A Savior You Can See

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed. Luke 4:18

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:32-36

Last time we reflected on the parables of Jesus. He told them using familiar scenarios, making the Kingdom of God visible and tangible to the people who listened to Him. In the same way, the righteousness and justice of His throne become visible and tangible through His acts of compassion.

Just as Jesus showed people what the Kingdom really is, we need to show people who Jesus really is. We have to make Him visible and tangible to the world.

He has come to set us free. This is what He says! He says, “I have come to proclaim liberty to the captives.” He says, “I have set you free.”

Freedom is in Christ Jesus! And if freedom is in Him, then freedom is part of what makes Him. Jesus is freedom! Therefore in order to make Jesus visible, we need to show people freedom. We have to literally show them what freedom is.

That’s why I think that Jesus is the frontrunner in the fight against human trafficking. That’s why I think that He wants us to help Him rescue the slaves.

When people are put in bondage, enslaved, that is not freedom! That is not Jesus! So I can’t allow slavery to take place. You see, I have the freedom to do what I want. So if I love my neighbor as myself, and I am free, then shouldn’t I want my neighbor to be free?

We can’t love our neighbors less because they happen to live in areas where slavery is a high risk. They didn’t choose to live there! What about us? Did we choose to be born in America? No! But we still have all the opportunities that come with being American.

And think about this: approximately 250,000 Americans are in slavery right now! Why? Maybe they grew up poor and needed the work, and got caught up in labor trafficking. That’s a nasty cycle that’s almost impossible to escape without help. Or maybe they grew up in a scary home so they ran away, and then, out on the street, someone took them in and said, “Do what I say if you want to live.” They didn’t choose this! They don’t deserve it, any more than I do, or you do. They deserve Jesus, and He came to set them free.

To make Jesus visible in the world, we should help Him bring justice and righteousness. We should join him in doing acts of compassion. Just like Him, we should want to live for other people.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Inspired by Dreams

I have so much to be grateful for today. One of the ways I can show my gratitude is to use this incredible moment to inspire you to dream the biggest dream you possibly can, and then work for it.

A really big part of our energy and success lies in our ability to dream. There’s a great line in the movie Grey Owl starring Pierce Brosnan, where the Ojibwe elders tell Archie Grey Owl, “A man becomes what he dreams. You have dreamed well.”

When moms and dads at the ballpark would ask me for advice, I always told them to help their kids dream, and dream big. That’s what I did as a kid. I didn’t know if I could be a professional ballplayer! But I dreamed about it anyway. I could dream any dream I liked! Back then, I had no idea what a privilege that was. I’ve learned it’s not the same for everyone.

Some of the kids that we rescue from slavery have awesome talents. But those talents have been squandered by the people that were slaving them out. These kids never enjoyed the chance to use their talents or challenge themselves. They didn’t dare to dream, not even small dreams.

Imagine not being able to dream at all! It’s shocking! Instead these kids were saying, “I just want to wake up one day, and not be a slave. I just want to wake up one day, and know that I’m not chained to the floor, that someone won’t come to take the chains off just to tell me to go have sex with some guy.” They never wanted anything more than, “I’m tired of going in these fields, and working hard every day.  What do I get for it?  I get put right back in the dark, I get hooked to the floor, and I get a thing of bread thrown in front of me as my food.”  This is happening to kids.

That’s why we have to dream as big as we possibly can. It’s through our dreams and determination that we can rescue these kids from slavery and restore them to their talents and their dreams. These kids are suffering and I promise you that Jesus is with them, waiting for you and everyone else to come and love these kids just the way He did: by saving their lives.

Happy Thanksgiving! Dream a big dream. See you Thursday.

Help Them Dream

I am so blessed to be able to dream really big dreams.

Like playing in the World Series! It’s the most awesome opportunity. We are really excited for tomorrow night’s game!

But did you know that there are children in the world today who never get a chance to dream? I thought slavery was a thing of the past, until I read about a human trafficking case in the newspaper. At first I couldn’t believe that slavery could still be happening in today’s world. But it is, and it’s on a pretty large scale. So I said, “What can I do? Let’s figure out what we have to do, and get it done!” That’s how I became a part of Team Not For Sale.

I am free to pursue my dreams, but these kids have been forced into situations of fear. That’s why we’re trying to help them. We help set them free. Then we help them dream again.

You can help them too! It’s easy to do, and you’ll find a stunning and unexpected joy when you do. Check out my youth organization for more information. We respond to opportunities to help end poverty and the trafficking that goes with it. We’re a Generation Alive!

Learn more about NomiS and hear more of his poetry and music here: NomiS | Authentic Hip-Hop

Slavery Still Exists

Slavery still exists, and this extraordinary piece in The Atlantic from 2012 documents it with powerful and poignant photographs.

Lisa Kristine: Slavery Still Exists

photo credit: Lisa Kristine  http://www.lisakristine.com/

photo credit: Lisa Kristine http://www.lisakristine.com/

Yes, slavery still exists, and we can do something about it. We can actually help free people, and then help support them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and safety. Why not join me and other professional athletes in Team Not For Sale? Make an accomplishment-based pledge. Do you and your friends play football on Sunday afternoons? Then you can pledge $1 to Not For Sale for every tackle you make this season. That money will go to help empower survivors of human trafficking. You can get everyone on your team to make a similar pledge. That way you can raise a lot, by everyone giving a little bit. That’s teamwork!

You will find the most profound fulfillment if you do.

The National League Championship Series starts Saturday, and I’m focused! See you Monday.

Team Not For Sale

I have a huge heart for people suffering in slavery all over the world, and am so blessed to be a part of the fight to end human trafficking.  Along with fellow baseball players all over the majors, I work with the Not For Sale Campaign to end slavery once and for all.

This Saturday June 7, the San Francisco Giants are holding a Not For Sale Night at AT&T Park.  It’s the fifth year in a row that they’ve done this!  Thank you, Giants!  Me and my buddies Matt Cain and Brandon Belt will donate our salaries to the Not For Sale Campaign as we host the New York Mets.  Come and watch us play, or if you’re in the Bay Area, check out the Not For Sale Campaign’s website and explore the creative and entrepreneurial methods they use to end slavery in our lifetime.  See what you can do!  Working to end slavery is hugely rewarding and connects you with some awesome people.

photo credit: Not For Sale

photo credit: Not For Sale

Here’s a link to a short video that will help you understand why my wife Larisa and I are so dedicated to this work.  I hope you’ve seen the new baseball movie “Million Dollar Arm” too!

Affeldts Treat Group to a Private Screening of Million Dollar Arm

See you Thursday.