Sedona Ambassadors of Shared Hope International will provide your congregation, business or school in-person training and presentations on the impact of human trafficking in the U.S., the warning signs and what to watch out for and the role social media plays in promoting pornography.
Please send a message to Rev. Dona Johnson if you would like more information.
Please read her current articles published in Sedona’s Red Rock News.
Red Rock News Religion Section Jan 27, 2023
The documentary Childhood 2.0 recently shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona, highlights how technology, smartphones and social media have greatly impacted the lives of both adults and especially children. Cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation are some of the harmful effects of our digital world. Tristan Harris, Director for the Center of Humane Technology gives a chilling observation of social media, “I call it the race to the bottom of the brain stem. When a person pulls down their phone screen to refresh, it has the same addictive qualities as someone who pulls down a lever on a slot machine…Social media had to get more aggressive to get our attention so they had to crawl deeper into the brain stem, the area that intercepts our social validation ques. Social media did this by adding “Likes” and “Followers.” Thus, all users of social media begin to find approval, acceptance and significance by the number of “Likes” they receive. And this becomes very addictive. As users compare the number of their “Likes” to their peers. This can have devastating effects on those who receive negative comments or no affirmations at all. The New York Posts reports 40% of youth are engaged in sexting—using smartphones to send/receive sexual images of themselves. And don’t forget, human trafficking predators are scanning these images and sexual content on apps such as Snapchat and TikTok to lure in their next vulnerable victims.
Today, many adults and children do not feel loved nor do they feel affirmed and valued. Many of us, even though we might not admit it, are trying to feel loved through being “Liked” on our social media posts. We may not even be aware of it. The internet, social media, smartphones all have great benefits. And these technologies have made our lives easier and safer. But in a broken world, the perversion and misuse of technology is inevitable.
So, what does Scripture have to say about social media? Well, it doesn’t actually mention social media per se. Digital technologies and social media did not exist. However Paul, well in advance of social media understood some people are bound to abuse whatever is meant for the good. So, in Philippians 4:8-9 Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” This is not to say that we should abandon the use of these technologies and social media. But, it does remind us that many things in this world are deceptive, illusionary and promise things that offer us a false sense of love and happiness. Things which are true, noble, right and pure are things which are honest and uncontaminated. How do the constant notifications on our phones crowd out God’s presence and drown out his voice? How do the constant interruptions chip away at our relationships? The Bible teaches us that every human has a conscience which has been placed there by God. It is the sense of right and wrong that we all have. The love many of us are looking for on social media can only be found in the God who created us. For genuine love cannot be found outside Jesus Christ. God’s unconditional love is what satisfies a hungry soul. It is also a love that transcends the “Likes” of social media. It is a perfect love, a love we are each designed to have.
Rev. Dona Johnson invites you to worship with them every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. at
GracePointe of Sedona. And she encourages you to watch Childhood 2.0, a film enormously worthy of everyone’s attention. If you are interested in learning more about the impact of social media, pornography and human trafficking on youth and your congregation contact her at gracepointeofseonda.org.
Red Rock News Religion Section Jan 13, 2023
On the last Sunday of December, many churches focused their attention on Holy Innocence Sunday. The day Herod ordered the killing of all toddlers two years and younger in Bethlehem. In this heinous move, Herod feared for the safety of his throne and had anticipated that the infant Jesus would be one of them. The word “innocent” from its Latin root means “not wounded.” Isn’t that how most of us start life. We’re innocent. It doesn’t have anything to do with morally right or wrong. And it has everything to do with being wounded. We start out innocent, but the killing of our holy innocence (as in Herod’s command to kill the babies (Matthew 2:16-18) is an archetypal image of what eventually happens to all of us…
The month of January has been named anti-trafficking month. And for a good reason. Super Bowl Sunday is usually scheduled in February. The Super Bowl is a prolific breeding ground where young girls and boys, once innocent children are groomed and sold as sex slaves to anyone who will pay the price. In fact thousands will be flown into the Phoenix area before this year’s game. Did you know many of the airlines train their crews to scan passengers for signs of trafficking? Thomson Reuters reported in 2021 it’s estimated that up to 66% of the global profits from human trafficking (approximately $150 billion USD) come from sexual exploitation and major sporting events are their “Super Bowls”. A pimp on the street today will average $250,000 per victim.
The Phoenix Dream Center, a flagship center for human trafficked victims has a 92% success rate in recovery efforts. It reports the average age of victims in Arizona is now 12 years of age for girls and 11 for boys. These young children come from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds. Sex trafficking is happening everywhere. In the poorest and wealthiest of neighborhoods. In fact, many of Phoenix’s sting operations have shifted to Scottsdale.
Many of these young girls and boys have experienced emotional and physical strife at home, many have aged out of the foster care system with no permanent family as support or backup. And so out of their woundedness and their need to survive they go searching for love and a way to sustain themselves. Very experienced predators wait to prey on their woundedness. At first, they are lured by promises to be loved and cared for, but once they take the bait, they are drugged, beaten and sexually abused into submission.
We are reminded in the Gospels, that the Christ child is the image of the unwounded One. The anointed One, experienced our woundedness on the cross. But through his agonizing death also conquered sin and death for those who are abused and exploited. God is tirelessly at work against this dreadful pandemic. God is working through passionate police teams and sting operations, psychologist, pastors and agencies like Shared Hope International and the Phoenix Dream Center. Jesus’ mission was, is and will always be to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… (Isa 63:1-3; Luke 4:16-21).
Through constant prayer, raising awareness in your church and by joining the effort to combat sexual slavery, there is hope. So, as you gather with friends and family to watch Super Bowl 2023, remember beneath the glamour, the lights and all the infamous commercials, the holy God-given innocents of children are being exploited but there are many more organizations working to push back this darkness! If you would like more information on how to get involved or would like our Sedona Shared Hope Ambassadors to bring a presentation to your church, business or social club, contact Rev. Dona Johnson at www.gracepointeofsedona.org. GracePointe of Sedona invites you to worship with them Sundays at 10:00 a.m. 1835 Hwy 89A Sedona.
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Pastor Dona offers you a holy invitation into private spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is an intentional way to pursue God by holding space open for the directee to listen and discover more fully the presence of God. Above all the competing voices of this world, God’s voice still speaks to our hopes, dreams and fears. God desires both contemplation and action.
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