Last year, a Nashville preacher’s wife started hanging out in local strip clubs. But Erin Stevens didn’t stay for the show. She came bearing food. Home cooked meals, actually.
“I just felt God say, ‘Go feed the strippers,’” says Stevens. About a year later, Stevens is still feeding strippers, sometimes bringing them other gifts donated by local businesses. On one occasion she visited the strippers with $150 worth of Mary Kay cosmetics, which she gave away.
Stevens is not alone in her outreach effort to strippers. She attended a training session run by a national network called Strip Church. The national organization’s web site describes it as a network of “forward-thinking women and men who are reaching out into the sex industry in incredible ways.”
The site lists several other cities where Strip Church holds training and has set up ministries for women in the sex industry, including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Orange County, Calif.
Stevens shows up early in the evening, before the strippers start work.
“I bring the girls gifts,” she said. “Lip gloss, fingernail polish and more. I just ask about their kids, and family and their lives. I show them love. I don’t thump a Bible and preach.”
It’s the practical, non-judgmental approach that has allowed Stevens to get through to at least some of the strippers.
“She didn’t chastise me, and she was the first to tell me ‘God still loves you. You’re here, but He hasn’t left you,’” said one, identified by the alias “Sarah” to protect her privacy. “She wasn’t begging or bugging me, and she wasn’t handing me a Bible and she wasn’t trying to change me, she was trying to help me.”
Eventually, Sarah showed up at the Friendship Community Church, where Stevens’ husband Todd is a pastor. Soon after that, another churchgoer found her a new job and Sarah quit doffing her duds for cash.