Well… that got your attention, huh?
You read it right… stripper ministry. If you have had an in depth discussion with me about my passions or ideas on ministry, you have probably heard me mention “stripper ministry.” I know that’s not the politically correct term… but whatev. Let me give you the back story –
About 3 years ago I began to have a burden for ladies who work in strip clubs. I don’t know why… I’ve never known a dancer, I’ve never worked in one myself, I’ve never even been in a strip club… I just developed a heart and a mission to just love on those girls. I wanted to know their stories, to know who they are, to hear about their dreams and ambitions, and to give them the hope of Jesus. I would pass by clubs while driving down the road and just ache thinking about what was going on in there… and just wanted a chance to make real friendships with the girls who work in those establishments. I know it might be strange to some… but it’s me and my heart.
At the time that this tug started on my heart, we were living in Troy, so the opportunity for this kind of thing was pretty limited. I still researched and tried to find some sort of ministry in a nearby city… nothing. When we found out we were moving back to Birmingham, I continued my search in the city… nothing at first. Then, one of our friends got an internship at The Wellhouse in Birmingham (a faith-based and Christ centered organization devoted to the rescue and recovery of women who are being sexually exploited). While there, she heard about a ministry that was starting up that was exactly what I had wanted to be involved in – a stripper ministry! She got me the contact information… I emailed… went to training… and here we are. Tuesday was the first day I got to go… and it was AMAZING! I seriously teared up driving home because it’s exactly what has been on my heart and for that to become a reality… it just blessed my heart so much.
What’s this ministry called? you might ask. Well… it’s the best name ever.
What’s the goal of this ministry? Great question. The goal is not to “rescue” these girls from being stripers or to tell them they made a bad decisions, etc. The purpose is to extend the love of Jesus in a tangible way to people connected to the adult entertainment industry. We build relationships, love on the dancers/bouncers/bartenders/managers, and show them Jesus. We take them small gifts and yummy food. We talk with them, ask about life, possibly ask if they have prayer requests, and share life with them. As the manager for the club I visited this week said, we are “missionaries” in their place of work. And they welcome us because they realize (or are starting to realize) that we genuinely care for them.
As the leader of the Dream Dancers ministry explained to me, evil is everywhere, but contained, concentrated evil is found in the clubs in which these individuals work. BUT God is bigger… and His love and Gospel can bring light into any darkness no matter the intensity.
So…. what in the world do you do? Another great question. Let me just walk you through the visit from yesterday (Tuesday)…
My team (me, 3 other ladies, and a security guy) went to one of the prominent strip clubs in the Birmingham area. I honestly had no idea what to expect because, up until this point, I had never been in one. We walked into a dark room with stages and accessories surrounded us on all sides. People were already at the bar and working.
In some of the clubs Dream Dancers visit, the teams set up in the dancers’ dressing room. In our club, we set up ON THE FLOOR… like among the customers. (“Send me, I’ll go” – wherever, whatever You need me mentality in action). We brought chicken salad, croissants, chips, and cookies for the people made by MY MOM! She’s awesome and wanted to be involved in this crazy ministry, so she is now the cook for our team/club! Woot woot! If you have ever eaten my mom’s chicken salad, you know that was gone real quick! We also brought the girls cute, hand-made soaps for their gifts. We set up on a table near the bar and offered food to those there. My team leader said she had a feeling we would only be there for a short time yesterday… max 30 minutes. Well… God had different plans and we stayed for an hour and a half! Crazy…
My team had already visited the club a few times before (this is club is the most recent addition to the Dream Dancers ministry), so some of the girls knew my team mates. They greeted them with hugs and introduced themselves to me. I learned names that masked their true identity – Magic, Seduction, La La, Butterfly – and prayed I would get a chance to know the real girl behind the playful name. We talked to them and I tried not to be awkward – Are my arms crossed? Am I being stand-offish? Do I look judgmental? Am I too weird? Don’t stare at that outfit. Do they think I look like a middle schooler? Did I wear the wrong thing? What am I suppose to talk about? Think, think… what are things you could have in common with this girl? As time went on, the nerves and awkwardness eased and the deeper conversations started. I learned about their families – their daughters, their brothers, their hopes of marriage in the future. I learned about their favorite foods – one girl LOVES crab legs so you best believe we are great friends already. I told them about what we do and about Eric. I shared my story and they shared a little of theirs. I know more will come and I honestly am so excited about it.
A big deal – a girl who had not seen the team there before came in and ate the chicken salad. She asked if she could pay us for it… of course we wouldn’t let her. Then, the manager spoke up and explained, “These ladies are missionaries to us. They are ambassadors for things they will tell us about. Don’t get in the way of what they are doing. They are here to care for and serve us.” That’s HUGE!! The manager of the club understands our purpose and welcomes it. He has our back and vouches for us! Wow. Go Jesus!
When we were leaving (an hour and a half later) 2 of the girls asked if I would be coming back. I assured them I would be and was looking forward to seeing them again. One of the girls explained that she didn’t usually talk to people like me and preferred to stay off to the side… but she really enjoyed our conversation. She felt like she could open up to me and appreciated my story. Man… that’s good stuff. Just confirmation that I was where I was suppose to be.
I know this is a little crazy and not your typical baptist girl’s ministry… but as Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32). I am honored to be a part of this ministry and am so excited about the relationships that are being built within my team and the other teams serving around the Birmingham area.
If you are interested in learned more or curious about getting involved in a ministry like this… comment on this post and I’ll contact you!