Visualize for a moment an old cardboard box. Now picture this box behind a little food stall in a poor village of west India. Peer inside and you’ll see a naked, newborn baby and little beetles crawling about. Outside it’s winter and the wind is howling and a drizzle of rain dampens the box. The baby is whimpering. She’s cold, hungry, frightened and abandoned. Why do I ask you to picture all of that is? Because the baby left inside that box was me.
I was found four days later by the store keepers, and sent straight to the nearest hospital, in the city of Pune. I was blue when I was found and, shockingly, still alive. I was cared for at the hospital for two weeks. Then I was taken to an orphanage, but that’s not where God intended for me to spend my childhood. After just six months in the orphanage a family of four adopted me as their daughter. My father Cassius is Indian and my mum Marian is Australian-Dutch. I have an older brother and sister. I grew up in Pune, where my parents served in Youth With A Mission.
I grew up traveling the world with my family and hearing about God and learning to accept Him as my savior at a young age. We returned to India when I was eight years old and I started to go to an Indian school where my life quickly changed.
I had only ever known one God, but Hindu children grew up worshiping many gods. I stood out because I wasn’t that “normal” Indian. I barely knew the language or customs. Having a mum who is white didn’t help either. I was confused, lost, and began to drift.
At the age of ten, I got into a really wrong crowd. Boys, drinking, partying, lying, stealing, running away became my life. I didn’t understand who I was or what I was doing. I struggled with science, math, Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, biology, chemistry, and so on. I would get compared to my brother and sister because they were “smart” and “logical.”
I was doing things I didn’t want to do but I felt like I had to do because I wanted so bad to fit in, to feel like a normal person, to feel loved, accepted. To belong. But the more I strayed away from God, the more I felt rejected, hurt, abandoned, hopeless. At the age of eleven, I started doing drugs which took a toll on my body. I thought I could get better, but it only got worse. My life of partying, drinking, using men, letting men use me, smoking, drugs, etc only kept me sinking deeper into a hole.
At the age of 15, I was in church against my choice with my mum and dad. I sat there looking at my parents weep for me. I didn’t understand how growing up I could’ve understood anything about this Jesus they served. They praised and worshipped. I had been left alone in a box many years ago, and I believed that I had to take care of myself for myself. No one wanted me then, why would anyone want me now?
But I was tired, exhausted from the pain, the hurt, the tears, the fear, the lies, the stealing, the competition, the endless trying to change myself for everyone else but never living up to their expectations. And that day in church, I broke down like never before. I cried and just screamed in my head to God, to give me His peace if He was real.
And He did.
I have hope now. Trust. I have hope in a God that is continually faithful. I trust a God who is worthy of all my praise and all my being. It hasn’t been an easy road and I am constantly in a battle against the devil. But I have a Father and Mother in the Lord, and family that He chose me to be with to help me grow, learn, persevere.
Last year I did a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) and learned so much about the character and nature of God, His heart and unconditional love for me, how to discern and hear His voice and so much more. It was a six-month adventure with the Lord that exceeded everything I thought. I grew, I cried, I screamed, I was angry, hurt, challenged, tested, but through all the hurt, the pain, the joy, the peace, the inability to understand God’s plans, through it all, He was steady. He was powerful. And He showed up when I least expected and most needed Him.
Back to India
My story is one of redemption, restoration, hope, life. There are millions of young girls and boys like me across South Asia who are abandoned, abused, stripped of their identities. As Christians we are called to go out into the nations, to spread the amazing story of Christ, to disciple and teach, but mainly serve and love on every single being on this planet.
We are called as our duty, our job, to go out into every nation and be the hands and feet of the Lord. And we jump at the opportunity to go into these nations, to go into the jungle of Brazil or the outback of Australia, or the isolated islands.
Yet, so few of us are excited to do this in our own nations. There are so many lost, broken souls in our homelands. I want to reach those who have no hope and no identity and spread the love of Jesus, the hope of Him to them. But how can I do that in every other nation if I’m not willing to do it in my own nation? So, God is calling me back to my homeland, India.
I am now in Mumbai, India, taking the Children at Risk school, learning to help children hurting from war, disease, poverty, exploitation, abandonment, disability, and other forms of injustice. I am being trained how to bring lasting change and transformation. Mumbai has one of the largest sex trade industries in the world and thousands of children here are affected by sexual abuse, prostitution and HIV/AIDS. Girls are at particular risk from the sex trade.
In Mumbai alone, there are an estimated 30,000 children in prostitution. In these poor areas, the futures of children are at risk if they cannot access education, and child mortality in poorer areas is higher because of lack of infrastructure, particularly sanitation and clean water.
I thank God for this opportunity to meet the physical and spiritual needs of a community that is desperately in need. I ask your prayers for me and for those whose lives will be touched by God through me.
by Sophie Soares