True Religion

I just finished a memoir written by Elizabeth Smart.  In case you don’t remember, she is the young Mormon girl who was abducted and held for nine months before being rescued.  I’m not going to review the book here, but some of Elizabeth’s experiences are worth thinking about.  Periodically her captor took her into Salt Lake City with him — a place where she was known and people were looking for her.  Yet, since she and her companions were dirty, looked weird (wearing long robes and veils) and appeared to be homeless they were avoided and ignored.  She was too frightened by the threats of her abductor to speak with anyone or try to escape.  She felt invisible.  It made me sad to realize how most of us, every day, ignore the needy and helpless around us.  Yet, in the book of James we are told:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27

In other words, true religion is not just about going to church every Sunday and refraining from sin;  it’s about identifying with and helping the most vulnerable people in our society.  For a review of a book on this topic, see this post:

Vulnerable by Raleigh Sadler– Book Review

In this book, Raleigh Sadler will open your eyes to the many helpless people we walk by without a thought.

Photo by Jimmy Chan on

In addition, Elizabeth Smart enumerated times when she felt grateful, even during those nine dreadful months.  The things that made her happy were so simple — a motorist giving them a lift after miles of walking in the hot sun;  someone stopping at MacDonald’s to pick up hamburgers for them;  a free community Thanksgiving feast, when she got to eat all she wanted after weeks of hunger.  In other words, things that all of us could do or help to do.  It wouldn’t cost much or take much time.  Yet we tell ourselves we are too busy, or that those homeless folks are lazy and undeserving of our help.

Now, I know we can’t do everything for everyone.  I know that helping at the mission once in a while, or handing out a blessing bag or buying some sandwiches is only putting a bandage on a much bigger problem.  I’m just saying, think about what these little things might mean to one person.  They meant something to Elizabeth.



Vulnerable by Raleigh Sadler– Book Review

All I can say is WOW!  I didn’t  want to read this book at first — I ordered it from B&H Publishers because the book I really wanted to review was not available.  I know very little about human trafficking, and what could I do about that anyway?  Now that I’ve come to the end (lining up with our monthly theme, lol) I’m very glad I gave it a try.

First of all, Mr. Sadler defines trafficking — and it’s not all about sex and kidnapping.

“The act:  the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of people.  The means:  force, fraud, and coercion.  The purpose:  people are trafficked for “prostitution … or other forms of sexual slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Putting it very simply, human trafficking is exploiting vulnerable people for commercial gain.

Who is a vulnerable person?  Anyone who has an unmet need.  This need can be material, emotional, psychological and/or financial.  If someone is homeless, undocumented, in the foster care system, or the penal system they are vulnerable to exploitation.

Often trafficking of vulnerable people is going on right around us, and we look right through it.  Sometimes the people themselves do not understand that they are being victimized — they believe they have consented, or are party to their enslavement.  They are in, or have lived in a situation where exploitation and demoralization are regarded as normal.

The theme of this book is that we are all vulnerable, and that:

“God motivates vulnerable people like you and me to love other people by his own vulnerability for us.”

Lost in our sins, we are completely vulnerable.  Yet Jesus became a man, vulnerable as we are, to die for us.  Do you believe this?  If so, action will flow out of this belief.  Maybe you are thinking that alone there isn’t much you can do.  However, the author stresses that

“Community is the most underrated tool needed to discover how God is calling us to love our neighbor.”

This book is full of eye-opening facts.  For example, as consumers, our supply chain is so infected with use of what is essentially slave labor.  In other words, people  around the globe are forced to work in slavery-like conditions so that we can enjoy our comfortable life style.  You can find out how much you contribute to world slavery by visiting

At the end of the book is a list ways to fight human trafficking, including many resources to learn more about the problem and it’s solution.

VERDICT:  The theology underlying the book is sound.  I give it five stars.  If you would like to purchase your own copy, follow the link below:




The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255