In April, Freedom 4/24 took a team to India to work directly with human trafficking victims who have been rescued by our partner, Freedom Firm, and other NGOS in India. Set on sharing the hope and freedom offered through Jesus Christ, our team left with only a few bags in hand, but came back with more than they could have ever imagined. This is Heather's story.
Leading up to my time in India, I did not know what to expect. I had been told that it's a rough trip and that the culture is drastically different, but there was way more ahead of me than simply new sights and sounds.
As soon as we arrived in Bangalore, I was bombarded by all that I saw around me. The streets were teeming with life and things I had never seen inside U.S. borders. While driving through the chaotic traffic and passing by business offices, street vendors, Hindu temples, and slums, I had to remind myself that although we were immersed in a different culture, we were surely in the same world.
After recuperating from our lengthy travel, we were ready to meet the girls. My heart pounded with anticipation. A million questions ran through my mind: "What would they be like? Are they quiet and shy? Are they aggressive and hostile? Will they even care that we came all this way? How will we communicate?"
And then, amidst my racing thoughts, I heard the voice of the Lord: "Peace, be still, my beloved. My perfect love casts out all fear and breaks through every boundary. Don't you trust me?"
I responded quickly to Him. "Okay, here we go”. I took a deep breath and walked into the room.
Much to my surprise and relief, the girls were incredibly happy, giggling with excitement. The first two days with them were like a breath of fresh air. We danced. We laughed. We sang. At times, it was even easy to forget what these precious girls had been through.
And then reality hit. In the middle of the third night, while we were all asleep, one of the girls woke up screaming. We all awoke in a panic, and I was immediately in emergency response mode. Thoughts flooded my mind. "What's happening? Where are the girls? Is everyone safe?"
Thankfully, everyone was safe. The scream was just the result of a nightmare. It was only a dream. We were able to calm the girls down and everyone was back to sleep within a few minutes.
The next day, I had to remove myself from the group and actually process what had happened the night before. This time it may have just been a dream, but that doesn't mean everything is fine. It wasn’t always just a dream. The nightmares these young women have were once a reality. At one point, each of these girls were trapped in a living nightmare.
My heart burned within me. Our theme that week was "Daughter of the King.” Did they know how valuable they are? Did they know how much they are loved? Did they know how the God of the Universe cherishes them even though the world has caused them so much pain? John 10:10 says, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life, and life to the full.” Jesus proclaimed LIFE to these girls, and the devil's tactics could not have victory. They ought to know their right as daughters! I just wanted to hug them and tell them it was all going to be okay. I wanted to reassure them that they were out of their bondage, but I knew there was more to it than that. They had to really believe their identity as daughters of the King. That's when prayer became our serious weapon. While we were already praying for each girl ahead of time, we now knew them and knew the kind of spiritual battle that was over each of their lives. So it began: we prayed over each bunk, that the arms of the Father would comfort and heal each girl and each staff member that week.
The Lord answered our prayers in a mighty way. By the end of the week, He had softened hearts and helped the girls open up their arms to love. They danced. They laughed. They sang. They overcame. They overcame the nightmares in their lives and welcomed their freedom and renewal in Christ. They learned how to step out in faith and how to trust people again. They opened up their arms and hearts to us, regardless of cultural barriers. They learned how to talk about their hurt, receive healing, and listen to the hope that Jesus Christ offers them. And just as they learned their identity as Daughters of the King, so did we.
Heather's life was changed forever after working directly with human trafficking victims in the heart of India. You have the opportunity to play a role in restoration,too. We are accepting application for our March trip to India. Apply now: http://www.freedom424.org/trip-app. For more information on the trip, email firstname.lastname@example.org.