Inside the doors music vibrates through our ribs. Stale beer sours the air. We look down at our feet, watching our footing as our eyes adjust to the dim lighting. Our shoes stick to the floor in old beer spills. They peel up with each step like half stuck stickers.
We are in her world now.
By this time my eyes are adjusted. In front of us, small round tables balance half empty gin tumblers. Suit jackets drape the backs of chairs. Men in starchy button downs with rolled up sleeves high five each other. At another table a lone customer in a bulky Carhartt jacket leans back in his chair. He gulps from his frosted beer glass. His mud encrusted boots straddle the table legs as his sideways gaze is fixed in front of him.
To my left her chandelier earrings glitter under the strobe lights. Her brunette ponytail swings back and forth brushing her shoulders as she strolls toward us. Her beautiful brown eyes look past us scanning a party of 3 that just walked in.
I step in her direction.
This is for you. A soft smile lifts my cheeks.
She looks at the gift bag. Really?
Her eyebrows raise and she reaches into the bag pulling out a baby pink lip gloss.
Yay! I love MAC gloss. Her eyes meet mine again. But who are you and why are you doing this?
A full genuine smile finally escapes my lips and slides across my face. You matter, and its Christmas. Everyone should feel loved at Christmas.
She gives me a quick hug and a thank you. Then hustles to the table behind us.
Another, shorter girl with glasses stands nearby. She teeters on her six inch heels gripping a tiny clutch in her right hand. We hand her a gift bag. Her eyebrows squeeze together in a quick twitch narrowing her eyes. She gently takes the bag, mumbles a thank you, and walks away.
The card inside the bag reads “Merry Christmas. You are loved.”
We signed our names earlier in the evening and prayed God would show Himself to them.
We planned to return for Valentine’s Day.
Several years ago, I read through some training books for starting a local strip club outreach.
Before I read the manual I thought I understood evangelism:
Tell them God loves them.
Aim to erase the darkness in another person’s life as fast as possible.
Describe the cross and lead them in a prayer, right?
We despise the darkness. We are afraid of it. We want to hide from it and hide it in our own lives. Forget the bad stuff ever happened.
But Love isn’t in a rush. He doesn’t try to hide any part of us. He sees us completely and embraces us completely.
This outreach training shuffled my whole understanding of love. It wasn’t about a quickie interaction to introduce them to Christ, hand them a bible saying “God loves you”, and walk them out of the strip club door. There are definitely times for that kind of interaction. This is not one of them.
Love takes commitment, connection and risk.
This is about meeting her where she is with no agenda. Only love. (People can usually sniff out agendas anyway.)
Somewhere along the way American Christianity created this ‘perfect girl image’ and expected all of us to squeeze into it. Many of us try.
For example, many days Im wearing my ninja suit kicking the day’s a**. However, on those same days my anger can swirl in on my family like trash blowing through a flower garden. To cope, I binge eat waiting for their bedtime. I grade myself by my actions. Consequently, I hide. From my family. From others. From God.
But the truth is, none of that makes me more or less God’s girl. I mess up. Yet my darkness doesn’t define me. And it doesn’t define the girls in the club.
Seeing Their Value
Strip club outreach is walking into the world of these women and loving them right there. It’s about valuing the girl behind the make up, the fake name and the job description.
It’s seeing the little girl sitting in her chair, leaning her chin in her palm, gazing out the window dreaming of her future and her family’s future. Or the brilliant girl hustling to make enough money to follow her education dreams. And the broken girl who ran away from an abusive home only to be forced into this life with no way out.
Don’t you want someone to see past your man-made-image and accept you? I do. I want to be loved in all my glory and messiness. Because in the end I’m just a girl. His girl.
Jesus isn’t afraid of my darkness. In fact He stepped down from heaven, put on a man-suit and walked into my world. He walked into your world. He loves the world (John 3:16). He’s not afraid of her.
Free to Be
We are free to go and be with people. See them. Listen to them . Show them their value by connection and quality time.
Jesus wants to hang out with you. He wants to hang out with others through you. Love brings out the best in us and those we are loving.
Love yourself today and find someone else to love. Spend time with someone who looks nothing like you on the outside. You will find on the inside, she’s just a girl too.
If you are interested in strip club outreach, check out Treasures website for an outreach in your area. Donate, join a team or start your own team.
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