Well now, that title is a one-liner that would catch your attention! It’s kind of how this whole adventure began for us at 99|ONE. It was November of 2014. I was curled up cozy in the corner of my couch, perusing Facebook… just blah-zing out, definitely not seeking the Lord for new direction in my life. Then there it was… an article that began, “I’m a Christian and I Visit Strip Clubs”. Human nature kicked in and I began to devour every word… however, the text took on a whole other direction than I initially expected. It was written by a woman who frequented strip clubs with gifts of love for the girls inside the doors. My heart was arrested. In a moment my world was flipped over. I turned my head slowly to my husband and told him that I thought I was going to visit strip clubs to bring the dancers gifts of love. He already thought I lost my dang mind so he just responded, “You’d better make SURE this one’s the Lord!” The next day I got ahold of some peeps that I knew would share the same heart and vision… we wouldn’t be looking to CHANGE anyone but instead expose God’s love; women who would be ready to march into a dark place for God’s glory. Thus 99|ONE was birthed.
Our very first visit we packed up 6 plates of homemade cookies and intended to ask for the owner/manager to see if we could come back at Christmas with love gifts for the girls. We had no idea what we were doing or what we would do if they said yes. We met, we prayed and we prayed some more. Then we baked. We headed out, diapers secured. We figured we’d stay out there until we ran out of cookies or strip clubs. We walked up to a place on the North side of Syracuse. There was a gorgeous tough-looking blonde out front smoking a cigarette. She looked us up and down and through narrowed eyes asked, “What do YOU want?” I guess we didn’t look like your typical patron. Giggle. One of us explained that we came bearing cookies, hoping to come back with Christmas gifts for the girls. Immediately, and to our shock and surprise, she said, ‘Sure!’ and invited us to their Christmas Party that next week. Favor. We were in.
December of 2015 we found Strip Church. Actually we stumbled upon them just in time to attend a training in July of 2015. We learned much from our time together and decided to become members of the Strip Church Network. The friendship and camaraderie of the ladies in this ministry network is a priceless resource. We share ideas and encouragement, helpful tips and love bomb incentives. We trade what works and what doesn’t. It has been a treasure. We were praying to get in to the dressing rooms and in sharing strategy we have implemented what the leaders in Strip Church suggested and are now in the dressing rooms of the 4 clubs we expose God’s love in. Yes.
A typical visit for us begins on a Friday evening at about 6-6:30pm. We visit 4 clubs and usually wrap up our visit around 9-10pm. In the clubs that have dressing rooms we go straight to the rooms and just hang out with the girls. We let the Holy Spirit lead our conversations… sometimes we talk about our children, sometimes we talk about make up, sometimes conversations are about life dreams and goals, other times we get to share about Jesus. In one club in particular when the club is very busy there aren’t any girls in the dressing room so we just leave the gifts. As Strip Church Network members say, “If the gifts make it in, its a win!”
We have gained personal relationships with several of the dancers via social media and texts. We speak with them on a weekly basis. These amazing women are our friends. One lovely has left the industry this past year and attends our church. We know what we are called to… to EXPOSE GOD’S LOVE. We are not called to change lives. Sharing God’s love is our part… that’s what we stick to. We’ve learned that the ‘bait and switch’ tactic is ridiculous. These are real people who can sniff out a phony a mile away. We straight up tell them we are ‘Church Girls’ who are there to remind them they are SO loved… no strings attached. They like that. The owners and bouncers like that. We like that. There isn’t any guessing… there is enough fantasy in those places.
We’ve also realized that we cant do this alone. We need financial donors and are desperate for prayer support. We have established a supporter email list of 75 that goes out before and after each 99|ONE adventure (we go out once per month). We have social media accounts: Facebook 99_one and Instagram @99_one The girls like/follow us and it initiates conversation that way.
Support from our local church has been so beneficial also, 99|ONE is a direct extension of love from Word of Life AG in Baldwinsville, NY. I would recommend keeping your home church pastor in the loop. God is doing great things!!
To wrap it up, I’m in utter amazement at the creative work that God is doing across the country with Strip Church members. His Majesty has deposited these wild ideas of marching into these strip clubs with a holy boldness to expose God’s love with gifts for these beauties. Its sweet, tender and changing lives. Just last week a beautiful tiny-dancer, mother of two that we love, was struggling as a close friend is recovering in the hospital. Simultaneously, she is creating artwork for us for a 99|ONE fundraiser. She has been extremely resistant to the Gospel but we asked her to find scripture that she could use in these art pieces… so she did. On our last visit just days ago she said to us, “I thought it was really weird that I found this scripture, but this verse really spoke to me!” It was Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters I will be with you.” That, my friend, is precious.
This featured article was written by Strip Church Network partner Annie Bullard of 99|ONE Syracuse, NY.