economics

It boils down to a question of economics. Take away the sexiness of the world’s hottest new topic. Strip it down to the core engine that drives the machine and your final destination has a price tag. The trafficking of humans for sex, for work, for organs, in the end is just a profitable financial transaction.

It is hard for us to wrap our minds around the fact that a father would sell his 12 year old. We cannot understand why a mother of 3 would leave her children in Bulgaria to take a job in Italy on the black market. It shakes our comprehension when we learn that a young mother makes a choice to prostitute herself. Her reasoning: After being sexually abused all her life, she finally decided that she might as well get paid for it. Ultimately, it is a question of economics.

As we learn more about this issue that tears at the very fabric of our global society, we discover a much more complicated, insidious, destructive heart issue at work. Yes, economics drive the industry but why is there a market? Lustful men? Pornography addicted cultures? Good people who turn a blind eye? Impoverished, vulnerable people groups! Yes and so much more.

This week at General Assembly, there have been workshops, and conversations, and lunches revolving around this topic and that is good. But the real answer to this destructive, dehumanizing, reality begins with a heart conversation between us and God. Do we love Jesus enough to let our hearts beat with his? Will we submit our dreams, our goals, our futures to a God that asks us to lay down our lives for our neighbor or even for a nobody? Are we willing to ask ourselves hard questions, like: ‘Am I somehow contributing to the economic reality that sees people as exploitable products?

As holiness people, let us ask God to help us find our voice to speak and to act with wisdom and grace.

graffiti

100_1837Last time our family ventured through Kentucky into Indy, we stole a vacation day from our furlough to visit the Creation Museum.  Well into the beautiful gardens and air-conditioned story of Adam and Eve, the architect’s plan took an abrupt turn that coincided with the entry of sin into a palm-leaved paradise.  Fabricated greenery gave way to the brick-red reality of a city street with graffitied walls.  I remember laughing in delight and whispering loudly to Lexi, ‘At last, I feel at home.’

While the designer meant for the graffiti walls to represent sin’s diversion from paradise, that metaphor just did not work for me.  We live in EurAsia where graffiti is everywhere.  The walls that usher you into Bethlehem are full of graffiti.  In Berlin, the walls that once separated East from West were full of graffiti.  From the Black Sea-scapes of Bulgaria to the tourist-filled sidewalks of Budapest, graffiti is everywhere.  Tucked into the shadows of colosseum walls and the quaint, orderly, Germanic Schaffhausen streets and the crowded Indian sidewalks, there is graffiti. And, that gives me hope.

Where there is graffiti, there is a voice breaking away from the tyranny that binds.  Where there is graffiti, there is one person whose cry of hope refuses to be silenced.  Where there is graffiti, there is someone who still believes that the world wants to hear her story.

This week, as you wind your way through the myriad of creative exhibits tucked into a convention center in Indianapolis, look for the graffiti. Behind those walls in EurAsia, you will find a diversity of voices breaking out to tell ONE story about ONE Lord who came for ONE sinner .

This week, we will see you in EurAsia where the graffiti leads you to the face of Jesus.

the real story on being an mk

The road on furlough can sometimes be exhausting. It is not always the respecter of age nor is it terribly concerned with yesterday’s equally hectic schedule. Today and tomorrow are such days. We traveled and did two services on Sunday, arriving at the hotel at 11at night. This morning,we were up by 6 for meetings at 8 and back at the hotel at 11 again. The girls babysat all day while we were in meetings. Tomorrow, we have another early and long day.

Please do not hear a complaint here. It does not exist. I love our M-life and I believe the girls do too. That said, I want to be authentic in my communications. Sometimes, the travel and the demands are just plain exhausting.

The up-side is that our 4 girls get to help with the EurAsia registration for the next two days. Imagine what that says to them about their value and identity as the global church entrusts into their hands a job that helps this great, Nazarene event occur.

Missionary kids on furlough take away a huge understanding of what it means to give to the church abundantly and also to receive from the church abundantly (and I do not necessarily mean just financially).

As our Nazarene family begins to descend upon Indy, I want to say how thankful I am that The Lord and the Church have given our family the opportunity to serve as missionaries. While sometimes achingly exhausting and demanding, we truly would not choose any other life for our 4 Sunberg girls.

See you in Indy at the EurAsia Regional exhibit!

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on furlough

‘It smells like America.’
‘Everything is made for a mobile society.’
‘It looks so different from Hungary.’

These are some of the comments we have been hearing as we ease back in to American life. I have always wanted to capture these moments, but in the past with little girls, it took everything we had to just keep everybody sane and relatively clean. Now that the girls are a bit older, it is little easier to find that moment to write a blog.

These feelings and emotions, so unique to third-culture people in the early stages of re-entry, are overwhelming. Where do I start? How can I ever really relay what we experience?

Today is Father’s Day and our 23rd wedding anniversary. It is also our first furlough service as a family for this 2013 deputation. Jay has been here for 10 days, so we are happy to be re-united. It as been hard to find a way to make these two important celebrations special while on the road. We opted for a stop at Dairy Queen where we surprised Jay with gifts. For furlough families, I think it is this sense of homelessness that can be at times challenging and at other times adventurous.

This morning, we held a service in the West Carrollton church but there was then 3 hours of downtime until the Harrison service tonight. Sometimes those middle Sunday afternoon hours can be long. How do you make a 40 minute journey into a 3 hour trip? Eventually, we set the girls loose with walkie talkies near the church and told them to ‘go exploring.’

Tonight after the service, it is a 2 hour drive to Indianapolis. Meetings begins bright and early on Monday morning.

For those of you coming to General Assembly, please find us at the EurAsia exhibit.
For those of you who want to GIVE YOUR LUNCH to enable us to continue the fight against HUMAN TRAFFICKING and resourcing our Roma ministries, please go to web.nazarene.org/goto/JTSunberg

travel companions

Just past the x-ray machines, my shoes are on again and my nicely packed bags are in shambles as I look back to see my 4 girls fanning me. I have embarked upon this trip countless times in the last 23 years but I have made only one cross-Atlantic journey without some form of child in-tow. For more than two decades now, I have been shepherding children in various stages across the European and North American continents but today, as I look over my shoulder, something has changed.

This time, I have travel companions. We are 5 women facing the travel task together: cooperating, navigating, consulting. With absolute confidence and comfort, they are utilizing the skills that they have been honing since their first trans-Atlantic journeys made long before they had even tried their first cracker. It occurs to me there in the duty-free hallway that they are just as capable and competent as I am to juggle this journey across oceans, cultures, and languages.

In my rear-view ‘mom mirror’, I catch a glimpse of Sophia, the quintessential teenager with chords draped from her ears, unconcernedly navigating other passengers. ‘This way to our gate, Mom,’ advises 12 year-old Lydia even before I have made that determination. Lexi responsibly updates our ‘flight delayed status’ to her dad waiting for us in the States and 10 year-old Jenna is unfazed when she finds she will be sitting in a seat alone, 12 rows from her closest family member.

Long ago, Jay and I realized that travel with children could be traumatic or it could be fun but the only constant was the fact that it would be a frequent part of our lives. When we wrapped our minds around that fact, we initiated the ‘you pack it, you carry it’ rule. They were that toddler traipsing through airports with the noisy-wheeled case. Training to fly solo began early.

As I anticipate these next years, I think traveling with toddlers prepared us for more than just a cross-Atlantic journey. It taught us something good about parenthood. Our job is to prepare these precious babies for release. Independance is never a product of over-protection. Let them pack their bags and noisily roll them along, it will not take long for them to blossom into traveling companions. Bon voyage.

In fact, they began packing their own suitcases