What an incredibly exhausting weekend. I just spent the last five days in Philly for The Justice Conference and The Justice Film Festival. It was such a blast to be there with Venture Expeditions. Their community was the most at-home I have felt since I moved to Chicago.
Our first night there, a few of us ran around some of the sites at night (Rocky steps, the Liberty Bell, etc.). We also saw a beautiful view of the skyline.
The weekend reaffirmed my passion and call to a life of justice-seeking. It challenged my commitment to the poor, and consequently inspired and encouraged me in the 1000 miles “Run Free for the Border” challenge. The film festival was radical and I was thankful for great story-telling with raw, unedited content. The films were my favorite part of the whole experience.
However, the most influential part of the weekend had little to do with the conference. I was at dinner with a Venture friend, and four strangers who work for or are connected to International Justice Mission. Part way through our meal, I had a burning desire to tell them my story and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I prayed, “God, right now? You want me to tell then right now?” Just moments later, I was prompted by one of the strangers with a question that naturally led to my story, and I shared.
It was challenging, embarrassing and nerve-wracking. I don’t like having all attention on myself in groups of people (especially those I don’t know) for long periods of time, so I always tend to cliff-note, abbreviate and pass through what I have to say as quickly as I can. I always have the mentality, “Am I boring them? They don’t want to know all of this.” I assume on my blog, people can stop reading whenever they want 😉 While I still left out much of the details, I slowed down and explained myself more than I usually do. It was a growing experience.
I never realized how much of an introvert I am, until I uprooted to Chicago without promise of making friends or connections through school or a job. I have deeply turned inward and find it more difficult than ever to branch out.
Quotes from the weekend:
“Heroes are ordinary people sick and tired of trying to be neutral.” Micah Bournes
“We ought to be sharing that stewardship with the poor. But the poor need something more than materialism.” Dr. John M. Perkins
“All mankind was created in the image of God. People don’t have to do anything to earn dignity.” Dr. Perkins
“You’ve got to have affirmation that God has called you to justice, and you will always come back to that voice.” Dr. Perkins
“We live out our call most fully when we are a community of faith with arms wrapped about a community of pain.” Dr. Perkins
“We must not only recover justice. We must recover prayer.” Gary Haugen
“When the grass looks greener on the other side, God wants us to water the grass we are on.” Eugene Cho
“We must be honest at how laborious and messy pursuing God and doing justice is.” Cho
“We might be living amongst the most overrated generation. People are constantly telling us how we’re going to change the world.” Cho
“Seek justice. Love your neighbor. These two imperatives do not conflict.” Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff
Regarding poverty: “It doesn’t matter how they got there. They are past that now. It’s not up to you to ask ‘how.'” Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
Film Festival Favorites:
Every movie this weekend was excellent, and I truly enjoyed the experience (even if it meant I sat watching the films for more than 13 hours straight 😉 ) I chose my top three favorite films, which you can find below. I strongly encourage you to watch the trailers and also consider watching the films.
1) NEFARIOUS: MERCHANT OF SOULS: a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery.
I had been anxiously waiting to watch this documentary since it was released. It was absolutely excellent: raw, realistic, informative and gut-wrenching. I want to show this film to every person I know.
2) RAPE FOR PROFIT: Realities of sex-trafficking in the U.S. (Seattle).
While this is another documentary on sex-trafficking, it is based in Seattle and brings a completely different perspective with even more gripping interviews and raw footage. Another must-see.
3) I AM: “We started by asking what’s wrong with the world, and ended up discovering what’s right with it.” –Director Tom Shadyac, Four-time People’s Choice Award winner (Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty).
I was blown away by this film! I shook Tom Shadyac’s hand about four years a go in LA, and thought he seemed like an interesting guy (I mean, he DID direct two of my favorite comedies). However, this film was such a different journey. After he was in a serious accident and struggled with the thought of dying, Shadyac decided to take a film crew around the world asking the question “What’s wrong with the world?” to several influential leaders.
It was the most intellectually stimulating film of the weekend as well, as it explored the scientific proof that we are all connected. He challenged “Happiness=more stuff” and radically changed his approach to life through the process.