This is post 2 of 4 highlighting the stories of staff members at Exodus Cry, a sex trafficking ministry based in Grandview, MO. You can read the first post about Morgan Perry, a producer in Exodus Cry’s film department, here.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Summer 2014
Screeching music with no discernible rhythm blared over the city’s red light district, thudding out a constant, chaotic thrum, like nails on a chalkboard. Rain poured from the night sky, and the air smelled like vomit and urine. Every day in this area, 1000 women are sold for sex to 4,000 men. The entire district could quite fittingly be described as the doorway to hell.
Earlier that day, Blaire Pilkington, the Director of Intervention at Exodus Cry, had decided to cancel her outreach team’s venture to the streets that night because of the rain. But as darkness came on, she stood in a prayer room not far from the red light district and felt God’s call to go out, despite the weather.
Years before, when she first joined Exodus Cry, she had learned the importance of prayer and listening to God’s leading. “Prayer…feels powerless. You can’t see the results immediately,” she said. “But I’m deeply committed and convicted that a place of prayer is the safest place…and the most powerful place to stay.”
So that night in Rio, she and her team went out into the rain and stood on the edge of the red light district, ready to see what God had planned for them.
As Blaire entered the district, the first person she noticed was a transgendered man sitting on the side of the road. It was odd that a man would be there at all, since the people being exploited in that district were women, not men. He wore a pair of contacts that whited out the color of his eyes, and when he saw Blaire, he began hissing at her, even growling a bit, clearly trying to intimidate her.
“I don’t even know why, but I just went and sat down next to him and started to talk to him,” she said.
Her reaction was such a complete opposite of what he had clearly expected that it disarmed him, and he began to talk with her. He had a loud, charismatic personality and used it to feign a façade of happiness and love of life. But partway through their conversation, Blaire saw his walls begin to come down, and he reached up to take out his white contacts.
“I want you to see the real me,” he told her.
He confessed that he had AIDS. Then he told her that earlier that day he had attempted to take his own life…but something had stopped him.
She began speaking truth over him, telling him that God loved him and had a plan for his life.
“I know that what you’re saying is true,” he said, “because God sent you here to this doorway of hell to tell me He loves me.” He said he knew this meeting was God trying to save his life, and then he prayed and accepted Jesus.
“That was one of my favorite nights of ministry ever,” Blaire said. “I felt so strongly the pursuit of God for this man and saw the value God places on a single life…. I love that God reroutes my entire day to go after the one.”
Blaire joined Exodus Cry when it was in its infancy, when sex trafficking was just a prayer burden in the heart of its founder, Benjamin Nolot. At the time, she was spending an intensive year of prayer at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and had the opportunity to join Benji and a few others in weekly prayer meetings regarding sex trafficking.
During those prayer meetings, Blaire became increasingly certain that God wanted her to work to prevent sex trafficking. She had become familiar with the issue over the past five years, through going on a YWAM outreach to Cambodia, reading the book Not for Sale, and several similar experiences. Because of this new conviction, she began to apply to law schools and prepare to take the LSATS, believing a career in law would be a good way to change the sex trafficking industry.
Then she had an encounter with God that changed her plans. “I’m inviting you to appeal before the highest court,” God told her. “That’s the court of heaven, and that’s in the place of prayer. Would you appeal to that court as an intercessor?”
After that, she went to Benji and told him about her calling to fight trafficking and interest in working with Exodus Cry. “I’ll do anything,” she told him. “I’ll scrub toilets.” At that point, they didn’t even have toilets to scrub, since they were meeting on the floor of Benji’s living room.
Since joining Exodus Cry, Blaire has worked to intervene in the sex trafficking industry in many areas around the world, including Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, London during the 2012 Olympics, and Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.
Her work can be heartbreaking at times, especially when she sees women she has loved and discipled walk back into their former ways of life because they see no other options. “There have been a lot of tears and anger and weariness…There have been moments when I’ve felt very alone in it because what I’m looking at every day is very grotesque. It’s rape, it’s murder, it’s awful things.”
Yet sometimes it is in the darkest places and times that she feels closest to Jesus. “I’ve known the greatest times of intimacy and fellowship with Jesus when I’m in pit-of-hell brothels,” she said. “You wouldn’t even want to touch anything in that place. There are idols, and it’s demonically charged. There are men everywhere who are not only looking for women to buy but who are looking at me. These are just some of the worst places…and I’ve known such fellowship with Jesus there. I know that He’s there and that He wants worship there and that He wants His name to be glorified there.”
In those dark places and challenging circumstances, she finds encouragement through trust and prayer. “There have been times when I run so hard, and it’s all in my own strength, and [God] calls me back to the place of weakness,” she said. “And then there are times when He calls me to something completely impossible, and I know there’s nothing I can do to make this happen, but I say ‘Yes,’ and He does it.”