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A Thanksgiving update from the McCrackens

Ending Slavery...

As you know, our team End Slavery/Portland is working to "...raise awareness and work toward prevention of child sex trafficking in Portland and beyond..."

What does this mean?  How do we do this?  Good questions!  Questions we are regularly asking and seeking God for answers.  One of the ways we are working on this is being trained in presenting the material developed by AWARE called "Deceptions:  Child Sex Trafficking and the Dangers of the Internet"This material has been taken into the public middle schools and high schools in Washington state with much success, and the city of Vancouver has entered into a contract with AWARE to bring it into all the schools in the district beginning in the new year. 

We are working with AWARE in accomplishing that goal, as well as getting it into the schools and youth groups of the greater Portland area.  To learn more about this excellent material, visit:  http://awareprogram.net/deceptions/

Hopefully, we can help prevent other kids from experiencing the horrible evils Melissa did.
One ministry POSSIBILITY we are praying about (that would help reach "at-risk youth" AND the refugee/immigrant population) is a drop-in center in a strategically located area.  This is only in the dreaming and researching phase, but the general idea is it would be a multi-church effort that would meet spiritual and practical needs in ways that would influence the next generation and beyond.
 
Part of our research efforts will include our family helping serve at a community meal on Thanksgiving Day.  You can learn more about this at:
http://www.feast4southeast.com/    
 
Also, the day after Thanksgiving we will volunteer with an outreach to an apartment block of refugees, helping provide food, friendship, and activities.  We will give you an update in our next letter.

Prevention?

When we think about root issues that feed Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S., we keep bumping up against "at-risk" youth, runaways and kids in the foster care system, all of whom are (statistically) very VULNERABLE to trafficking.  Consider these facts (hard statistics are impossible to document but these are commonly quoted by experts in the field): 

* Up to 300,000 girls and boys are sold in the U.S. every year
* 25% are groomed by their parents or family members
* 75% are former runaways
* Each year, 1.7 million children run away from home (most from ABUSIVE situations)...90% of these will be approached by traffickers within 48 hours. 
* The AVERAGE age of prostituted girls: 12-14, and boys: 11-13.  
 
As we recognize the contribution of the "family breakdown" to the problems of trafficking, one way we sense God leading us to do our part in contributing to the solution is in the area of mentoring children.  Therefore, Vicki and I have entered the application and training process of Trillium's "Family of Friends" program (http://www.family-of-friends.org/). 

We will not be able to share details with you about our child (with whom we will likely be matched in January), but we ask for your prayers that this MENTORING relationship will bear good fruit for them and for their family, and beyond.

Thankful for...

* Relatively smooth transition back to the U.S.
* Family, and being close (relationally and geographically)
* Team
* Opportunities to be salt and light in our neighborhood and community
* Medical, therapy, and educational opportunities for Ellie
* YOU, our friends, family, supporters, and teammates

Door to Grace

Since part of our mission is to "...assist and partner with others...in the work of rescue and restoration..." I am so pleased and honored for the opportunity to participate on the Communications Committee (and our teammate Michele volunteers at the "Day Home") of DOOR TO GRACE, a wonderful ministry that is about "restoring life to rescued children".

Please visit their website and prayefully consider investing in their wonderful work:  http://www.doortograce.org/

We are not here to compete or to "re-invent the wheel".  We want to work together with others in ways that unite, support, and advance what God is doing to bring freedom at all levels to those in bondage. 
PHASE 2 OF THE 20/20 VISION (http://www.iteams.us/2020-vision/)

As you know, in the coming year we also hope to launch outreach to the refugees/immigrants in Portland.  We are still in the listening and watching stages of this process.  We believe that the local church our family eventually commits to will play a vital role and a major context for whatever shape that ministry takes.  We hope to make a final decision by the end of December. 

Meanwhile, we are meeting with pastors and other local leaders who are giving us insights into the refugee/immigrant community, visiting churches with multicultural congregations and leadership, talking with social workers and organizations, and identifying felt needs/real needs in the 3rd-culture community.

Financial Update

We are so thankful for all churches and individuals who have continued to invest in us!  However, we have lost some support recently and have reduced our monthly salary.  Additionally, we have had major unexpected medical expenses that have required us to pay off our deductibles.  Thank you so much for your willing generosity at this time of year.
 
Tax-deductible donations may be made to "International Teams" (with an enclosed note expressing your intended designation), and sent to: 

International Teams
411 W. River Rd.
Elgin, IL  60123-1570
USA

For online giving, go to: 
https://wwws.iteams.org/us/give/