Note to the reader: Recently I was interviewed over Skype by one of our many strategic partners. What follows is the heartbeat of our mission in Southern Asia and our driving force to return as quickly as possible. I am incredibly honored to share our story as told through their illustrative lens.
Not a human being.
Not made in God’s image.
This is what gender inequality looks like in Southern Asia. This is how women are viewed in a misogynistic system that deeply misunderstands who women are and what their purpose is, a culture that pushes women down as far as they can go, and then for the victims of sex trafficking, pushes them even further.
To see that ideology played out in a brothel is the worst of the worst: where the choice is between prostitution and starvation, shelter or life on the street, a nominal sense of belonging to a community of women, or utter rejection and abandonment.
But in the face of total gender oppression discontentment is brewing. Women in Southern Asia have a hunger for their lives to matter. And that hunger is being met in the freeing Truth of Jesus Christ, where the inestimable value of every person, regardless of gender, is a non-negotiable.
Into this darkness and oppression Mel and Jillian Rogers are bringing light and life through Project Rescue-affiliated Akhi’s Place, a transformational ministry for girls. Akhi’s Place is not an orphanage. It is not temporary. It’s a home. A family. A safe shelter where girls are raised for up to twenty years, loved, educated, counseled, and freed from the stigma of being a child born in a brothel. It’s a place where girls find a hope and a future when mothers and madams want more for the next generation.
And they do.
No woman in a brothel wants that life for her child. Even the madams, knowing they could make money off the child eventually, don’t want that. And so girls come to Akhi’s Place when those women grab Jillian’s hand and plead, “Please, take my girl.”
The brothel Mel and Jillian serve employs 400 mostly underage women and many dozens of children. Currently, Akhi’s Place is home to six girls, with plans to expand to include four more in their next term. Mel and Jillian refuse to simply be administrators. The girls are raised alongside their own two young children, as part of their family.
Besides expanding Akhi’s Place in their next term in Southern Asia, Mel and Jillian are praying for a future home for the boys that are being raised in the brothels. Additionally, they are in the process of locating space to launch a new program called The Refuge. Currently, there is no place for the mothers of the Akhi’s Place girls to go if they were to leave the brothel. The Refuge would provide a place for those mothers and possibly other marginalized refugee women to live and receive trauma and long term counseling, vocational training, and repatriation into a society from which they’ve been exiled.
In a part of the world where less than one-tenth of one percent has ever heard the Good News, where physical and spiritual poverty seem insurmountable, where the numbers of women and children subjugated into sexual slavery are overwhelming, Mel and Jillian stay encouraged by focusing on the daily changes they see in the individuals they serve. One person can be free. One person can have a different physical destiny, a new spiritual destiny.
Immense appreciation is given to Renee Mora and Chapel Springs for this very poignant magazine article.