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Top 10 Reasons I’m Counting Down to The 2013 Justice Conference

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Since being hired at Kilns College, I’ve had the awesome opportunity—blessing, really—to be a small part of The Justice Conference. It’s truly amazing to see the conference staff, Kilns students, and countless (seriously, countless) volunteers come together to pull off this awesome event.  I’ve honestly found it difficult to sleep all week because The Justice Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend. Here are my top 10 reason why I’ve been looking forward to this event all year!

1.     It’s the single event where thousands of people who care about justice gather together. That’s a lot of awesome people in one place!

2.     Kilns College co-sponsors the event with World Relief so I get to spend 48 hours meeting people and talking about Kilns College and why it’s a place that’s revolutionizing higher education. If you’re coming to the conference come check out the Kilns table and say hi!

3.     Micah Bournes will be performing. This guy is seriously talented!

4.     You get the opportunity to meet representatives from hundreds of nonprofit organizations

5.     I was honored to ask to speak during a pre-conference session. If you’ll be at the pre-conference check out my session on education! While you’re at it, check out all the pre-conference sessions on The Justice Conference website

6.     My dear friend Erin Lytle is Director for this conference and works tirelessly 365 days a year to make it an awesome experience for all the attendees, exhibitors and speakers.

7.     This year’s conference is in Philly! After living for a few years in New England, I’m excited to be back on the East Coast, even if just for a few days.

8.     It’s a great networking event!

9.     Kilns College President Ken Wytsma’s new book Pursuing Justice will be available at the conference bookstore

10.  This year, Kilns College has a HUGE announcement to make at the conference… can’t wait to share it with everyone!



The EPIK Project

I spent some time this afternoon consulting for an anti-trafficking non-profit called EPIK.

EPIK is unique in that it aims to address the demand side of sexual exploitation. Essentially, sex trafficking is created by men who feel entitled to purchase sex and don’t have the innate protective Godly love for young girls that men should.

EPIK’s tagline is, ‘Men created the problem, better men should fix it.”

This ministry is unique not only in that it addresses the demand side (many anti-trafficking efforts are on fighting the other side), but it addresses demand in an internal and spiritual way. Stronger laws and higher prosecution rates on Johns and Pimps are huge, but deterrents alone don’t address the need for men to take ownership in actually standing for the vulnerable and avoiding behaviors that contribute to sexual exploitation of women.

Anyway, check out the video below and if you get the chance, check out the EPIK website and e-mail a ‘hello’ to Tom Perez.

The EPIK Project in a nutshell from Tomas Perez on Vimeo.


History of Sex Trafficking

History of Sex Trafficking from :redux on Vimeo.


James Pond and Bill Chiaravelle

An Interview with James Pond from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


Project Every Girl

Check out the project Leila Chiaravelli started after returning from Cambodia with the team engaging Transitions Global and their work in providing after care for victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

I absolutely love seeing people run with their gifts and working to make a difference on behalf of others.

I also love the branding work by her husband who is also one of our Elders at Antioch.

The project works to raise awareness, funds and monthly sponsorships for the girls in the after care facility.



I had a chance to talk for almost an hour on the phone today with Lamont Hieburt collaborating around ideas for The Justice Conference this February.

Lamont is the singer / founder of the band Ten Shekel Shirt. In 2002 he started Justice for Children International – which is now known as LOVE146 – to help combat the child sex slavery he was seeing on his numerous journeys. He has a passion for serving others and for helping children who have been wounded or exploited.

Click here to see a deep and meaningful song he recently wrote expressing his heart for wounded kids.

You can also check out Lamont’s unique day job by clicking below and going to the LOVE146 website.


Christine Caine

Here’s an excellent article on Christine Caine and the A21 Campaign as part of CNN’s Freedom Project.

Click on the image to go to the article.



Antioch has a team of folks paying out of their own pockets to go to Cambodia later this August.

They’re laying the groundwork for a relationship working with victims of sexual exploitation.

I’m pretty humbled and proud to know so many people who would spend thousands of dollars and take vacation weeks to serve others.

A pretty cool example of giving your life away.

(Here’s a “happy picture” Kevin Kubota took back in January when we were in Cambodia)


Transitions Global

My friend James Pond shared at Antioch last Sunday about the trafficking industry in Cambodia as well as what it means to truly set people free.

I was able to visit James and Athena Pond’s Transitions Center in Phnom Penh this past January and really wanted the folks at Antioch to be exposed to their ministry.  

Below, James shares about their story, the nature of trafficking and helping under age victims of trafficking and how work like this relates to our relationship with God.

You can see more at

James Pond :: Transitions Global from Antioch Church on Vimeo.


Transitions Global

The video below was just released today. It was created by my friend Beth Fischer who is an artist in the truest and fullest sense of the word.

The video is focused on Transitions Global and their aftercare program for under age victims (young girls) of sex trafficking in Cambodia.

Transitions Global was started by James and Athena Pond after they moved with their family to Phnom Penh in 2004 and is an amazing place I was able to visit when I was in Cambodia this past January.

James and Athena will be at Antioch two weeks from now and James will be sharing during the morning services on trafficking, justice and their story helping redeem the lives of young girls.

Antioch is also partnering with James and Athena in helping them open a vocational training center to redeem the lives of girls who have been rescued from trafficking by helping them dream again. A group of committed people from Antioch will be traveling to Cambodia later this year.

Watch the video below – it’ll give you chills – and make sure to stop by Antioch on May 8th (or tune into the podcast) to hear James speak.

Transitions Global – What Are We About? from Transitions Global on Vimeo.



In January, I had the chance to go to Cambodia to visit and interact with the World Relief programs there.

The one thing that surprised me the most was the scale and scope of the children’s programs.  Over 38,000 kids gather weekly around the country in one of World Relief’s children’s meetings, which are staffed and run primarily by volunteers.

Kids learn about God, health, relationship and also about how to stay safe from traffickers.  Cambodia has a large sex trade and tourism industry that preys on vulnerable children.

The little girl in the video below is an orphan we met in a remote village of Cambodia.  To me, she became the face of innocence as well as the picture of World Relief’s success in keeping kids safe.

This video was put together by my good friend Beth Fischer using a track of Grace Laxson and was just now released online by World Relief.

World Relief Anti-Trafficking from World Relief on Vimeo.



When I was in Cambodia, I was able to meet a young girl who represented everything good in this world (her picture is below.)

Joy, hope, happiness, purity and life.  Even though she has suffered much and is an orphan, she has a spark that is unmistakable.

In Phnom Penh, the capital city, I witnessed many girls in their late teens who were on the opposite end of the spectrum.  They were victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

The contrast couldn’t be more extreme.

I came to realize the young girl I met was the face of what a girl should be.  She is the face of a girl safe and secure.  The other faces were the face of what girls should not be.  The face of exploitation and fear.

My good friend Beth Fischer made an amazing video representing this dichotomy, which I was able to show in my talk for the Justice Conference.

It is a haunting video – one that distills it all down in a simple way.  It is the picture I have in my mind of why justice matters.  It is the picture I have in my mind that makes sitting in the Starbucks drive-thru, my trips to Barnes and Noble and my watching the Mentalist on TV every Thursday night seem so small.

There are a lot of things going on in my life and in the life of Antioch related to anti-trafficking… it is my hope and prayer they would develop and grow in amazing ways.  Unlike Starbucks and the Mentalist, these things mean something.

I’d love for you to see Beth’s video.  Click here to watch it on her Vimeo channel.


The Strange Logic of Real Life

The Strange Logic of Real Life from Antioch Church on Vimeo.



A few of us were set to go on to India, but ran into problems with visas. Instead, we stayed on for an extra two days in Phnom Penh and are flying home via Hong Kong and Los Angeles late tonight and tomorrow.

Yesterday we checked into a hotel downtown by the Mekong riverside.  We were able to go to dinner with our new friend Matthew Robinson – an Academy Award Winning British Producer, dubbed the “Pope of Soap” in the UK, who moved to Cambodia 7 years ago on a BBC project and never left.  He co-owns a hotel downtown and rented us his studio for shooting video on Wednesday.  He also found us an actress for some parts in an anti-trafficking film we’re working on who evidently is like the Jennifer Aniston of Cambodia (she plays the receptionist on the Cambodian TV series Matthew produces that has a viewership of over 5 million in a country of only 13 million.) 

The extra time also allowed us to connect at length with the two girls Don Golden befriended midweek.  The two, one who speaks great English and the other who doesn’t, gave us a detailed account of the prostitution industry and how it operates.  These very special women somehow represented both what is beautiful about Cambodia and what is the dark underbelly of Cambodia. 

By staying longer, we also got to connect with James Pond one more time.  James, and his wife Athena, moved to Cambodia with their three kids after seeing a Dateline special on sex trafficking in Phnom Penh back in 2004.

They run a transition house for girls who have been trafficked called Transitions Global.

On Friday of our trip, the team interviewed two of the women who have made it through the program.  They wanted to tell their stories in the hopes other girls might be saved from the violence and the nightmare of sex trafficking.

It’ll take me weeks to process everything I’ve experienced.  The whole problem seems so urgent yet intractable all at the same time – I told someone on the trip it’s like trying to grab a handful of water. 

The bottom line right now, however, are the girls I know who are being saved from this fate through the interventions of World Relief Cambodia and the amazing children’s programs.  Education is essential for young girls in villages to learn about and stay safe from traffickers.  

I’m also incredibly challenged by the examples of such people as James and Athena Pond who labor endlessly to redeem young women – who otherwise would be thrown aside and forgotten.  

Below is a picture of one of the young girls we made friends with…


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