[This article was co-authored by Carmen Gronewold, Peace Rehabilitation Center’s North America Associate Director, and Leslie Urie, World Mission Prayer League’s prayer mobilization team leader.]

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you

— John 15:16 ESV

Shanta’s Story

Female children have little value in Nepali culture. Consequently, Shanta experienced abuse and oppression from the day she was born simply because she was a girl. The abuse continued when, at the age of 12, her father brokered an arranged marriage for her with the main intention of getting her out of the house. Shanta was neglected in her new household and suffered from much physical and mental anguish. She felt like an orphan. Constantly in search of peace and love, Shanta ran away at the age of 25.

She made her way to Kathmandu, where she found work and began a new life. Shanta found a Christian church, where she met her husband, Min Sapkota. While reading her Bible, she became aware of God’s promise for her in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” Shanta and Min Sapkota became followers of Jesus when the church in Nepal was still underground, and believers were going to prison for becoming Christians.

Shanta’s Call to Ministry

In 1988, some Youth With A Mission (YWAM) workers in Nepal provided for Shanta to join a 3-month discipleship training course in India. Through the classes, she learned much about love, care, and the need for service to victims of sex trafficking. Toward the end of their training, the participants were to ask the Lord what their focus of ministry would be once they finished the course.

Shanta had a deep love for children and thought that would be her ministry, but she did ask the Lord what He wanted. She heard the Lord saying he wanted her to take care of girls who were “used and abused.”

Shanta’s response was, “Lord, I am not a highly educated woman. I am not rich and caring for these girls would take someone with more skills than I have.” Three times she inquired of the Lord, and each time she heard Him say He wanted her to take care of girls who were “used and abused.” Finally, she surrendered herself to the Lord to be used as He wanted.

When Shanta returned home, she shared her call with Min and her church. She shared her decision with friends, who offered to support her efforts. Within a month, Shanta and her family welcomed into their small apartment a woman living on the streets who had been sent back from an Indian brothel because she was too sick to work and dying of AIDS. She was desperately in need of love and care. Overwhelmed by the task before her, Shanta was encouraged by Jesus’ words in John 15:16.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” 

John 15:16

Peace Rehabilitation Center

blue banner with text in white in English; white banner with text in Nepalese

logo for Peace Rehabilitation Center

smiling Nepalese woman riding red motorbike

Shanta Sapkota on motorbike. She travels a lot. Sometimes on her own. Sometimes with a team and a driver.

In 1994, Shanta Sapkota founded Peace Rehabilitation Center (PRC). Since its beginning, PRC has cared for Nepali women and children who are at risk of being trafficked to India ‒ along with those who have already been trafficked. Though Shanta herself did not experience trafficking, she knows the trauma associated with it.

John 15:16 has become the foundation verse of the work and ministry of PRC. The name, Peace Rehabilitation Center, was chosen because in her time of abandonment and sorrow as a young woman, it was the peace of God that gave Shanta hope and new life. From her own experience, she knows the importance of love and peace, and speaks this into the lives of the many girls who now call her “Mommy.”

Nepalese women and girls outside looing at training materials

Chandra (wearing pink shirt), who lived at the Rehabilitation Center in the 1990’s, now is on staff for PRC.

Fifteen years ago, I (Carmen) joined the staff of PRC as the North American representative. I spoke often to churches in the United States and Canada about the statistics of modern-day slavery worldwide, that 40 million people were victims due to human trafficking.

Recently, I was saddened to read that number has NOT gone down but instead has increased to 50 million. At first, it took the wind out of my sails. But then I realized that’s exactly what Satan wants. He wants to wear us down. He wants us to believe the lie that God Almighty doesn’t hear our prayers or even care about those 50 million people. Romans 8:26 offers us consolation in our discouragement and weariness by assuring us God’s Spirit is right there and can hear even our sighs and groans as prayers. God is at work in our prayers, and we see answers to them every day in the ministry of PRC.

headshot of smiling Nepalese woman with red scarf

Buna – AIDS survivor

One such answer has been the lives that have been redeemed and transformed by the Holy Spirit working through Shanta and others who work with PRC. The woman who was dying of AIDS that Shanta committed to caring for in the early 1990’s? She is still alive (pictured at left), and a bold witness to the power of prayer and the love of Jesus.

Mother Teresa once said of her Missionaries of Charity, “They have learned that to work without prayer is to achieve only what is humanly possible, and their desire is to be involved in divine possibilities.”

 More than 35 years later, the Lord is still filling Shanta with passion for the call He placed on her,  and He is faithfully supplying for the needs of the ministry. Thousands of trafficking victims have become survivors because an ordinary Nepali woman surrendered to the Lord’s call.

young Nepalese woman wearing off-white jacket seated at black sewing machine as she sews garment

Sewing provides the opportunity for girls to earn an income from home. At-risk girls are provided with a sewing training course and a machine. Staff follow up with the girls to help address business questions.

Peace Rehabilitation Center is a ministry partner with the World Mission Prayer League (WMPL).

 Programs that PRC is invested in include:

  • Skill development and income generation
  • Pig, goat, and cow keeping
  • Sewing and knitting
  • Driving classes
  • Rehabilitation center
  • Border monitor program
Nepalese men and women in training session

Group training for staff

large group of Nepalese men and women posing for photo

More than 70 Nepalis are now employed by PRC. PRC is dedicated to remaining an indigenous Nepali organization.

The Cycle of Trafficking

The cycle of trafficking ‒ and it often is a cycle ‒ must first be addressed at the foundation of poverty. PRC desires to confront the cycle through programs to address prevention, along with border patrols to prevent Nepali girls from being brought into India. In addition, PRC staff capably assists government officials with rescue operations, training and education for officials regarding trafficking, and encourages rehabilitation and reintegration of those trafficked to community and family life.

Recently a grant application was approved for emergency funding to keep five borders open until the end of the year. These offices were at risk of closing when a partner organization suffered a drop in their funding. Prayer and perseverance have provided relief for the next year ‒ another opportunity for divine possibilities!

This past February through April, PRC filed two human trafficking cases in Nepali court, one rape and kidnapping case, and one child sexual abuse case. Five offenders were arrested. Three female minors were rescued from India. There were 448 women and children intercepted from being trafficked. But the biggest number came as border staff performed interviews and gave counseling about human trafficking to 14,852 people! May the Lord continue to give staff eyes to see traffickers and their would-be victims.

2 Nepalese young women sitting on purple bench in border station office

A counselor sitting with a girl in the office of one of the border stations

Peace Ware

In 2011, I started the non-profit, Peace Ware, to sell jewelry and knit items made by trafficking survivors at PRC in North America. It was a way for survivor’s stories and voices to be heard outside of Nepal. It was a success, but then the pandemic hit and supplies weren’t available in Nepal anymore.

Running Peace Ware was also a full-time job in itself, and I felt I couldn’t do both it and my work with PRC. I prayed for someone to take it over and a good friend, Kristina, has agreed to take it on. PRC staff in Nepal are very excited and are working to set up training for interested women and girls. It is hoped that this will be another means for women to support themselves so they don’t fall prey to traffickers.

For more information, visit the WMPL website, email us, or call 612.871.6843.

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