Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance





I was immediately intrigued when I learned of another OakTara author, Keith McDonald, who has written about the topic of sex trafficking. His compelling novel, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance, is especially pertinent to me since my daughter, Stephanie, and husband, Matt, are training to minister to victims of the sex trade. Furthermore, Matt’s parents serve as missionaries in Cambodia, the setting for the story.

McDonald captured me from page one with his intricate and gentle description of Devi’s dance. He paints a picture of Cambodian village farm-life with richly meaningful and sweet family connections.

In stark contrast comes the fatal explosion only pages later that claims Devi’s hut, her father, and her dear Granny. On the prowl, Ban Rath, ruthless trafficker, is to blame. He wants beautiful Devi since she is prized as a Khmer dancer.

She and little brother, Rithy, now both orphaned, have no money and nowhere to go. Still, they flee to Tonle Sap Lake to escape Ban Rath. They long to reach Kompong Chhnang, home to the famous school of Khmer dance.

Enter reluctant Dr. Tom Whitby on route to Cambodia for six months to assist his father-in-law in treating iodine deficiency disorders at the urging of his wife, Jane.

MacDonald effectively builds tension and suspense as Devi and Rithy run for their lives. In the brother and sister interaction, he provides touches of humor and tugs at the heartstrings as the twosome scramble to survive.

I found my heart racing, caught up in the raw fear of their escape through the jungle while at the same time entering into their loving, protective bond as sister and brother. MacDonald keeps me on the edge of my seat with every twig snap and every new face. Is it Ban Rath?

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance is a page turner that awakened me to the treacherous history of Cambodia, the tragic trade of human beings, and the brave individuals who risk their lives to rescue victims and transport them to safety.

I highly recommend this thrilling and informative read, for the issue of sex trafficking not only impacts Southeast Asia, but America as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Signing at the Silver Boxes Ladies Luncheon/Lakeside Baptist






Where could you find elephants, palm trees, brass bowls and wooden trays filled with exotic spices (cardamon, cinnamon, cumin, and curry), along with alot of books?

At my book table during the Silver Boxes Ladies Luncheon hosted by Lakeside Baptist in Salem, Virginia!

How meaningful to share with table visitors the story behind CHOSEN ONES, first inspired by two of my daughters whose burden for sex trafficked girls became my own, and thus the seed of inspiration behind CHOSEN ONES, Book Three in the Born for India trilogy.

Two of my special visitors actually helped me design the table layout, unload items/books and pack back up! What faithful little helpers! And with such interest in the land of India and the mission work going on there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

God's Grace, and the Homosexual Next Door




Since publishing RESTORED HEARTS, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy, which profiles a Christian man’s struggle with homosexuality, I have been on the lookout for additional resources that address the restoration and freedom one can experience in loving relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door is just such a resource.

Alan Chambers and the leadership team at Exodus International combine their stories and expertise in this compelling, compassionate book addressing the issue of outreach to the homosexual. Exodus is a Christian organization that serves as an arm of the local church to minister to men, women, and youth who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.

God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door opens with a twenty-question quiz to test the reader’s knowledge about homosexuality. Answers are then given throughout the book chapters with the same quiz posted at the back of the book with answers and brief explanations. A helpful Resource List is also included at the end of the book.

As I read through the testimonies, studies, and sound, well-researched material, I noted several key themes:

1) Healing of homosexuality, and any sin for that matter, takes place in the context of community, i.e. a loving body of believers.

2) There is no hierarchy of sin. ALL sin is abominable to God. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. Therefore, homosexuality is no worse than any other sin.

3) Homosexuality is a relational dysfunction. It results from a person trying to meet a God-given need for love and acceptance in an ungodly way.

4) The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality—it’s holiness.

5) The best evangelism to the homosexual is done through friendship.

Eye-opening chapters include topics such as demystifying homosexuality, developing a Christlike attitude toward homosexuals, the change process, understanding the three degrees of homosexuality, the church’s attitude toward homosexuals, five things not to do when reaching out to the homosexual, and ministry to homosexual young people and to the lesbian. The book closes with 25 questions and answers about gay ministry and five stories from those whose lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ.

The book challenged my thinking, broke my heart, and moved me to become more sensitive to those who battle unwanted homosexuality. Among the many valuable quotes was Mike Haley’s comment: “I have never met a woman or man who left homosexuality who didn’t do it without taking the outstretched hand of someone else. Because we’re broken relationally, we’re restored relationally” (p.199). What a powerful reminder to reach out in faith rather than retreat in fear when considering befriending a homosexual neighbor, coworker, or family member.

I highly recommend God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door if you have a heart that longs to minister to this hurting population of people.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sold


Sold



She could be your daughter, your sister, or your niece. She is one of 3000-5000 children sold or lured into forced prostitution every day. She is raped repeatedly, beaten, drugged, and left for dead. Traded as a commodity on the black market, she is a victim of the sex industry, the second largest area of organized crime in the world.


Four years ago when I was brainstorming characters and plot for my third novel, Chosen Ones, in the Born for India trilogy, my youngest daughter and her husband awakened me to the horrific crime of human trafficking. Up until that time I had no awareness that 27 million slaves existed in our world, generating $32 billion in revenue each year. I did not know that there are about two million women in prostitution in Asia and half of them children. I did not know that every minute, two people are trafficked across international borders, nor did I know that every year 200,000 American girls are at risk for sex trafficking.


My grown children’s passion quickly became my own, and I knew exactly who Chosen Ones would profile: a sex trafficked girl.


Punita, a young poverty-stricken Nepali girl, is sold by her father to a strange woman who claims she will employ the child as a maid with a wealthy family in the city. For two years, the family would care for the girl and provide a good education. Then, Punita would return home to marry Omar.


All lies. Instead, the woman delivers Punita into the hands of Vladimir Hochek, a ruthless kingpin who runs a multi-million dollar business. Her new and better way of life becomes forced sex, turning 20 tricks a day.


Unaware of Punita’s plight, a missionary couple dealing with their own crisis in Chennai, India, ministers daily to orphans at The Oasis Compound. Their world is about to change when they unexpectedly meet Punita and attempt a daring rescue.


My prayer in writing Chosen Ones is that eyes will be opened to see the severity and prevalence of human trafficking and hearts be moved to action. My own burden led me beyond writing a novel to sponsoring an abused girl who has been rescued and placed in a Safe House for rehabilitation, education, and training so that she can become self-supporting.


Barbara Everett, Director of Destiny Rescue USA notes: “Human trafficking may be the worst human rights violation in the 21st century.” God has not allowed this tragedy to go unnoticed. David says it well in Psalm 10:17-18: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”


The Lord calls His Body to be the voice, the hands, and the feet of Jesus to reach out to these precious women and children who are being terrorized by traffickers. He tells His people to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8).


* Trafficking statistics provided by Destiny Rescue USA, Inc. www.destinyrescue.org

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CHOSEN ONES, NEW RELEASE!



After a two-year wait, Book Three, CHOSEN ONES, in the Born for India trilogy is finally out!

CHOSEN ONES arrived on my doorstep last night. I have 30 signed copies in hand if you would like to purchase directly from me. It will take roughly three weeks for the book to get entrenched in the online system.

A couple in crisis.
A child taken captive.

Life in Chennai, India, is complicated. While Maggie and Gavin Munsfield adjust to a new baby, missionary friends, Dan and Yvonne Pratt, experience the heartbreak of infertility and miscarriage. When their lives intersect with a young girl caught up in the horrors of sex trafficking, each of them will receive a precious gift. But will they find it in their hearts to accept an outcome so different than what they expected and hoped for?

"Eileen Rife has highlighted what may be the worst human rights violation of the 21st century--human trafficking. As part of an organization that is working to stop child prostitution, I have seen countless real-life cases just as tragic as this story Eileen has told in her novel. Change the name, age, city, and country, and you have the story of millions of children who are trapped in a life of abuse. Eileen paints a tragic but true picture of a victim of forced prostitution, but also gives hope in telling of the dedicated men and women who risk their lives daily to rescue these children. I pray that all who read this book might be moved not just to tears, but to action. 'Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people' (Psalm 82:4)."
- Barbara Everett, Director, Destiny Rescue USA, Inc.

"Injustice. Prostitution. Sex trafficking. The brutal realities of 12.3 million people enslaved worldwide. In her new book, Chosen Ones, Eileen Rife provides a shocking portrait of a tragic and real life crime in order to bring hope and healing to those who suffer from sexual abuse."
- Dr. Tim Clinton, President of the nearly 50,000 member American Association of Christian Counselors