Periodically I will have different people guest blogging for me. God has allowed my path to cross with some amazing individuals and I want you to hear what He’s been doing in their lives. This is my friend and ministry partner, Stefanie Jeffers. What a great reminder that God can use us in places where we least expect it!
Every time I say “never” I’m pretty sure God laughs. I had every intention of keeping my past to myself. God had other plans. Since I was sure that would be all He would ask of me, I was completely firm in my stance on never going back into a strip club. Ever. I wonder how big He grinned when I said that. I currently spend every week in strip clubs in Indianapolis, two of which were clubs where I worked. And since I left the industry almost 11 years ago, I have thought that men were most likely the enemy and there was no way possible for them to help strippers. So what did God do? He sent me to talk to a bunch of men. And He laughed.
A man I highly respect who attends my church asked me to come and talk to his men’s small group about Stripped Free and a little about my life when I worked in the sex industry. Now let’s be honest, this had the potential to be extremely awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing. God, however, doesn’t call us to be comfortable and I am willing to look foolish for Him. After all, He rescued me and I love Him. He also calls us sometimes to teach us something new, not to just be the teacher. I learned that night that godly men are real, they care that women in the sex industry are dying without knowing Jesus, and they want to help. Hallelujah.
Every man who was in the room has a daughter, a sister, an aunt, or a mother. They listened to every statistic I shared and were not just interested, but truly compassionate for the many sufferings of women working in the sex industry. They were shocked to discover that a woman who recently asked Jesus into her heart had to return to a strip club out of economic necessity. One man relayed his sadness to me that his new sister in Christ had to go back to a club to work and if he had known, he would have assisted financially. These men asked thoughtful questions and were honest with me about their own pasts and struggles. The men did not just want to know what was going on in the sex industry, but they wanted to know something more…they wanted to know how to help.
Can a man really help a stripper? If you had asked me that a few weeks ago, I am not sure how I would have answered this question. However, today the answer is an emphatic yes! These men have agreed to stand in prayer for us and for the women in the clubs we visit. This is huge! Prayer is a vital component of this ministry. We would never go out on the battlefield without the backing of some serious prayer warriors. The group also gave a substantial monetary donation to this ministry. We are so grateful! There are so many aspects of this ministry that require funding, from outreach to aftercare, and this gift was a wonderful blessing. These men, my friends, are an example of godly men wanting to show the love of Jesus to women. They know that they can’t take part in outreach or in the aftercare pieces of this ministry, but they are going to do what they can to reach one life at a time in the name of Jesus.
If you want to be a part of helping this ministry, would you commit to prayer? You can also help keep the ministry thriving by donating monthly to the Tabor Ministries Kingdom Fund and writing Stripped Free in the comment section. Your gift is tax-deductible. Your financial contribution will help to provide gifts taken into the clubs, immediate economic needs of women trying to exit the industry, continuing Bible study and discipleship, counseling and/or addiction treatment, and help in many other ways as we walk with women on their journey into freedom in Christ. We can’t do this without you! Thank you!
My heart has been so full in recent weeks! Our Stripped Free team has been privileged to get to meet some amazing new women and to begin to develop friendships with them. Starting new relationships can be hard. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. It takes a while to develop trust and trust must be earned. We’re in the middle of that stage right now with many of our new friends. We don’t blame each other for not trusting fully at first. We’ve all been hurt and had our hearts broken by people that were supposed to love us and the sting of that lasts a while. It takes time to get over betrayal, even if the person who betrayed you is no longer in your life. So we’re patient with each other. We take it a step at a time and that’s good. I love these new relationships. They’re rich and they’re honest while at the same time heartbreaking and frustrating. They challenge me and that’s good too.
The other reason my heart is full is because of the generosity of so many in this wonderful city. One of the things I’ve been learning through this ministry is that almost every woman who works in this industry has kids. Many of them work where they do BECAUSE of their kids. They are doing the best they know how to provide for the ones they love most. For many, they see no other option if they want to feed their families. We wanted to help them provide, so we did two back to school drives for the dancers and their kids in the three clubs we go into. We were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love from people from our churches, Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood and Heartland Church on the north side of Indianapolis. And then there were the other organizations that decided to lend a helping hand with supplies: Good Samaritan Network in Fishers, Teachers’ Treasures in Indianapolis and the Officer David Moore Food Pantry. Overall we gave away 137 backpacks full of school supplies and more food than I could keep track of. WOW!!! And most importantly, we were able to let these women and their kids know, once again, that someone cares about them and that they are loved by God and us. The joy on the faces of the kids as they picked out their backpacks is something I will never forget. I think Jesus was standing right there with us smiling over each and every one of those precious children. His light was shining brightly that day! Thank you to everyone who was involved and gave so much of their time and resources. Being His hands and feet is a lot of work, but boy is it worth it!
We are already experiencing new doors that have been opened with some of the dancers because of these events. Please keep praying for us. That we will continue to earn the trust of these new friends and that their hearts will be open to us and most importantly to Jesus, the great Lover of their souls. We couldn’t do this without each of you. Thank you for reading and thank you for your prayers!! Jesus Frees!!
What a week this has been and it’s only Tuesday! I could barely wait to update you on some of the exciting things taking place with Stripped Free. God is working, my friends! There is no doubt about it. Let me start at the beginning……
On Sunday morning I was standing in the hallway at my church when a text came in from, Stef, my ministry partner. It simply read, “She just accepted Jesus.” What??? I started smiling and could barely contain my joy! Stef and I attend different churches. Many of you have read my previous blog posts about our precious friend from the clubs that received Christ as her Savior during Easter weekend at my church, Mount Pleasant Christian Church. Over the last three weeks we have another friend who has been attending with Stef at Heartland Church. We had been praying that she would begin to realize just how loved she is by the God of the universe and that her heart would be open to Him. When I got the text from Stef I stood there in utter amazement at my great big God. He did it again and I praise Him for it!
I then ran to the lobby to find my friend that got saved on Easter to tell her the good news. I found her and relayed the exciting information and she stood there and burst into tears…tears of joy. She said, “I’m just so happy for her!” We stood there and hugged and let the moment really sink in. May those moments never become “old hat.” May they never lose their eternal significance in our eyes. May we always be in a state of spiritual wonder when we hear, once again, God’s love broke through to save and redeem.
The story, however, doesn’t end there. None of our stories ever do. That moment of spiritual transformation is just the beginning for all of us, but our new sister in Christ had a physical transformation to go through as well. As many dancers do, she had a number of tattoos, but there was one in particular that stood out. It ran across the top of her chest and read, “I Don’t Forgive You.” We recently found out the permanent declaration was aimed at her father. Over the last few weeks Stef had been talking with her about God and forgiveness. She seemed to be finding her way to a place of forgiveness and was open to making a change. All of her tattoos tell a story, but this one had a lot of pain attached to it and was in a very visible place. Stef told her she had a friend who was a tattoo artist and suggested they talk to him to see if he could change it into something beautiful. After all, that’s what God does for all of us, isn’t it? He takes something painful and ugly and makes it beautiful in each of our lives. Only He can do that!
They met with the artist and came up with a plan and she loved it, so the physical transformation of her painful past began on Monday. The statement of “I Don’t Forgive You” was turned into a crown of thorns with the word “Forgiven” in the middle. It should be complete in a few weeks. I had the awesome privilege of holding her hand during the actual process and reading the crucifixion story to her so she would understand the significance of the crown that would be permanently emblazoned on her chest. It was a moment I will never forget.
That night at our weekly Bible study, Stef and I joined our two new friends and watched as hugs were exchanged and a precious gift was given from one to the other as a way of celebrating new life. Words of joy and encouragement were shared. At one point in the evening, one friend looked at the other and said, “Now let me tell you about the power of prayer!” Stef and I caught each other’s eye and just smiled from ear to ear as we watched one tell of the great miracles God has already done in her life and assuring the other that great things await her as well.
These women are hungry to know everything about this Jesus that saved them and loves them so deeply. They are excited about how He’s changed their lives already. Their futures are limitless and their eternities are secured. Wow. I stand in awe of my God because He is good, He cares about every detail and He loves with a depth and passion that I will never truly understand this side of Heaven. All I know to do is to love Him in return and be forever grateful.
For more pictures from this incredible transformation, click here: https://t.co/WyLvNsab7M
It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me about what’s been going on with Stripped Free. There is so much to tell, I’m not even sure where to start. For the sake of time and because my husband is always reminding me that blogs are not supposed to be lengthy, I will just give you a few highlights. My friends, God is at work. Make no mistake about it. He is on the move and we are so humbled and excited to be joining Him in His Kingdom work.
The last Sunday of June was such an amazing day in the life of this ministry. My ministry partner, Stefanie, and I attend two different churches. That Sunday morning we had two of our friends from the clubs attend with us, one at my church and one with Stef at hers. And the children of another friend also came for children’s church. It was quite a day! Three families were represented there and they got to be reminded that there is hope and no matter what they’ve experienced in life, Jesus cares and is deeply in love with them. We also had another opportunity to show them that we care and that we want to walk with them on this journey if they will allow us.
We’re having a baby shower Wednesday night for one of our precious friends whose baby is due in August. We can’t wait to show her the love of Jesus by helping to supply some of her physical needs. One of the things that continually amazes me is how many of these women look us in the eye with big tears streaming down their faces and tell us they’ve never had anyone care about them before. No one has ever come alongside them to help. Wow. That changes for these women now in the Name of Jesus!
We are excited about new jobs, new promotions and new apartments! God is redeeming and working miracles in the lives of these women. If you would like to be involved in helping this vital ministry please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Stripped Free Facebook Page. There is so much that is needed. We need prayers for the women and ourselves. Pray for a deepening in our relationships with them, that they would begin to really believe the God of the universe is madly in love with them and that they matter.
We also need financial resources. If you feel God nudging your heart to give, we hope you will consider it. We are currently working with three women who are seeking new employment and new places to live. The more women who leave that lifestyle and begin their journey with Jesus, the greater our financial needs will become. Many of you have been so generous already and we thank you for the gifts you’ve donated that we take into the clubs each month, the clothing and toiletries for a mom-of-three in need and for the constant prayers. If you would like to sew financially into this ministry you can do that by mailing a check made out to Tabor Ministries to:
11057 Allisonville Rd. #303
Fishers, IN 46038
Thank you so much for reading these updates and for taking this journey with us! We thank God for each of you!
“Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43: 18-19
This past Sunday it could not have been more clear to me that God was doing a new thing and it was springing up before my very eyes! I had the privilege of witnessing the baptism of one of our new friends that we met in one of the strip clubs in Indianapolis. She actually came to church with us for the first time on Easter Sunday because, Stefanie, a former dancer who is now part of our Stripped Free team was sharing her redemption story in each of our services. (Read her amazing story here!)
We had developed such a sweet friendship with this woman and during recent visits to the clubs she would begin to cry as we would talk with her. She told us she was so unhappy and she didn’t understand what was going on in her life. She didn’t see any way out. We told her she should come to church with us to hear Stefanie’s story. We reminded her that the God who rescued Stef was the same God who wanted to rescue her. Over the next few weeks we prayed and kept reaching out to her hoping she would take us up on our offer. Sure enough she came walking into the church right before the start of our Saturday night Easter service! Tears flowed down her precious cheeks as she heard Stef’s story and the tears continued through each song that was sung and the Word that was preached. We could see God’s transforming work happening right in front of us.
At the end of the service there was a time for people to commit their hearts to Christ for the very first time. Stef looked at our friend and whispered, “The pastor was talking right to you, wasn’t he?” Tears flowed again as our friend acknowledged that she wanted to enter into this life-changing relationship, so Stef prayed with her right there on the front row of the church as she made her confession and asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. Praise God!!!
Something else very special happened in that sacred space and tender moment. You see, before that church service we never knew our friend’s real name. I’ve learned in my short time of going into clubs that all strippers have a “stripper name.” No one else in the clubs knows the real names of these girls. To get a dancer to tell you her real name is the same as her sharing a piece of her heart and that’s not going to happen inside the clubs. The work these girls do is devastating to their hearts, souls and psyches, even if they don’t admit it. They dance under other names as a survival technique and a way of protecting themselves. It’s a way of keeping people out of the inner recesses of their hearts. So before Stef prayed with our friend, she asked and found out for the first time what her real name was. What a beautiful moment, to finally know her by the name God has known her by all along. No more hiding, no more feelings of shame, no more bondage. Jesus set her free!!
She never returned to the club after praying to receive Christ. She quit her job instantly and we began to walk this new journey with her. Please continue to pray for all of us as she begins to rebuild her life. She’s not doing this alone. She has God and the Stripped Free team is working hard to be His hands and feet in her life.
And the story just keeps getting better! Our beautiful friend got baptized this past Sunday on Mother’s Day. Dead to sin and alive in Christ! Hallelujah!!! We are so thankful for our new sister and for the One who has the power to make all of us new!!! Thanks for partnering with us in prayer. We can’t tell you how we appreciate it! You can join the celebration and follow our journey by liking our page on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
Yes, that title was a comment in response to one of my previous blogs about our new Stripped Free ministry. But before I get into all that let me just say the last six weeks are a bit of a blur. They have been a whirlwind and I’m still trying to sort through all of the events in my own mind. I’ve been in ministry in some form or another for almost twenty-five years now and never have I experienced anything like what has taken place the last few weeks with the launch of this new ministry. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all.
It started with me putting out a little blog titled, “You’re Doing WHAT???” Now you need to understand something. I’ve been blogging, albeit sporadically, for the last four or five years. My husband, Brian, would say one or two blogs a year doesn’t count as “blogging,” but hey, I was trying! I had managed to get a following of a whopping fifty readers for my “hugely popular” blog and I was fine with that. (and thank you for reading!) A few months ago I decided it was time to step up my writing efforts so I wrote six blogs in one day to have on the shelf for future use. One was about a new ministry to strippers in the clubs of Indianapolis where I live. I had no intentions of releasing that blog right away. I wasn’t sure about this new ministry or how people would respond to it, so I kept it on the shelf for a few weeks until my partner in the strip ministry, Stef, saw it and read it. She said, “This is really good and you need to put it out there and let people know what we’re doing in the clubs.” I said, “Really? Now?” She convinced me, so I published the blog on a Tuesday morning intending to make this “grand” announcement to my robust readership of fifty. I then went about my day. Later that morning the texts from Brian started. “Have you seen your blog stats? You’re at 300 reads.” I texted back, “Wow, that’s impressive for me.” Well, that was just the beginning. At the end of it all roughly 5,000 people read that blog. What???? Believe me, no one was more stunned than I was. I told Brian, “I guess we’re launching this ministry now!”
The blog led to different interviews, which in turn led to many interesting comments about this new ministry. It turns out loving women in strips clubs in the name of Jesus is pretty controversial. Who knew?! I’ve heard everything from accolades to condemnation and that is just from my Christian brothers and sisters. It’s been quite an eye-opener.
I feel compelled to address a few things. While I appreciate the kind words, I don’t deserve accolades. I’m just trying to do what Jesus calls each of us to do as His followers: to love God and love people and that means ALL people.There are many who have been involved in different strip ministries in the city of Indianapolis far longer than I have. I am learning a lot and am so grateful to have others to turn to for prayer and advice.
By the same token, I’ve been surprised at the condemnation. Now in all fairness, some obviously chose not to read the original blog, which explained in detail what I was doing. Some only read the title and the first line and jumped to the conclusion that I was actually going into the clubs to BE a stripper under the guise of a “strip ministry.” Oh yes, there are more than a few who think I have lost my mind and am stripping in the name of Jesus. I know. It’s laughable.
But then there are those who made comments that not only made me scratch my head, but also were so contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ it was mind blowing. Comments like, “Strippers can’t be saved,” and the ever popular, “You are the devil’s helper.” Really? After reading those comments, I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry, so I opted instead to find living proof that those statements are inaccurate and a lie from the pit of hell. And yes, those comments were also from some of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I didn’t have to look very far for living proof. I’m walking with someone every day who is proof and so much more. My friend, Stef, is an ex-dancer who has been transformed by the power of God. She courageously shared her story on Easter Sunday during our church services. She is living and breathing proof that strippers CAN be saved and that God loves everyone regardless of where they find themselves. I am so thankful for her being the trophy of God’s grace that she is. Where would any of us be without the transforming grace of Jesus?
God also gave me the privilege of watching one of the dancers from the clubs we go into give her heart to Him during the Easter services at our church a little over a week ago. I’ll talk more about that amazing and joyous experience in my next blog so stay tuned!
Luke 5:29-32 says:
Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” The Message
I only want to introduce people to the Great Physician, the One who can bring healing, freedom and ultimately heart-transformation. My heart’s desire is to please my Father by inviting others to experience His life-changing grace and love.
To my family members in the Church I would just say this: Please don’t think better or worse of me than I am. I actually would prefer you not think of me in this at all. This ministry has nothing to do with me. Every single thing that happens with Stripped Free happens by the hand of Almighty God and He IS moving. I would, however, ask one thing of all of you, especially my sisters in Christ: Will you join me? Will you join me in getting your hands dirty in the name of Jesus? Maybe it’s with a strip ministry or maybe it’s in a completely different area, but can you imagine what would happen if all the women sitting in the pews of our churches would take a step out of their comfort zones and love someone who is in need and different than they are? I get excited just thinking about it!
I know there are many who are already doing so much in Jesus’ name, but I wonder if there are others that are like I was, afraid and not quite sure where to start. There is such a huge need and there are many organizations that are desperate for help. I can say that I’ve learned more about myself and about my Savior by taking this step out and joining Him where He is working than I have at any other time in my life. If God has set you free FROM something in your life, I guarantee He has set you free FOR something. It’s just a matter of asking Him to reveal what that is!
Continue to pray for me and I will pray for you. I would also love to hear what God is calling you to do in the comment section below. God has great things in store and I can’t wait to hear all the amazing life-changing stories to come!
Tabor Ministries is thrilled to announce a new facet of our Finally Free Women’s Ministry. Stripped Free is a ministry to women who dance in strip clubs in the city of Indianapolis. Our team works to develop relationships with the dancers in order to show them they are loved and they matter to God and us. As followers of Christ, we ourselves have been rescued, redeemed and restored by Him and we know He desires the same for the dancers in these clubs. We are just the mouthpieces to share His love and message.
We want to take this opportunity to thank a few people and organizations that have been inspirations to us on this new journey. They have helped to pave the way and have been doing this type of ministry for many years and we are humbled that God has allowed our paths to cross with such extraordinary women. We specifically want to thank Jeanie Turner of One Way Out Ministries in Ft. Myers, Florida, Kimberly Majeski of Stripped Love in Anderson, Indiana and Sarah Tabb of Unconditional Ministries in Indianapolis, Indiana. We have learned so much from these women and their amazing teams. They have taken the time to pour into us and we are eternally grateful. God is using each of them to impact and transform the women of their cities. We look forward to working with them to build the Kingdom!
We also want to thank our team of beautiful Freedom Fighters! The women we are ministering to aren’t strong enough (spiritually speaking) to fight for themselves, so we are called to fight for them. These are the ladies who are doing spiritual battle in many different ways for Stripped Free. Stefanie Jeffers has to be thanked first. Without God’s work in her life, there would be no Stripped Free. Stefanie is a part of our Finally Free Women’s Ministry and this new facet was birthed out of her own personal story of being an ex-dancer and God’s transforming power of redemption in her life. Thank you also to Misty Javorka, Alex Rufatto-Perry, Elizabeth Sliwa, Jamie Kendall, Johnette Cruz, Kristin Katsis and Cheri Bate. These ladies are all filling different and unique roles and we are SO grateful!
How can you get involved? We’re so glad you asked! There are three ways to get involved:
Tabor Ministries, Inc.
11057 Allisonville Road, #303
Fishers, IN 46038
In a previous blog I mentioned that I would be talking more about what I have been learning through my “stay by the stuff” desert time. (See my Stay By The Stuff Blog) One of the words I immediately received from God was about the importance of waiting on Him. I know using phrases like, “I received a word from the Lord,” can be controversial. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it became clear through Scripture and during my prayer time that was the message God had for me at the moment.
I’m just going to be really honest here. Waiting stinks! I don’t like it. Never have and probably never will. The beautiful thing is that God already knows my true feelings about waiting and He’s ok with it. He’s not going to spare me from seasons of waiting. He knows how important those seasons are for building character. Let’s face it, would any of us take the time to REALLY press into Him and have gut-level conversations if life was always going along smoothly and if we got whatever we wanted exactly WHEN we wanted it? I think the honest answer would have to be “no.” The desert times that are full of questions are when God does His most powerful work in us. That’s just a fact.
One of the promises of God I’m still clinging to is Isaiah 64:4. “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” I also love Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” My heart-felt prayer has been that God would act and, yes, even fight on my behalf while I wait on Him. I don’t want to get ahead of Him and try to manipulate circumstances. I’ve done that too many times and just made a mess of things. God doesn’t need my “help” in this regard. There’s a reason, perhaps multiple reasons He wants me to wait. So you know what? I’m going to do just that….wait.
Is God bringing you through a time of waiting right now? Maybe it’s related to a job, finances, health or even a relationship. Whatever it is, if He’s telling you to wait, then wait. You don’t know better than Him. You may be tempted to think you do, but take it from me, you don’t. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.
Start praying those two scripture verses. Don’t just read them. Pray them. Tell God you are counting on Him to fight for you and to act on your behalf and see what happens in the process. And most importantly, DON’T move until He tells you to move!
If you are in a time of waiting I would love to pray with you. Please share in general what you are waiting for and I will join you in lifting that to the Father. It would be a privilege!
“Well, you all know I used to be a stripper,” declared the woman sitting next to me at a Bible study I had been invited to lead that evening. She then followed this shocking statement by quoting verses from the Book of Zephaniah. She spoke with clarity and passion and her obvious love of Jesus was contagious. Let me be very candid. I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around all of this. I had never met a stripper, not even an ex-stripper. Throw verses from Zephaniah on top of the situation and it was almost more than this little naive mind could take. “Who IS this woman,” I thought to myself. “I’ve got to meet her and hear more of her story.” That is how I met Stefanie.
I describe Stef as someone who “oozes Jesus.” She is radical in her love of God and love of people. She’s very honest about where she’s been, how she got there and the One who saved and transformed her. I’m privileged to go into local strip clubs with her through a new ministry to strippers in Indianapolis. (More about that in my next blog.) She is the epitome of a living, breathing message of hope for the dancers we meet. John Wesley says, “Catch on fire and others will love to come watch you burn.” Stef is on fire for Jesus and I get to watch her burn inside those clubs and IT IS POWERFUL. This is her story:
Three years. That is how long it took for me to lose almost everything. And it took almost losing it all for me to turn back to Jesus.
The day I walked out of my job as a paralegal I went to a gravesite to mourn the loss of a child I carried for 4 months but would never have. It was the day my child should have been born. I grieved not only for the baby I would never see, but for a life that looked nothing like I dreamed it would. I was a divorced, single mother of a beautiful daughter. Dead was the dream that marriage would last forever. The new man in my life, the father of the child I lost, was abusive and gone. Dead was the plan that I could create a new family for myself and my daughter. So on that day, in the pouring rain, I cried out in agony for so many things and I never once called upon the name of the Lord. Instead, I listened to the whisper of the enemy and walked right into darkness.
At the age of thirty, I walked into a strip club for the first time. It seems like that should be the day when I came to the end of myself, but it was just the beginning. For three years I sold little pieces of myself and my soul a dollar at a time. Each time I kneeled to pick up money that was thrown at me, I threw away another piece of me. My name would ring out many times as the DJ would call me to the stage, but I didn’t even know who I was anymore. The only thing I knew was the more money I made the more worthless I became. I was bitten, grabbed, pinched, groped, degraded, and humiliated and this was a world I walked into willingly. My surroundings had been dark for so long that my eyes became accustomed to it and I didn’t even realize how lost I was. What I knew, though, was when I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself at all. The empty shell of a woman looked nothing like the child who once loved Jesus with her whole heart.
It became impossible to separate the darkness of my life from the light of the life I had with my daughter. I tried, but as much as I loved her, I didn’t create a home for her that she deserved, so I lost her. The day she left to go live with her dad and stepmom almost killed me. If it hadn’t been for the daily phone calls, the weekly visits, and the weekend visitation I would have just let go and ended it. My life was filled with a crushing despair that I numbed with drugs. I lost my daughter, my home, and most of my possessions. I lost friends. I disappointed my family. This is how far I had to fall to land on my knees and cry out to Jesus to save me. I walked out of the club and left all of my costumes and shoes behind. I have often wondered how long little pieces of me were walking around the bar on the backs of other broken women. I walked out, turned back to God, and swore I would never return.
It has been ten years since I left the clubs for what I thought was the last time. It has been an amazing journey. One step at a time, God has restored my life in ways I could never have imagined. I am now married, have a new daughter, and the daughter I lost has been back home for six years. God’s mercy is not just for me. I will never pretend that I deserve any of the grace He has shown me. Without Him I am nothing. But it was never too late for me to discover His life-changing love, and I have a burning desire to share that with other hurting women. I have been rescued, redeemed, and restored and THAT is why I have returned to strip clubs. The love and hope that I know is for everyone who reaches out to accept it. Someone, though, has to be the one to share Light in dark places, so I go to familiar places I never dreamed I would return to and share Jesus and His love with other women just like me.
Stepping out in faith, saying yes to God’s call on my life, and following Him back into the clubs has been a blessing I could never have anticipated. To be able to speak the name of Jesus in a place where I once thought I could hide from Him is amazing. The first club I stepped into many years after leaving the strip world was the same club where I used to dance. I remember getting ready at home that night and how different it was from years ago when I would be getting ready in the club’s dressing room. I put on my jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops. I walked in there as a woman changed by the power of God. He has redeemed everything. What used to be a private dance area for me has become a place where I have been given the chance to share the Gospel with a sweet dancer who needs to know she is loved right where she is. I have even recently been given money within those walls, not for dancing, but for ministry. Yes, He redeems every part and I am so overwhelmed and grateful.
When I look in the mirror now all these years later, I see someone who is loved by God. I see someone who finally accepts His love, full to overflowing, and I share it with others…one step at a time, one club at a time, one woman at a time…in the name of Jesus and for His glory.