Updated: Nov 7
BRINGING THE HOPE OF CHRIST TO THE DARKNESS
I was first exposed to true poverty during my junior year of college at a church in Waco called Church Under the Bridge. Out of that experience, God awakened a deep desire in my heart to respond with some form of mission or non-profit work. Shortly after, I discovered Word Made Flesh (WMF), an international organization committed to serve Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.
When researching WMF, there was one trip that stuck out: Kolkata, India, where I would have the chance to work with women who had been trapped in the sex trade. The previous year, I had gone through a deep depression and only walked out by trusting the hope and light found in Christ. While I didn’t personally understand the evil of trafficking, I wanted to bring these women the same hope and light that I had found in Christ — the solution to it all. Despite everything else going on in my life (job applications, college graduation, etc…), I knew that I was being pulled to go to Kolkata. Just a week after accepting a job offer, I heard back from WMF, and I was invited to join in on the four month trip that fall. By God’s grace and hand in it all, the company deferred my start date. Within a few short months, I was in India.
I remember stepping off the plane like it was yesterday … I had just met the two women in the Dallas and Frankfurt airports with whom I would spend the next four months learning, mourning, and fighting trafficking. We had each attempted to prepare for the realities of trafficking leading up to the trip through reading, but the books only say so much. Our time in Kolkata was mainly spent working alongside and building relationships (no matter how broken our Bangla) with the women of Sari Bari, an organization created by WMF that employs women leaving the trade. This enabled them to find alternate employment and also to seek healing and restoration found only in Christ.
Each day as we walked up the stairs to the Sari Bari units, people would greet us by saying “Joy Jisu,” which means “Praise the Lord!” We began each morning with a devotional and some of the sweetest praise and worship in Bangla. Soon after, the ladies would go to work sewing hand-made blankets and other goods made of recycled saris. This was a perfect metaphor for the beautiful work He was doing with their lives — old saris that had been left and broken were redeemed and made new. Sari Bari provides a space for the women to create these beautiful items, but also desires to raise up strong leaders and managers within the organization, further empowering them and the redeeming road ahead.
"I went to India wanting to share the hope and love of Christ, but I took away so much more…"
It was easy for me to be full of hatred toward the men and abusers of these women, but while I was there, the Lord tremendously softened my heart toward the ones I would have called enemies. I had not stopped to realize that the johns, pimps, madams, etc. are just as enslaved as the victims of trafficking are. The root of their pursuit for money, power, and pleasure is simply a desire to fill a void within, and it becomes a cycle for them. It was challenging to get a very close glimpse into each end of the spectrum of the trafficking world, and to find my heart flooded with compassion for the johns, pimps, and madams, etc … because they are people just like me — broken and in need of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Now I have the opportunity to educate people about the worth and dignity of women and men because of who they are in Christ. Through the leadership team at RECLAIMED, I’m able to connect with people, get them plugged in and help spur change here in Dallas. There is a quote we use in the curriculum by William Wilberforce that says,
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
I hope you’ll join us for our next study to be part of the change!
Reclaimed exists to empower and mobilize God’s Church to REDEFINE a hyper-sexualized culture, RESTORE men and women victimized by the sex industry, and to REACH a world hurt by the abuse of sex all through the power of Jesus Christ. Sign up for our next study at reclaimed431.org/events and our newsletter at reclaimed431.org/subscribe.