International Ministries

From Heartbroken to Heroine!

March 13, 2014 Journal
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She was too young to watch her husband die of cancer.  Just a teen-ager, she had only been married for 6 months, and suddenly, she was a widow.  Her parents did everything to cheer her up, but she was bereft.  In the past, widows in India would throw themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre and die with him because they had no future.  She felt she had no hope. 


She made the acquaintance of a man who promised her a “good job” in a near-by city, and she went with him.  “At least I won’t be a burden to my family anymore—and maybe I can help them,” she thought.  But she was taken far away and locked up in a brothel, forced to work in prostitution and brutally treated.  There seemed no way of escape. 


Her family was desperate to find her.  She was a much-loved daughter and sister.  Her father sold their most valuable possessions—their cows—to raise money to try to find her.  They filed a missing person’s report with the police, but it seemed impossible.


An amazing organization called “Justice and Care” heard about the story and started a “needle in a haystack” search, which finally rescued “Mara” from a brothel in a far-away city.  Her parents wept tears of joy when they heard her voice on the phone.


But rescue is only the beginning.  Starting a new life after experiencing so much trauma at such a young age is extremely challenging.  How can a young, widowed, prostituted woman find peace and contentment—and a means to support herself—in a society which rejects everything that has happened to her? 


I agreed to serve as a consultant with “Justice and Care” because they put equal weight on “Justice” AND “Care”.  Not only do they rescue people from slavery in India, but when they rescue them, they accept a life-time commitment for the victims/survivors, to make sure that they are able to find a good, healthy place back in society.  In “Mara’s” case, her family fully surrounded her with love and care and a commitment to do whatever it would take to make sure she healed and was happy.  That isn’t always the case…. 


The “Justice and Care” social workers helped her to find a part-time job.  Employment is one of THE most important factors in the healing process.  But they also knew that “Mara” had other gifts:  she sewed beautifully.  She could make lovely blankets out of old, discarded sari fabrics.  Not only that:  she was an entrepreneur.  She began teaching other needy women in her village to also make the blankets.  She began a “cooperative” of blanket-makers.  With a small infusion of funding, she built a lean-to against her home, where 4 or 5 women sit together on the ground and do hand-sewing.  “Mara” makes sure that their work is of good quality.  She works with those who are marketing her blankets to choose new designs and good colors of thread.  She hopes to start more small groups like this one, so that women can have source of income in their villages—where they can keep an eye on their children and have funds to support them and send them to school. 


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending time with “Mara”, her family, and those working in the “cooperative”.  The “Justice and Care” social worker asked her if she had chosen a name for her business—and immediately one of the women said it should be called, “Mara”!!!  She’s a hero to them!  She’s a hero to me, too! 


I had gone to India at the invitation of “Justice and Care” to spend time with their staff at their annual retreat.  What an inspiration to be in the midst of these bright, enthusiastic and creative Indian young people who are so committed to fight human trafficking!  We laughed, cried, sang and worshiped Jesus together!  I shared from my own experiences and learning, and some of them poured out their hearts to me of their own calls to be here, their joys, their hurts, their challenges.  My overwhelming feeling during this trip was one of gratitude:


Thank you…for being with me on the journey!