Walking through darkness: Panna's transformation
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness to the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
When Panna* arrived at Redlight Greenlight, a home for trafficked girls, she refused to talk. She was tall and pretty and had an innocence in her eyes hidden behind her long bangs. Since the day she came to the home, she decided not to speak to anyone. Maybe she didn’t trust anyone after the horrors she experienced, or maybe she thought telling her story would get her into trouble. Perhaps, after all Panna had suffered, any human connection hurt too deeply for her, even conversation. But whatever the reasons, Panna remained silent and cold.
The Redlight Greenlight team, however, cared for Panna and loved her in spite of her resistance. When she did speak up, her words were hard, reckless. Other girls in the home overheard Panna mention many times her plans to escape. The staff reminded her about the dangers of running away and pleaded with her to stay safe, but she paid no attention.
One night, Panna did it. She tried to escape, to slip away from the safety of the home, but all the exits were well secured—and her plain failed.
Then one day she Panna fell terribly ill. Team members took her to a doctor, who ordered several medical tests. The test showed that she had dengue fever and typhoid—both serious diseases.
So the Redlight Greenlight staff all nursed her, cared for her and stood by her during the agonising pain of her illnesses.
Surprisingly, Panna recovered quickly, and the team felt almost immediately that there was something different about her. Panna, previously cold and silent, began to speak. She started chatting with the team in a way she’d never done before. In fact, she actually turned out to be talkative! Panna did something else surprising: she started smiling every day. Everyone at the home felt she had suddenly connected with them in a special way—and for once, she seemed happy.
Staff members saw a real transformation take place in Panna. It looked like her heart had been touched, and she seemed thankful for their tender care during her illness — and grateful to be loved.
When the staff broke the news to Panna she would be transferred to a different facility in her hometown, she actually cried — real tears. It hadn’t been easy for Redlight Green light staff to break through to Panna’s heart, but she returned to her hometown as a changed person. A person, as it appeared to the team, who had realised that she was worth loving.
Panna wasn’t the only one changed by her time at Redlight Greenlight. Panna’s dramatic turnaround, in direct response to tender way the team nursed her back to health, also reminded the team that sometimes the most important thing we can do for broken people is to simply serve, to offer compassion and kindness, and to love like Christ did. Even when it isn’t easy.
When we wash the feet of precious women like Panna who have suffered unspeakable heartache, sometimes the unexpected happens. Sometimes the hard walls crumble a bit, the silence shifts, and the prisoner takes a hesitant step out of the darkness and into the healing light of God.
• the Redlight Greenlight team as they seek to develop a core staff team of women who are equipped to help traumatised girls heal.
• the continued impact the team is having on the lives of these precious girls.
• Panna, that she will adjust well to being back in her hometown and continue to walk a path towards healing.
Could God be calling you to walk alongside women like Panna? Contact SIM for more information on how to pray specifically for needs around the world, how to donate to ministries such as Redlight Greenlight, and how to serve with us.