A number of years ago, I went to India to teach writing and creative storytelling. During the trip, my friend, Dr. Chinnappa, took me to visit some of the programs and ministries that he worked with. One of them was a counseling program for street workers (prostitutes).
He led us into a small room where 50 women were gathered. They were trained as counselors to work with the other prostitutes. We had the chance to speak with them and ask questions. I remember we asked how many of them had children? And nearly every one of them did. How many of them wished they could get a different job? And every one of them did. And also, how many felt like they would have the chance to do that? And not a single hand went up.
At that point, my friend got up and spoke to the women in Hindi. I couldn’t understand what he was saying but I could see the smiles on their faces. Afterwards, I asked him, “Jacob, what were you telling them?”
He said, “Well, I offered to hire someone to come in and teach sewing on Fridays, and if they came to the training events, and in six months they were able to sew me a shirt, I would buy them a sewing machine so they could start their own business as a seamstress.”
I said, “Well, how are you going to pay for it?”
He said, “I don’t know. God will provide.”
“Were you planning to offer them this before we got here?”
“No, I just thought of it on the spot.”
Now, I didn’t have much money with me, but I found $100 and handed it to Jacob. I said, “Use this to buy sewing machines.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Steve, you just bought two sewing machines. You just saved two women’s lives.”
Ever since then, I haven’t been able to look at a sewing machine without thinking about those women and the look on their faces when he offered them hope to have a new future away from the streets.