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Topics: International Issues

Inner Compass is an interview show that explores how people follow their conscience about ethical, religious, and social justice issues. Guests include authors, activists, religious leaders, and engaging thinkers from around the world. A smaller selection of Inner Compass episodes air on approximately 60 public television stations across the U.S.

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#1313 Escaping North Korea

It’s a country where a bowl of rice is an extravagance for many citizens, and where reading the Bible or stepping on a photo of the supreme leader can land you in jail. Mike Kim knew little of North Korea when he first visited, but once he learned, he could never forget. Hear about his response and the hundreds of defectors he’s been able to help, as described in his memoir Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World's Most Repressive Country. Karen Saupe hosts.


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#1216 Arab Spring: Revolution or Reformation?  


Three quarters of Muslims in the Middle East are young (18-35 years old), and today's communication technologies allow them to form a new kind of community that bridges ethnic, national, and sectarian borders. As these Muslims actively pursue democracy, the resulting changes--according to writer and religion scholar Reza Aslan, author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam--will be as monumental as the Protestant Reformation was for Christianity. Karen Saupe hosts.


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#1123 Democracy & Sharia Law: Can They Coexist?

As we watch Muslim countries consider new forms of government, many in America hope that democracy will win out. But some Muslim countries have used the voting process to establish Sharia law, which includes strict regulations pertaining to punishment, sexuality, religious obligations, hygiene, and personal finances. Jim Skillen, former president of the Center for Public Justice in Washington, DC, discusses current thinking on whether Sharia law can be combined with democracy. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1309 Restoring Hearts in Iraq


In Iraq, the alarming rate of children born with birth defects is actually opening doors to collaborations that never existed before. Jeremy Courtney & Cody Fisher, co-founders of the Preemptive Love Coalition, describe their adventures bringing together foreign doctors and sick children with some amazing results. Along the way, they’ve found that the hearts that have changed most have been their own.

Package: Preemptive Love Coalition video


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#1215 Bolstering Business in Haiti


Running a business in Haiti was a challenge even before the 2010 earthquake. Now afterwards, with all the aid and free products flowing into the country, the few surviving businesses have been crippled. Business mentor Ralph Edmond, owner of the Haitian pharmaceutical company Laboratoires Farmatrix, shows how supporting and strengthening businesses can make all the difference for Haiti. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

Package: Haiti footage by Partners Worldwide, music by BelO


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#1305 Protest Art


Thousands of women in Juarez, Mexico have been tortured and murdered because they are women. Yet the authorities have been more inclined to call these killings imaginary than emergency. When installation artist Mandy Cano Villalobos of the Calvin College art department learned of this mass femicide, she looked for a way to honor the individual victims. See what she created to give these silenced women a voice. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.  

Package: film clip: Juarez: the City Where the Women are Disposable



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#1301 Understanding the Refugee


It’s easy to think that refugees have won a golden ticket of opportunity if they can make it to the U.S. But their challenges are far from over as they learn a new language, search for work, and sustain their families. Dana Doll of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan describes the stereotypes and the hurdles they face, and how volunteers can make all the difference for these resilient newcomers. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.


Package: interview with volunteers



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#1217 Burma Bound: Story of an Activist    


When Edith Mirante traveled to Thailand to study art, she found herself distracted by stories of atrocity in Burma. She became deeply involved in raising awareness about the plight of the people she met, traversing jungles and camping with soldiers to collect eyewitness accounts. Her tales come from the two travelogues she wrote about her adventures. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

Package: “How Things Are in Burma” animation by Scott Bateman


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#1119 Starting a Free African School

Thousands of children in Uganda donít go to school because their parents canít afford books, a uniform, or sometimes, just a pencil. The orphans there have even less of a chance. When Twesigye Jackson Kaguri was confronted with this picture, he and his wife decided to use their savings to establish a free school for orphans. Hear his adventures, also described in his book, The Price of Stones: Building a School for My Village. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#916 Microfinance Miracles

It may be hard to believe that $50 can lift a family out of poverty for life, but it's happening every day around the world through simple microfinance lending partnerships. Robert Rooy has not only watched it happen—he has dedicated his life to helping others watch, too, through film. Karen Saupe hosts.

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#1011 Healthcare Around the World

Fans of U.S. health care reform point out that many other countries provide coverage for all their citizens, and no one files for bankruptcy due to medical bills. But how exactly do these countries do it? January Series guest & journalist T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, tells of his travels comparing systems around the world. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1014 Making the Holy Land Holy

We call it the Holy Land, and itís an extremely important region to followers of several religions. But the relationships within it are anything but holy. Archbishop Elias Chacour of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Galilee has spent his life building bridges between the groups with amazing success. His landmark school for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children reveals a story of unwavering vision for peace. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1017 African Solutions for African Problems

People across Africa were actually living well until European colonialists took control of the natural resources to enhance their own wealth. Now that the occupiers are gone, new governments are still sending wealth offshore--into personal foreign bank accounts! Economist George Ayittey, President of the Free Africa Foundation and author of Africa Unchained: the Blueprint for Africa’s Future, shares his ideas for how Africa can take control of its own riches, starting in the village square. Karen Saupe hosts.

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#1010 The New Face of Evangelicalism

By 2050, the majority of the U.S. population will be nonwhite. The American church will make this transition even sooner, and if successful, will position itself as a model to the rest of society. Soong-Chan Rah, of North Park Theological Seminary and author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, suggests ways we can make room for a richness that will benefit us all. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1122 Making Globalization Work

As the world’s markets become more intermingled, we see new kinds of foods on our grocery shelves and hear new accents in our business calls. But we also lose domestic jobs as they are moved to other countries, where workers now get their first taste of middle class living. Is it possible to grow economies and improve living conditions for one population without hurting another? John Tiemstra of the Calvin College economics department describes the moral choices that shape globalized trade. Karen Saupe hosts.

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#1113 Justice for Cambodians

January Series guest Theary Seng was imprisoned as a child during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. She barely escaped death; her parents did not. After making it to the U.S. and becoming a lawyer, she has moved back to help rebuild a country still recovering. She describes the experiences and motivations related in her book Daughter of the Killing Fields.

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#1101 Justice for Hondurans

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can often work around broken systems in developing countries. But what if they focused more on helping to fix the broken systems? Calvin sociology department's Kurt Ver Beek, co-founder of the Association for a More Just Society, describes his team's inclusive approach to justice in Honduras. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#920 Freeing Today's Slaves

Across the world, children as young as five are sold into brothels, and widows lose land and livelihood due to unenforced laws that could protect them. January Series guest and h uman rights activist Sharon Cohn Wu tells stories of International Justice Mission rescuing victims in their own countries using local courts and litigation. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1013 Relating with North Korea

When there’s a country on the other side of the planet developing nuclear capabilities plus long-range missiles, what should the U.S. do? We're suspicious of North Korea, while North Korea is suspicious of us. January Series guest Tony Namkung--an independent consultant and expert on North Korea, US/Asian relations, and nuclear arms for 20 plus years--shares his observations about what both sides need to understand and do. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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#1206 Life as the Dutch Prime Minister


What would it be like to live in a Prime Minister’s mansion built by your own ancestors, meet with the queen once a week, and work out your decisions with the help of a cabinet made of three different political parties? Jan Peter Balkenende talks about the challenges and successes he experienced as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 2002 to 2010. Karen Saupe hosts.


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Buying a shirt? Basing your decision on the look and price? Shopping for clothing may feel like a straightforward venture, yet the story behind each garment is complex. Activist and entrepreneur Marta Swain, owner of a community-minded apparel store in Grand Rapids, weaves stories of sustainable farming and labor practices with advice for benefiting everyone involved in your purchase. Karen Saupe hosts.

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Christianity was born in the Middle East, yet it's a minority religion there. Egyptian minister Victor Makari, Middle East liasion for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), relays the challenges and dreams of Christians living there and how U.S. churches can partner with them. Shirley Hoogstra hosts.

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