Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Month: February 2017

End It Movement

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn…,
since no one [will] buy their cargo anymore,
cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fancy clothes and silk,
scented and costly wood, ivory, bronze, iron, marble,
cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense,
wine, oil, fine flour, wheat,
cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, [expensive cars],
and slaves, that is, human souls.

God hates slavery.

In the Old Testament, knowing that even His own people the Jews would go with the culture of their day and keep slaves, God gave clear instructions on how slaves were to be treated: fairly, well, allowed to earn their freedom, completely freed with their family at set times.

When the Jews were held as slaves in Egypt, God ‘heard their groaning’ and powerfully set them free in such a miraculous way that the surrounding nations were in awe of the Jews’ God for years.

In the New Testament, God called and welcomed slaves into His Kingdom just as much as free, rich people. In the early years of the Church, slaves and rich people were instructed to worship side-by-side in unity because they were all equal in God’s eyes.

The above verse from Revelation 18 is part of a passage about how the world’s system will one day end when Jesus returns and puts everything to right. Everyday trade will finish. But look at the last phrase. It is shocking: ‘and slaves, that is, human souls’.

How can we think it’s okay for another human being to be bought and sold?

God sees the modern-day slaves and people who have been trafficked. He hears their groans and He sees their misery. Yes, God sees the thousands of modern-day slaves forced to work in nail salons, car wash places, building sites, in homes as domestics, in brothels and red light districts throughout the UK.

One day, slavery will end for good. (If you are reading this and are a slave owner or human trafficker, you need to repent. God loves you and offers you abundant life but He won’t overlook the evil you’re doing.)

But I don’t want to sit around waiting for that day. What is important to God must be important to me. One day He will end slavery for good, but His heart is for those who are oppressed and ill-treated now. We are His hands and feet, and we have a responsibility to do what we can.

I want to play my part in seeing slavery end now.

Individuals aren’t for sale. No one should be bought and sold. Children are precious. Women are precious. Men are precious.

Let’s pray. Let’s keep our eyes open. Let’s work together to end the horror that is slavery and human trafficking.

Signs of Slavery

90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James

I’m excited about this devotional book by Tim Keller and Sam Allberry.

Each short chapter gives the Bible text for the day followed by a few helpful notes. The notes are split up by sub headings, as well as questions which aid the reader to think about the passage and how it applies to your life. At the end of the chapter is a small paragraph with suggestions of how to pray in to what you have just read.

The page layout (it’s on my Kindle) is easy on the eye with lots of white space and clear headings and short paragraphs. It is appealing and draws you in, making you want to read it.

This is precisely the kind of devotional I like to start my day with. I don’t have to work at trying to wake up reading lots of dense text, and at the end of a chapter wonder what I’ve just read because I haven’t taken any of it in. With a book like 90 Days In, I can begin reading and find that my brain and heart are engaging with the subject matter almost at once.

I love Tim Keller’s books. His love and passion for God shine brightly through each page, and he brings fascinating insights from the original Hebrew and Greek.

I’ve read only one other book by Sam Allberry but found him to be a very readable writer with a deep love for God. He comes across as compassionate and sensitive with a wholesome love for the truth.

I’m looking forward to reading and savouring 90 Days In, using it as my morning devotional. I have given it **** on Amazon and am grateful to Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free copy to review.



Refuse to do Nothing

Homeless people are human.

You may think that is obvious but at one time they were invisible to me. They first came on my radar when I read John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer. The idea that they are far more than a vague figure covered by a tatty blanket percolated away for a while, and then God added a little of His compassion to the mix. I eventually found myself chatting with Big Issue sellers and getting involved with social justice.

Francine Rivers in Redeeming Love made prostitutes human. It’s never as simple as just seeing a woman selling herself on a street corner late at night. There’s a whole back story of gut wrenching misery that drove her to that dark place. No little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute.

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I, Daniel Blake

I’ve just watched a disturbing film I, Daniel Blake.

It’s based on true stories, and reminded me of things I’ve seen and heard – and experienced personally to a certain extent.

My brief synopsis is that Daniel Blake is a 59-year-old skilled carpenter who has worked all his life until having a heart attack. Despite doctors telling him he’s not ready to go back to work, he falls into the black hole that sometimes (often?) exists in our flawed benefits system. He spirals down through frustration, unfair sanctions, and trying to get his appeal heard. Through all of this he meets Katie, mother of two, who is new to the area. She too falls foul of the system through no fault of her own and ends up being unfairly sanctioned. After starving herself to feed her kids and having no electricity or heating, she eventually turns to sex work out of sheer desperation.

I heard similar stories so many times when volunteering at Grace Church’s food bank. I meet women through the Jericho Road Project who feel they have no alternative to provide for their families. These are good people. They are not monsters. They are not undeserving poor. They are people. Just like me.

Me in ChiChiI’ve learned that anyone can end up on the street. Everyone has a story to tell. I’ve met people who were well-off and had their own business, but through various circumstances – including sudden serious illness – have found themselves needing to be referred for a food parcel.

I was briefly in the benefits system myself and although my experience was largely good (a safety net), it was still a scary place to be. What came out tonight was that people on benefits are treated as guilty until proven innocent. That was true in my case, though quickly resolved.

I, Daniel Blake reminded those of us watching tonight of the harsh reality faced by thousands in our country. We were uncomfortable inside. It made some angry. There was emotional pain. We wanted to do something. Because how can such things happen in the UK in 2017? How?

God used the film to reopen my eyes to what I’ve forgotten or become used to.

At the entrance to the car park sat a man wrapped in a grey blanket. He’d given up asking for money. He just sat. And my heart broke for him. I only had 27 p on me. But I couldn’t walk past and do nothing. As I looked into his eyes and touched his dirt-grimed fingers, I saw someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s grandson.

My God has a big heart for the poor. Jesus was adored by the homeless people and sex workers of His day. May God break my heart with what breaks His until His streams of living water flow out through me and make a difference.

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