A recent blog post from www.christianitytoday.com titled “Three Views: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club?” shared different perspectives on outreach evangelism. The following is a response to the post, written by Dr. Kimberly Majeski, professor of biblical studies at Anderson University School of Theology and CEO of Stripped Love. Read the article from Christianity Today at www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/july-august/thre-views-would-jesus-hang-out-in-strip-club.html.
In a word, yes! I have seen Jesus in a strip club, many times over. Jesus, the flesh and blood manifestation of the wisdom of God, will be found where he said he’d be, bringing good news to the poor, sight to the blind, encouragement to the oppressed, and freedom to the captives, and proclaiming the Jubilee Luke 4.16–19). Jesus resides wherever broken people are, wherever pain and loss and despair seek to stifle out all light and hope and love, that’s what Jesus does, that’s who Jesus has always been and will always be.
The word ישוע, the Hebrew form of the name Jesus, means literally deliverance, salvation, liberation. Inherent in the work of freedom is the leading people out of bondage. If you have ever worked with people in chains, literal, economic, social, political, psychological, or figurative, you know that they don’t walk away on their own; it takes someone walking in, encountering them in their place of trouble, showing up over and over again, proving to be a safe person, and ever so slowly helping those in chains believe again in the love of God so they can wake up to their dreams. This is slow, deliberate, Jesus work so that one day these who are beloved of God can by Spirit power take your hand and walk out into the light.
So yes, Jesus shows up in the strip clubs in my town often. Every other week, my team and I walk in the door and our friend who is the house mom and bartender shouts, “Jesus is in the house!” We smile, rush over to hug her and greet all our other friends, whom we call by name. These women have become a hymn to me, and the relationships forged in mutual sorrow amid the brokenness of all our lives have become my song. I sit with them in the darkness, and they sit with me, and we hold hands and tell each other the truth, sharing the pain and dissonance of our stories together before the next rotation on the stage. We laugh and we drink and we have conversations that are real and human; we admit what we cannot know and hold on to one another anyway. I bring them gifts and they shower me with love, and we sit in the ash heap together, skin on skin, heart to heart, and hope for a better tomorrow.
You would think it would be hard to talk about Jesus in a strip club, but it’s not; it’s actually the easiest place in the world. I have been forging friendships with women in sex trade for the past four years, and it turns out that Jesus can be found right where he said he’d be, among the “least of these” (Matt 25.45).
There is a prevailing notion and prejudicial image of women who take their clothes off for a living: We believe them to be seductresses and overly sexualized catlike figures using their feminine prowess to earn a buck, but this couldn’t be further from what I have experienced as true. People in strip clubs are like people everywhere else—they are hurting. The difference is that the women in the club are literally stripped bare so that they cannot hide their sin-sick souls like we do, those of us huddled in the church in the suburbs, and it is in the stripping back of all pretense and pretty, the peeling away of what is not real or raw, that I have come to know Jesus in the deep suffering and in the kindness of strippers and prostitutes. It is not only that Jesus is in me and I bring him into the dark; it is that Jesus is in these women, with them and for them, showing up in all the ways they love and welcome me—a busted up, self-proclaimed church girl in search of what is Jesus, what is true.
Learn more about our ministry Stripped Love at www.strippedlove.org.
Learn more about the Church of God response to sex trafficking at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chog-trafficklight.