When I first moved to the US two years ago, I was constantly surprised by how many adult entertainment venues there were in our area. It wasn’t that I’d never conceived that those kinds of places existed, rather that I’d never encountered them so openly touting their services.
So these loud and proud places along Cocoa Beach, FL had me curious. Who works behind those doors? Who goes there for their services? What does life look like for those people and are they happy? Now of course, I had my ideas about what the answers to those questions might look like, but I didn’t know anything for sure.
So I began a journey, initially of pure prayer. Asking God what His thoughts were and how I could make a difference in the lives of those involved in the strips clubs near me. Around 9 months later I had my first opportunity to put some action to my prayers. I got wind of a lady who was putting together Christmas baskets for the girls in one of the smaller clubs near us. At the first opportunity, I got in touch with her and joined her efforts.
Last Christmas, along with her and other members of her Bible study we took gift baskets to the 16 precious women who worked in the club. Boy did we receive a warm welcome. One girl was so blown away she could barely get her words out, but when she did she was able to tell us she was dumbfounded because no-one had ever done something like that for them before.
That was my first time in a strip club, and as I looked in her eyes as she spoke a cold realization came to me. There’s no difference between her and I. She looked just like me. Or my sister. Or my friend. There’s really no reason outside of Christ why we’re not both in the same boat. I also realized with clarity, that a lot of the intimidation I had expected to feel about entering a strip club wasn’t there. Not even a little. All that I’d previously been nervous about seemed absent. I found myself in a place just like any other, where people are looking for answers to their questions about life and trying to make a go of things the best way they know how.
Fast-forward almost twelve months, to when David and I returned from our overseas mission work and I received another awesome opportunity to exercise my faith to this overlooked group of people. Our pastor approached me and asked if I’d be interested in organizing something to reach out to these same clubs I’ve been driving by the last two years. I jumped at the opportunity and immediately set about making plans. We knew of seven clubs in a 15 mile radius of our church and we planned to reach out to them all with a message of love this Christmas.
So began a journey of discovery as we visited each club in preparation for bringing gift baskets to each girl (and gift cards for the guys who DJ and work on security). I’ll be sharing that journey with you in a series of posts; hoping to inspire and empower us to see as God sees and to act as His hands and feet.
Stay tuned for part two!