This is Anne’s story.
Anne and all the “Anne’s” out there are the reason we need YOU to step up to the plate.
I met Anne* four years ago. She had been working as a dancer in a local club in Michigan for four years at that time and said it got worse as time went on. This is some of what she shared with me:
“I am scared that I will never meet the man of my dreams and have a family and children. I am ashamed and don’t tell people I meet anything about me. I never leave the house anymore cause Im just a train wreck, A lot of my friends and family have lost a lot of respect for me. Im scared to go to church if they knew what I was doing for money. I drink heavily at work just so I forget who I am and try to make money. I want to finish school. I want to have a family. I want to travel the world. I want respect. I want real honest love. I don’t want to always be looked at as a sex object, I want to be a real woman who takes pride in her work. Im scared of my own life. Im scared men follow me home. Im scared I will never be respected by anyone. Im terrified that I can never get past this and transition into something else something bigger and better and honest and not hurtful to others and myself.”
Like many women we’ve met, Anne had healthy dreams and desires but was trapped by something she started that snowballed into something she never expected. Working in the sex industry stripped her of her dignity, her self worth and even her dreams, and because she felt so far gone she had no idea how to turn it all around and had actually said to me:
“Since I got myself into this I should just figure a way to get myself out”.
We know what happens when we try to carry our own load without the love, support and guidance of others so naturally we wanted to offer whatever we could to help her create a life plan with obtainable goals and some accountability. Anne eventually stopped working in the industry and had found what she called “legitimate work”. but she also said this:
“I am also starting to think more about God and thinking I need to learn more about him and all that stuff. I have no idea where to go…”
This is where our relationships with churches and people like YOU across the nation is crucial. Like so many of us before we come to the Lord Anne isn’t quite sure how she’ll fit into God’s family. She went on to say:
“I know your going to think I’m silly but I don’t think I belong in a church. I mean I’ve done so many things wrong. I sometimes wonder how in the world did I just forget about my morals?”
Truth be told it is people who hold on or remember the past of others’ and shame them with it- not God. Even when girls get up the courage to step their feet into a church often times they are immediately judged by their appearance or their past. It breaks our hearts. None of us are immediately cleaned up when we walk into a church or into God’s heart. God does the work (sanctification is a process) but He also needs us (His followers) to step up to the plate and walk the walk of true Christian love with others who may look different or are different than we are. This is a test of our own relationship with God.
I am happy to share with you that because someone (just like YOU) was willing to shine their light and walk this out with Anne, she joined a church, loves the Word of God, still has struggles like the rest of us but because someone cared enough to step up and be the difference in Anne’s life she is living out a life that she calls genuine and honest and she feels great about the future!
Cynthia’s story is a prime example of how easy it is to make a difference in the life of someone else by just showing up to talk and build friendships with women working in the sex-industry. It doesn’t require a degree, it doesn’t require a huge non profit backing with financial resources, it just requires your willingness to SHOW UP.
Cynthia began working in the sex-industry to supplement the little income she was making at a part time job to support her children. Its always awesome for us to hear how the Lord will pursue these girls in the midst of their sexual rebellion and lifestyles. This is the God we know- a God who in spite of a person’s choices continues to pursue and reach out to soften their hearts so that He can enter in and help to rebuild and restore even the most vile. Cynthia shared with us that she had started attending a church and became aware of the biblical story of Elijah and really felt compelled to seek a way out of the sex-industry and transition back into work that she could feel good about herself in.
It is our goal here at Strip Church to find and provide as many resources as we possibly can in the cities where these girls are working which is why we have partnerships with churches and women across the nation. WE NEED PARTNERS IN EVERY CITY because we are limited as to how well we can sojourn or build relationships across the miles with these women. Unfortunately at the time we met Cynthia we did not have someone like YOU in her city so we sent Cynthia a care package and encouraged her to be transparent with her new pastor about her situation to see if the church could help her through perhaps a benevolence fund. Here is the response we received from Cynthia.
“The bible you sent was the tool God used to keep me strong during this past week. I just would read out loud God’s praises and promises in the Psalms mostly and from somewhere not of my own, Faith grew and grew and I was not allowing doubts or fears to gain control. God really does send us Holy Spirit as our comforter.
I’ve been waiting and praying for a response from my church before I responded back to you. They responded today, they are going to help me.
All glory and honor is to God who is worthy to be praised at any time in our lives.
Thank you for your prayers and suggestions. I
love you and pray for you and your ministry. “
Not only did a church in Cynthia’s city help her with living expenses and things needed to begin to seek new employment- they have given her a part time job at the church providing honest income for her!! This is why we do what we do. It is amazing to me how the smallest act of kindness, encouragement and suggestion can be infused by God to make a difference in the lives of these girls. YOU could easily be that difference!
Lisa’s story is another example of how important network partners are around the nation. Lisa found herself at the end of her rope. She was in her forties and had worked in the sex-industry for almost twenty years.
Completely undone from the years she spent in this lifestyle she reached out to us for help. She was in a city without a network partner so we did all we knew to do and prayed a whole lot that someone would STEP UP locally to be a friend to Lisa and to help get connected to a good local church and be willing to sit with her there and let her know she did not have to figure the next steps out alone. Thankfully that eventually happened and this young woman connected Lisa with a church in her community where she was provided with food from their food pantry, a job assistance counselor and a friend to mentor her in the coming years!!
We believe change was possible for Lisa when she had the courage to ask for help. We know that God had a plan to rescue Lisa. Part of God’s plan was using a young woman in a very large city who was willing to GO. She was willing to go meet a woman in need and offer to sit and have coffee with her and just listen. It’s not that hard to be a friend to someone in great need and there is no greater reward! What are YOU waiting for?
Sami was in her early 20’s when we met her. She shared that her early years of growing up were what she perceived as perfect until out of nowhere her parents split up- her mom moved on in a new relationship and her dad in his alcoholism. She began to ease her pain just as her father had done- with alcohol. Sami met a man in his 40’s at a party who owned a stripping and escort agency. Here is what she told us:
“He begged me to come work for him telling me I was beautiful and he could make me tons of money. I knew it was wrong, but I was so tired of feeling alone and unloved that I gave it a shot. I don’t remember my first party. Probably because I drank a whole bottle of vodka before I did it, but all I remember was waking up in the morning with a horrible hangover and a purse full of cash. I guess I figured if I didn’t remember it, it couldn’t of been that bad. From that point on I was a private party stripper. It was beyond degrading. I was disgusted with myself, so I just drank and drank so I couldn’t feel anymore.”
Sadly like so many others before her, Sami continued in this lifestyle for years- just longing to belong somewhere- longing to be known- longing to be loved. Sami’s heart was to be what she once was:
“I wish I could turn back time and start my life over. I don’t even know how I let it get this far. I am a smart girl. I was on the honor roll in high school, yet I feel like such a stupid person for all the decisions I have made. I want nothing more than to go back to that sweet innocent girl I once was, but I don’t know how.”
Thankfully through one of our network and partner relationships we were able to come alongside of Sami through a local church in her community. One of the pastors and his wife took Sami under their wing and really began to mentor her and challenge her in healthy ways in addition to helping her financially and helping her to create realistic goals with a life plan. The rest of Sami’s story is still being written but clearly without the someone like YOU, willing to go into the world and rescue others by sharing their light and the love of God for all people, Sami would probably still be in the sex-industry.