On the eastern edge of Kolkata is an area called Tangra. It is home to over 300 hide tanneries. Because of the dangerous conditions in tanneries many have closed and poverty is taking its toll in many sectors.  In the air is the strong smell of the tanneries that remain. You can see hundreds of hides stretched out to dry in the most curious shade of pale blue.


We arrived at the compound. It used to be a leather tannery but now it bustles with children that go to a church sponsored school that is hoping to bring education to the poor community. Today a few smiling faces greeted us as they left school.

At the top of the concrete stairs and through two wooden doors we found them. We found the Jewels. They were not expecting us – we were a surprise. As their minds began to compute who these strange foreigners were, they knew – they knew it was their friend, Kingsland. The faces of Kingsland may come in different combinations but they know us and know the love that comes with us. We hugged and greeted and admired the pretty saris they were wearing. They knew something was special about today but they weren’t sure what it was.

Today we were here to celebrate them. Seven women who have, within the last 3 years, come from a life of working in the brothels of Kalighat (a busy red light district) to confident, inspiring, skilled women who have found a new life and freedom in Jesus.

Today marked a day of sending, of commissioning, of celebrating the giant life altering journey they have been on. Soon they will be entering new jobs and reflecting the light of Christ in the world as they use the skills and lessons they have been taught.

We opened the doors to the director’s personal home and invited the women to come inside. Again…surprise!

We laughed, ate together, took fun pictures and celebrated all that they had accomplished. We shared tears as we listened to stories of where they once found themselves compared to the empowered women that they are today. The recognition from where that power comes was thick in the room.

They watched as one of our team portrayed the woman in the Bible with the alabaster jar. They found a sisterhood with this uninvited party guest who just wanted to meet Jesus and gave the most valuable gift she had in worship to the One who proved to her that she was worthy.

In servant sisterhood our team invited the jewels to rest their feet with us in sweet smelling waters where we washed the grime of the world away. We looked into their eyes and told them they are worthy of every blessing and that God had brought them to this moment to send them out to be world changers.

Worthy….it’s the word that we placed on their foot through a temporary tattoo as each team member prayed. There is a powerful connection that happens in moments like these. One that can only be attributed to the fact that, though we live continents apart, we are one in the same Spirit.


Each week they invite their neighbors, women who share life in their red light neighborhood, to church in their home. They share about the hope that they have found. This week they have asked us to do a large gathering….one that is too large to have in Kalighat.

With the boldness of Esther these ladies filled three buses with over 60 women and 40 of their children. We brought them to the place that once transformed animal hides, this place that now exists to transform the lives of precious women who do not know their worth.

Our team assisted the women in making the ID cards for their children that would help to identify them should the worst happen. Mothers and children made crafts together and played games. 

This group of seven – this HOPE brigade – led the way. When once they would have been afraid to be so bold as to share their radical life change they took up the mantle of leadership. They shared songs, drama and a personal testimony. It was important to them that they be able to ask the women if they wanted prayer.

They stretched across the front and our  team filled in on the sides. And just like that every woman came began to stand and move towards them. It was them that they went to first, we were there to pray and did so with many but it was so powerful to see these ladies be the leaders and be the ones that were praying for the majority of the women.

Jewels of the greatest value, they are beautiful and ready to change their world. They have experienced transformation. They understand that it is their responsibility to share the hope they have found.

In one small room in the corner of an old tannery these women have been transformed, collaborated together to see how to win their Kalighat, mobilized their group and have planted their first church. I know it will not be the last.