Exodus Cry’s Incurable Fanatic Tour Team, armed with the film Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, had the honor of partnering with churches, Members of Parliament, faithful abolitionists, and other trafficking organizations to raise awareness and sow seeds of justice into the United Kingdom just weeks before the Olympic Games began in London.
As early as the 1100’s,1 women have been prostituted and trafficked to and from this land. Engrained in the mindset of many throughout these generations has been the notion that prostitution is a choice, a legitimate means of employment. Recent events, however, including the Nefarious screening tour, are beginning to turn the tides around the British Isles. Hundreds have now seen the film and heard from our team the true story behind this grueling, oppressive and pervasive injustice call prostitution. Our team was composed of Blaire Pilkington, Director of Intervention; Laila Mickelwait, Manager of Policy and Public Affairs; Carole Coomber, Director of New Forest House of Prayer and the UK Tour Coordinator; and our courageous friend and overcomer, Helena Evans. Helena was interviewed in Nefarious and was formally prostituted and trafficked, in the UK. On the tour, she spoke boldly about her own story and the joy that Jesus has now given her. Because of the testimonies of many women like Helena in Nefarious, hearts have been broken, and many in the UK are now vowing to raise awareness in their communities, to pray steadfastly, and to give sacrificially in order to see the abolition of the flesh trade in their cities.
The UK has a long legacy of courageous men and women who boldly and without compromise fought for justice and freedom for the oppressed. William Wilberforce, an MP for Yorkshire, is the most well-known for the eradication of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807. Wilberforce worked for nearly two decades to abolish the slave trade, trusting in and believing that God had commissioned and appointed him for such a noble task. ‘God Almighty has placed before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners [that is, morals].’ After the abolition of the trade in the UK, he began to pressure America, France and other world powers to abolish their slave-trade practices. He died in 1833 just three days after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in Parliament. In total, he actively advanced the abolitionist cause for forty-six years.
During this three week tour, the Lord gave our team victory upon victory. We had the special honor of being invited to show Nefarious and engage in a discussion about issues surrounding sex trafficking and prostitution with several key members of Parliament, who are currently combating human trafficking in the UK. A lively discussion followed the meeting with genuine questions and concerns being raised. The commitment and passion of attendees was evident as one member of the House of Lords emphatically stated, ‘We will criminalize this [the purchase of sex]!’ All of this transpired in the very building that William Wilberforce battled for the slave trade’s end in the 1800’s. Just as he displayed the tangible atrocities of slavery through the Brookes slave ship model before uninformed Lords, so we used modern media to present our Brookes model of slavery, Nefarious.
With perseverance and a great deal of contending prayer we believe that the tide will eventually turn in the UK and the purchase of sex will be criminalized. Evidence of the turning tide is the current proposed bill to criminalize the purchase of sex in Scotland. Our team had the privilege of connecting with the courageous MP in Scotland who is taking the charge with this bill. She was very encouraged by the support she received from those who had seen the film and were moved to stand by her.
Our team also traveled to Amsterdam, where we were honored to show Nefarious for the first time to another familiar face, Denise who was also interviewed in the film. In her words, it was the best film that she’s ever seen. Denise’s honesty in the documentary changed so many lives and influenced policy makers in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada to take a stand against the unacceptable norms of the times and eradicate slavery.
Our feedback from the UK is encouraging and explosive. Many have been confronted with their own strongholds, ‘That film may have actually changed my life.’ For another it was the first time the issue had been spoken: ‘It is sad how ignorant I was to all of this… it really does need to be brought out into the open.’ It has been our prayer that the Church in this historic country would continue the legacy of Wilberforce, and we found at least one: ‘I am more convinced than ever to fight the injustice of human trafficking.’
Exodus Cry wants to thank Mike and Carole for spearheading the UK tour and connecting us with bold and faithful groups and churches. Thank you to each one of our gracious hosts, willing to take up arms and fight for the voiceless. Lastly, a most special thanks to Helena. Your presence on this tour as a witness for freedom truly caused women and men to connect with heart of the Lord on this issue.
As we join forces for the ending of slavery, pray for the United Kingdom that the seeds of truth that have been planted would grow, making a tangible and lasting impact. Also, pray for the policy makers and leaders in the UK to take a courageous stance to criminalize the purchase of sex in their nation; a stance that defends the rights and value of women and children, no matter what.