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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From Where I Stand {Love Letters}

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For February, my circle blog, From Where I Stand, decided to post on the topic of Love. As I have been Spring Cleaning the past few weeks (no, unfortunately it is not Spring yet, but getting it done now before Damon comes in May!), I have come across my old prayer journals. I started browsing through some of them and came across the prayers I wrote when I first transferred to Purdue. It was a hard transition of leaving friends and family and starting new. Yet, as I read and remember, it was the time in my life when I truly fell in love with my Savior, Jesus Christ, and wouldn’t trade the tears I shed for anything. I was studying the book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, and using a commentary to study, not the relationship between husband and wife, but Christ (Beloved) and me (Bride). Here is a passage from Song of Solomon, followed by one of my many love letters I wrote to Jesus:

“Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.

My beloved spoke and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.’ ” 

~ Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dearest Bridegroom,

Thank you for willingly sacrificing Your life and presence from your Father to save my soul and “marry me.” Me, a filthy, unholy, unrighteous sinner. Yet, You still love me and came to rescue me. You are my ultimate Hero. You are the Hero of this Romantic Story! Thank You. You came for me and I accepted. Here I am with the most romantic Person of all times! Yet, I have not seen you completely face-to-face. You are still “hiding” from me until you physically return to take me Home with you. I will wait patiently for you, Love. I will wait only for You all of my days. Until then, I will listen for Your peaceful, quiet voice and go wherever You lead me. You have made everything beautiful in my life. When I am with you, the storms are over and the sun is shining. Your grace and mercy makes everything better. Thank You for all You do for me and loving me. I love you.

Your Waiting Bride, Christina

As I continued to rummage through prayer journals, college textbooks and binders, I took a walk down memory lane as I came across my collection of notes, cards, drama theater tickets, birthday/anniversary gifts, etc of the past 11 1/2 years I’ve spent with Brett.   One of the gifts I gave Brett when we were dating in college was a folder of prayers I wrote about specific things in his life.  Take a peak at one I wrote and gave Brett on February 16, 2006, right after Valentine’s Day. We had been together for over 3 years, and this is still my prayer today and for as long as we live:

Abba,

            Thank you for being Love. Thank you for Your unconditional Love towards Brett and me. We do not deserve it.  Thank you for the Love that Brett and I have towards one another. We would not be able to Love each other the way we do if You were not in the center of our relationship. If You are Love, and You are in our relationship, then Love is going to pour out of Brett and me. This week was Valentine’s Day, and just the day before I studied First Corinthians 13, where Paul gives the characteristics of Love. I pray today, Father, that Brett and I will first be filled with You so that we will be consumed with Love.  I pray also that these characteristics of Love will pour out of our lives towards one another:

Love is Patient; enduring of pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness. Help us to be patient with one another no matter what the other person is doing or no matter what the situation we are in.

Love is Kind; friendly, generous, or warm-hearted in nature. Help us to always be kind to one another and never be cruel or rude in our comments or actions.

Love does not Envy; feel discontent or resentment aroused by desire for the possessions or qualities of another.  Help us to never be envious of each others’ gifts and abilities that You have blessed us with individually.

Love does not Boast; glorify itself with words. Help us to never boast in ourselves and our accomplishments individually or as a couple.

Love is not Proud; a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance.  Help us to not be selfish and think that one is better than the other.

Love is not Rude; discourteous or ill-mannered.  Help us, Abba, to treat each other as You treat us.

Love is not Self-seeking; insist on its own way.  Help us to always be thinking about the other person and never about ourselves and our wants and desires.

Love is not Easily Angered; a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Help us to never get angry at the other person that results in sin in our relationship.

Love keeps No Record of Wrongs; it does not keep track of wrongdoing against someone.  Help us to never bring up past sins that we’ve committed against one another, but put them in the past and forgive each other.

Love Does Not Delight in Evil, but Rejoices with the Truth; does not find pleasure in sin but find delight in the truth.  Help us to never enjoy participating in sin, but always be filled with joy when we do what is right in Your eyes.

Love always Protects; guards and defends. Help us to guard our Love from being attacked from other people and defend our Love for each other.

Love always Trusts; believes things to be true. Help us, Father, to trust the best in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Help us to be faithful to each other so we can always trust each other.

Love always Hopes; a wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment. Help us to expect and hope for the best in each other.

Love always Perseveres; to persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement. Help us to never give up on one another and our Love for one another no matter what circumstances or trials we face.

Love never Fails; cease to be active. Father, help our Love for one another to never be inactive. May it grow and never stop until the day we are separated in death and taken up to heaven. Come What May, Abba, help us to never stop Loving each other the way that You would have us to be loved.

I Love You, Abba.        ~Christina~

I close these love letters with a poem that Brett wrote for a college English class later that year in September 2006.

NO FEAR

They say, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”

This truth unfortunately comes with pain.

My perseverance leads some to wonder,

Why I must travel down loves darkest lane.

The answer cannot be found in a kiss,

Or in my sobbing cries heard in the night.

Being with you is like a state of bliss.

Let us go there and defeat this mean fight.

All of this time I have been by your side,

And I will be throughout the end of time.

Rest assured my dear that I have not lied.

I love you more with every clock chime.

Now I shall stop looking in this mirror,

And pop the big question without a fear.

(A  month later, Brett bought my ring and proposed the following March of 2007!)

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Check out Megan’s perspective on Love at Megs Five.