Valuable And Vulnerable: A Journey in India

Valuable And Vulnerable: A Journey in India

By Alyssa Kranz

Every person is valuable, but not everyone shares that viewpoint. Devastatingly, India is considered the hub for human trafficking in Asia. Many young girls in India grow up in an unsafe environment that can lead to sexual and physical abuse, female infanticide, and human trafficking.

A group of six Crown students and one staff member partnered with STEPS Home in Chennai, India, to bring a little light to the darkness.

Isaac and Tara Manogarom founded STEPS in 2007. Their daughter attended Crown in 2014 and met Katharine Johnson, a senior nursing student, in her freshman Psychology class. Johnson learned about the STEPS ministry and decided to go on a short-term trip two years ago. When Johnson felt the Holy Spirit leading her to do missions in India this year, she knew who to contact.

The purpose of STEPS is to free girls between the ages of 5-18 from terrible lives, focusing on two main goals. First, they aim to nurture the girls and bring them up in a home that values their worth as human beings. Second, they seek to bring awareness to the mistreatment of local girls. Since 2007, the Manogaroms at STEPS have welcomed over 50 girls, and are currently housing 18.

“STEPS equips the girls to have a hopeful future by raising them and equipping them to live on their own,” says Johnson.

The team’s work included leading worship and devotionals with the girls, and answering questions about life and God. They quickly realized the girls struggle with the same insecurities and questions young girls back home struggle with. “It was a wonderful moment to share God’s truths with the girls, and speak positive encouragement into them,” says Johnson.

A couple of team members also taught self-defense classes in order to empower and equip the young girls to stay safe and stand up for themselves. This included how to say no when a potential attacker is threatening them. They also explained some simple ways to stay safe such as walking during the daytime instead of at night, walking with another trusted person, running to safe and populated places, and even moving to the other side of the street if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.

Hannah McFarland, a student on the team, and Sophia Holland, the staff leader, also demonstrated ways to get out of a few chokeholds, how to free a grabbed wrist, and how to free themselves if held against a wall.

“The girls appreciated these classes,” says McFarland. “It is my hope that the girls will retain what they learned and that the older girls would remind the younger girls what was taught.”

Besides working with the girls at STEPS, the team had a few other opportunities to do ministry in other parts of the community.

For a few days, the Crown team travelled to a local church to help with worship, games and Bible studies at a Vacation Bible School. At this VBS, many of the children gave their lives to Christ!

Also, the team visited an orphanage founded by Mother Teresa to spend quality time with the children and play games to help improve their fine motor skills. The children at this orphanage have severe disabilities such missing hands or feet, severe autism, and even missing eyes. In some places, it is common for families to purposely hurt their children so they can beg for money on the streets. It was very hard for the students to work with the children as they knew most of them acquired the disabilities through brutality, not by birth.

The team’s time at the orphanage left a lasting impact. Thankfully, they were able to show the love of Christ to the children by loving on them through hugs, songs, and games.

Finally, a few of the Crown students sang worship songs with those in an elderly home. “It was very impactful for all of us as a team to realize how lonely the elderly residents are,” says Lily Hang, another team member.

The residents’ adult children left them on the street because they are seen as financial burdens. In some cases, it’s simply because the elderly are not seen as deserving of care.

“Overall, it was an action-packed trip with many opportunities to connect with people through different ministries and learn about India and how God is at work there,” says Johnson.

The team’s days were full, but that did not stop them from taking it all in and allowing God to use them.

“It was so encouraging to see everyones gifts and abilities being used in unique ways on the trip,” says Johnson.