When Adam and Leslie McNutt founded Set Them Free International Ministries to help at-risk women in India, they had no idea they would be risking everything. Even their own family.
God’s call to India had been strong. Ever since Leslie woke up with India on her mind and mission trips on her heart one morning, the McNutts had unquestioningly pursued the ministry — unafraid of the risks. Leslie had even risked their own relationship for the sake of conviction. She told Adam, her fiancé at the time, that if he could not travel to India with her, she could not marry him. But instead of rejecting the risks, he married her, and after saving for six months, traveled to India with her for five months.
And that’s when he heard the call, too. Everything seemed to be falling in place.
After their return home to Georgia and the birth of their two children, Leslie traveled to India with an organization that cares for girls rescued from sex trafficking. While she was there, God asked her to take another risk: take her family — her husband and her babies — to India.
Answering the Call
Adam was ready. When Leslie returned home, he told her he knew it was time to go, time to take their own risks to minister to the at-risk children and women trapped in sex trafficking India. They did not question their decision.
In June 2013, after three weeks of yard sales and a year of fundraisers, the McNutt family moved to India, certain that’s where they needed to be. On the very day of their arrival, they met orphans and traveled to a remote village to share the Gospel. God was working.
Then came a morning of vomit and tears.
Colliding with Pain
Their son, Gabriel, fell from his bed, crying in pain. As he began vomiting, unable to stand, Leslie and Adam quickly took him to the pastor they were staying with. The pastor and his family prayed over Gabriel, but when he started foaming at the mouth, they hurried him and Leslie to the nearest hospital, hoping for a miracle. They were terrified.
But their miracle didn’t come. The hospital’s power kept turning off, preventing them from scanning Gabriel’s head. Hospital staff told Adam and Leslie to take Gabriel to the next city for diagnosis. So the McNutt family drove. Again.
The next hospital completed the scan, but when the doctor asked them to come into his office, Adam and Leslie knew it was really bad news. He told them Gabriel’s brain was filling with blood. Even if they took the risk and traveled to the next state to bring him to a facility for brain surgery, Gabriel would have permanent brain damage.
They didn’t hesitate, and the family piled into the car — this time for a five-hour trip to Vellore Christian Medical College, founded by medical missionary Ida S. Scudder. During the drive, what little hope they had dwindled as Gabriel’s condition became more and more severe. The right side of his body was paralyzed. He lost his ability to talk and began to drool. Help was still hours away.
When they finally reached the college, the doctors scanned Gabriel’s brain before surgery and pinpointed the cause of his condition. A malformed blood vessel had ruptured in his brain, causing Gabriel’s fall that morning and all the symptoms since. Now a quarter of his brain had filled with blood. The doctors warned Adam and Leslie of the risks: Even if Gabriel lived through surgery, he would be brain-damaged and mute; he might never regain the feeling in his right side.
But the McNutts were already pretty familiar with taking risks, and they faced those new ones head on. They prepared to rent an apartment in the city — ready to stay through all the rehab ahead — and waited as Gabriel went into brain surgery. Their certainty of yesterday seemed lost.
Then God brought the miracle.
Risk and Reward
Four days after Gabriel’s surgery, the doctors walked into his room expecting to care for the bed-ridden patient, and their jaws dropped open in shock. Gabriel, the boy who should be brain-damaged, mute and paralyzed, was running around his bed, laughing. God had healed him completely.
“By our books, your son should not be healed,” one of the doctors told Adam and Leslie. “But YOUR GOD healed him!”
The situation was so unbelievable the doctors kept Gabriel for six more days. By then, they knew beyond a doubt he was healed.
But the miracles didn’t end there.
Adam and Leslie chose to stay in India, despite the risks, despite of all that had happened. And Gabriel’s miraculous testimony drew many to Jesus, building a foundation for Set Them Free International Ministries. The risks the McNutt family had taken became a harvest.
Risking for the At-Risk
Now, through Set Them Free, the McNutts bring rescued sex slaves, orphans and at-risk children into physical and spiritual safety. The nonprofit supports two homes and a center in India. One home provides aftercare for young ladies rescued from the sex trade, guiding them away from risks and toward college degrees, jobs or husbands. The second home houses and ministers to 80 children, ranging from orphans to AIDS victims and children rescued from red-light districts. Meanwhile, inside a brothel, the center provides childcare, Bible studies, counseling and prayer for the women and trains them in jewelry-making, supporting their independence from the brothel by paying them for the pieces they create.
Through Set Them Free, Adam, Leslie and their children continue to reach into risks, turning the trapped and at-risk toward the safety of the Gospel. All because they first risked themselves.
Get involved and fight back with Set Them Free International Ministries with yard sales, a 5K run, concerts or other fund and awareness raisers. Follow Set Them Free on Facebook and Twitter @SetThemFreeNow.