Just…End Slavery.

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Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

The headlines open our eyes. It was reported recently that police in Peru rescued nearly 300 women from sex trafficking. Among those rescued from about 50 brothels were at least 10 minors – the youngest was a 13-year-old girl.

Human trafficking is a growing problem in our world.  It is a crime that knows no borders. It is modern slavery, and slavery is wrong.

There are estimates of 10-30 million slaves today around the globe.  That means there are more slaves today than ever in the history of the world.  After illegal drugs and weapons trafficking, it is the third-largest crime.

Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business. Yet, the average price of a slave is less than $100.  Victims are trafficked for many purposes, such as commercial sex, agricultural work, or housekeeping.  They all share the loss of the basic human right to freedom.

Many children are victims. To buy young children for sex is very evil. If I must explain to you why it is so evil, you have a problem. Get help.  As a popular campaign says, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”

Slavery is not only a problem in poor countries.  Between fourteen to eighteen thousand people are trafficked INTO the United States each year. Studies have found that just New York City has nearly four thousand sex trafficked children. That number does not include children from foreign countries.

Slavery has been a problem since the beginning of time.  But why is there such a big problem with human trafficking today?

There are several reasons for this problem.  One cause is a need for money. There is a great divide between the rich and the poor in today’s world.  Poor people struggle to live.  In order to stay alive, they need their children to work.  It is easy for a poor person to be tricked for money.  Bad people come to villages and claim that there is money to be made in big cities.  They offer poor parents money if their children will come to work for them.  It sounds like a good deal when you are hungry for food.  But, it is a trap.  The children are brought into a life of slavery.

A large cause for sex trafficking is the growing pornography business. New technology allows sexually graphic material to easily enter our homes. The Internet, for example, is full of evil material. Even satellite TV with “X-rated” shows can be found in the smallest villages of the Andes Mountains.  The use of pornography can become an addiction and often leads people to the purchase of sex.  Again, there is money to be made.

C.S. Lewis once said, “All that we call human history–money, poverty…war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Brothers and sisters, it is right to fight for freedom.  Never stop.  Die for it if you must.  But always remember that true freedom for our world can only be found in God.

As the Bible says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

I’m Leon Smith.

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Just…Read.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

How can we teach freedom and justice?

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States once said, “Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained.”

Former Prime Minister of England Benjamin Disraeli agreed.  He said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.”

When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, the philosopher Aristotle answered, “As much as the living are to the dead.”

What is a good education?  In the English speaking world, it is said that there are three “R’s” to good education:  Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

The first and most important “R” in that list is reading.  To read is the base of a solid education. Reading helps you to learn other subjects. Reading opens you to a world of new ideas.  As the famous author C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know that we are not alone.”

People tell me that here in Huánuco, Peru children can finish their primary education without ever reading a complete book.  If that is true, we have a big problem.  Schools here need to change. Reading needs to be the number one priority in education.  It needs to be a priority for our region.

In English, there is a word that describes people who read.  Such people are called “literate.”  For example, a person is literate if they have the ability to understand and use printed information.  Literature is printed information:  books, magazines, newspapers.  And a person who uses literature is literate.  A literacy rate tells how many people are literate.

One can study literacy rates.  Here in Huánuco, Peru there is a problem with our literacy rate.  While there are worse literacy rates in the world, there is a gap in the literacy rate here between men and women.  Sixteen point six percent of adults from Huánuco cannot read.  But 23.8 percent of women cannot read as compared to 9.5 percent of men.  (See: http://www.globalissues.org).

To develop our region we need to help ALL citizens to read:  BOTH men and women. And if we want better leaders we need better literacy.  It has been said, Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.

There is an important connection between literacy and justice. To develop a love for justice, we need to develop a love for reading.

The facts are in. Research tells us:  raise the literacy rates in a community and it will help reduce crime and repeat offenders.

    • Criminals have lower average literacy levels than other citizens.
    • Neighborhoods with lower literacy rates have higher crime rates.
    • Literate people are less likely to be accidentally put in jail.
    • Even literacy programs in prisons have good outcomes (such as being able to help ex-convicts find and maintain jobs) and reduce rates of repeat offenders.

The former slave Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” So, reading is an important way to keep freedom and justice in society.

Don’t be alone.  Seek freedom.  Seek justice. Learn to read.  Teach to read.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…What Now?

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

For the past several weeks I have talked about God’s plan for justice.  His message is important. Did you hear it?  It can change your life.  It changed mine.

Again, let me summarize.  The plan for justice is written in the Bible – a very special book.  We needed God’s plan because humans became sinful.  We broke the relationship with the God of life.  People chose separation from God.  People chose sin and death.   God deserved justice.  Yet, He fixed the relationship.  He chose life for us.  He sent His son, Jesus, to pay the price for sin and guilt.  By Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know the plan worked.  We can have hope.  We can have peace.  We are forgiven.  Rejoice!  By God’s great kindness, through faith in Jesus we are saved for life with Him (Ephesians 2:8).

But, now what?  If you and I are saved by God’s kindness what are we to do now?  Should we sin some more?  That would not honor God.  Should we sit and wait for God?  There must be a better idea. Should we get up and celebrate?  Maybe.

God gives us things to do.  First, God tells us to come together in His presence.  We are to worship him.  He tells us talk with Him.  We are to pray.  He tells us to pray for more workers. He sends us to serve.  He wants us to love others.  He says to tell others the Good News about Jesus.  He says to make him followers from all nations.  He says to teach and to baptize. He says to heal the sick.  He says to comfort those who grieve.  He says to feed the poor.  He says to defend the fatherless.  Yes, God’s people are to be God’s ambassadors.

But, never fear.  God tells us that we will not be alone.  He will send a person to help us.  And, God does not send just any person.  He sends His third person, the Holy Spirit.  This Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s Word.  And, the Spirit helps us to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  The Holy Spirit gives gifts that help people to know God.

So, if you are wondering what to do today, it is time to get off your chair.  It is time to become God’s ambassador.  It is time to spread the Good News of Jesus here in Huanuco, Peru.  Up to the mountains, down into the jungle.  From Lima to La Paz, from Santiago to Quito, from Jerusalem to your heart it is time to spread the love of God.

That is “what now.”  You have a purpose.  You are an ambassador.  You have great value to God.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…God’s Kindness.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

In past weeks I shared with you the story of God’s plan for justice. And you have heard that we have justice by God’s free kindness. But you might still be confused. God’s plan might seem too good to be true. Other people have told you that nothing is free.

You are not alone. For thousands of years, people right here in this land, have thought that God’s love was difficult to earn. People believed that they must make sacrifices to earn God’s love. The Incas even made human sacrifices to earn God’s love. And yet, God gives His love as a free gift.

You do not have to pay anyone for forgiveness. You do not have to pay anyone—even a church—for God’s eternal peace and hope. God’s justice is not of this world. God has paid the price for the problems of this world. He gives you life, now and forever, as a gift.

It is hard to understand. But it is true. God saved us because of His great love for us. Jesus’ death has paid the price for our failures and sins. His resurrection proves it. Listen to how Paul describes God’s justice in his letter to the first Christians in the city of Ephesus. Paul writes:

You were once dead because of your failures and sins. You followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God. All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts wanted us to do. So, because of our nature, we deserved God’s anger just like everyone else.

But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come. God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do. (Ephesians 2:1-10 – GOD’S WORD Translation)

Listeners, how we respond to God’s free gift is up to us. We can reject God’s gift or we can live in the peace and hope He gives us. God wants to baptize us. By that, I mean that He wants to wash us. As our Father, He desires to wash us in His Son’s perfection and comfort us with His Holy Spirit. He wants to clean us from evil.

He wants justice.  Shall we reject His justice…His kind gift? I think not. Today, let us live in God’s kindness.

I’m Leon Smith


Just…Jesus.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Last week I talked about God having a plan of justice for you. It was a plan for the whole world. It was a plan that gave justice against evil. It was a plan of love and forgiveness. That plan was to send a savior.

Christians claim that Jesus was sent by God to save the world. If Jesus was God’s plan for justice, what should we know about him?

Both Christians and non-Christians agree that Jesus lived. There is no educated doubt that a man called Jesus walked the earth about 2000 years ago. But, if we look at the history of Jesus’ life here on earth, who was he? Was Jesus a simple religious leader? Was he a great teacher? Was he a liar? Was he a crazy man? Or, was he the Son of God?

According to historical documents, Jesus was the son of a Jewish girl named Mary. Both Muslim and Christian documents claim that He was miraculously conceived by God and born in Bethlehem. It was a little town in the Middle East that still exists today.

Jesus grew up in another town nearby called Nazareth, and it is reported that he lived a perfect life. He was without sin. When he was 30 years old, he began to teach and perform miracles (Luke 3:23). It is said that he healed the sick, fed the hungry and even cast out demons. Because of Jesus, lives were changed.

Jesus taught that God wants people to love Him first. Second, we are to love other people. We are not to worry about material things but to think about heavenly things. We are to walk humbly and live at peace.

Many people followed Jesus, but some people did not like him. The religious leaders were jealous of him. They were angry when he questioned their teachings. He taught with more authority than they did. He lived the way he taught.

When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jewish leaders brought him to trial. It was a sin to claim to be the Son of God unless, of course, if it was true. The punishment for such a sin was death. The leaders led the people against Jesus. They brought him before the Roman ruler, Pilate, and wanted him condemned to death. Finally, the Roman ruler said the Jewish people could have their way with Jesus. After suffering beatings by Roman soldiers, Jesus died upon a cross. It was a Friday afternoon (John 18-19).

Jesus body was placed in a tomb…Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Three days passed on the Jewish calendar.

Today we have reports from Jewish, Roman, and Christian sources that something special took place on that Sunday morning. The tomb was empty. Jesus’ body has never been found. Christians claim he rose from the dead (Acts 2:22-24).

If Jesus rose from the dead, we need to study his teachings. If Jesus rose from the dead, we can have faith in our future. If Jesus rose from the dead, He can give us life; He can give us justice. He would be the Son of God.

But if Jesus did not come back to life, this message would have no meaning and Christian faith would have no meaning (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Here is a challenge for you. Try to disprove the resurrection this week. Let me know if you can. I base my life on it. I dare you.

I’m Leon Smith


Just…Freedom.

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Greetings my English Speaking Friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Last Sunday our country of Peru voted for a new president. Through a democratic process, the people of Peru have chosen their next leader.

It was a close vote. Some of you are happy. Some of you are sad. Maybe it was a difficult choice and you are not sure what to think about the results. Everyone can be thankful that Peruvians have the freedom to vote.

A democracy allows people the freedom to make a choice. Voting is one of many important freedoms.

What is freedom and why is it important?

Freedom is basically the right to do what you want, to make your own decisions and express your own opinions. Having freedom encourages creativity. Freedom leads to new thoughts. Freedom brings hope for our future. Freedom even allows for learning and growth through failure.

Of course, with that freedom we need to respect the rights of others. I’m not talking about having no laws or raising our children without discipline. That is not what I mean by freedom.

It might help you understand freedom’s value by giving you an example of what is the opposite of freedom. This week my family made a new friend but her life is a sad story. She is a 10 year-old girl who has not known freedom. Her mother kept her in a locked room since birth. She had no freedom. She is not able to walk or talk. Without freedom, there was little development in her life.

Can you imagine being kept in a locked room for most of your life? I cannot. I like to walk around my neighborhood. I like to have the freedom to make choices. I enjoy the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, the freedom from slavery.

Slavery is a big problem today around the world. There are many people, even children, who are slaves. Some people are slaves for financial reasons. Some people are slaves for labor. Even worse, some people are slaves for sex.

With our own freedom, we need to help those who do not have it. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.”

We have the freedom to do wrong. But we are called by God to use our freedom to do right.

In the Bible, we read that, “You were indeed called to be free, brothers and sisters. [But] Don’t turn this freedom into an excuse for your corrupt nature to express itself. Rather, serve each other through love…” (Gal. 5 – GOD’S WORD Translation)

We are called to use our freedom for good.

God wants you to be free.

God freely chooses to be in relationship with you through his son, Jesus. He gives you freedom from evil and guilt: you are forgiven in Jesus. It cost a lot – Jesus died to pay for your freedom. And He gives that freedom to you as a gift. Through that freedom you are able to serve others with love.

True freedom for people of any country is not found in an election. True freedom comes through a relationship with God.

Go, live in freedom this week. I’m Leon Smith.