The message of the Gospel, at its core, is a story of rescue. New Testament theologian N.T. Wright notably called the Christmas story “the launch of God’s divine rescue mission.” For those transformed by the Gospel, the illustration of a Divine rescue is evident. Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, mankind has been rescued from sin and restored into fellowship with our Creator.
The Gospel is humanity’s rescue story
Haggai leader “J Solomon” has known the arc of this rescue story for most of her life, recalling how her own family transformed when her mother came to Christ . “Suddenly our home was filled with songs, psalms, Bible reading, prayer meetings.” But solidifying a relationship with God took time for J Solomon. She began to pursue Him more as a teen, then an encounter as a young adult brought everything full circle.
“It was then that I understood that God was my Father. I started to see God differently. I started to lean on Him more. My faith became much stronger, and the Holy Spirit became an active part of my life.”
J Solomon’s encounter with the Gospel infused every part of her life. She pursued a successful career with a large publishing house in India. She co-authored a book about family relationships with her mother and has been instrumental in helping her publishing firm produce different types of Christian content.
Then, in April of 2019, J Solomon attended the Haggai Leader Experience (HLE). Becoming part of the Haggai community was a crucial pivot point in J Solomon’s faith and in her career.
“The HLE gave me a global perspective of the Gospel, it isn’t just my country that’s facing persecution but countries all over the world. I learned to be more outwardly focused and felt the urgency for sharing the Gospel.”
Within months of returning home to India, J Solomon pursued a new job opportunity that would put her faith and her training as a Haggai leader to the test. In August of 2019, she joined an NGO in India dedicated to rescuing minors caught in India’s sex trade.
In the Fall of 2020, National Geographic published “Stolen Lives,” a multimedia expose on the blight of child human trafficking across the globe. The result of five years of reporting, the researchers estimated that more than one million children globally were victims of sexual exploitation in 2016 alone. Louise Shelley, the author of Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective, is quoted as saying:”We have 70 million refugees in the world now. We have displaced people and increasing economic disparity… this is a growth industry.”
J Solomon and the organization she serves was able to rescue 63 girls from different regions across India. (Note: Images blurred for security)
While the crisis of sexual exploitation exists worldwide, cultural, legal, and economic factors have turned certain regions into hubs of illicit activity. In India, where J Solomon and her team serve, the National Crime Record Bureau reports that the trafficking of minor girls has increased in the country by 65 percent since 2014.
J Solomon and the organization she serves have developed a three-pronged approach to fight this malevolent system. There are three aspects to the program: rescue, restoration, and justice.
The “rescue” portion works with law enforcement, private investigators, and other organizations to locate and rescue girls caught trapped in prostitution. Once the girls have been separated from those exploiting them, teams of social workers in J Solomon’s organization begin the “restoration” process, by providing counseling, vocational training, and spiritual care. In 2019, the group facilitated “Freedom Camps,” multi-day retreats full of activities aimed at showing girls their value and worth. Finally, the “justice” portion pursues prosecution of all perpetrators, following each case through to completion, a process that sometimes takes years.
“God has led me to create awareness about the sexual exploitation of young girls in India. I did not start this organization and I do not run it, but I feel privileged and proud to be part of it. There are communities that have been selling their daughters into prostitution for centuries. Sadly, so many people in power are involved in the exploitation; each one eager for his or her cut of a girl’s suffering – pimps, brothel owners, traffickers, the police, and even parents.
Once we rescue these girls – from red light areas, private brothels, massage parlors, or private homes, they are placed into shelters. We have a limited opportunity to make an impact, so our social workers pack in lessons of healing and restoration through craft projects, plays, and life skill sessions.
Our legal team fights to put the rescued girls’ tormentors in prison. We have achieved 10 convictions in the last 13 years, and there are over 250 active cases that we are still fighting, many are decades old. This is all aimed at changing the system.”
J Solomon is passionate about her work and believes it truly is a calling. But her specific role is to tell the organization’s story and secure funding for operations, something that has become increasingly difficult amidst the economic pressures caused by COVID-19.
Poverty drives girls, and sometimes their parents, to make desperate decisions for survival. (Note: Images blurred for security)
“When COVID-19 hit, there were many moments of intense panic in normal circumstances people were so reluctant to contribute, now with a pandemic on the loose, would people think of these girls? But here’s the thing, even though people did not want to give, and we were under multiple seasons of enforced lockdowns, we were getting intel that many children were still trafficked and sold to brothels; so for us, it meant work had to go on.
We were able to rescue 63 girls, 30+ girls in Q4 alone, from different regions across India. So our team has stepped into 2021 with such excitement, confidence, and strength-truly believing when that God is for us, who can be against us?”
When J Solomon took the job with her organization in the summer of 2019, she knew it was a step of faith. Still, she could not foresee the ways in which world events would increase the urgency of her work, challenge her to implement her Haggai training, and force her to lean on the support of the Haggai community.
“I feel connected to the Body of Christ through Haggai and have a genuine desire to help people. Through my organization I have been able to reach people through inspiring stories of the girls we rescue, which helps increase awareness about the menace sex trafficking has become in India. I have also had opportunities to talk about our mission in churches, with theology students, and with counseling students across the country. Through our work, we are slowly getting people to challenge archaic mindsets on women.”