Human trafficking has been a huge problem for years and has been in the media spotlight more recently. We know it happens everywhere and we are warned against trusting shifty people. It’s terrifying and the fear can cripple good intentions to fight for the countless women and children who are forced into a lifestyle of brothel living. Christ doesn’t call us to back away in fear, so what can we do? Fortunately, there are many organizations that have answered their calling to fight this battle! One is Tiny Hands International and their story is absolutely encouraging and shows how Christ always wins. The story becomes even more uplifting with how the band VOTA and Taylor University have become involved. Think the work is for “someone else to do”? Think again!
Founding Tiny Hands International
John Molineux, a 2002 graduate of Taylor University, had traveled to Nepal and met with various church leaders and his heart was for the many abandoned children. He started Tiny Hands International and began devoting his life to helping children and building children’s homes. In 2007, Molineux learned about how the sex-trafficking industry – yes, it’s a completely organized industry – was infiltrating the nation. An estimated 15,000 women and children from Nepal are sold and forced into being sex slaves in India. The tricky part is that most of these slaves are fed the lie of a better life and means of income so they gladly cross the boarder into India. They walk across with dreams and hopes only to see the reality unfolding after it’s too late. Tiny Hands works to not only help bring women and girls out of this horrible slavery, but to intercept the girls before crossing the boarder. They have permission from the Nepali government to setup stations at the 26 border crossing points.
Creating Music for a Higher Purpose
The band VOTA (formerly called Casting Pearls) was formed by Bryan Olesen and Case Maranville in 1997. They toured the country and Bryan even played as lead guitarist for the Newsboys from 2003 to 2006. Bryan decided to return to VOTA and in 2011 he became the worship leader at his church in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had the opportunity to chat with Bryan about how VOTA is connect with Tiny Hands International and was quite surprised to learn about how their faith has propelled them in many ways.
Becoming Involved with Tiny Hands
“We had this opportunity thinking that my needs are being met being employed by the church. We still have this opportunity to do some things with our band. I have always been passionate about doing mission work and creating music to help others. The idea came up to create an album and draw attention to a need that is seriously needs attention and isn’t likely helped. That’s where this journey started – to be creative with our music, to give it away and use it for a purpose. Tiny Hands International happens to be based here in Lincoln, Nebraska and different people who work with them go to my church.”
They created the album Love Found Me and launched it in 2013 with a goal to raise $150,000. This would allow Tiny Hands to build monitoring stations at five boarder crossings while also supporting and staffing them for five years.
“We aren’t the biggest band in the world, but we felt that God was behind what we were doing and we were in a good position to use our music to do this. We really were on a path on our own to create this album. Our strategy was to give it away to anyone who would listen to the story of Mina.”
Watch the video of Mina’s story here.
“The translator in the video later told us that she was trying to find words that were appropriate because as Mina shared her story it was so horrific she couldn’t find words that were PG enough in English to translate. Mina was very courageous to get herself out of that situation and tell her story.”
Good Works Follow God’s Timing
VOTA had the passion and conviction, but they learned along the way that it has to be based on God’s timing. Their desire to act now was huge and with incredibly good intentions, but God is always in charge.
“We raised about $11,000 the first month with the Love Found Me Campaign, but we were still so far from our goal. We felt like God did this on purpose to show that you can’t accomplish anything without His blessing. Ten months after we launched our campaign we reached our goal of raising $150,000. We are never shutting this down. The goal we set supports five stations for five years. There are 26 stations and our campaign is estimated to rescue about 3,000 girls over the next five years. There is so much more work to be done and there is no reason for us to shut this down. We are super grateful that God blessed and allowed us to reach our goal.”
Now over 18 months later, VOTA is continuing to raise funds and will not stop! One young lady who had been intercepted by Tiny Hands became a Christian and decided to work at the exact station where she was intercepted. The trafficker who she was trusting was well connected and offered her family $30,000 not to prosecute. Keep in mind that most families in Nepal make around $500 per year. This money could have helped them created a financially secure future, but they did not accept the offer. This man has been prosecuted and is no longer helping the sex trafficking industry.
Taylor University is helping spread this campaign and is offering an opportunity to win a trip to Nepal to meet John Molineux and others part of Tiny Hands International.
The Fight Never Ends
Sex trafficking won’t necessarily go away, but sending a message by stopping it from happening in broad daylight will force the traffickers to become more strategic. How Tiny Hands and other organizations will battle this will change, but hopefully have an even stronger army with more resources to overcome current challenges. All battles for freedom require taking a first step and necessitating sacrifice, putting yourself in danger and being persistent. I encourage you to offer up prayers for the work that Tiny Hands International is doing and download Love Found Me. You don’t have to be the one on the battlegrounds fighting human trafficking, but standing up gives you a voice for those without one and will prevent the sex trafficking industry from continuing to grow while people look on unknowingly.