by an Alliance international worker serving in Southeast Asia
Imagine a young woman with a veiled face standing under a tin roof. She is seeking to sell her body to one of the tourists passing by. She knows that because of her imprisonment in the sex trafficking industry of Southeast Asia, she will no longer be considered as a first wife. Shame follows her everywhere, making a loving God’s presence seem impossibly far.
Yet, something stirs her heart when she overhears a conversation next door where women are chatting over tea. They are talking about a new vocational school open to women who are looking for a way out of “the industry.” Stepping into the doorway to let the other women notice her, she is both excited and terrified.
In 2018, we began to partner with local believers who were already hard at work, demonstrating God’s love to exploited, traumatized, and often overlooked people like the young woman depicted above. Since then, your generosity has allowed a small sewing program in a cramped, rented facility to rapidly expand its reach so that today it serves up to 120 women per year.
Graduates from the vocational school earn a certificate that enables them to secure factory jobs in the garment industry. These graduates include 47 former prostitutes who use their sewing skills in work that brings them reliable income and dignity. Among the women attending daily classes are 56 refugees who fled violence in a neighboring country and are struggling to find acceptance in their new home.
God has used the sewing program to open follow-up house visits, often with people asking for healing prayer. Through the sewing program, women of the majority religion hear the gospel for the first time. These encounters are, however, only the first step in building long-term, Christ-centered relationships in a city dotted with worship sites for other religious groups but still without a building for Christians to worship openly.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our ministry partners and other members of their newly formed house church purchased land at a steep discount. It was a faith-filled move amid extreme chaos and uncertainty—and your giving made it all possible! In a bustling city of rickshaw drivers, hotel maids, and day laborers, our program leaders cemented their commitment to their neighbors by embarking on a journey to build a five-story community center where they will operate the vocational school and an educational boarding program for youth from remote hill tribes.
Several local believers have taken ownership of the project. One of these is Anika,* who is well known in the community for the many women she has taught. Her persistence with local government officials has allowed her to succeed where others fail. She acts as an advocate for the marginalized and has brought sanitation channels, electricity, and sidewalks to an underdeveloped area by convincing the local government to act. She even had a deep well dug on the property where the community center will be built, and she is providing clean water to many surrounding families at a very low price.
Another courageous local believer is Tajrul, who envisions reaching every remote tribe in his native country with the gospel. Because of your generosity, he is implementing this bold vision through the residential boarding program, which allows youth from remote villages to complete their secondary education in the city. They are nurtured in the Christian faith and go back to villages equipped as evangelists to their own tribes.
More than a Building
The selfless devotion of leaders like Anika and Tajrul reminds me that a church is a family of believers, not a building. The building is only a tool. However, when placed in the hands of hardworking, compassionate, and resourceful servants, such tools can enlarge a family of believers’ capacity to serve their neighbors in bold and creative ways. Once complete, the community center will relieve our local ministry partners of the monthly burden of paying rent on borrowed facilities for the vocational school, office space, an assembly place, and personal residences. It will also allow them to expand income-generating programs, increasing the long-term sustainability of our work.
We have only started to dig the foundation for the community center, and as we plunge our hands into the silty soil, the task of completing the 8,000-square foot facility can seem overwhelming—until we remember not to rely on our own understanding and provision but on God’s. If He can build the mountains, how hard is it for Him to build a community center? Your giving is a tangible reminder of His capacity “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). Our loving Father makes a way for a prostitute to escape, accomplishing His purposes through people like you who act as conduits of His love and generosity.
*All names changed
Build a New Home
In this Southeast Asian country, a training program has allowed underprivileged women to become clothing producers and fit into a community that shares the hope of a newfound identity in Jesus. However, the training program, which has paved the way for other ministry endeavors, has outgrown its rented facilities. To build a new home for these vital ministries, visit cmalliance. org/give; select “a project you love/Find a project”; and type in “CAMA – Badshaguna Community Center.”
Learn more about Alliance strategic projects throughout the world in need of your prayers and financial support by by accessing the 2023-24 Strategic Giving Opportunities Gift Catalog at cmalliance.org/giftcatalog or by calling toll free (866) 443-8262.
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