The fight to end human sex trafficking is something that Linda and I care about deeply and one of the causes our Gabriel Project champions, which is why it was such a privilege to spend time recently with Helen Taylor of Exodus Cry, a social activist group combatting the problem globally. Their relentless pursuit of justice for both individual victims and the conditions that enable their exploitation has garnered international respect as well as results.
Helen’s journey began more than a decade at Newcastle University in her native England. She was in her dorm room studying with a prayer meeting streaming in the background when she found herself moved to tears by horrific tales of sex trafficking in Cambodia – so moved, in fact, that not long after she travelled to Southeast Asia to work as an art therapist and by chance crossed paths with Benjamin Nolot, founder of Exodus Cry and the very man whose virtual prayer meeting initially had drawn her to this work.
Teaming up with Exodus Cry, Helen moved to the U.S. where she gets personally involved with empowering and bringing freedom to victims from all walks of life in countries dotted around the world. It’s incredibly personal, taxing work – but also inspiring. “You have to be the Good Samaritan who is willing to look at the bloody, naked individual in danger and get involved,” she says.
Exodus Cry Today
As Exodus Cry’s director for outreach and intervention, Helen’s mandate also includes working on the macro challenge – to uproot the larger system of injustice that leaves populations vulnerable. Establishing international governmental and legal reforms is a towering task which they through vivid storytelling, bringing statistics to life and putting a human face on this dehumanizing industry. “Nefarious,” an award-winning documentary directed by Nolot, inspired the donor who provided Exodus Cry’s initial funding and much like any startup project, the team has built on that success with additional outreach, filmmaking, blogging and podcasting. With over 2 million supporters and thousands of vocal advocates helping to evangelize the mission in cooperation with the United Nations and some 300 other non-profits, this is a subject close to many, many hearts.
The Current Prevalence of Sex Trafficking
Our conversation took place shortly after a powerful New York Times piece by columnist Nicholas Kristof mobilized attention around PornHub, an insidious pornography website whose social reach and impact rivals tech behemoths like Facebook and Google. It was a great example of how collaboration, narrative and strong use of media can bring about remarkable transformation. Within days of publication Visa and Master Card cut financial ties, depriving PornHub of critical pipelines for generating payments.
Finding Balance in the Midst of the Mission
“We are positioned to take on as much as God gives us,” says Helen, who operates from a similar frame of mind that many entrepreneurs do. To prevent burnout, Helen is diligent about rest and self-care while also relying on the energy-sustaining power of compassion. “I just fundamentally know that this is so important to Jesus,” she says. “When you’re driven by compassion you’re driven by a real desire to see wrong things put right.”
How do Helen and Exodus Cry measure their progress? Do they have metrics or hard goals by which to gauge their efforts? They focus on showing up, delivering and executing every day.
It’s the showing up – until her dying breath – that Helen most hopes to be remembered for and measured by because she’s found her life’s mission and that passion for her defines her motives and what constitutes success. It’s also the source of the most abiding piece of advice she has to offer: “A life lived without passion or purpose is a missed opportunity.”
- A little about Exodus Cry’s history, mission and Helen’s involvement.
- Storytelling as a critical tool to animate a project – whether for- or non-profit.
- Overview of PornHub and the collaborative effort to shine a light on their heinous practices.
- Waking up to the brutal reality and how to get involved.
- How Helen copes with the brutality and darkness she faces on a daily basis.
- How does Exodus Cry and Helen individually measure success?
- The role of collaborative efforts in banding together against a common enemy.
- Stamping out the commercial sex industry requires not just liberating victims and criminalizing traffickers. The buyers and media profiteers fueling demand must also be rooted out.
- A few parting words about purpose and creating the legacy you desire.
- “Are you willing to lay down everything to fight the thing you feel is the greatest injustice on the planet?”
- “I just knew that there was nothing on the planet I was more passionate about than this issue. I thought it was the greatest evil and assault against the image of God.”
- “If every man stopped buying sex today, then sex trafficking would end today and it would be the biggest implosion and mass exodus of those in slavery and exploitation that the world has ever seen.”
- “We as believers are called to be involved in some of the darkest, messiest stuff on the planet because that’s what Jesus wants us to be.”
- “I’m surrounded by dark stories but I’m surrounded also by life-changing stories of victims rebuilding their whole lives and going on to heal.”
- “We pride ourselves on being a bipartisan organization. Human trafficking is something that everyone can agree on.”
- “There’s definitely misleading information out there about us. There’s a statement on our website that sets the record straight.”
- “Every person on the planet has a purpose and it’s worth delving deep to find out what it is.”
New York Times article about recent developments in PornHub activity:
Exodus Cry’s documentary “Nefarious:”
Information/video about fight against PornHub:
Sign a petition:
Donate to Exodus Cry’s $300,000 fundraising effort to battle PornHub:
Follow the work of Helen and Exodus Cry at:
To hear more about Helen’s journey and the critical work that Exodus Cry is doing, visit:
The Mike Thakur Show
Mike Thakur is CEO of WorkLodge and Founder at the Gabriel Project. He is on a mission to change lives through entrepreneurship and sustainable social enterprise. With experience both as an executive roles both at established companies and multiple startups (commercial and non-profit), Mike is committed to giving back and creating environments that leave people better off than when they started.