I am a LMSW and for the past six months I have been living in South Asia working with International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM works to bring justice to individuals who have been a victim of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
I help equip the IJM social workers through training sessions that focus on therapeutic techniques to use when working with their clients. Most of the clients that I work with are often hopeless and depressed. Many of them have no support system and struggle financially. If I were to remove the cultural context of South Asia, any of the individuals I see could be a client in the United States.
Living in a developing country has challenges. The first few months I experienced culture shock, and all I could see were the differences. The food tastes spicier, I don’t understand the language, streets are crowded with people and cows, and the work culture environment is very different than what I’m used to. All of the strange sights, smells, and cultural norms pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, now I have experienced a new normalcy in which the commonalities between life in South Asia and life in the United States have emerged. No matter where I go in the world there will always be individuals who are hurting, broken, and feeling unloved that need someone to reach out to them, they need to be healed, and need to know about the love of Jesus Christ.
Amidst the challenges I have encountered, I find that I enjoy being here and am grateful God has called me here. Recently, a group called Talitha Arts came to work with our girls by doing an art therapy program. A powerful moment occurred when the topic of hope emerged. During the therapeutic program, many of the girls recognized that they didn’t have any hope, and realized hope was a necessity for the future. With great compassion Talitha Arts shared how the girls could have hope in Jesus Christ. By the end of the week, many of the girls developed a hope for the future.
Laxmi’s story is an example of the hope other girls have found since their rescue. Laxmi * grew up from a Hindu background and heard about Jesus when rescued from IJM. She attends weekly counseling sessions, which have helped her heal emotionally and physically. Yet, Laxmi has discovered that true healing comes spiritually and became a Christian even though her family was against her turning away from her Hindu background. Laxmi has a desire to see her entire family experience the hope she has found in Jesus and daily prays for her family, that they will come to know about the love of Jesus Christ. Personally, to see the living hope within her and her desire for others to know this hope reminds me why I find myself in South Asia.
Laxmi’s story reminds me that wherever I am, hurting people need comfort, broken people need healing and we all need the love of Jesus to transform our lives. Keeping my focus on the similarities between home and my home away from home gives me the motivation to keep going on the difficult days. No matter where I go in the world, there will always be people who are lost and need hope and healing in their lives. I’m praying and trusting that Jesus will help me.
* Name changed for client confidentiality.
Amber S. enjoys learning about NACSW as a member of our Facebook Group page. She hopes to become a member in the near future. You can read more about her experiences on her blog at: http://heartfeltdesire.wordpress.com/