As the plane took off from Los Angeles en route to Bangalore, India I remember looking down at my city and praying…Asking God to prepare my heart for what I was about to experience. It scared the hell out of me. Ministering to women caught in the sex-trade?… Would the experience simply be too overwhelming? Would the women be able to relate with me in any way? What do I have to offer? The vision for the trip was to use music as a voice for injustice through telling the stories of the women I would meet…
It was hard to believe it had already been over two years since that trip as I skimmed over old photos this morning. I saw the faces of all of the women I met on my trip and was drawn to tears…Because stories are powerful. They are the truth of what’s hidden behind our eyes. The years of life and experiences that has shaped who we are. And I learned that full well on my trip to India. There is one story I wanted to take a few moments to share. A story that impacted my life deeply. A story that gives me perspective for my own life. It is the story of a young girl I met during my trip. For the sake of this blog post and to protect her identity I will call her Nisha
I met Nisha on the second day I was Bangalore. She intrigued me. She wasn’t like the other women. She was very young but carried herself with a demeanor that made her stand out. She was very quiet. Very calm. And stuck out to me as one of the more “mature” women of the bunch. She had a beautiful little girl that was virtually glued to her hip at every moment. I wondered about her. She had a certain depth and beauty behind her eyes. I wanted to know her story but never wanted to ask. It wasn’t until one of the final days in India that I heard her story and it made my heart sink…
At the age of 17 Nisha was sold into the sex-trade by her aunt. One of her first nights as a sex-worker she was stripped and taken into a field where she was repeatedly raped and beaten all throughout the night. She has no idea how many men raped her because she was unconscious for much of it. She just remembers waking up in the field naked, bloody and cold. Miraculously she lived and was able to escape her traffickers. Soon after, she found out she was pregnant but no longer had family or friends near to turn to for help. She lived for nearly 9 months pregnant on the streets of Bangalore without a home, family, friends, warm clothing or sufficient food. She went into labor in an alley way one night which is where one of the staff from the ministry I worked with, called Rahabs Rope, found her. They brought her to a hospital where she delivered her baby girl. Soon after the staff of Rahabs Rope admitted her into their transition home and helped her build a new life and raise her new baby girl.
The night I heard Nisha’s story was one of the biggest turning points for me on the trip. As I stared into her eyes and the eyes of her, now 3 year older baby girl, all I could see was hope and love. I would have never guessed that her story had been so tragic. I lay awake in my bed with tears in my eyes that night realizing that her story is only one of millions. And at the same time realizing I had gotten it all wrong. I had come on this trip with an agenda in mind. With my own little formula for what I wanted to experience and the songs I wanted to write. But in the face of real life horror stories, pain and tragedy, the only possible response is love. And in that moment I realized that God wanted me there for no other reason than to love. To feel. To hurt. To break. To not put Him and these women in a perfect little box that fits my artistic goals. He calls me to do nothing more than Love.
And in that moment I realized how often so much of our culture gets it wrong. We live in a day and age when “fighting injustice” has almost become a trendy thing. In our culture “justice” has become a buzz word and innumerable people including artists, musicians, actors and actresses stand of the soap box of “justice” for the sake of head nods and pats on the back. I’m not saying this as one generalized sweep over our culture but merely as a warning. It can be incredibly tempting to do something that on the outside looks selfless and praiseworthy for the sake of the praise of man, exactly because we are human. But I see that as tragic, especially seeing any hint of it in my own heart because these people’s stories are real. And their pain is real.
So as I landed back in LA just a few days later, after hearing Nisha’s story. I felt a bit overwhelmed by all I had experienced and I prayed and asked God if my trip had been in vain?…If meeting Nisha and all of the other girls had been in vain? I asked God what story He wanted me to tell through her story? I picked up my guitar and journal to write but nothing would come…How do I write these stories?? What do I have to say in the shadow of such brokeness? And who am I, with all of my selfishness and humanness to say it? In that moment God humbled me and reminded me why He called me to write and sing and create. He reminded me that I am imperfect, and that is exactly why He chose to use me. Because His power is made perfect through my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:19). I realized that all I have to offer Nisha and any other girl I ever minister to who has experienced a life of such tragedy, is Love. Furthermore, I realized He alone has enabled me to love and to pursue a life of sacrifice and love to those He calls me to (Isaiah 58:6-12). And in the simplicity of that I found freedom. I realized that the story that God wanted me to write through the inspiration of that young girl was a story of His love for Her and the Love he calls us to for one another. And I made my prayer, “God teach me how to love like you love.”
Shortly after I wrote this song for Nisha. It is called “Kimti-Laraki” which in Hindi means “Precious One”, through the revelation that all I have to offer them is Christ’s promise of love.
“Kimti-Laraki, He holds you.”
The live recording and words to the song are attached below.
Waiting, holding onto your words
All clinging to my skin
As if you’re still here in whispers
I can’t see you the way you are
From the vantage of your scars
And love with selfless abandon
But this I know…
Kimti laraki, He holds you
He holds you (repeat)
Hello, broken world of lies
We say, “don’t let one more die”
To gain looks of approval
So I’ve found I’ve no more tears to cry
From a love that will not lie
Just the words of my Father…