The Kingdom Smells Like Cigarettes and Perfume
APRIL 2014 Update
Six years ago today, on the Monday of Holy Week 2008, God focused my attention on a passage for our outreaches. Joshua 2 has been a landmark passage that will be etched forever in my mind with continual depths that I will never fully be able to explore this side of heaven. 2008 marked a turning point for our ministry: we were no longer satisfied in occasional outreaches. The needs presented to us required a consistency, an “all-in” commitment, and a heart abandoned to every other pursuit in our ministry. I don’t know any other way to describe this pull: we had unearthed a treasure. When we initially followed God into the clubs, we felt ignorant (and we were), fearful (would they accept us?), and naive (we had no idea what they had endured). However, we walked away with a lightbulb moment that wrecked us forever….we had found the Kingdom. Tucked away in darkness, smelling like cigarettes and perfume (hence our new tshirt), we fell in love with the women we met and even more with the God who sees them.
When you find treasure, you’re left with a, “now what?” moment. We were determined to “sell all that we had” to gain this treasure, to gain their love and trust, and to infuse the presence of God in our women’s lives. However, “selling it all” comes with a price. For us, it came in the form of accusations and misunderstandings...unfortunately, mostly from church people. We heard, “Brett & Emily have given up their worship calling,” and, “Waco and Baylor are idols to you...why else would you stay there?” We received questions like, “Are ya’ll just ‘jumping on the justice wagon’?” In response, I wrestled with wondering if we would lead worship in that capacity again. I wallowed a bit in some self-pity, feeling misunderstood and as though we didn’t “fit” where we used to in ministry or in the church.
But we knew one thing to be true: leading worship has little to do with our voice or talent and everything to do with our lives. Going into the clubs, giving our lives, energies, resources, and time to dancers was the worship God desired...and we weren’t going to withhold that from the worthy King who laid down His very life for us.
So in 2008, this very Monday six years ago, I landed in Joshua 2.: the story of Rahab and the spies. Rahab was an innkeeper and believed to be a prostitute. Every time I read this passage, I am amazed by her strategic placement in the battle of Jericho (she helped them secure Jericho), her persuasiveness (“Yes, I saw the men but they have fled, hurry, run after them…”), her compromise (“Give me your pledge, spare my family’s life.”), and her faith (“For the Lord, your God, is God in heaven”). But the line that struck me and held my attention for weeks and even years was Joshua 2:15: “...for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.”
Dancers, entertainers, and strippers are not prostitutes (though many have engaged in prostitution), yet society sees them the same way that they saw Rahab. As I stewed on this Scripture, the Lord began to speak: “Find favor with these women, and I will give you the city”. This made no sense, but the Kingdom rarely does.
Just last week, because of our women, the Waco City Council requested a meeting with us. We literally had the city’s ear. I couldn’t quit thinking of the faithfulness of God and the truth of His Word, the Living Word.
This Friday, we will stand on His faithfulness and pour out the love of Christ upon a rich treasure, women whom the Lord loves. I can think of no better way to spend Good Friday….in the clubs, filled with the smell of cigarettes and perfume.
Founder & Co-CEO
PS: Don't forget to pick up one of the new shirts in the Love Store, tomorrow!
GOOD Friday NEEDS
We are still raising funds for our Good Friday outreach. At this point, money is the best way to help. Over the next few days our teams in Waco, Dallas, College Station and San Antonio will be shopping for the gift bags. We anticipate give out over 300 gift bags this year! In addition, every dancer receives a Jesus Loves Strippers tee shirt and bible. Each bag costs approximately $40-50 each.
Please consider helping us reach our funding goal.
Click here for details and to donate.
We are super excited to introduce you to the new City Team Leader for Waco, Kristi Cruthirds! Kristi is a Baylor University graduate and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Kristi brings a wealth of experience that will deepen the CONNECT component of our ministry model.
Kristi has already begun transitioning into her role will assume the reigns in August.
She and her husband Ryan have two beautiful kids and we are thrilled to welcome them all to the JSL family.
Pray for Kristi as she trains and prepares for this new adventure.
WEST: One Year Ago
One year ago, our friend Brittany lost everything except the clothing on her back in the massive explosion that rocked the small town of West, just a few minutes outside of Waco.
Through your generosity, we were able to provide Brittany with a fully furnished apartment and covered her rent for a year!
Today, Brittany is preparing to move back to West and she tells us she's doing "great!" She also wanted to express her heartfelt gratitude to everyone who gave and prayed for her.
Building Campaign Update
We are currently raising funds to acquire a dedicated office space for the JSL Headquarters. For the past 10 years we have run JSL out of our home. We are now at the point in our size and growth trajectory that we can no longer do this. The owner of a building near downtown Waco has approached us with a purchasing opportunity for his building. It is a 4400 square foot space in our ideal location. The building would allow us the space to train our teams across Texas, provide training for dancers exiting the industry as well as provide brief emergency assistance for a dancer and/or her children in need. The property owner is offering the building to us for $200,000 which is approximately $45/square foot. This is well below market value. We believe that purchasing this space is a much better financial decision than simply leasing a space. It provides a great asset to the ministry as well as plenty of room for us to function in our current capacity and allow us room for growth. If you would like more information on our Building Campaign, click here or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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