Priya Juliet helps bring freedom to modern-day slaves. She serves as the Director of Administration for International Justice Mission (IJM) in Chennai, India. She is also a formerly sponsored child.
Our friends at IJM shared Priya’s story with us.
IJM Chennai works with local government partners to free children and families from brick factories, rice mills and other places where they have been trapped and forced to work.
Before a rescue operation takes place, Priya is the person responsible for the many details that can determine the success of these life-changing rescues. She makes sure the cars are serviced, the drivers are ready, and food supplies are gathered to sustain the teams conducting the rescue missions, which can sometimes last up to 60 hours.
Priya’s business of bringing freedom is serious work — and it’s the kind of work that simply isn’t sustainable without joy. Priya is exactly the kind of woman you’d want in leadership: She is bold yet humble, always ready to take on a challenge, and has a great sense of humor. She is confident in God’s faithfulness because she has seen it in her own life.
“I always think if God gives a testimony, it is for His glory. I share my story so others will see God in it.”
Tears and Prayers
When Priya shares her testimony, she starts by recounting the story of her birth. It was a dangerous delivery, and the doctor told her family they could save only one life — her mother’s or Priya’s. The family chose her mother because she had two young sons to raise. Priya’s grandfather took the newborn baby to bury at home, but on the bus ride a woman pointed out that Priya’s toes were moving. Against all odds, the infant survived.
Then, a few years later, Priya’s father abandoned the close-knit family.
“My mother didn’t know where to go,” Priya recalls. Her father had always been the breadwinner for Priya and her two brothers. “My mom told us she just kept praying. Just tears and prayers.”
Priya’s mom worked hard as a seamstress, but the family lived one meal at a time, sustained mostly by their mother’s prayers. When Priya was about to start first grade, a neighbor told her mother about a school that gave away free everything — uniforms, books and even lunch. The school was run by a church, and each student was paired with a Compassion International sponsor. “School was a turning point in every way,” Priya explains.
Priya’s sponsor was a woman named Alison who lived in London. Although they were worlds apart, Priya considers Alison part of her family. The Compassion sponsorship made Priya’s education possible, and her sponsor’s periodic “extra” gifts, like new shoes or a much-needed dress, instilled a spirit of gratitude and generosity deep inside Priya.
A Legacy of Generosity
“All that my sponsor did made so much meaning in my life. I always thought because somebody invested this money on me, I’m what today I am,” Priya says, explaining that the Compassion sponsorship caused her to dedicate her life to ministry. It also motivated her to adopt her daughter, Sneha.
“I wanted to do something more for a child, to take care of her entire life.”
Priya is married to an IJM lawyer and they are raising their daughter in this legacy of generosity. Priya tells this beautiful story.
“Sometimes when we go for rescue operations, the children in these factories or farms need clothes. I remember one time I asked Sneha if I could give away a dress that was getting too small for her. Sneha said, ‘No, don’t give that one — it has a hole in it!’ and she went and got me her nicest dress to give.”
Priya’s story continues to impact those around her — from her daughter who is growing up in a loving home, to the families who now know freedom from slavery. Her inspiring leadership has been made possible thanks to a caring sponsor and a gracious God of love.