Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Late last night fourteen of us gathered in a seminary parking lot to pray about the opportunity to share Christmas gifts with the community. Sounds like a normal church outing, but there was nothing normal about it.
The group was not a church gathering, but a gathering of the larger Church that included family members, friends, former church friends, and seminary students.
The gifts were just plates of cookies covered appealingly in clear wrap and ribbons.
The recipients were the dancers at a local strip bar in east New Orleans, during one of their busiest hours of work.
There was nothing normal about the outing.
The group of ladies who are working to establish relationships with the young women who work in these clubs had already made contact with the manager, and had been invited back on a night (Friday) when the club would have a larger group of women working.
We gathered together, the four who were prepared to go into the club, and the ten who would provide the prayer support and the protection. We prayed and talked about what to expect and prayed some more.
We divided into three cars and prayed on the way to the club.
We parked a ways from the club entrance and continued to watch 4 women with their wrapped plates of cookies walk to the door. It is one of the bravest moments I've ever witnessed. And, I should tell you, one of the women who boldly approached the club was my daughter, my baby, my youngest . . . you get the picture!
We sat in the car and prayed. They would hit a snag getting past the bouncer and send out a text asking for specific prayer, and we'd pray more. They were finally given access to the dancers in the dressing room and had the opportunity to meet and talk with young ladies they would never have encounter in any other way, to begin the slow process of building relationships, and to be the presence of Jesus Christ in that place. They went into the one of the seediest places I've ever seen so the women who worked there could "see" Jesus.
I must confess that I started crying during the first prayer as we gathered and prayed throughout the process, one of the longest and most anxious experiences of my life. But God blessed their actions, their boldness, their dedication, and their concern. Only God knows what will come from their efforts, but those women at the club will know that on a cold, rainy night in Louisiana, 4 women went through the "gates of hell" with homemade cookies to meet them where they were. Those four ladies have become heroes to me . . . for allowing God to use them in a mighty way. The youngest of the four had never been in such a place before and she was obviously nervous. But after the experience, she glowed with what God had allowed her to do.
But what struck me most of all is that they were doing something extravagant in the name of our Lord––they were delivering the news of the birth of Jesus and demonstrating the the consequences of this birth in their own lives. It hit me in that moment that they were giving the true Christmas gift, the presence of Jesus, in the lives of those He came to save from this type of existence. It was a holy time. Is there any clearer picture of what this gift would mean for the world to receive the one who comes for all men and who is love for them all?
Would you join me in prayer for this group of ladies who are working to create relationships with the club workers and dancers so they will be able to see Jesus? Pray specifically:
1. That management will continue to be open to allowing these ladies to come back into the club and to spend time with the dancers and workers.
2. That the bouncer will continue to being open to allowing these outsiders into the club as well as in developing his own relationship through some of the husbands of these women who were there.
3. That the women who entered these clubs will have a hedge of protection around them and that they will be physically safe while in the clubs.
4. That the women visiting the clubs will not be pulled into any of what they see in the clubs.
5. That women will continue to open up about their concerns and their desires to get out of the business.
6. That the ladies who visit the club will feel they have been given a task that they are uniquely qualified for and were uniquely chosen.
7. Pray for the family members and friends who become involved as prayer support that they will never take this kind of service as lightly done, but rather that what these ladies have done has the power to change the city of New Orleans and consequently the world.
Would you pray with me toward these ends?