The night I walked into a strip club…and never wanted to leave.

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*The following has been edited and approved by several women currently working or have worked in the past in the adult entertainment industry. My intention is to respect these women and represent them well without causing any harm with my words. 


I grabbed my phone and ID, slipping them in my back pocket before throwing my purse in the trunk of my friend’s car.  Moments before, three girls prayed over me. What I was about to do was out of my comfort zone, and I had no idea how in a matter of minutes this night would change me.

Tell me a year ago where I’d be in this moment in time, and I would look at you with a certain look I give when I think you’re crazy. But God’s way is a not always what we expect, and here I was on the east side of Indianapolis…walking into a strip club.   In fact, this very strip club is the same club that Brett passed by in the back seat of his family’s car on the way to the park where his dad played fast-pitch softball every summer. At 16 years old, he joined the softball team and has continued to drive by this club for the past 15 summers. Now I have been in the car beside him for all these years. Did I notice the club? Sure. Did I think much about it? No. Only disgusted by the number of cars in the parking lot. And now, after all those years of passing by with apathy, I’m walking into this same club.

I followed my friends’ lead as we walked across the parking lot. I was excited but also nervous. I was told in a training session what to expect, but you never can be fully prepared until you experience it firsthand. I prayed and asked Jesus to give me peace and let Him do whatever He wanted through me that night.  Immediately my fear vanished as we walked up to the door.  It wasn’t from a supernatural jolt from the Spirit. It wasn’t because one of my friends gave me a word of encouragement or I felt safe with these girls. Jesus gave me peace in an unexpected way: from the response of two men standing at the entrance to the club.

As soon as these men noticed us, they had welcoming smiles and said: “Hey ladies!! How are you all? Good to see you! Oh, thanks for the gift! Have a great night!” One was the bouncer. The other, the manager.

“Wait…what just happened back there?” was my thought as we made our way into the club, passing the DJ and stages to get to the dressing room. I was aware that these men knew who we were, especially since my friends have been coming to this club for almost 4 years. Yet, this doesn’t seem right. I expected, “Hey,” and then apathetically let us pass by.

But as Christa Hicks, a sex industry survivor said, “Everything the Lord does, doesn’t make sense!” No, this doesn’t make sense that club managers and owners across the United States would be allowing women to walk into their clubs to bring gifts and dinner and talk about Jesus to their dancers. You think your boss would be cool with us coming and talking about Jesus to all your co-workers? Probably not. You see my friend, Jesus is in the strip clubs. Oh, Satan is there too. But my Jesus is the Overcomer and is setting the captive free from the grasps of hell in a place that is overlooked, forgotten, and looked down upon.

I walked into the dressing room and several girls were at their mirrors putting their makeup on and fixing their hair, while others were at their lockers pulling out their clothes and shoes.  We passed around the gifts we brought and started conversations. One girl was at her locker alone. My friend and I walked over, gave her a gift, and started talking. Before I knew it, another friend was getting our attention that it was getting late and we needed to get going. I looked at my watch. I had been standing there talking to this girl for over an hour!

I actually was disappointed that it was time to leave!  We walked to the car and prayed before we left.  I drove home that night and the Spirit clearly told me this is where He wants me. It was like a spiritual “high” and I couldn’t stop smiling. Can I tell you something else that might shock you?  I felt the presence of Jesus in that strip club more than I did in church sometimes. Yes, I just said that. You know why? Because when we actually act like Jesus did when He was here on earth, we can’t help but be filled and overflow with His presence. And I wanted more of Him.

And it’s not only in a strip club. Francis Chan says in his amazing book, You and Me Forever: “If I want to find Jesus, I should share the gospel with someone. That’s where He will be. He is on the battlefield. He is pursuing the mission. I hear people complain that they don’t feel Jesus with them, they don’t experience the Holy Spirit. I usually ask them: Are you busy making disciples? After all, His promise came on the heels of His command. Later, Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. But that power was given so they could be his ‘witnesses.’ ” (Acts 1:8).

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This was taken a year ago, before my first night in the club!

I will never forget that dancer I first encountered in the strip club. We talked like we were friends before. We discussed books, movies, family, religious beliefs.  Here I was on a mission to break down her walls to get to her heart.  Yet, I left the club that night with God breaking MY walls down. Any judgment, prejudice, preconceptions crumbled down around me like the walls of Jericho. The Israelites marched with trumpets. The dancers were scurrying around me with stiletto heels. Only then could I look into the eyes of each girl and see what Jesus sees: Loved. Cherished. Beautiful. His chosen daughters. Never forgotten. Chased after. Forgiven.

Of course I knew that Jesus loves all people. But there is a disconnect from being told over and over again, “For God so loved the world…,” (John 3:16) and actually taking the time to BE with people that He loves. And not the ones that know they are loved by Him, but those who may be hard to love, overlooked because they live a different life from me, or in this case, participate in a profession that is overtly against God’s will. (Because you know that our “secret sins” or sins against self that are prevalent in the Church aren’t AS sinful as obvious ones. {insert sarcasm})

heelsMy view before walking into a strip club was clouded by a plank in my eye. God used those stiletto heels to penetrate my heart and tear away my pride, legalistic beliefs, and plain.old.ignorance.

Because when I sit with a dancer and listen to her talk about her son and how she wants him to grow up in church, and I listen to the bartender share her story of God waking her up to the brevity of life by using a car accident, and seeing the fear and shame from a mom whose kids may be taken away from her, and the excitement of others who are going to school to be a nurse/correction officer/cosmetician… I don’t see a strip dancer.

Some of us may have read the statistics:*

→ 66-90% of women in the adult entertainment industry were sexually abused as little girls.

→ 89% of women in the sex industry said they wanted to escape, but had no other means for survival.

→ 70% of females who are trafficked are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. (This includes Porn, Strip Clubs, and massage parlors in the US.)

→ 89% were raised in a religious home, according to one study.

However, statistics are only numbers…not people…and don’t tell the whole story. Because when I walk into a strip club I see…

… a single mom who loves her children and is providing for their needs while being able to spend time with them during the day.

…a determined woman who is paying her way through school to achieve her dream job.

…a girl who loves to dance, read books, watch movies just like me.

…a wife who is contributing to finances as her husband is searching for a job.

…a girl who knows Jesus and is taking steps to completely surrender and trust Him with her life.

Am I justifying their actions? No. Jesus never did either, since He died to became the Justifier (so that we could be declared righteous before God).  He always offers grace and forgiveness.  In fact, He knelt at the adulterous woman’s feet and challenged the people who were about to murder her to throw the first stone if they were without sin.  Every person walked away because who is without sin, other than Jesus Himself? What a paradox that Jesus was the only one justified to throw a stone at this woman, yet He was defending her while everyone else was guilty and holding a stone of condemnation (John 8:1-11).

Honestly, there was a day that I held a stone. Maybe I wouldn’t have thrown it. But at the very least in my heart I was looking down. Again, how ironic that God would use stiletto heels to humble me. Because when talking to the majority of the dancers, I have to look up at them.  And as I look up I still don’t see a strip dancer; I now see myself, as God has been tearing away the layers of my own heart. Don’t get me wrong; I won’t be signing up for the next audition, but I have the same cravings to be loved, desired, affirmed, and my sinful heart is tempted to find it in the wrong places; I would struggle to do whatever it takes to ensure my kids are safe and comfortable; and heck, if I had all my dirty laundry hanging out, I’m sure a few would cast stones. I am a broken vessel. I am a hot mess. I’ve got issues. The stone is dropped out of my hand, and my position now is not looking up or down, but kneeling with Jesus alongside my new friends.

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“Like Jesus, we have only one aim and goal: to love. Our mission is passion and compassion; we are to love God and to love our neighbor. All that Jesus did flowed from the abandoned place of laid-down love. With compassion He…talked to the prostitute. Jesus is the ultimate example of God dwelling among us. Love Himself walked the earth. We fix our gaze on Jesus as the perfect model of life…We are created to bring the love of Jesus to those who are in need. Love looks like something, yet it has no limits.” ~ Heidi Baker from Compelled by Love.

This is why my friends and I involved at Unconditional Ministries walk into 6 strip clubs in Indianapolis to deliver gifts to the dancers, waitresses, house moms, bartenders, DJs, bouncers, and managers.  Because I guarantee you that if Jesus were here walking the earth, He wouldn’t be spending all His time at Church, doing church activities, and hanging only with his followers. Yes, He spent time at the Temple to teach and did life with his disciples, but much of His time was spent with people who needed His spiritual healing touch. Jesus is not in flesh on earth anymore, yet He said He would give us something even better: His Spirit to live in us. Therefore, we bring the love of Jesus to these girls every time we step foot into the strip clubs because His presence is within us. Our mission isn’t to rescue or save the dancers, or even get them to leave their jobs, but introduce them to the Savior who offers healing and freedom for all.

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Me, Kristin (social enterprise), Laci (art therapy), Gale (gift coordinator), Sarah (founder and director)

BCV_9715I wish I could have known your initial thought when you first read the title to this post. I love telling people that I’m involved in a strip club ministry and watching their reaction. If you know me at all, I’m not afraid to be blunt. Brett’s usually beside me ready to explain quickly the WHY I go to the club and WHAT I do there. We get a good laugh afterwards. But honestly, I hope that there will be a day soon that when I tell someone that I go to the strip clubs, they don’t give me a look of shock, question, fear, or even judgment.  I’ll be looking for the day when the person says, “Well, of course that makes sense! That’s who Jesus would hang out with!”


 

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If you live in the Indianapolis area and feel the Spirit tugging on your heart to learn more about this ministry, check out our website: www.UnconditionalMinistries.com  and Like our Facebook page. There are many ways to get involved: outreach team, prayer team, financial donors, gift donations, artists for our art therapy group, upcoming career development training. Fill out the form under the ‘Get Involved’ tab to learn more!

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If you do not live around Indy, check out the Strip Church network to find a ministry in your area that is also sharing the love of Jesus throughout the U.S., Canada, and UK to women in the adult entertainment industry!

*Statistics are from Treasures, a ministry out of L.A. reaching women in the sex entertainment industry. For more statistics, read here

 

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Moms: Stop the lie. You do have time for Jesus.

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“Mommy, I’m going to sit and read my Bible in peace. I’m going to do my devotions and talk to Jesus.”

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So she sat down in front of the door (she was waiting for a friend to come over) and “read” her Bible. This post is not a “look at me and how well I am doing as a mom” post.  If we want to grab coffee sometime, I could tell you all the mistakes and things I’m not doing well.  Yet, my hope is that you can learn something that took me almost 5 years to learn as a mom.

Note: for those of you that do not know me, this is from the perspective of a stay-at-home mom with two children.  You may have a different perspective based on your home, work, children, spouse situation. But one thing is true that we all have in common as moms: we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37).   And this common goal is what this post is focusing on.

As a mom, I have struggled in the past with finding time to spend with Jesus, studying His Word and praying. The Christianese word is “devotions,” as you read my daughter calling it.   When my daughter was born, my life was consumed with her.  Many first time moms experience this: life revolves around your child, you are afraid of doing anything wrong, and are convinced that one error is going to ruin your child forever!   I confess that my daughter became my idol pretty quickly.   I can confidently say that because she summed up this definition by Tim Keller: “An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.”

Then the second born came along. After how I was idolizing my first born, God needed to teach me that my children are gifts from Him and ultimately belong to Him.  Damon was born with duodenal atresia and had surgery less than 72 hours after birth.  Leading up to his birth and even after, fears of the worst case scenarios flooded our minds. Through this experience the Spirit taught us that God is in control of every breath our child takes. Yet, still in our unbelief we tend to hold on even tighter when we cannot control our children’s lives, resulting in idolatry.

Every additional child is a transition yet gives you a different perspective.  I roll my eyes at myself when I look back and think about all the things I stressed over with Kherington.  Or how I really did believe I didn’t have time to do anything!  I totally had time to take a 10 minute shower!  I try to remember what DID I do when she slept so much?  Somehow, when more children come along we still make it work, even if the meals aren’t from scratch and your toddler is wearing the same pajamas for a couple days. Mmhmm…sorry Damon!

Shortly after having Damon, I read blogs on how to schedule your mornings so that your days can run smoothly based on priorities and goals for the day.  Spending time with the Lord (aka devotions), always was on that morning to-do list. As I made my morning time table, my goal was to wake up an hour before the kids to read my Bible and pray.  I am a morning person so I thought it was very doable. However, my hubby is a night owl.  When we got married, I was convinced I would change him to be a morning person. Ha!  I gave up after…oh…6 years of marriage that it ain’t ever happening.  In fact, he turned me more into a night owl!!! So be careful what you say you want to change about your husband; you may be the one that changes!

Some days I was successful at getting up early while others I was not, especially if I stayed up too late the night before to spend time with Brett. However, on the days that I did not get up in time and I woke up to Kherington’s face staring at me with her wide eyes, I never took time later in the day to spend with Jesus.  I lived each day with the perspective that if I didn’t wake up early, I wasn’t going to have time to do it the rest of the day.  In essence, I was telling Jesus, “You only have from 7-8 am every day. If I miss it, sorry, I’ll try again tomorrow. You really weren’t as important as _________. ”  Yikes. Writing that out makes me cringe since it was my heart attitude, and oh, how it pained Jesus!  I viewed my devotional time as an item on my morning to-do list that needed to be checked off so I can go about my day, rather than desperately pursuing my Savior and passionately worshiping Him.

Also, I was deceived by Satan in believing that I didn’t have time the rest of the day. After all, I have to get to my never-ending to-do list.  Then I’m too tired at night to focus and just want to sit and relax with Brett.  I believed the lies we all say to ourselves: “I just don’t have time.” Or “Ok. I do have a little time but not 15, 30, 60 consecutive minutes to read and pray!” Or “I’ll get to it later, I promise!” Or “I will make time when my children finally _________.”    And this is right where Satan wants us, because if we fill our days with stuff that we think is beneficial but….let’s be honest…much doesn’t count for eternity…then we are exhausting ourselves silly trying to gain the whole Pinterest-perfect-how-many-likes-can-I-get-on-Facebook world and the end result could be losing our souls, and worse, our children’s souls (Matthew 16:26).

I finally stopped the lies and believed truth: I do have time. I have 24 hours. If God thought we needed more time, He would have given it to us.  It’s all a matter of priority. We make time for the things we love or want to do.  Saying, “I don’t have time for you, Jesus” is not loving Him with all my heart, soul, and mind.  Instead, I’m saying, “I don’t love you right now, I love someone or something else more.”   And as moms it is usually our kids, and we easily justify that we are obeying God by sacrificing and loving them, when in fact it’s disobedience since the first and greatest commandment is to love Him FIRST then your neighbor. Our children fit into this “neighbor” category, in which the SECOND greatest commandment Jesus gives is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).

The past year has been a difficult time for Brett and me as we have been waiting on God’s timing for the next steps in our lives.  God has been humbling us like never before. I have been desperate for Jesus and His Word, hungering and thirsting after Him. In the trial, I have finally made Jesus a priority in my life and stopped forcing myself at my “perfect” time to do my devotions, as long as I get filled by Him at some point that day. During this season of my life, some days I get up early before the kids but most days I don’t.  Brett or I will make coffee while getting the kids breakfast. Once the kids are done, they find or I give them something to do.  They know that Mommy will be in her room with her coffee reading her Bible and talking to Jesus.

I thought that I had to do my devotions only when the kids were sleeping so I wouldn’t be distracted.  Another stupid lie.  My kids are 5 and 2 years old and in the last year my time with Jesus has been deeper, closer, and more intimate than ever before, and it was when I have been seeking Jesus when they were awake!  Do I have to break up fights? Of course. Do they run in and out of my room? Definitely.  But they have learned that this is Mommy and Jesus time.  Kherington doesn’t ask me to come help her anymore. Instead, she says, “Mommy, when you are done reading your Bible, can you….”  “Yes honey. I am almost done talking to Jesus.”  Yet some days my time is cut short and doesn’t go as planned.  I give myself grace, and remember that Jesus is always beside me throughout the day to talk to Him no matter what I’m doing.

The best part….No. More. Guilt.  More lies from Satan: “You should be spending time with them! You are neglecting them right now!  You need to be doing x, y, z!”    No, Satan.  When my kids are watching me spend time reading God’s Word and praying, it’s actually one of the MOST loving things I can do for them.  Brett recalls his dad studying the Bible consistently when he was growing up.  Brett became curious as to what and why his dad was so passionate about God’s Word, causing him to spend time reading it to find out for himself.  Most importantly, when I put my to-do list down and yes, even say no to my child at that moment to spend time at Jesus’ feet, it’s the MOST loving thing I can do for Him.

Francis Chan writes in his amazing book, You and Me Forever, “Lisa and I want to raise children who love Jesus far more than they love us. We want them to trust Him more than us, to enjoy Him more than us, to find more security in Him than in us. And we are convinced that the best way to teach this is to demonstrate it. We have to make it clear to our children that we love God more than we love them.”

Wow!  Convicting right!?   This is my goal too and that my children will know that I love Jesus. Then when I hear Kherington tell me that she needs to go read her Bible and talk to Jesus…or on some days crawls up in my bed with her Bible too, I fight tears as I praise and give glory to God.

Moms, you do have time for Jesus. It is only a matter of how desperate you are for a deeper relationship with God.  Does your daily life show that you are loving your children (or yourself) more than Him?  Stop trying to fit Him in your perfect schedule like I was trying and failing.  Instead, put Him anywhere in your day, even if it seems inconvenient and the kids are running in and out of your room. I dare you to try it, and I’m convinced that He will put everything else in its proper place as your perspective changes how you view your time spent on this earth.  And someday you may find your child, whether 5 or 15, reading her Bible and praying because you demonstrated to her that Jesus is most important.