Tami Taunton is a pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mom and Founder and Executive Director of Hadassah’s Hope (HH). HH is a ministry in Jacksonville, FL that serves women in the adult entertainment ministry.
When you think of a strip club ministry, what comes to mind?
Is this dangerous?
Will I see things I shouldn’t?
Is this legal?
What do I say to them?
Is this even right?
Hadassah’s Hope is a ministry that serves women who work in the adult entertainment industry. It’s made up of volunteers who minister to women right where they are, in the strip club. On the first and third Saturday of every month, our Outreach Team gives hope by taking a home-cooked meal into strip clubs and sharing the gospel. Through actions and words, we proclaim Jesus to strippers because he’s their only hope to be free from all bondage. Our ultimate goal isn’t for them to leave the industry, it’s to demonstrate and introduce their Redeemer to them.
This ministry often makes people cringe. I’m often asked, “Why would you go into a strip club?” My response is, “Why not?”
Jesus met, ate, loved, gave favor and extended grace to sinners of every kind. He didn’t reject them. After all, he originally created them in his image. He hung out with those whom society overlooked and threw aside. Jesus didn’t leave anyone as worthless, but instead made them worthy with his very own blood.
Why is it so easy for Christians to forget that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4)? That only the blood of Jesus makes us holy?
Jesus was never afraid of walking in love towards those society had the least regard for (Jn 4:4-42).
Walking in Love
The first time I entered the club I had no idea what to expect. I just knew God had given me a desire to be there. Walking in with zero expectations, I walked out in awe.
These girls—these lovely girls—were so . . . normal.
When I first talked to a stripper, she reminded me of any young mom I’d run into at the church nursery. Minus the fact she didn’t have clothes on. She showed me pictures of her children, asked for parenting advice, talked about paying bills. As I looked into her eyes, I saw a woman—a young, broken girl.
They all have stories, probably much like yours or mine.
No little girl grows up dreaming of being a stripper. The women I meet hate working at clubs. They are single moms trying to survive. Surprisingly, they don’t make a lot of money and often have multiple jobs.
Why Are You Here?
While sitting in the dark, dirty, run-down dressing rooms, we often hear these statements:
Thank you for hanging out with us. I can’t believe you come in here just to be with us.
I’ve seen church people protesting in the parking lot, but no one has ever come in here and brought us a meal.
Y’all are like our support group!
Everyone judges us.
Churches picket outside the club or drop off Bibles with the words REPENT on them.
These statements wreck me. But the question we get the most often is,
Why are you here?
It’s my favorite question because we get to tell them how much God loves them and how special they are to him.
To Love Like Christ is a Privilege
It’s a privilege to spend time with these girls, my friends, at the club. I’m 100% convinced the only difference between “them” and me is they don’t know yet how they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a Savior (Ps 139:14). Most of them have been abused and told how worthless they are for so long that they wholeheartedly believe it. Their pasts are heart breaking.
We can’t do anything to change that, but we can introduce them to the one who can change their heart, Jesus.
Each week I leave the club with a heavy heart. I think about the girls non-stop. Not because I feel sorry for them, or because I’m better than them or even because I pity their circumstance. I cry over their suffering, and God continues to break my heart for what breaks his. He humbles me. Countless times, I’ve gone in as if to minister to some lowly soul only to walk out completely undone because the condition of my own heart is exposed. And God breaks it. God continually shows me how desperately we all need Jesus.
The first time I left the club, I wept before God asking his forgiveness for the way I had viewed women in that profession. I asked Jesus to give me eyes to see these women as he does.
Loving People Jesus Loves
I realize not everyone will take meals into strip clubs. But if Jesus were still here in the flesh, walking among us, wouldn’t it be just like him to walk into the most ungodly place and completely freak religious people out? He loved then. He loves now. He’s willing to go anywhere to rescue his children. And he calls us to the same privilege (Mk 16:15). He first loved us, so we love others, period (Jn 15:12-13).
I’m thankful God uses weak people like me. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that motivates me to go back week after week to share what he’s given to me. His love enables me to be light in a dark place (Matt 5). Only Light brings grace, hope and renewal.
The women are beginning to reach out more and more. Relationships are being built. They are beginning to trust us, which leads to coffee, lunch, attending church together, visiting them in the hospital, taking meals to them—mostly sharing the love of Christ so that prayerfully, one day they may come to know him.
Only Jesus can bring heart transformation for me. Only Jesus can bring real transformation for you. Only Jesus can bring true transformation for strippers.
What keeps you from sharing what God has given you?
Questions for Reflection:
1. What keeps you from sharing what God has given you?
2. If you don’t share God’s love with others, why not?
3. What’s the kindness thing God has done for you?
4. If you didn’t answer salvation, do you need to dwell more on your utter need for him?
5. Do you know God’s love enough that it compels you to share it with others?
6. What are some ways you can begin reaching out to the people in need around you?
7. What things keep you from going into the hard places to share Christ?
8. Are there ministries you could plug into to serve and share God’s love?