Thursday, March 4, 2010


This is a note that a friend of mine wrote after visiting the future Transitions Global site in India. I love what he has to say and wanted to share it with others! 

Hello Friends! 

So typically when Catie and I get back from India (or Cambodia) I feel the need to write so that I can try and process what I’ve just seen. The poverty, the human suffering, the reality that young girls (and boys) are sold in to the sex industry and continually raped against their will by hundreds, maybe thousands of perpetrators. I’ve been in the brothels where evil forces have a stronghold, interacted with the girls who have not yet been rescued, and rubbed elbows with those who keep them in bondage. I’m typically pretty confused and depressed when I get back and wondering, ‘what the hell is wrong with the world I live in, and what do I do now?”. Folks….I’m here to report that HOPE blindsided me in Mumbai. And if HOPE can gain a foothold in Mumbai, then it can grab a foothold anywhere. 

I’m not naïve. I’m aware that this world will not be made ‘right’ until the day of Judgment, but scripture tells me that my job is to bring a piece of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. I saw this happening in one of the darkest places on this earth last week. One of our dear friends who traveled to Mumbai over the summer said this: “If going to Mamelodi, South Africa is as spiritually refreshing as having water dumped on your head, then Mumbai is equivalent to digging your own well through concrete to get to water. You get water both ways, the latter is just much more exhausting.” RP….it appears as though God has busted out His jackhammer since we were last there! 

Is there still crushing poverty in Mumbai? Yeah. Did I see dead bodies on the side of the road again? Um, yeah. Are there still hundreds of thousands of women and children being violated sexually everyday? Unfortunately, yes. But God has given me a choice: I can say this is the way it has been for thousands of years and just hang out in West Chester, Ohio worrying about my 401k and the next home improvement that will add ‘value’ to my home…..or I can surrender my earthly desires to Him and be His hands and feet like He has told me to be. So my family has chosen to listen to Him (sorry little baby Colten….Mommy and Daddy already made this decision for you) and the following accounts from our trip are a testimony to Him and His plan. (My fingers are just warming up, so get cozy!) 

The most powerful moment for me came on Friday, our last day in the aftercare homes. It happened in the aftercare home where I met Jesus through the eyes of a girl who lived there exactly one year ago. Transitions Global (more on them later) has been interviewing girls at this particular home as possible candidates to move in to their Transitional Living Center that will be up and operational shortly. I was told about one particular conversation they had with a girl I was familiar with. The name I knew her by was Nina (not really, but if I told you her real name I’d have to kill you). Nina is beautiful. Nina is from Bangladesh. Nina holds a place in my heart forever. However, Nina is not her real name. Nina is the name her pimp gave her years ago…..Nina is her slave name. She told Transitions Global that her real name was Marianna (again, I’m not in to killing anyone so just roll with it). So Friday when I arrived at this aftercare home to spend a day of loving on these girls, along with the rest of our team, the first thing I did was to seek out “Nina”. I approached her and said, “You will no longer be Nina to me, I will call you Marianna”. Words cannot do justice to the look on her face……I’m actually getting choked up writing this. If you can imagine the most gorgeous sunset you have ever seen, that is what her face looked like. One person calling her by her real name gave her back her identity. That is the name that my dear friends at Transitions will call her as well. I ate lunch with Marianna. We talked about Bangladesh and her family. We talked about her future. She tailored a shirt for my wife…in like 2 minutes! I prayed over her asking God to heal her and give her an opportunity for a new life. And the crazy part is, God willing, she will have an opportunity because of our Community……that is 8000 miles away in Cincinnati. As of today, Marianna is one of 9 girls that Transitions Global is looking to take in once they get all the final approvals in India (I ask that you pray for this process to go quickly and smoothly). As I left this aftercare home on the last day, there were 4 girls that I had really grown close with, and we hugged, and cried, and hugged, and laughed. It was beautiful. The difference between this year and last year is that I wasn’t sure last year if I would ever be back to this home. Now I know I’ll most certainly be back, again, and again, and again. As I walked out the door Marianna grabbed my hands and we talked some more about the opportunity that lay ahead. She wouldn’t let go. I could have stayed in that moment forever. HOPE had just blindsided me. 

On a side note, the girl whom I met Jesus through one year ago has run away from this home. The reality of the situation for her is not good. It was a harsh reminder that this work will leave scars, but I’ve never been told that chasing after Jesus was easy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And it’s the path we’ve chosen. 

365 days ago today, I was sitting in a hotel conference room in Mumbai listening to members of IJM ( talk about the work they do…..and thinking to myself, “what the hell am I doing here?”. I didn’t know slavery still existed, I absolutely hated Mumbai, and James Pond (Director of Transitions Global) was some guy I knew nothing about (except for the fact that he had an absolutely awesome name). Oh yeah, I had no clue who Jesus was either. 

Within one year, I have developed relationships with survivors, aftercare workers and heroes all over the globe, I find myself longing to be in Mumbai (did I just say that?), we are intrinsically involved with Transitions Global, and we’re chasing after Jesus big time. 

Transitions Global ( has purchased a home, hired an amazing in-country director (Ramona and her amazing husband Keith) and in a few months (with the support of Crossroads and it’s people) they will begin the intake process of 9 girls who are survivors. And that is just the beginning of huge things to come. This has happened in 365 days folks……that is not humanly possible. Thank you Lord for creating HOPE. 

Perhaps the most encouraging time we spent in Mumbai was at the government run aftercare homes. Whenever a woman is rescued (whether she is over or under 18), she automatically goes to a government run aftercare facility (aka prison). Last year when we visited these homes, we left with a sick empty feeling. These homes may have (and I stress the ‘may have’ part) been a step up from the brothels. The government staff is paid little, they care even less than the salaries they make, and the girls and women typically try and escape at first chance……and they certainly don’t stay longer than they have to. Our team was to be at the government run aftercare home (the one for those women over 18) for two days doing photography and arts and crafts with the women. I was told by many that this home was by far the worst in terms of despair and living conditions. There were several mentally handicapped ladies there along with much older women. Needless to say, I was nervous. There are anywhere between 70-100 women (along with many of their children) living in a complex with 2 rooms. The whole compound is probably the size of the lot I live on (which ain’t much). Think of an army barracks, but nowhere near as nice. So we walk in, meet the ladies…..and within 10 minutes there is dancing, there are hugs, and there is love…..freakin’ everywhere. We were at this home for two days. We took pictures with them and printed them out onsite (with printers that we brought). We made picture frames, we danced some more, we had the ladies do henna on our arms (check out my pics), I made a 4 yr old little friend who most likely never met his father……and called me uncle. There were solo singing performances (by the women not us), there was government staff with smiles on their faces and interaction between them and the girls (this is NOT common!). When we left, there were hugs, and tears, and more hugs, but most importantly……there was HOPE. 

I’m not going to sit here and act like everything was perfect… most certainly wasn’t. While we were there a 17 year old girl at our favorite home ran away. No one has heard from her since. The poverty still breaks my heart, probably even more than last time. The challenges are immense. But God is mobilizing his troops in Mumbai……IJM, Transitions Global, Crossroads, and we know of some more organizations coming to Mumbai as well. We’re just taking the next step. 

It’s kinda weird, but I feel God talks to me most clearly through music. A lyric that I constantly here in my head comes from a Matisyahu song (seriously, if you don’t know of him….check him out. He’s a Jewish rapper/reggae artist): 

I’m the arrow, you’re my bow 
Shoot me forth and I will go 

The last year has been crazy, and when I listen to what God has to tell me I sometimes feel like a freakin’ arrow flying through the air not knowing where the hell I’m going to land…….but I know He is the bow that has shot me forward and I’m totally at peace with that. Last week he shot about 35 arrows over to Mumbai, India and guess what the arrowheads were filled with? You got it, they were filled with……HOPE. 

Love you all…..I’m off to shovel my driveway! 


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