I'm going to try not to cry while I write this one. When you pray for God to show His glory, it should come as no suprise when it actually happens. This past week, I felt like asking God to show me His glory in the visit this week. I felt weird about it though, and only did it once before today. Then this afternoon it came to mind again and I was suddenly SO excited about this visit. It was probably between 4:00-5:00. I started praying for God to go ahead of us in a huge way, to show His hand at work in a way that would be unmistakable and awesome. And He did.
Natalie Clemmons, a woman I've looked up to for years as a lover of Jesus, graciously agreed to come with me this week. It was her first time, and I'm excited to hear her perspective (I didn't have time to chat after we did the outreach) of the visit. I made "pie pops" (mini-pie-on-a-stick) for the bouncers and the gifts for the girls were fun headbands and clips that had rosettes and feathers on them. In the car before the visit, she asked what I wanted to express to the girls, what mission she should be trying to get across. I told her that I want them to know God loves them. I'm not trying to get them to leave their jobs or do anything. I think that the people there are all trying to get something out everyone else. The men want to feed their addiction and loneliness, and have to pay for it. The women want money and approval, and pay for it with their dignity and self-worth. Everything costs something. I want them to know God's love costs NOTHING. It just is.
When we walked in, something felt off. The guys were not sitting in their usual seats by the door. The regular bartender was there though, and he quickly explained that the manager, other bartender, and head bouncer had all quit the day before and were starting a new business together (not a strip club). He said the "D" the dj, was now acting manager and no one really knows what's going on. We chatted with him for a while about his other job, and I greeted and chatted with the waitress "S" as she walked by. She's very shy, but very sweet. I've run into her a couple of times at stores in town and she always smiles and says hi. I saw a guy sitting at a table eating, and the bartender told me he was the new bouncer, "C ". I decided not to approach him while he was eating, but as we walked by, he stopped us and asked if we were dancers and where we were going. When Natalie and I explained what we were doing, he asked if we were with Bruised Reed and Southland, because he had met those ladies while working in a club in Lexington. He quit for a while, working as an electrician, but is having trouble making ends meet, so he's back to bouncing clubs. He was very nice, and offered us some of the fruit he brought to eat. :-) We went into the dressing room, and I was disappointed to find it empty. We started to put the gifts on the counter when a new girl walked in. I didn't realize how long it's been since I explained what I was there to do until I got to say, "We just wanted you to know that God loves you, and we love you, and wanted to give you a gift." She started telling us about herself, she recently moved here and actually mentioned church. We asked if she had found one and then told her about Vineyard. She was SO excited. She said she had been looking up churches to visit and said more than once that it's so perfect we came tonight. She asked if we had drums at our church, because she can't go to a church that doesn't have drums. We told her the Vineyard is right up her alley! She told us that her boyfriend doesn't like her working there, but she makes good money. She said no one at her church knew/knows what she does, except for her dad. I told her she was welcome at our church, and she said "It's ok to have a stripper come?" and we told her definitely! I told her we wanted to see her grow in a relationship with Jesus. We gave her a card with the church service times on it, our names, my number and the church website. PLEASE pray that she and her boyfriend make it to church this Sunday.
After we finished talking to "N", we met "Sam". She is new as well, and mentioned that she got this job for the money, but she had wanted a factory job. I told her to check out Hitachi, and gave her the name of a good temp service as well, on a card with my email address on it. She has a little baby and enjoys having a job she makes money at so she can buy him things. She also told us that her baby's daddy died last year, but didn't go into any details. She has some family around her to be support, but please pray that she follows up on the info I gave her and looks into a new job.
We met a third new girl who was very friendly, and may have been on something. But as we left she shouted "Thank you so much!" across the dressing room.
I was able to poke my head in the office and say hello to "D" as we left. I said something about him being the boss, and he said "No way! Just until we figure out what we're doing!". Everything seems to be up in the air. Two girls that I love so much were in there with him being griped out for something, but they gave me hugs before I left. I did overhear "Sam" say how much she likes "D" being in charge because he's so much nicer than the previous manager, so it's good to know the girls are being treated better. After that we headed out the door.
It was so encouraging, so amazing. To hear "N" say over and over how perfect it was that we came tonight when she's been looking for a church, and be able to give job info to a girl who wanted a different job. Who knows what God's doing? Keep praying!