India (MNN) — One of our greatest callings as a follower of Christ is to tell the world about Him. Right now, a short-term missions team is doing just that in India. Kaytie Fiedler with India Partners spoke with MNN from the field recently using Skype.
“It was just really a life-changing day, to be in the heart of this very, very dark place, but to be so bright, shining the light of Jesus,” Fiedler shares.
Last week, Fiedler and a small team trained Sahaara Charitable Society counselors in the red-light district of a big city. Learn more about Sahaara here.
“These trainings are really refreshing and essential for these frontline Indian teams,” says Fiedler. “The work that they do is extremely intense.
“They’ve got teams that go out into the red-light area, and they form relationships with the women and children living there, and help them find ways out.”
There are over 20 million sex workers in India, and 35.47% of them are under the age of 18. Since 2000, Sahaara has worked with trafficked women and children in and around the red-light areas of a large metropolis.
Some of the U.S. team members on this trip specialize in psychology and trauma counseling.
“One of the people on our team, her specialty is on trauma and the brain,” explains Fiedler.
“What we’ve been helping [the Sahaara workers] understand is that, while their efforts are needed [and] the relationship development is necessary, it’s very difficult to reach people who’ve been traumatized in this way.”
More than skin-deep
India Partners’ team is teaching Sahaara workers about the effects of emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological trauma on a person’s brain. According to Fiedler, Gospel workers encounter several forms of trauma in their ministry.
First, there’s the trauma to children of sex workers. When a mother is “working” all night in the sex trade to earn income, she has no time to raise her children. Fiedler says the lack of a nurturing parental relationship leads to neurological underdevelopment.
That’s why Sahaara’s children’s ministry is so important. At their schools in the red-light district, kids receive more than an education. They also get attention lacking at home, regular meals, and a safe place to grow. The team got to sing songs and play games with the kids at one of Sahaara’s schools.
A second area of trauma is innate to the sex trade.
“Anywhere from 10 to 15 times a night, someone is coming to abuse them [the women]– rape them, essentially. That has a psychological trauma, as well as a spiritual trauma, and that psychological trauma will stunt brain growth,” explains Fiedler.
“When you’re that damaged in your spirit and in your physical brain, it takes a long time. It takes trusting relationships to help re-train your brain.”
The team’s hope is rooted in Romans 12:1 and 2, which states, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Fiedler adds, “We’re helping equip them with information and tools to help people regrow better brain synapses, better connections, so that they can be healthier.”
Currently, the team is in a different part of India training pastors and ministry leaders. These Gospel workers are from an area that’s very resistant to the Gospel, so training like this is a big help to their ministry.
“Our focus is going to be on servant leadership,” says Fiedler. “As leaders, we need to always be ready to serve your team so that you can build them up and help them fulfill their destinies.”
The recent split of Andhra Pradesh state has many people in India up-in-arms. It’s expected to make travel difficult.
“There are a lot of strikes going on, a lot of political unrest,” Fiedler explains.
Fiedler and her teammates will return to the U.S. on March 1. Pray for safety as they travel. Pray that Gospel workers in India will be encouraged and strengthened by the team’s visit.