A Rallying Cry
The inspiring history behind Tiny Hands’ effectiveness
by Brooke Hartman
The story of Tiny Hands Nepal is full of ups and downs. As I spent time with their Nepali and International staff, they spoke of many moments of great triumph and many of great difficulty.
But one story stood out especially strongly to me. It was the story of a turning point in Tiny Hands’ effectiveness – when the ministry acknowledged its own human limits and threw itself wholly in the arms of God’s expansive power.
In the early days of Tiny Hands’ ministry in Nepal, they conducted evaluations at five different border stations. What they discovered were a series of failed operations. The small team of International and Nepali staff became frustrated with the apparent ineffectiveness of the organization’s approach. They were intercepting only a handful of girls each year, some months none at all. They were failing to combat the injustice of sex trafficking despite all their best efforts and gallant vision. What more could they do?
Putting myself in their shoes, I thought it might have been easiest to throw their hands up and say, “Well, we did our best and it didn’t work!” They could have moved on with a clean conscience, having given it their best effort. But, as I’d read in Terrify No More, they would have been saying, effectively, to the girls being trafficked in Nepal: “We’re sorry. There is nothing more we can do. This is the best the body of Christ has to offer.”
Instead, staff described how the founder, John, sent out a manifesto calling on the faith of the International and Nepali staff through an organization-wide rallying cry of prayer and fasting. Every Wednesday all staff in both countries prayed and fasted for trafficking and for the effectiveness of their work.
Each person we interviewed in the first few weeks shared a piece of this story as they continue to be inspired by it. They directed me to the manifesto entitled Project 58, after Isaiah 58:6 calling us to “loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free, to break every yoke.” Two seconds into the manifesto, I had goose bumps and felt a new level of perseverance even in my small corner of the world.
The Project 58 Manifesto
Today around 30 Nepali girls were trafficked into India to be forced into the sex industry. Tomorrow, 30 more will be trafficked. By that time, those who were trafficked today will be awaking to the realization of what has happened to them. They will be locked up, beaten, and raped until they give in and accept the hell that will thereafter be their life. Meanwhile, as these girls continue to suffer, more will be added to their number, at the rate of 2-3 girls every waking hour—and this will continue until the small handful of NGOs who are working on this issue figure out a way to make their work more effective.
While you are working on anything relating to this project, and when you sit down to work and you are diverted and distracted by obstacles and cares, remember the faces of the girls that you know are in brothels now, and those whose lives are in danger of being wrecked if we do not stop it. Gary Haugan, the president of International Justice Mission, points out that the owners of brothels, and those who traffic girls are diligent and determined to succeed in their work. They are at it 24 hours a day, thinking about how to make their work more effective, and how to avoid being caught. Unless God’s people can muster up even greater determinedness, this work has little chance of succeeding. So fight, on behalf of your God and His love for these girls, against every instinct in you to give less than your absolute best, against every obstacle that you will encounter (and you will encounter many) and every frustration that comes your way (and many will come), fight. Do not be deterred by anything, do not let anything stop you from succeeding in each part of this work that you take on. Keep before you always the faces of the girls, and Christ in them, and remember His words and promises, and that He will go before you and after you, and help you.
During the time of prayer and fasting, the organization redoubled its efforts through research and literature. They identified the current director of anti-human trafficking—a former church planter translating some things for Tiny Hands at the time—who, inspired by the new initiative, wanted to get involved.
Together the team translated and distributed Border Monitoring Standards to all the stations and sent five staff in five different directions covering each section of the border to fill out the surveys, fill in the maps, and interview police, rickshaw drivers and NGOs. Bhola, the church-planter-translator guy, emerged as a well-connected leader who took the vision of Tiny Hands to Christian churches along the border. Over the next month, he covered the entire border, setting up subcommittees within the local churches that would oversee 11 new locations with several more to follow.
That was almost five years ago.
Today, 26 local churches are staffing 28 border monitoring and transit stations, intercepting an average of 1600 girls per year!
It’s an amazing story. By ceasing their striving and giving the ministry over to the power of God, Tiny Hands’ staff was able to multiply its efforts and establish an incredibly effective organization. It started with surrender. It ended with a ministry making massive advances against one of the greatest injustices of our time.