Diamonds, custom Lamborghinis, silky flowing hair extensions, augmentations and cosmetic adjustments… there are shows dedicated to the lives of NBA and NFL wives that center on what their lucrative lifestyles can afford. Often times those lives tend to center around what they can get. And yet, what beauty can be found when those given much choose instead to GIVE.
Ten years ago I made new friends at my new church in a new city. While our seasons were somewhat similar (no one had kids yet and everyone loved Jesus) there were a few big differences. For instance – a couple of my pals would play in and win a Super Bowl, aaaaaaaand I was still wearing an apron every night at my second job.
Those buddies were married to beauties, but the stitching of those marriages has always been their faith. The foundation of their friendships has always been the God that calls us into community. And for as talented as ESPN would tell you my friends are, ten years in the NFL has looked very different than any trashy E! reality show, because in this case, where much had been given – I’ve had a front-row seat to see what happens when generous hearts & hands choose to use their lives (and yes, their dollars) to make a difference.
My best friend has been a fighter for justice since she was a kiddo, and she threw her whole adult-life into ministry; becoming the wife of a pro-football player didn’t change that. Especially because that athlete she married is one of the most solid and trustworthy men of faith I’ve ever known. It was a few years into their marriage, and just a few weeks after having their second child, that they started praying about what more God would ask of them. Dylan was still playing football and the team was always a huge opportunity for him to minister and pray and lead. As a family they were also vested in small groups and Bible studies, but the pull on their hearts for more wouldn’t go away.
Melody went with a friend to a fundraiser for an organization doing some important work in India. She went because she wanted to support the pal she was tagging along with – as that friend had recently gone on two trips with the organization and was very passionate about it. Mel had no idea what she was about to hear…
This week your Hopers are going to be sharing with you the work being done in the world that means something to us personally. Lots of websites and late-night commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background ask for your money as they play on your heartstrings, and sure, we can feel better throwing a donation here and there (especially when tax season approaches), but who do we know and what can we do that is ACTUALLY CHANGING THE WORLD?
What Melody heard that night years ago affected her overwhelmingly, so much so that she’s since been to India herself and sits on that organization’s Board of Directors. She and her husband support three girls overseas while raising three children at home. It’s hard not to pay attention when you read what I’m about to share with you…
I was sitting in the carpeted sanctuary of my medium-sized church the morning it affected me. It was another one of those Sundays that us church-goers are familiar with – when someone asks for money, and when they tell us why we can tend to zone out.
We are so numb to needs these days because they’re everywhere and we can become paralyzed from action because we don’t know where to start, or we simply don’t start because we assume someone else has. Or, worst of all, we just don’t care because it doesn’t affect us.
That morning I was mostly the former. Human trafficking and the sex trade and homelessness and poverty were issues at large that were very real and devastating, but issues I was familiar with. What Melody’s friend Jill, the CEO of this now-much-bigger organization, was sharing with our church sucked my breath out and snapped me to attention because in my almost thirty years on the planet I didn’t even know this word, much-less what it meant:
Due to the mass killing of humans, simply because they are female, 50 MILLION GIRLS AND WOMEN ARE MISSING FROM INDIA’S POPULATION.
This sickening truth begins with another word I wasn’t familiar with: Feticide.
Although it is illegal in India, many women are forced to get a sex-determination test, and if the test shows they are pregnant with a baby girl they are then often forced to have an abortion. The doctors are paid behind closed doors. 700,00 daughters are killed via selective abortion every year, 1,918 daughters murdered each day, one sweet beautiful little life taken every minute. BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLS. Sons are valuable and desirable, daughters are not.
If that tiny baby girl makes it to birth, her family might murder her. Because they wanted a boy. If she survives her first seven days of life without being murdered, the likelihood is that as she grows she’ll suffer neglect, violence, and/or abuse. And she still might be killed.
The mortality rate for children ages 1-5 in India is 75% higher for girls than boys. Of those girls that survive, one out of every four won’t make it to puberty. Because the life of a woman is considered valueless compared to a man’s – she might survive but she may very well be sold into sexual slavery and human trafficking. And, if she lives and marries and starts her own family she still might be murdered – if she “cannot produce” a son.
NO GIRL SHOULD HAVE TO DIE BECAUSE SHE IS A GIRL AND NO GIRL SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE THINKING HER LIFE IS LESS VALUABLE BECAUSE SHE ISN’T A BOY.
Invisible Girl Project isn’t just shouting that truth, they’re doing something about it in a major way and in many ways. Ways that you should know about, support, and be a part of whether financially or as a prayer partner or an active participant!!
They start at the beginning by educating families in South India on the value of women. They’re there to help encourage families not to murder their babies. And when those babies are born, they help raise and care for them – ensuring that they have a safe living environment, clean drinking water, and a quality education – always emphasizing that women have value and that women’s rights are human rights. When these girls grow up, IGP helps them get to college or learn a trade so that they can earn a salary and provide for themselves and their families.
IGP partners with social workers and other charitable organizations in India to work as a team to save lives! They have “partner homes” where girls age 3-18 live when they’ve been abandoned or lost their mothers to murder.
Either your tears are flowing, your stomach is sick, or you’ve stopped reading.
It’s a lot.
When I was first given the facts my brain shouted “How can it be true!? How have I never heard about gendercide!? HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?!!???”
My friend, my dear friend, women being treated as less-than is nothing new. These recent weeks of reckoning here in America have proven that very fact as men of celebrity and power are being revealed as predators. It’s terrible what happens when value is stripped away from human life …and it’s overwhelming.
There’s a temptation to become numb, to zone out, to stay paralyzed or apathetic, and that temptation is easier when it’s just a bunch of facts. It’s harder to ignore once it’s personal…
Well, here, here’s something to make it personal; a story that was seared into my soul when Mel got back from her trip last year and we sat and cried together looking at photos of three little girls – Tamil, Roopa, and Latha.
“Prena and her husband already had one daughter, little Latha, when she became pregnant again. Her husband told her how much he wanted a son, and she desperately hoped that she was pregnant with a little boy. When she delivered her second daughter, though, her husband became enraged and began drinking heavily and abusing her verbally. He then forced her to have a third child, expecting her to give birth to a boy.
Prena ultimately gave birth to a precious baby girl for the third time. Her husband became even more furious and began physically abusing her daily. Prena reached her breaking point. She believed the lie that she had no value without bearing a son, and the guilt and shame associated with that was too much to bear. On September 21, 2013, Prena decided to end it all by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire.
Five days later, Prena died, and three precious little girls were left motherless, alone, and unwanted by their father. Even after their mother’s death, he failed to take care of his daughters. His neglect left them sick and suffering with scabies.
Heartbroken and moved to act, Prena’s mother – Padma, decided to take in her granddaughters and raise them as her own. She is a widow who does not have much. She lives in a mud hut, and she is an agricultural laborer who struggles to meet her daily needs. But, she loves her granddaughters and is committed to sharing all that she has, though little, with them.” (Names changed to protect women involved.)
Melody and IGP shared that story last year and people’s hearts were moved to help; enough money was raised to buy that grandmother a cow! That cow ended up being pregnant and this gift has given the grandmother a sustainable income that’s changed their lives. All three of her sweet grandbabies are also being supported and loved well by IGP’s sponsorship program – a program that gives every.single.cent you donate to the girls. Invisible Girl Project raises money separately to cover administration costs, they don’t even take out the cost of postage!
Sponsoring a daughter of India is just one option – IGP offers so many ways to actually make a difference across the world:
- $25.00 feeds a rescued baby for one month.
- $35.00 a month sponsors a girl at one of Invisible Girl Project‘s Partner Homes. The monthly sponsorship includes a monthly food supplement, education, a savings account incurring 9.3% interest for future education or trade-training expenses (which becomes accessible to her when she turns 18) and the support of community to teach her that in spite of what society may say, she is valuable.
- $180.00 educates a girl for an entire year.
- $500.00 funds a Social Worker.
- $1,000.00 empowers a woman by purchasing a cow so she can provide for herself and her daughters.
- $12,000 will hire two social workers to go into the slums of Delhi to work amongst the poor and save girls lives.
Melody couldn’t have known the night after that first fundraiser what would happen in her life and in India over the next few years, but she knew as she stood over the crib of her own infant daughter and bawled her eyes out that this was true: THE DAUGHTERS OF INDIA SHOULD KNOW THE LOVE AND VALUE THAT SHE WOULD RAISE HER OWN DAUGHTER TO KNOW. PERIOD.
So she did something, and is doing something, and so should you and so should I.
Because the life of every girl is worth it.
My father raised me without fairytales. When he told me bedtime stories they always started the same way: “Someday your lab coat will fly out behind you as you quickly turn the corner in the Emergency Room. Your steps will quicken to a run as you hear them paging you – ‘Dr. Kate Martin’ – over the speakers…” My dad would spin stories of us working in the same hospital some day, doctor and doctor, side by side.
He also had three sons, yes, but he raised us all to be powerful, smart, strong, fearless, and bold – he told people that many girls were raised to be the wife of a president. He raised me to be the president.
Never once in my childhood did “being a girl” mean I had less value, and never once should I promote that lie to be true …and by doing nothing, I’d be promoting the lie.
So I won’t do nothing.
India is currently closed to international adoption, though God told me years ago that someday I would adopt sisters from there… (He even gave me their names.) While I might have to wait to bring my girls home from India, I certainly don’t have to wait to DO SOMETHING NOW for the beautiful, eternally valuable, sisters and daughters and mothers and grandmothers who NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH.
Please help by sharing this post, educating yourself via IGP’s website, praying powerfully, donating, or giving of your time and talents to make sure that the world hears us loud and clear:
WOMEN ARE VALUABLE. OUR LIVES ARE MEANINGFUL. AND WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE.