The Indian bride wore blue silk, trimmed with gold. Rich fabrics in brilliant hues are traditional for wedding saris in this South Asian megacity. But the guest list was anything but typical.
Among those celebrating this day were twenty prostitutes—women who were like family to Shanti.* She knew them from the years she shared their heartbreaking lifestyle as a prostitute. That was before the ministry of a Christian activity center rescued Shanti from her former life. She is now a believer and has a good job to support herself. And on this day, she married a Christian man.
IMB representatives Rodney and Helen Cregg* and their four children sow gospel seeds in this megacity with a population of twenty-two million. As part of their work, they’ve partnered local to establish an activity center in the middle of the red-light district that offers prostitutes a place to learn basic skills, which serve as “a window through which they can see some light and find hope for themselves,” said national pastor Raj Joseph*.
“[This city] has some of the largest red-light districts in all of Asia,” Rodney said. “As you walk into these red-light districts, it’s utter poverty. You walk through mud. You walk past piles of trash. As you walk, these alleys are lined with ladies. They sell themselves to men for one or two dollars several times a day. Many of them are sold into prostitution, and so when they come [here] they are slaves. They have no freedom. They have no choice in what they can do.”
Reaching a Megacity
The red-light district is just one area and that the Creggs focus on. Rodney explained that their desire and strategy is to reach the whole city and to do this, they’ve created a four-prong approach. One of those segments is the social justice segment. Other segments in the strategy include focusing on business and professionals, people groups, and millennials.
“Over 65 percent of India is thirty-five years or younger,” Rodney said. “This is a very crucial segment for the future of [this country].” Within that segment falls Bollywood, the Indian film industry. Bollywood films have tremendous influence worldwide, and Cregg said there is a Christian community within Bollywood that could exert influence and transform the types of films Bollywood produces.
The people-group focus is another key.
“We know as the gospel begins to move through the city we’re going to have many unreached people groups and unengaged people groups that we can equip as insiders to go back [to their villages and towns] to reach [others]. Where in the world do [South Asians] not live? We believe that [this country] is crucial to finishing the task.”
And while the hope is that many people in [this megacity] come to Christ through gospel truth, it’s individual journeys that matter.
A woman at the red-light district activities center agrees: “Being involved at the center, I am finding the love I didn’t get from my family from people who know the Lord. Through Jesus, I am experiencing love. I am blessed.”
- Christians in the business community in this South Asian city to actively engage their workplaces with the gospel.
- Christian Bollywood actors, actresses, and producers, that we would see a gospel movement that would transform Bollywood movies to have Christian themes.
- The women in the red-light areas of the megacity will come out of their hopeless lifestyles and into the light of the gospel.
This story originally ran in the December 2016 edition of Missions Mosaic from Woman’s Missionary Union.