Monday, August 20, 2007

Mukti--God Knows Her by Name

My daughter, Sarah, and two others from her college traveled to India this summer. They spent a month in Calcutta—Kolkata, officially. The purpose of their trip, and their passion, was the young women (many are teens!) who are trying to escape a life of prostitution—very often a trade they would never have chosen. Two organizations in this city of five million captured the hearts of my daughter and her friends. Both teach the women a new trade and both share the transforming hope of a relationship with Jesus. At Freeset the women design and create canvas bags, and at Sari Bari they make quilts out of old saris (Indian clothing).

I was able to take in small glimpses of the culture through my daughter’s stories and those of her teammates. Sometimes I caught Sarah online for a quick chat, but most of the time I simply read and wept over some of things they shared in their blog, Calcutta Love!

When my daughter returned, she gave me a quilt that one of the young women had sewn. In one corner, it has a small label which reads, “made in India by Mukti.” Mukti is a beginning level of apprenticeship in making the quilts. Sarah told me that if a woman stays through this time of apprenticeship, there’s a much better chance she won’t return to prostitution. She also said that when each woman succeeds in her apprenticeship, she can begin to attach a label with her personal name to her quilts. That must mean so much to them.

As I hold my quilt and run my fingers along the rows of stitches, I think of the woman who pushed a needle through the four layers of fabric—a Mukti, a person with a name, and a story I can't even begin to imagine. I pray for her. I hope she completes her apprenticeship, and with each stitch she sews, each quilt she completes, that she is one firm step closer to a new life filled with hope.

I haven't experienced anything like this young woman, but I know, just like her, I have a name and a story that God knows well. He knows when I mess up. He has rescued me when I've found myself backed into a corner I can't get out of on my own. He daily gives me hope and helps me walk closer and closer toward him.

Here is something God said to the Israelites as a nation. I believe he says it just as passionately and personally to us today:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. (Isaiah 43:1-2 NAS)

What an amazing God. And he knows and loves each of us!


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