Dec. 1, 2010. World AIDS Day. I stood on a busy sidewalk in northern India. Cars and trucks whizzed by on one side. On the other side, an open sewer and a high, concrete wall separated me from a catacomb of brothels — a den of human trafficking, oppression and violence against women.
Until that morning, I hadn’t known World AIDS Day existed. Until that trip to northern India, I’d had no “real-life” interaction with AIDS patients. I knew only what I’d read or seen on TV. But on this day, AIDS had a face, a name and two small children.
Her name was Ajunta.* She was 27 years old. Her husband had died of AIDS a year before. Given her illness and her status as a widow in Indian society, she had no means to feed her family. To earn the cash she needed, she turned to prostitution.
Then, two Indian pastors visited Ajunta, hoping to learn more about how to minister to HIV patients. They shared the gospel with her, and Ajunta became a follower of Jesus. She was baptized and began sharing Jesus with other women like herself — women in desperate situations.
Ajunta’s story rocked my world and changed the direction of my life and ministry. Ajunta, I realized, was a woman just like me, simply trying to provide for her family. Her story brought my soul to its knees.
And as my soul cried out for justice, God spoke. He used the conversations with Ajunta and her friends to compel me to begin a gospel-focused ministry among exploited women in the Asian city where I then lived.
God also has used my experience with Ajunta to allow me to share with countless faith groups in the U.S. how they can be involved in ministries to exploited people around the world. He is bringing His people together to “speak up for those who have no voice.”
So, on this World AIDS Day, in honor of Ajunta, here are some practical steps you can take to help hurting women:
Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works — prayer is the greater work.” Pray for exploited women as if they were your daughters, sisters, granddaughters or nieces. Ask God to open your eyes to the exploitation around you and lead you to minister in your community and across the globe.
Investigate ministries in your community and around the world that are helping hurting women. Find the gaps and determine if or how you can meet those needs.
Once you identify the needs, get involved! Take the first step. Visit a women’s prison. Provide a meal at a women’s shelter. Teach English to a refugee family. And don’t limit yourself to U.S. borders. Take the risk to travel overseas to hotbeds of exploitation and oppression. Serve alongside Christian workers who are striving to offer help and hope to exploited people who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
This World AIDS Day, begin the journey to be an “ambassador of reconciliation” among those who are lost and dying. Let God rock your world with His heart for the hurting among the nations.