- (Photo: Erin Stevens)
"Strip Church" ministry based out of Nashville, Tenn. began after a pastor's wife fasted for 21 days in late 2012 for a new purpose, only to learn God was calling her to reach out to strippers and women in the porn industry.
"I had one clear direction from God, and it was "go feed the strippers." I had no idea what that meant, but it was pressing so hard on my heart that I had to obey. I realized the homosexual, stripper, child molester, atheist, drug addict, Muslim and abortionist is not the enemy, they are the mission field," said Stevens to The Christian Post.
Stevens, who helps her husband, Todd Stevens, lead Friendship Community Church in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., was bewildered but willing to serve so she made her first call to a strip club in downtown Nashville, where according to Stevens, the porn industry market is "huge." After telling the manager of Déjà Vu that she wanted to go to the club and take food for the dancers with no strings attached, she was surprised that he invited her the following week.
"She doesn't spread the gospel at Deja Vu, she just shows the girls love by listening, being attentive, and answering any questions they may have about life or faith," said John Sanchez, general manager at Déjà Vu, to CP. "The reason she was invited was because she didn't try to 'spread the word.""
During her first visit, Stevens took a home cooked meal to the club and stayed for 45 minutes to hold conversation with the women. There were no "high pressure sales pitch, no Bible and no tracts," according to Stevens. Now, she goes twice a month for an hour before the night shift begins. In addition, she visits another club in the same area where she "shows God's love in a practical way."
"My vision for the Strip Church ministry is to be able to provide free Christian counseling, free job placement, free GED training or college courses, free childcare, free medical care, and meet benevolence needs the girls may have," said Stevens.
So far, her visits have been well received by the women who tend to engage in open conversation with Stevens while sharing their personal stories of how they became dancers.
"I met one dancer that attends church regularly and even teaches Sunday school. Many of them lead two separate lives, their friends and families don't know they dance," said Stevens. "In several one-on-one conversations with the girls, I have discovered an almost universal past of child sexual abuse. They dance to gain control of men. They hate men and want to dominate them as much as possible."
Another dancer that Stevens has met is Sarah, a single mother of two young girls. After receiving a Mary Kay gift bag worth $150 from Stevens, she admitted that she was a long time user of the brand's facial products but could not afford them anymore. Steven's gesture was enough for Sarah to acknowledge God's love through Stevens' actions and three months later, she gave her life to Christ and quit stripping.
"She has now been baptized, is serving at our church, and plans to join a community group. A recruiter that attends our church found Sarah a new job where she is making close to what she made dancing and now, she goes with me on Thursday nights to the clubs. Just like the woman at the well that experienced Jesus and ran to town saying, 'Come and see,' Sarah goes into these clubs and says, 'Come and see a place where you will always be welcome. Come as you are,'" said Stevens.
Aside from her new found ministry, Steven remains busy as a wife and homeschool teacher to her three sons, but finds that her work serving women is just as rewarding.
"Not in a million years would I have dreamed that God would have me start the only ministry to strippers and people in the porn industry in the entire city of Nashville. But, I have no doubt that I am exactly where I need to be, and I know if Jesus were walking on earth today, He would beright beside me," said Stevens.