“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.