Most students spend the summer before their senior year of college trying to make money through part-time jobs, completing an internship or spending time with friends back home. Kaylah Griffith, a senior studying Spanish and international studies at the University of Central Missouri, plans to spend her summer doing something quite different: she will be working to combat human trafficking in Russia through an organization known as Exodus Cry.
Katie Lommen: What exactly will your summer look like?
Kaylah Griffith: This summer I will be studying in Jordan and Israel for three weeks and I will also be going to Moscow, Russia for three weeks. While in Russia, I will be working with victims of human trafficking, training locals to do human trafficking outreach once we leave and also partnering with the House of Prayer located in Moscow.
KL: What is the mission and background of the organization Exodus Cry?
KG: I am going with a Christian organization called Exodus Cry located in Kansas City, Missouri. Exodus Cry is an international non-profit organization committed to abolishing sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry while assisting and empowering its victims.
Exodus Cry fights sexual exploitation and the sex industry in three ways: shifting culture, changing laws and reaching out. Outside of Kansas City, Exodus Cry does a few trips throughout the year to areas and events where there is an influx of human trafficking.
Sporting events, for example, always attract a huge demand for sex and for that reason, there is a significant increase in human trafficking surrounding events such as the Super Bowl and World Cup, which is taking place in Russia this summer.
KL: What prompted you to take this on?
KG: I found out about this trip through my cousin who recently began a volunteer position with Exodus Cry. Because I do not live in Kansas City, I have not been able to get involved with Exodus Cry in the past, but this summer trip offers the perfect opportunity for me.
KL: What gave you the passion to do this while in college? This is your last summer before the “real world,” so why not spend it relaxing with friends?
KG: I have always had a heart for the oppressed and for people that do not have the same freedom that I do. One prayer that I have always had for myself is that my heart would break for what breaks God’s heart, and let me tell you, God’s heart breaks for the women and children stuck in sex slavery.
So to answer this question, one reason why I’ve decided to spend part of my summer in Russia is that it’s for a cause that I am very passionate about and it’s a perfect opportunity to spread the light and truth of Jesus. Another reason is that I absolutely love traveling and experiencing other cultures.
Some people may think that the best way to spend the summer before senior year is by doing an internship, but I personally think that gaining international experience while simultaneously doing ministry work will be the most beneficial and rewarding option for myself.
KL: What will a typical day look like in Russia?
KG: It’s hard to say what a typical day in Russia will look like because we are still working out the details and from past experience, I’ve learned that these kinds of things don’t tend to go as planned. But in general, every day will entail training for human trafficking outreach and spending time in prayer and worship at the house of prayer. Actual outreach to women in the sex industry will happen three to five evenings each week.
KL: Knowing that information, what are your hopes for the trip?
KG: Personally, I’m hoping to make an impact in some of the lives of the women that I interact with while in Russia. I’m hoping that my eyes will truly be opened to the gravity of the reality of the sex industry throughout the world and I’m hoping to grow deeper in my relationship with the Lord.
KL: What, in your eyes, will be the most rewarding part of this experience?
KG: I think the most rewarding part of the trip will be seeing the lives that are impacted by the work we will be doing. Although we may not see the fruit of all the things we will be doing, I’m confident that our work in Moscow will have an impact that goes far beyond the few weeks we will be spending there.
KL: On the flip side, what do you anticipate being one of the more challenging aspects of this journey?
KG: The most challenging part of this trip will definitely be seeing the pain and hurt that surrounds the women caught in the bondage of the sex industry. We will be entering some pretty dark places and situations that will be difficult to process and experience at times.
KL: The work you are doing this summer with Exodus Cry in Russia sounds like it will be quite impactful. How can people support both you in this journey and Exodus Cry?
KG: If you are a Christian, the number one way you can support me is through prayer. The power of prayer goes far beyond anything we can do as humans. Even if you are not a Christian though, human trafficking is a clear violation of human rights that should concern all people, no matter what religion you may believe in. As can be imagined, this is a very pricey trip.
If human trafficking is something that breaks your heart like it does my own and you would like to support the work I will be doing in Moscow financially, you can donate through my Go Fund Me account. I greatly appreciate any and all support and so will the women that will be impacted in Moscow.