This is post 3 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, or the second post about Blaire Pilkington, Exodus Cry’s Director of Intervention, here.
“In my life, whenever God has been particularly wanting to impart to me a specific burden of His heart, He does it through one relationship…[and that] becomes His hands and His feet to bind it to my heart,” Kezia Hatfield said.
It was in this fashion that God first bound Kezia to the ministry of Exodus Cry and to the mission to prevent sex trafficking – through a discipling relationship with a woman who had been trafficked.
When she first came to Exodus Cry, Kezia was no stranger to ministry, having grown up in a mission-minded family who frequently took mission trips, both domestically and internationally.
“We were always involved in some sort of ministry with youth from all kinds of backgrounds…and doing some form of programming or outreach that would help disciple their care,” she said. “That was a very major part of my upbringing.”
Through those experiences, she learned to be intentional about looking for places within her own sphere of influence to love and care about people in an authentic way. That background made it a natural fit for her to transition into a job at a counseling clinic after graduating with her master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Although she had no control over who her patients were, it seemed that every young woman she met with had come from a background of sexual abuse – a background, Kezia soon realized, that set them up to be taken advantage of.
“That was one of the first ways that I had hands-on experience in connecting face-to-face with women who were coming out of a larger systemic issue that I didn’t have language for yet,” she explained. “But my heart was getting stirred and awakened to what God was calling me to.”
Around this time, sex trafficking was becoming a bigger topic in the media, and though discussion of the subject was mostly limited to countries in south Asia, Kezia saw symptoms of it among the women she worked with, both in the U.S. and during the overseas trips to Ukraine she took every summer.
Shortly after this, Kezia became connected with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and began streaming the Monday evening prayer meetings about sex trafficking that Exodus Cry founder, Benjamin Nolot, had started. Eventually, in 2010, she met Benji in person, and he invited her to join the organization in order to build the restoration department of the ministry.
Today, as Director of Restoration at Exodus Cry, Kezia works both directly and indirectly with women who have been trafficked within the U.S., many of whom were also sexually abused as children. She provides oversight for the social workers, intake managers, and life coaches, who supply physical, emotional, and social resources to clients. She also provides direct care through 2-hour therapy sessions with individual women each week.
This kind of therapy means that Kezia often works with women who have experienced deep trauma in their lives, a job that can be draining and difficult. However, the loss of a loved one while she was young has helped give her the context to know and understand grief. Through that experience, she learned how tenderly God cares for broken hearts.
“He gave me a song in the night,” she said. “I learned firsthand that suffering while having the hope of Christ does not end in death but in glory. This is what gives me the boldness to believe for holistic healing in lives that have experienced such intense trauma – because there is a life and a love that is stronger than the grave.”
It was through conducting therapy that she met the woman whose life and story bound Kezia so strongly to the mission of restoring those who have been trafficked.
“There was such an ownership that took place in my heart,” Kezia explained. “Looking back, that was the spirit of adoption – she was adopted into my heart permanently. That…changed everything else for how I would understand, and relate to, and care about, and love every single one who would come after her…because she became my daughter.”
That sense of adoption and ownership has been one of the biggest surprises for Kezia during her work with Exodus Cry. For many of the women she works with, every connection with other people, every relationship, has involved some element of trauma. This makes it extremely difficult for them to form healthy, secure relationships with others, and yet, forming those relationships is exactly what enables them to heal.
“Their resiliency and ability to heal is entirely connected to their level of support and strong relationships,” she said. “To see family be restored and to see the spirit of adoption and to see the Lord regraft women into families is a huge value and vision for our restoration ministry.”
Watching this regrafting into families has transformed Kezia’s understanding of family. She has known many women who, even though they were beyond age 18, could be considered orphans, and she has seen people in all stages of life learn to provide a deep level of nurturing, parental care to those women.
“There is such a strategic way that the Lord wants to bring hand-picked individuals into the lives of those we’re caring for,” Kezia said. “Having seen Him do that work in me gives me such hope for what we’re doing every day. He always brings me back to all of the life that comes after the night of weeping.”