proximity to them Lord. 


Teach us to be humble enough to work together.

To Listen. To seek to make a difference. 

Si, se puede. We Have a Voice.


Kris and I were in Washington DC all of nine hours, six in meetings and three speed walking through the monuments before darkness settled in. I am so thankful for those little moments when you are afforded an opportunity to see the world a little more deeply than you did before.


What I know more deeply:

I’m really proud of Kris and the work that World Renew and the Office of Social Justice does to speak up for the most vulnerable.

Regardless of your political positions, those that make decisions on Capital Hill work incredibly long, difficult hours. They truly do care about making a difference.

We have a voice. Every piece of mail you send or phone call you make indicating your heart about issues is recorded and filed. It really makes a difference. I think I did not grasp that before I witnessed it first hand. Knowing who your congressional representatives are and communicating with them is important. This is a directory to find the contact information for those in government positions.

Everyday their are powerful people {because they have money} lobbying for their causes. The most vulnerable in our society do not have these resources and we need to work so hard to give them equal voice.


Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a little timid. I was able to speak at the meetings we had by God’s grace. I hope those we talked to were able to better understand the vulnerable place immigrants find themselves in. I hope we can grow to extend grace to those that come to fill jobs no one else much wants in our society.

When we first arrived as part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we faced a huge crowd of families. They came on six buses as the National Alliance of Evangelical Latino Christians. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Si, se puede they chanted.

Yes, we can.


There we are after two hours of sleep and six hours of meetings.

And wait for it… right after I dive bombed the cement in my heels smack dab in front of the Capitol. The knees of my pants ripped a little, there was a small amount of blood, and I realized I had fulfilled my awkward moment. But, it didn’t matter. I was just thankful for the opportunity to see deeper.

Where have you traveled that inspired you? 

This Freedom is a Gift We Received



My husband Kris travels for his work with World Renew and the CRC Office of Social Justice. For the first time, I am traveling with him today to Washington D.C. We are speaking with members of congress about comprehensive immigration reform and the response of the church.

This will be my first time in Washington D.C. I have my power suit and heels on and I’m excited. I’ll write about my experience on Friday. In the meantime you can pray that I do not do anything awkward, but I advise you not to bet on it.

This is the story I will be sharing.


{The Gift We have Received, first appeared October 24, 2012 at G92

In Kollen Park, on the shore of Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan, stands a bronze statue.

“The Immigrants” statue is a gift from the people of Drenthe, in the Netherlands.


A group of immigrants journeyed in the spring of 1847 from Rotterdam to New York City’s Ellis Island. The Atlantic passage took 47 days. A group of 60 men, woman, and children traveled together, led by Albertus C. Van Raalte. They looked to settle in a new land, because of religious and economic oppression.


While the Dutch immigrants faced enormous challenges and overcame adversity, they prevailed. They were afforded the opportunity to make a new life.


You may believe the historic story found its beginning and end here.

But, is history ever that simple?


There are no monuments or placards to commemorate another facet of the story. Even the recorded history finds itself pieced together on the shelves of the history room of the public library, the research library of the Holland Museum, and the lower level of joint archives of Van Wylen Library. Amongst shelves of volumes lies a thin folder of newspaper clippings.


The Ottawa Native Americans summered in Northern Michigan in the Mackinaw area. When the season curved around to fall again, they traveled by canoe, via Lake Michigan, back to their land on the shore of Lake Macatawa, then called Black Lake. The Ottawa Native Americans had cleared 15 acres with nearly thirty huts and teepees covered in cedar bark. An early settler said he believed the Native Americans had intended this to be a permanent location.

This stood their rhythm for decades.


The Indians of the Western Great Lakes speaks of early encounters with the Native Americans in this way:

“All strangers that were not enemies, as well as members of their own nations, were at all times welcome to partake of the shelter of a cabin and the food available.”


In the fall of 1848, when the Ottawa Native Americans returned to Black Lake they found the Dutch settlers on their cleared land. The settlers were also using some of their (1,400) maple troughs.  The Ottawa Native Americans showed the settlers how to make their own maple troughs, but the settlers continued to use the Ottawa’s troughs.  Smallpox was also brought into the area by the settlers. The following spring the Native Americans sold their land to the settlers, exhumed their dead, and traveled by canoe north.

They renamed the area Ana-mah-npo-nig, the place where the Dutch live.


The eloquent Chief Simon Pokagon spoke six languages and authored the book Queen of the Forest, thought of as a classic in Native American literature.


A speech on August 26, 1897, on the occasion of a Semi-Centennial Celebration by Chief Simon Pokagon, resonates in the mind of a witness, late judge Cornelius vander Meulen. He stated that the chief displayed   “…a bewilderment, perhaps, as to why in grasping for the goals of the future we crush so much of the beauty of the past.”


In the words of Chief Simon Pokagon, “The same forest that frowned upon you smiled upon us. The same forest that was ague and death to you was our bulwark and defense. The same forest you have cut down and destroyed, we loved, and our great fear was that the white man in his advance westward would mar or destroy it.”


Why do we hide facets of history in thin folders in basement libraries?


If history surfaces, we might then have to admit the rhythm of our interconnectedness, that we, too, were immigrants. This land was not our own to take and give then, nor is it now.


This life, this land, this freedom is a gift we received.


A gift handed back with open hands, would be to listen to the discussion of immigration reform.



Kinietz, Vernon W. (1965) The Indians of the Western Great Lakes 1615-1760.

McClunken, James (2009) Our People, Our Journey, The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Van Voorst, Cornelia (1972, May  17). Holland’s Early Colonists Befriended by Indians but Indians Left Area around 1948, Holland Sentinel.

VandeWater, Randy (2010, Feb 21). Pokogan one of most famous Native Americans in West Michigan, Holland Sentinel. 



In the United States we will be celebrating the 4th of July. Freedom.

My Grandfather often told us the story of his big brother who died in World War II. Clem was a gentle young man who shared candy bars with the family dog Lady. His payed a deep price for my freedom and my children’s freedom. There are many who have done the same.


I blog for The Exodus Road. An organizations that provides rescue for global girls trapped in modern-day slavery through sex trafficking. We can’t travel to these places and snatch these girls to freedom ourselves. There are trained people who can. People who often work for free, tirelessly to save innocent lives and we can make a difference.

The search fuels the rescue. And by investing in our teams, you would be putting boots on the ground, sending eyes to search for the enslaved. 


Here is the link to learn more. For the Search and Rescue FAQ page click here. To join a search and rescue team you commit to sponsoring $35 a month. This funds one night of search and rescue a month. You can choice which team you join Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta. Being a part of the team, you will receive up-dates, specific ways to encourage volunteers on the field and a welcome packet.

I’m excited to share this opportunity. It is a way to dig deeper into a cause that needs our voices.

Joining a search and rescue team is a tangible way to bring the freedom we ourselves have to girls that are enslaved.

“Tell me how many kids you want to rescue, and if I have the resources, I think our team could make that happen.” – Exodus Road Coalition Partner




Photo Credit: Ellie Van Engen

Dear Anna


Photo Credit: “Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department” 

a mother in Mumbai, India, who is looking for her lost daughter.


My monthly post for Exodus Road from the perspective of a mother.

Read Anna’s Story here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


Image courtesy of  papaija2008/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear Anna, 

You have been gone for 365 days. I have watched the seasons pass over the River Neva. The waters are ice-covered again and all around lies in winter drab. This is how my heart feels, dear Anna. We ate a tula gingerbread on your sixteenth birthday. 

I stand on the water’s edge at sunset and sunrise and pray that you might return to us. Pray is not the right word, I plead. 

You left for me, for Pavel, for Pyotr, for Petya to help us have a better life. 

There are whispers on the streets that the people you left with were dishonest. That you may be in great hurt and danger. It’s like the ice cracking across the river through me. You were only trying to bring us hope.

I did not know. I am so sorry I did not know. 

Pavel has began telling the story of the Firebird and the Grey Wolf to his brothers as you used to each night. In the end when Prince Ivan regained all he had lost. This is what I plead, that you might regain all you have lost. 

If you could read my heart, you would know I would come for you if I knew where you were. I would trade spaces the very second I could. I would give everything to go back and not allow you to board that bus. I hope you are not cold.  I hope you are not alone. 

So I will continue to plead as the river changes. I will keep telling mothers, to hold their daughters close. No matter how bad it becomes, we cannot let this happen anymore. 

Love, Your Matushka


Sometimes a family can lose their daughter to human trafficking under the veil of the promise of work.

Other times family’s find themselves in the position of selling their daughters into slavery. This seems beyond our imaginations.

Read the following story by Laura Parker How Can a Mother Sell Her Child? 


Understanding that truth places us in the proximity of making difference.

And Action!

This is my monthly update for The Exodus Road.

You Can Make a Difference! 


Exodus Road staffer, Kelley J. Leigh, wrote an article at Burnside Writers Collective about the gap we can feel between sex trafficking and our safe suburban lives.

She writes:

One turn at a time.  One seed of holy unrest, watered.   One humble step. One choice to say “Yes” to the One true God who has a heart to rescue us all, one soul at a time.

Start small.  Water the seed. Let it grow.

Be a hero in this larger story.

Join the rescue.

Read the rest of her story Entering the Bat Cave here.


I’m With Lincoln:

Watch the powerful video here.

You can sign a petition here to tell your senator that ending human slavery is important to you.

Following the Made in a Free World blog  and The Exodus Road blog keeps you up-to-date on ways to respond.


Buying Fair Trade


Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] /FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Exodus Road gave bloggers five ideas for ways to fight slavery. Buying fair trade is not something I’m super savvy about, so I wanted to gather resources and share them with you.


Buying fair trade items: protects the environment, builds business, empowers woman, supports education, fights poverty, stops child labor and slavery and supports health care. Those are some pretty solid reasons.

Buying fair trade is also being intentional and thoughtful about what we consume and it’s impact on our global brothers and sisters.

Two items first-world people use at astounding rates are coffee and chocolate. Start small and make sure you are using fair trade in those two areas and then broaden what you buy to more fair trade goods.



Buy things that give back when possible!

About Proximity’s Gifts that Give Back Pinterest Board.

Amy Sullivan’s Shop with a Purpose Pinterest Board.


Equal Exchange Fairly Traded: They can help your church congregation use fair trade coffee.

Fair Trade USA: Where every purchase matters is a great website to get started.

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A Kids Resource:

The book Think Fair Trade First by: Ingrid Hess

Aunt Mabel helps Stella and Henry find the perfect birthday gift for their Mom, along the way they learn that the way they shop can help people around the world.

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The Fair Trade: What’s Your Life Worth?  [A Burning Heart Production] (2008)

Tamara Johnston plays herself, a woman facing the loss of her fiance’. She quits her dream job and begins a fair trade business. The benefits of fair trade are highlighted in her touching work.

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Black Gold by Nick and Marc Francis

Takes place in Ethiopia where Tadesse Meskela seeks to help 74,000 struggling coffee farmers to receive a fair price for their coffee.

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The Justice Seekers Fair Trade Edition booklet


Watch the Video Commercial:

I’m with Lincoln. (This commercial is a dramatic portrayal of modern-slavery PG-13). After the short video you can sign a letter to your congressional representatives that ending slavery is important to you.

Lincoln moved Congress to act on slavery. Modern-day slavery is on the rise. We need to take up the cause and speak up.


Teaching Resources:

This website has great printable teaching resources about Fairtrade for Schools.