By Mike and Lori Westlund
Raj Mugalkhod was born on the streets of the red light district in Kamathipura, Mumbai, India. His mother, only a teenager when he was born, was a seventh-generation temple prostitute. She had been given to the goddess Yellamma, so she would never be allowed to marry a mortal. Even though she maintained a relationship with her four sons’ father for short periods of time, Raj’s mother had to continue her life as a temple prostitute and struggled to care for her four boys, as well as her four orphaned nieces.
While his mother was doing the best she could, like many children born into severe poverty, Raj had to fend for himself from a very young age. He often had to resort to begging when he could find no work. Hunger was a fact of life, as were serious illnesses including hepatitis, malaria and typhoid fever. Just to survive, he joined a gang, engaging in criminal behavior. This bothered his sensitive conscience, which then led him to alcohol addiction, and the cycle of misery continued.
Raj grew up in a brothel, and in this unsafe environment he was sexually abused many times from the age of eight. He also saw others abused and trafficked, and this caused him to despair. At the age of 16, he had seen enough and attempted to escape his miserable existence by taking poison. For seven days, he lay in a coma with the doctors giving his mother little hope of his survival. She was not one to give up easily, and she contacted a Christian pastor, who fasted and prayed for Raj’s life.
While lying in a coma, Raj remembers being pulled down toward Hell by demons, only to have Jesus appear. Jesus reached out His hand and pulled Raj out of Hell. After that near death experience, Raj was never the same. For the next 20 years, he invested his life in full-time Christian service, rescuing the victims of human trafficking in the district where he grew up. He rescued over 100 women and girls, often using his own money to purchase their freedom.
In April 2009, Raj married a beautiful Christian woman named Mansi, and shortly after they became pregnant. At the time, Raj was involved with the production of a groundbreaking documentary on human trafficking, The Cage. As was customary in India, Mansi returned to her parent’s home for the delivery. Unfortunately, Raj only got to see Mansi and their new son Mark for one day, and then he had to return to work on the project. He was soon notified that Mansi had complications and caught a train to be with her. Tragically, Mansi passed away early the next morning, only 15 days after bringing Mark into the world.
Raj struggled with survivor’s guilt; he was devastated and temporarily lost the use of his legs, probably due to severe shock and grief. He had to take a break from work to recover both physically and emotionally while his mother, who had become a Christian after seeing Raj’s deliverance, graciously stepped up to care for his new son. At this point Raj had no interest in remarrying, but he threw himself into the work of rescuing victims of trafficking. Since he had very little formal education, God gave him a desire to study and prepare for the high school equivalency test. Even though he had to teach himself, he miraculously passed. He attended South Asia Bible School for a year, which also couldn’t have happened without Divine assistance.
After faithfully serving with Teen Challenge for many years, God put a vision in Raj’s heart to further his education at Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. CFNI gave Raj a Full-work Scholarship, enabling him to pursue this vision. The April before Raj embarked on this epic venture, he was advised by spiritual mentors, Samuel and Shalini Daniel, that he needed a wife for himself and a mother for Mark. Raj contacted Anita, his deceased wife’s sister, with a proposal of marriage. Anita had kept her faith secret because her parents were devout Hindus and blamed both Raj and his God for the death of their daughter. At the time, she had already been proposed to by a Google engineer who could offer her all the material things Raj could not. There was one very important thing he lacked: faith in Jesus Christ. After three days of praying and fasting, Anita accepted Raj’s proposal, and they were married one week later. Anita’s parents told her that she was no longer their daughter. She had to leave home with nothing but her faith in God and her new husband and son. (Anita is continuing to believe for her parents’ salvation and loves them dearly.)
Seeing the call of God on his life, Raj’s friends rallied around his dream and gave him the money to travel to America to attend CFNI. The miracles of provision continued as soon as Raj and Anita arrived in America. When they arrived at the airport, they only had one dollar, and no one would let them use their cell phone or give them change for a dollar to call someone for a ride to CFNI. In desperation, Anita bowed her head and prayed to God for help. When she looked up, she saw a dark-skinned man walking up to her, and before she could ask him for change, he emptied out his wallet into her hands — $235! She looked down in amazement at all the money, and when she looked up, he was gone. To this day, the couple cannot explain this miracle, other than to say it was an angelic visitation. Anita and Raj kept the dollar bill they arrived with as a memorial of God’s faithfulness.
Raj and Anita have both paid a huge price to follow the path that God has set for their lives. Still, their heart burns to see the captives set free. They continue to see miracles as Raj finishes his second year of preparation at CFNI (after receiving another one year scholarship), gaining the training he needs to return and bring freedom to their home country of India.
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