Jesus Loves Porn Stars

IMG_0058The guest pastor talked about a group of people largely outside of a Christian influence and immediately I was intrigued. With all the technology at our disposal, with all the organizations committed to communicating God’s love, there are few groups as isolated from the gospel as this population. It was hard to imagine thousands of people within the United States in need of a vibrant and consistent Christian witness.

I began to ask God if I could be a part of His solution. Knowing the people I would encounter would have unfamiliar vocabulary, modes of dress, and even worldviews, I wondered how they would receive me and how effective my ministry would be. To be honest, I was concerned about sticking out like a sore thumb.

 

A missions field in my backyard

Many missions trips require a passport, a special visa and even learning basic phrases in the native language. Being a part of this outreach was as easy as driving to the Broward County Convention Center where the Exxxotica Expo draws ten thousand people annually. Over the past couple of years, Calvary Chapel has partnered with XXXChurch for outreaches to shows in Chicago, New Jersey, Dallas and Fort Lauderdale.

Carl, who is on staff with XXX Church, explained, “I first heard about XXXChurch and like a lot of people, I initially thought it must be a joke. Then I heard Craig Gross on a radio show, and I appreciated how thoughtful his responses were. The first time I was a part of a show, I was a little nervous, but once I was there, I settled in pretty quickly. There is something about being there for a purpose—when you are there on a mission—it just didn’t affect me the way it would have if I had just stumbled into it.”

“It’s ministry like any other. Developing the relationships is a little bit slower but that’s what it comes down to. Being there and establishing relationships. I’ve had the chance to connect with one of the actors. I met him a couple years ago at a show and now that we’ve seen each other a couple times, I’ve gotten the chance to pray for him and he’s told me his real name.”

 

What is that?

Madeline Klein, serves as Calvary’s team leader for these outreaches. She explained, “There is a tangible difference in the experiences of the people who are called to this ministry versus those who do it for other reasons. When one of the pastors at Calvary asked me to go to the Edison show, I was apprehensive because of what I would see and experience. My biggest fear was that I would be overwhelmed and embarrassed. Oddly enough, and a lot of the team members say the same thing, I felt so at ease at the show. Because God so loves the people we are talking to, it’s as though He blinds our eyes so we are not distracted from just connecting to people. God has placed us to be a light in a dark place, and we see it time after time as people are drawn to the booth. It’s amazing how many people are willing to speak to us about their lives, their hopes and their families.”

 

Making the connection

To be honest, I was startled at how readily people connected with me and the depth of conversation possible against such a sensory overload.

There was Clark, an active duty soldier in town for Fleet Week. He was moving to Central Florida for a career in physical therapy. We talked about his fear about his transition to civilian life. “Have you talked to anyone in your family or any of your coworkers?” His expression said it all. He was trained to not have doubts. I prayed my expression didn’t betray the irony that he was freely confiding in me, a stranger, but maybe that was the whole point.

Toby and Celia, were in town competing in an international roller-derby competition and were shocked we would give up our weekend for the opportunity to tell them how much God loves them. They jotted down information about Calvary’s Web campus.

Terry, an avowed atheist and a vendor, was thrilled to hear about the youth group at one of our campuses. She said, “I want more for my son than what I have.” I almost wept at her words.

People like Madge, who didn’t want to have her picture taken because she is a teacher at a local Christian school. We talked about how hard it can be to keep your faith vibrant when it also becomes your profession. Here we were, two Christians with so much in common, connecting in the middle of all the craziness of the Exxxotica Expo.

At one point, one of the guys I was talking to motioned me forward and whispered, “I don’t believe in your God. But if He is real, I think He would be in here with you doing this rather than outside with the protesters yelling at everyone.” It’s an amazing reality that God has given us the chance over and over to pray with consumers and industry professionals to surrender their hearts to Christ.

 

A hard heart softens

Often the change of heart is not just in those to whom we are speaking. Joy had the chance to be a part of the Vancouver 2014 trip. “Madeline told me the Lord had put me on her heart to join the team. I told her absolutely not. Pornography had been a major factor in the dissolution of my marriage, and I had nothing good to say to someone in that industry. When she asked me again the next year, I told her I would pray about it. Don’t even say that unless you are ready to have God change your mind.

“I asked God to give me a word to show me His heart. He led me right to Matthew 13:46 that talks about the man who, when he found a pearl of great price, sold everything to buy it. I realized those in the industry were the pearl to God and were worth everything to Him. I told Madeline yes and started baking cookies to fund my deposit. It wasn’t even a week later that someone called to tell me God told him to pay for the rest of my trip.”

Joy continued, “With the finances taken care of, I prayed for a way God could use me. I live on the beach and I love calligraphy, so I collected almost 200 shells and wrote the verse from Matthew on each of them. Over and over I saw people pass by the booth and refuse to take a Bible but when I asked if they wanted a shell, they accepted one. I told each of them, ‘To God, you are that pearl.’ Many started crying which of course made me start crying. Even if we didn’t have the chance to speak, I know we prayed over all the shells and that God is faithful to use it to connect them to Him even months and years later.”

 

A place of ministry

Madeline described the ministry that occurs within the Hotties Room. “At the Exxxotica conferences, the Hotties Room is where the women take their breaks and get dressed to go out on the floor. Our team members are there to talk, help them with their make-up and to pray with them. We find out about their families, how their college classes are going and even some of the challenges they are facing. We often get the chance to see the same girls from show to show. During the Edison (New Jersey) show, one of the girls mentioned it was her birthday. We got together and went out to get her a cake, a card and some balloons. She was so surprised and blessed that we celebrated with her. Later when I saw her at another show she said, ‘Remember when you had the birthday party for me?’”

“We usually put together a small gift bag with a handwritten note for all the girls. One of the managers told me, ‘You always make us feel so loved. It’s amazing how you treat us.’ One of the managers has invited me to go to a jazz club with her when we are in Chicago for the show. When you see the same people at a number of shows, relationship happens and Jesus is all about relationships.”

February 4-10, Calvary will be partnering with XXXChurch again in an outreach to those in the adult industry at the Porn Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. The team will also be working with Calvary Chapel Burnby in street reach to the prostitutes and drug addicts of the area.

 

Anitra Parmele is a writer for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale and an on-air host for ReachFM. You can contact her at [email protected]

 

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