Panama City

Counting Down...

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4 weeks from today (July 30), I will be on a plane with 23 others bound for Panama City, Panama to meet up with 26 other Minnesotans already down there!  By then, so many more details will be hammered out and plans laid.

That week, it will be all about implementation.  We are expecting anywhere from 5,000-7,000 girls to attend a girls conference as part of the government's first attempts to deal with their human trafficking problem.  The Panama Canal is becoming well-known for its role in the sex trafficking industry.  This conference has the potential to create a movement of  governments worldwide being proactive about ending sex trafficking (the second largest global organized crime today) in their countries as well.

2 months from today (September 2), Go Life Church will be launched in Gothenburg, Sweden!  Go Life is one of EuropeAdvance's newest church plants.  Gothenburg is an urban harbor city. Inner city Gothenburg has a population of 500,000 and greater Gothenburg has 1 million inhabitants and is the 2nd largest city in Sweden.  The population grows by 2-3% each year! It’s a young and hip university city.  The inner city is home to lots of high tech, media and innovative companies, which is surrounded by bigger industries.  Gothenburg is known for companies like SKF, Volvo and Hasselblad.

The percentage of confessing Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran and Free Church) in all of Sweden is 4%.  Sunday church attendance is 1%.  According to the “World Survey,” Sweden is the most secularized nation in the world.  In Sweden, more than one church is shut down a week!  But Swedes are more open than ever.  Gothenburg is strategically located between three capitol cities within only a few hours drive: Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden!  The time has never been more right to plant a church in Gothenburg to reach the northern part of Europe!

There are some other exciting things in the mix, but I will save those for another time.  :)  I don't know about you, but there's just something about a countdown, about looking forward to something on the calendar, that's kind of a big deal.  For those of us planners, sometimes a countdown is one of our greatest motivators and 'energizers.'  But if we are only living for the countdowns, for the BIG events on the horizon, it can be so easy to miss what's in store for us today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and all the other days before the big event.  Between now and July 30th, there are 28 days that hold the same potential as July 30th.  May I (we) wake up each morning with the same expectation for what today holds as we do the days that are circled on our calendars.  EVERY day is a gift.

Generating $31.6 Billion USD Annually

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Tonight, I will be going to our first meeting for a trip that I am helping to lead to Panama City, Panama!  July 29-August 6, hundreds of us will be helping put on an Anti-Trafficking Conference for upwards of 10,000 girls in the city.  Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately $31.6 billion USD each year (UN stat).  Trafficking for sexual exploitation alone generates $27.8 billion USD annually.  80% of trafficked victims are women and over 50% are children.

Panama City is one of the gateways to human trafficking in Central America.  It is estimated that 1 in 5 container ships that travel through the Panama Cannel carries trafficked girls in it (approximately 30 container ships pass through the canal each day).  If the estimation is correct, then a minimum of 6 girls is carried through the canal daily.  Incest is prevalent in many homes in Panama City and has become an open door for a culture of human trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation, to thrive in the community.  Panamanian girls literally do not want to go home at the end of the day.

Here's the good news though, Panama City officials want to do everything they can to make the city known for being a safe and life-giving place for these girls to grow up.  After all, it is being nicknamed "little Dubai" and something like 60-80 new hotels will be opened in the city this year.  The last thing they want to be known for is sex-trafficking.  So, the government officials have invited Gerritt and Tara Kenyon to host a conference for thousands of young girls in the city this summer.  I'm excited to be able to do what I can to help change the course of these girls' lives forever -- to help them know that they are loved, are valuable, and that their lives truly are worth more than simply the fulfillment of the sexual pleasures of those who do not value the life of a little girl as more than that.  And get this, city officials are going to foot the bill for the conference!  I don't know about you, but I would LOVE for this conference, and the way that Panama's government is responding to this heinous problem, to become an example worldwide for other countries to follow in suit.

If you think this is a problem that happens "there" and not "here," don't be mistaken.  If you live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, we are in a HOT SPOT for trafficking.  For years, MN has been ranked in the top 10 states in the country for having the highest level of trafficking activity.  The UN estimates that there are 27 million slaves in the world today.  This is more than there have been at any other time in history.  The exploitation of human lives seriously has got to stop!

To find out more about the Panama trip that I am leading or to help support my financial costs for it, visit my Razoo Profile Page.