Yep… I’m still involved in the Stripper Ministry (as I call it). It is one of my most favorite things… E.V.E.R.
I don’t have the right words to explain the transformation we’ve seen just since September. It is truly incredible. It’s gone from strange glances given from across the room to the girls running in with open arms to hug us. Only God. It’s gone from them just getting their food from the array of goodies we have without saying a word to hour long conversations about real stuff. Only God. It’s gone from some of the girls living and loving their life in the club to them understanding the darkness and hopelessness that the club offers… and the opportunities that await them outside of those lifestyle. Only God.
Two weeks ago we were able to go back to see our friends. 4 of us headed to the club. It was an extraordinary visit. I have 3 stories I want to share from our time there –
#1 – As we got set up with the yummy lunch we brought for the day, one of the dancers that we have developed a great relationship with came running in! Her smile brightened the room… a genuine, full-of-joy smile. She rushed in screaming with excitement that we were there. She hugged each of us and told us she missed us. Then… she shared shared some HUGE news… SHE’S ENGAGED!!! AHHH!!!
Let’s back up. So when we first met this gal, she truly lived for the club and all it stood for. She felt lost when she wasn’t working every day/night. It was her outlet and where she felt she belonged. She has NEVER mentioned anything about getting out of that life… until she met this guy. Most of the time, when these girls talk about their new boys… we are super skeptical and are a bit fearful for them. But she told us about this guy… and he was different. Over time he told her that he truly cared about her and he was going to do everything he could to get her out of that life… into a safe, consistent, and loving life. And when a real prince charming made it seem possible, this dancer’s whole perspective changed. And he’s holding up on his promise! A real relationship, a promise of marriage, a new home, a safe environment, and security without the need for the money she earns at the club! Oh, praise Jesus!
She’s getting married in June… and I can’t wait to shower her with love and prayers and gifts for her marriage and new life!
#2 – AND THEN…
My BFF at the club, the bartender, came in. We are the same age and just get along great… like I really think we could be friends in real life! I’ve been able to share with her about my family – my marriage, Eric, my dreams, etc. Over the months, she’s opened up to me about her dream to be a mom and have a family. She knows that’s what she was made for and longs for it. She’s had a boyfriend the entire time I’ve known her… and the boyfriend has kiddos. She LOVES being with them… and she is a fantastic “mom” to those kids. She made stockings with them for Christmas, planned out their family holiday events, takes them on outings, etc.
Funny story: When she was doing the kiddos’ Christmas, she had all their presents out at their house before Christmas Day. When the boys came over for a visit a few days before Christmas, they asked her why the presents were already out if Santa hasn’t come yet. She had to think quick… Her answer? “Well… you see, Santa can’t get to ALL the houses in the whole world in one night… so he starts in alphabetical order. So, Alabama is first. He’s already been here.” BAHAHA! They bought it and she saved their belief in Santa. I wonder if they asked their friends if Santa had been to their houses already too. HA!
Anyways… when I saw her she showed me something… A RING!!! She’s engaged too!!!!! BAHHHH!!! She gets married in October. She is planning a beautiful wedding… one she’s always wanted. She’s going to have a family. She’s going to get out of the club! She’s going to be able to live out her dreams and fulfill her potential! I’m am so excited for my friend!
Also… at this week’s visit she found out that I am pregnant! She came running up to me and screamed, “I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNTIE!!!!” Yes… my friend, you are! She looked at me and said, “You know… I’m closer to you than my real sister… so I’m going to love your kids like my own nephew/niece.” Made me smile. That’s what this whole thing is about… relationships. Relationships with the hope of Jesus. Relationships in which they know and see the love of Christ! So proud for my friend.
#3 – AND THEN…
The club DJ has been a fan of ours since we started bringing them food. He has hung out, savored the goodies, and shared in small talk up until a few weeks ago. During one of our visits, he really connected and opened up to one of our team members. They talked for about an hour… no small talk there! They talked about the importance and purpose of marriage, the fact that his girlfriend is pregnant and due with a baby boy next month, about his thoughts on Christianity, and about God in our lives in general. This was huge! He shared about some fears and things going on with his life. Our team member listened and soaked it all in. Please pray that he continues to open up to us and that he can find a good Godly man to be his mentor.
So, at our recent visit we had a baby shower for him and his girlfriend!!!! They were so excited. It was a joy to shower them with gifts and love on them and their son. He even teared up a few times… which was precious. So thankful for the relationships we are forming with our new friends. Look how cute the cake was!! It has records on it because he is the DJ! So fun!