This week has been surprising, and really reassuring, and strange all at the same time. Being raised Mennonite, I've never really been around a lot of people who were into the gifts of the Spirit, i.e., speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, visions, etc. Basically things that are more supernatural. I've actually always had a very healthy dose of skepticism for people who do speak in tongues (do they have an interpreter? do they just want attention?) and felt like visions and prophecy are just as likely to be the desire of the person rather than a real Word from God. And I think obviously there will always be people out there abusing the gifts of the Spirit just as there will always be those who abuse the name of Christ by calling themselves his followers and living otherwise. But over the past year, I've been exposed to people who have experienced these things in a genuine way, and it's been changing my thought process about the way the Holy Spirit can move and speak to us. I start with all of this because I believe God gave me a vision the day before our outreach. It wasn't anything to do with the future, but rather a glimpse of the truth about this ministry instead of the "reality" being what we see and experience when we go into the club and interact with people. I believe God showed me what's really going on, not what I see. So I'm going to share it with you, with my interpretation and understanding of what it means.
I was in a strip club, there to do an outreach. It wasn't the strip club we go to, just a nondescript club. There were a lot of people there, but no girls dancing on the stage. I was trying to start coversations with the girls I was talking to, and it wasn't easy, but we were getting there. I sat down at a booth with 3 dancers. They (and all the dancers there) were dressed in nasty, over-sized sweatshirts and sweatpants and the girl across from me was huddled in one of those NFL starter jackets they sell at Walmart. All the girls had messy hair and no makeup on. I could tell the girl I was sitting next to was high, her eyes were extremely red. While we were talking, a wimpy, pathetic, high-school aged kid with bad skin sat down less than a foot from our table and just stared at the girl sitting across from me. I quickly sent up a prayer, something about the spirit of lust, but I don't remember my wording. I could feel, but not see, a darkness attached to him, like a leech. He continued to stare at the girl, and it was clearly the time for her to get up and ask if she could do anything for him, and try to make some money. But she shrank back and whispered to the girl beside her, "I really don't want to. What do I do?". The girl beside her looked at her with dead eyes and just shrugged. I turned to look at the kid and in doing so, caught his attention. He turned his chair toward me, thinking I worked there, and tugged on my arm. I meant to politely, but firmly say "No" (which I've done before without any problems) but when I said it, it came out with a menacing, scary growl, and louder than I had meant to speak. The only way I describe it is that underneath the layer of my voice, was another voice/sound that was more of an authoritative, startling, growl. I could never make that sound, and honestly it intimidated me a little, but I wasn't scared of it. I felt like it came from something big behind me, but I didn't turn because I knew there was nothing behind me but another booth and more people. But sound made me jump, made the girls sitting with me jump and the boy immediately jumped up from his chair and left as quickly as possible. Even as the sound came from me, I knew that it wasn't directed at the boy, but the leech. The manager came over to see what the disturbance was, and I started apologizing for making a scene. Then I woke up.
Maybe it will be a long time before I understand everything about this dream, but here is the understanding of it that I feel God is telling me. Like I said before, I believe this was God showing me what's really going on, and what the true state of people's souls are when we go into do these outreaches. I believe that the girls' clothes and hair showed their desire to be covered up and not looked at in a sexual way. The girl who was stared at shared her true feelings about what she was there to do. She didn't want to dance, and when she tried to turn to a fellow dancer for help or escape, none could be found because they are all in the same situation. The patron was a scared, pathetic boy who if I would feel compassion for if I ever met in real life. He just wanted love and was being sucked of life by the leech I felt. I think this is true of the clients that are coming in, and that they are enslaved to demons or the hold of lust over them. Finally, I believe that the sound that came from me was either an angel or the Holy Spirit God sends with us. I know in my head that this it is spiritual warfare everytime we go into the club, but I think God was letting me know that I'm not going in with a puny cherub that maybe has enough juice to withstand the darkness and the demons that own that place. I go in with the full authority of a child of God, and that means some very serious power. It made me think of all the times in the bible that people interact with an angel. They're terrified. And I was a little nervous about the source of the noise, even though I knew it was with me. So it's really encouraging to know that that is what God is sending in with us.
For me, this dream was an encouragement and validation that this ministry is God's, and it's what he's called me to do. It felt like a reminder of why we're doing this, and a bolstering of my passion and compassion for everyone involved, dancers and patrons alike.
So now, on to the outreach.
It went so well. Amanda Dennison, who started this ministry with me, went along with me this week. We took cards for the girls that were gift certificates for a free haircut with my favorite hairdresser, Ms. Stephanie Liby, and we took small heart-shaped cupcakes for the bouncers. As soon as we got there, the 2 bouncers greeted us warmly and asked how our week was. Usually they're friendly, but not overly talkative. So we talked to them for a while, I told "M" about Josiah starting to sleep in a toddler bed, and he told me about his twins and how they've been sneaking out of their cribs at night. I ended up giving him a card for his wife, and I wondered how he would take it. I've heard that sometimes bouncers and male staff look down on the gifts ministries bring the girls as charity that they're above, and I didn't want to offend him, but he was very grateful and said his wife would love it. It was a good connection. Then we headed back toward the dressing room, but not before talking to a waitress "T" (who seemed a little embarrassed), and then Amanda was able to give one to the other waitress and chat with her a little bit. "D", the dj, was there, and I hadn't seen him for a few months, so I wondered if he still worked there. He was very happy to see us, and we had a good time talking to him. He said he and his girlfriend are definitely going to make it to church sometime, but "those sheets get awful heavy in the morning when you worked all night". I told him I'd keep pestering him until he comes, and he laughed. We gave him a card for his girlfriend as well.
The girls weren't spending any time in the dressing room, as it was pretty busy when we got there, but Amanda put our extra cards on their makeup counter. Then while we were in the dj booth talking to "D", two of the dancers came over to us when they got there to say hi and give us hugs before they started working. "C" and I had a good talk about our kids, and she rubbed my belly and asked how I was feeling, when I was due, etc. It was really great, because she's usually pretty shy and stand-offish. Everyone we talked to seemed excited about the cards, and I really hope they use them, and that God is able to use Stephanie to speak more love into their lives. Thank you all for praying for this ministry - keep it up!