By Carl Stagner, writer-editor for Church of God Ministries

The Shelter in Cuttack, India, was one of the first ministries CHOG Trafficklight introduced—or reintroduced—to the Church of God. Far more than a safe haven for vulnerable girls, the Shelter has proven its capacity to educate and empower young women for a life of service to God and community. Since Trafficklight illuminated the need and enabled the movement to partner effectively with the Shelter, this vital ministry has improved infrastructure, added safe transportation, and expanded to welcome more girls.

While a few girls have come into the Shelter because of the new construction taking place over the past three years, new dormitory space will be dedicated later this year. At that point, even more girls will be welcomed into the fold.

For the girls who presently live at the Shelter, conditions for study and play are better than ever. Formerly, the playground areas were almost always a muddy mess, if not completely flooded. Trafficklight funds enabled containment of the runoff during Cuttack’s wet season, and has provided a safe and dry place for the girls to play.

Additionally, the purchase of a school bus has brought about practical solutions to a what was a big transportation problem. For the commute to church and for field trips, multiple trips back and forth were required. Walking wasn’t a safe alternative, as the church is about two miles from the Shelter, connected by busy streets without sidewalks. The Shelter girls and leadership couldn’t be more grateful for this new mode of transportation.

Don Armstrong, Global Strategy regional coordinator for the Asia and the Pacific, has had a front-row seat to the developments at the Shelter. He’s thankful for the partnership of Trafficklight, too, because he’s witnessed firsthand the impact it has had on the girls who live and learn there. “For me, when I see new girls who have just arrived at the Shelter and slowly realize that they no longer have to go to bed hungry, that warms my heart,” Don reflects. “Or that they will receive breakfast in the morning and have clean and comfortable clothes to wear the next day. Or that they are surrounded by girls who came from the same situations they were in, and are excelling in their studies, not being molested, but living in a safe environment that allows them to grow to maturity, with choices for their future. These choices they now have would normally not be available to them if they were continuing to live in the homes into which they were born.”

Trafficklight has blessed the ministry of the Shelter. Since 1914, the Shelter has blessed the lives of numerous girls. Today the girls who live there are encouraged to receive as much education as possible—many are attending college and learning trades, even before they marry. Graduates of the Shelter have gone on to a variety of successful careers, including one who now owns a steel-fabricating business.

As the Shelter expands, new opportunities are in store. The newly named interim director of the Shelter, Samarpita Sahoo, will assume responsibility for running the ministry upon the retirement of Mamata Das in June.

Thank you for your prayers for Samarpita, as she learns the ropes at the Shelter, and for Mamata and Asim Das, as they conclude forty-seven years of leadership excellence. Thank you for continued prayers for all the girls of the Shelter, that they would keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and excel in all he calls them to do. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support of CHOG Trafficklight.

Texas Church Tackles Trafficking on Freedom Sunday

     By Jim Feirtag, senior pastor of Parkgate Community Church in                  Pasadena, Texas

At Parkgate Community Church, our vision is: “As Jesus gave his life for us, we give our lives for others in our community and world.” For us, that means we love God, love people, and love now! Partnering with CHOG Trafficklight falls well in line with that vision and mission.

We were honored to join our brothers and sisters in the Church of God to commemorate Freedom Sunday again this year. We have been engaged in CHOG Trafficklight since the beginning. We believe strongly in this important cause for justice. We are convinced that it’s absolutely in line with our biblical mandate as a church.

We tackled Psalm 10 together. From that passage, we know that the wicked seem to be running wild with no consequences and nothing to fear, but…

God SEES. No evil or injustice in the world goes unnoticed. People may be blind to the evil around us, but God is not. So, we called people to repentance in Jesus’ name. One of the ways to cement that call was to launch a Freedom Group for men who want to pursue sexual purity in their lives, especially regarding pornography and unhealthy sexual relationships.

God HEARS. No victim’s cry, whether loud and long or silent and short, escapes his ear. People may ignore them, but not God. We know that victims lose their sense of trust, safety, security, and control. That is why our church must be the place, and we must be the people, that God can use to hear the victim’s cry. So, we launched a Restoration Group for any woman who could claim #MeToo and might like a safe place to process with other women who have gone through a similar experience. We’re forming an additional group for men who have been victimized, as well.

God ACTS. From heaven he works to right every wrong. We highlighted how our church is actively reaching out to women in the sex industry through our Stripped Love ministry. In that work, ladies from our church visit strip clubs to minister to the women, build redemptive relationships with them, and urge them to embrace newfound freedom in Christ. We celebrated our relationships with Pink Door in Berlin, and Elijah Rising in Houston, which provide a place of escape for women wanting out of the sex industry. We know that the evil of sexual sin seems massive and overwhelming, but we all drew strength from the reality that Jesus will one day end evil and injustice forever, granting every victim who is in him eternal life and peace.

We know our efforts are small compared to the enormity of the issue, but we believe everything we do in Jesus’ name is bringing glory to God and living out the values of the gospel. We are in the fight to the end!

Originally published in MOVE! on March 8, 2018

Children of Promise Impact Stories

There are literally thousands of stories of those served by Children of Promise.  Since its beginning in 1992, nearly 13,000 children have been given hope, faith, nutrition, education, and health care. These were children who would never have gone to school, would have face malnutrition and poor health, and would not have been introduced to Jesus. Here are just a few of those stories:

Catalina was found as a young child living in a large sewer pipe in the slums of Colombia with drug-addicted parents. Through sponsorship and her church’s intentional intervention, Catalina is now 16, faithful to church, and has a career goal.

Dan grew up in Ecuador, the son of an alcoholic father and a shy mother who worked hard raising guinea pigs to put food on the table for the family. Through sponsorship and the local Christians’ influence, Dan became the national youth leader, served on the national church board, and is now working as a doctor in Quito.

Ronald’s parents died of AIDS when he was young and he was raised instead by his grandmother. Sponsorship nurtured him into the position of national youth leader and encouraged him to attend KIST, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Ronald now works on the staff of Upendo, the Children of Promise program in Uganda.

Bishu came from an extremely poor family in Odisha, India. He was sold to the landowner because his parents incurred too great a debt. The Children of Promise team in India was available and ready to advocate on his behalf, and because of their courage and commitment, Bishu was miraculously released. He will tell you the best day of his life was when Children of Promise rescued him.

Joachim was crippled by polio at an early age, forcing him to use tree branches for crutches.  Through sponsorship, he was given the medical care and equipment that he needed. Today, he is the IT director and instructor at Aldersgate School in Babati, Tanzania, serving and teaching sponsored children just like himself.

Jewel was raised by a single mother of four children. Sponsored from the time she was five years old, Jewel finished high school at fifteen and entered university on a full scholarship. She earned a degree in Consular and Diplomatic Affairs, and now works as a protocol officer for the President of the Philippines. Jewel is the youngest person in history to ever hold such an esteemed position of responsibility. She also serves as the national youth coordinator and is a Sunday school teacher for sponsored children.

David was nurtured by his sponsor family and the local church in Peru. Today, he runs a public service radio station from his home that teaches Bible lessons to children in remote areas. Sponsorship empowered him to develop and hone his unique talents.

Agnes is one in a family of ten children, and has been lame since childhood. She was one of two in her family who were able to attend school, all because of her sponsorship. Today, Agnes oversees the Church of God clinics in Uganda.

Woody was an orphan sponsored at House of Blessing in Callabasse, Haiti. He now directs the Children of Promise program in the village.

There are many other stories—all of children who were vulnerable, at the bottom of the poverty scale, with little hope for a bright future. Sponsorship was a tool God used in their lives to protect them and to prevent trafficking.