God laid this ministry on my heart in January of 2006. He changed my heart from one of disdain and judgement of dancers to one of compassion. God used a TV interview of a former dancer from one of the clubs in Las Vegas, Nevada. This woman shared how her past sexual abuse led to believe that she wasn’t good for anything else. She began dancing in the Adult Entertainment Industry as a way to survive. After several years of dancing, she heard about Jesus. She placed her faith in him and he completely changed her life. He gave her a sense of worth and purpose. She felt that God wanted her to go back into the clubs of Las Vegas and share her story of faith in Jesus with other dancers.
As I listened to her story, I began to weep uncontrollably. God revealed the ignorance of my judgmental heart and gave me his heart of compassion and love for women in the commercial sex industry. I felt such a burden for dancers, so I committed to thirty days of prayer and seeking the Lord for direction. I prayed about how to connect with them. Thirty days became sixty and sixty turned into ninety. However, due to my fear and lack of clear direction, I didn’t take action for another year.
In the spring of 2007, after God relentlessly brought these women to mind, I approached a woman in my church who had been in the industry years earlier. I shared my heart with her asking for advice. She also believed that God wanted to use her past to help others. We didn’t know where to begin, so we recruited others to pray. By July, a group of women were praying weekly for guidance on how to build relationships with dancers. We explored ways to connect without going into a club, but every door closed.
We researched other ministries like ours and got the idea to take gifts into the clubs. So, in December of 2007, we made Christmas gifts to drop off at most of the clubs in town. Before going through with the plan, one gal phoned a dancer who had recently left a club to run our plan by her. The former dancer explained, “The girls will never receive the gifts. You will have to go into the clubs, sit down, order food, and talk to the girls”. I began to laugh: we had tried so hard not to go into a club, but God had other plans.
In the next few days, we gave out 125 gifts by going into seven clubs and sitting down ordering food or beverages and handing out the gifts to each woman. These gifts made them feel valued and opened the doors to engage them in conversation. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
Since then, we have expanded to five out of six clubs. We have been blessed with some wonderful friendships with dancers, and other female staff. We have also learned a lot along the way. While faith can be an important component to someone’s journey toward health and healing, many times wrap around care is required to empower women caught in sexual exploitation to live a new life in freedom.