MUMBAI, INDIA – In many places around the world, churches are giving generously and serving people in need during the Christmas season. In Mumbai, churches are helping IJM host special Christmas parties at aftercare shelters for survivors of sex trafficking.
The parties started this week—tinsel and shiny decorations hung up at aftercare homes around the city, hot food catered in for all of the girls and staff living at these shelters, and meaningful gifts like t-shirts, towels and hair accessories unwrapped joyfully. But the planning for these Christmas parties started months ago.
After an IJM staff member spoke at Mission of Hope Church this summer about the reality of human trafficking, the church wanted to make a tangible impact in the lives of survivors living in their city. Many of the church members at Mission of Hope live in a nearby slum, and they face the same routine violence that is the backdrop for the work IJM does in Mumbai to fight sex trafficking.
The church's Sunday school classes decided to collect spare change that would go towards a Christmas party for survivors of sex trafficking. They made small boxes and took them to the homes of people in their church, encouraging everyone to give spare change.
"The kids put in anything and everything they had, from one-rupee coins to 100-rupee notes (about $1.60)," said IJM Mumbai Church Mobilization Director Mervyn D'Mello, adding that the total amount raised was "a truly beautiful sacrifice" from these children and their families who live on the margin of poverty.
Mervyn further explained that churches like Mission of Hope are giving out of a sense of empathy—they know what it's like to feel unprotected or forgotten, yet they also share a sense of belonging and the deep joy that comes from giving.