Many of our readers will be shocked to know that I have spent a lot of time in strip clubs.
I stopped going once I got pregnant with my first child because of the second-hand smoke, but before that I spent many Friday nights with strippers. A few of my girlfriends and I would all get together and carpool to the club. We would walk in, say hi to the bouncer, and go straight back to the dressing room. We were greeted with hugs by girls without clothes on and would spend the next few hours in what I will forever remember as precious times.
We weren’t there to strip or watch the girls dance; we were there to love them and show them that we cared. This was one of the many terrific ministries we had at our church to reach those who were hurting exactly where they were at. This particular ministry was created to join the fight against human trafficking. Strip clubs are the last legal door that lead right to trafficking. We called it the “Underground.”
This may not seem like your typical church outing, but let me tell you – it was the most impactful ministry I have ever been a part of. Lives were forever changed, broken hearts were repaired, and we were even asked by the manager to come more often. Why? “Because you make the girls so happy.”
I will never forget my first night at the strip club. We had decided to bring a prayer box for the girls and some food. I hadn’t even gotten to the door before a big man stopped me. “What are you doing?” “Busted,” I thought as he reached for my box. “I’m just dropping off a prayer box for the girls.”
What happened next shocked me and also set the stage for what we would experience over and over again.
“Can I put a prayer in?” “Sure,” I said as I handed him a pen and slip of paper. He then proceeded to fill up both sides and as he finished the last sentence on the back of his paper, he crumpled it up and said “Look. I just need to be honest. I know I shouldn’t be in here. I have lost my way.” I chocked back the surprise. “Would you like me to pray with you?” I asked him. “Yes, please.” And that was just the beginning of many precious moments at the strip club…
We would take the girls food, gifts, roses on Valentine’s, set up a tree during Christmas and genuinely loved and treasured them.
“You shouldn’t be here,” one of the girls once told me. She explained I was too good to be in such a bad environment but it just made my dedication to them even stronger. If we are to look to the Bible for an example, we see that time and time again that Jesus went to people where they were at and even spent a lot of time with sketchy people who were doing sketchy things. (Our team did have one male with us for protection, but he always waited in the parking lot).
We NEVER needed to share our beliefs, our theology or our denominatoion. Our love was enough for them.
I cannot tell you how many times I held hands and prayed with girls who were wearing nothing but a thong and bra as we both wept. God was there always, and His presence was ever so strong.
My heart absolutely aches for those who have suffered from abuse. You will find that many of the women in the sex industry come from a history of mental, physical and sexual abuse. The girls shared with us the tragic cycle; abuse, addiction and selling themselves to pay for the addiction to numb the abuse. Each part as humiliating as the one before. Yes, there are the few who just work there because they want to, but many had partners or even pimps who forced them in one form or another.
To this day, the Underground continues, and the stories I hear still make me well with pride. A lot of the ministries I was once a part of have had to take a back seat in my life now that I’m knee-deep in babies, but I really see my work as a foster parent as one way I can help to break the cycle of abuse and forever change destinies.
I will never forget all that I learned in the strips clubs. The biggest lesson I learned was this: people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.