This month was the first time we've ever served a meal at the club, and I had talked it up during our October visit. Then the week before, I took a sign to put on the dressing room mirror, letting the dancers know that we would be serving a Thanksgiving meal, and they were welcome to come even if they weren't working. And though we brought a lot of food, I anticipated not having many more to feed than those that happened to be there when we showed up. Some wonderful women from the local Baptist church partnered with us this month (and probably will continue to!), taking care of half of the full Thanksgiving meal that we took. They were a huge help and I'm excited to see this ministry become bigger than one church, and just be about christians loving people.
I took my mom with me for this visit, and I wondered how the staff and dancers would react to her. She's the first person to do a visit with me that is over the age of 25, and I've heard from other ministries like ours that the dancers really respond to older women, partly for the maternal feel and because there is no immediate "competition" factor. It went great. The men didn't seem to know what to do with her, and kept their eyes on her like she was going to burn the place down, :-) but overall it was great. Soon after we got there, while we were bringing in the food, we overheard a girl I didn't recognize ask where the dressing room was, and realized it was her first night. When we took the small gifts we had brought back to the dressing room, I got into conversation with a few girls I knew, and met another while the new girl, "A", absolutely latched onto Mom. "A" opened up about how she came to be there, shared about her personal life, and how she didn't really want to be there, but didn't know where else to get a job that could support her and her children. She and Mom had a great conversation and Mom gave her her phone number. Please pray that she calls Mom soon, and nothing keeps her from it. She really seems to need friends, community, and wants a different job.
After talking for about 20 minutes, we all headed back to front of the club where the food was set up, and "D" (the dj) approached me with a pen and paper in his hand. I was apprehensive when he started quizzing me about whether or not we were representatives of a church, or ourselves, what the church's name was, who the head pastor was, his number, etc. He was writing everything down, and I was convinced that we had somehow crossed a line and offended someone and they were going to google the church and investigate further. :-) But then he started saying how much it meant to have us come and do this, and that he knew there were a lot of people from our church involved, and he wanted to thank the pastor of a church that produced people like that. It led to a great conversation about God and church, and I got to invite him to church and am excited to talk to him about it in the future. It's so sad how many people out there are walking around with hurts from churches and people who might have meant well, but did more damage than they knew. Please pray that "D" comes to church, or just gives Papa a call.
I can't explain how much I love these people. Thank you for your prayers. I can't wait to get back there for Christmas!