The show was amazing. Second year for this year. Great team. Here are some recaps.
Find your One!
While talking with Pastor Garrett before the trip to NewJersey Exxxotica convention, he asked me a question: “What’s your goal for this trip?” That set me back a bit. I first thought of throwing the obvious back… to pass out Bibles and show the love of Jesus, but it got me really thinking what am I really there for?
My first volunteer experience with XXXChurch was in Vegas with a group from EastLake Church. While there we made a lot of contacts and shared Christ with hundreds of people. This would be my second show helping out XXXChurch.com. I was a bit nervous that the group going was a mix of people from all over the U.S. and that the show was on the East Coast in a section of New Jersey with nothing around it.
Back to Garrett’s question… my answer was “to find my one.” I went on to explain that while in Vegas I made one sincere contact with a pornstar who came up to our booth to chat. My goal at the New Jersey show was to make at least one sincere contact and have a real conversation about life with them. After the first day I was afraid that wasn’t going to happen. But on Saturday my wife and I sat down to lunch at a table at the convention and struck up a conversation with two women who worked for a strip club. We invited them back to ourbooth and gave them t-shirts. We offered some snacks and bottled water and they opened up and shared their story with us.
One named Melissa shared her story and explained that she’s not really using her gifts for the glory of God. Melissa knew she could be using her singing for a better use. We offered to pray for her and we exchanged emails. She emailed us and hopefully we can keep a string of conversations going to uphold her on her journey.
This got me thinking to what we are doing at home. Have you found your “one”? It doesn’t have to be at a porn convention. It could be at your neighborhood grocery, your kid’s elementary school, your office. Get out there and hang with Non-Christians. Find your one and learn their story. Share with them, love them, serve them!Be Christ to them.
The one thing I did notice at the convention was most girls didn’t give us a second glance and didn’t want to even talk with us. But when we served them, with make-up, frank conversation, food and drink, then they opened up to us and became real to us.
So my question to you is Have you found your one? What’s holding you back?
I wrote the following after my first day at the convention: “Counting the exit signs above the booths, but not wanting to leave through any of them. Eye contact and scripture murmurs strengthen to serve the pornstar struck strollerbys in front of the XXXchurch booth. Jesus is the entire stimulant anyone needs for He opens our eyes to the true beauty of this life. My heart sank for the acts someone’s daughter or son does to please the predators following in pack formation, that do not what they don’t know, for the Devil has gripped their lives. Their hearts do crave and inquire about God’s message. A top producer/director allowed a moment of his life for Jesus to be exposed to him. The convention was a great experience to share His love with people that needed to be met where they stood, not to be judged, but shown the pure love Christ has for everyone. “
The team meshed together as if we were lifelong friends before this trip. Our passion for the Lord poured out onto the hoards of people passing in front of the booth. The conversations I experienced varied from short, speedy informal talks of the bible to full length, robust blessed interactions about their burdens, joys, and thoughts on Jesus loving them no matter their past, present, or future sins. I shared my own story of struggle as I was once addicited to this porn industry’s promise of self-fulfillment through pleasures of my sexual imagination brought to me by the bodies of innocent women through the multimedia outlets of the Internet. By allowing people to know that I’ve been in their shoes seeing the worst of the worst. A hope was visable in Christ for changing my future apart from this sexual pervise lifestyle I’d grown accustom too. May connections were made about the inherent truths Jesus offers many of the people I come to know by first name that were feeling the weight of their lives in porn. May those that came in contact with XXXchurch at the NYC Exxxotica Expo, see us as transparent vessels pointing them to Jesus.
A hope sealed by handshakes, hugs, and pats on the shoulder that Christ’s love may have entered their hearts by compassion only the Lord can supply blossoming them in a new life away from this degrating fantasy world of porn. God through prayer may my ticket be punched for further trips into the darkness to spark Your light in the hearts of a Dad’s daughter and Mother’s son. To this industry, to these lives tangled within it, may Jesus serve freedom in the gospel about His love for that’s what’s truly worth living for.
This experience was AMAZING! Never did I ever think I would enjoy serving like I did here!!! You guys were amazing Jess!! Never have I felt so accepted by a ministry group!! You, Rachel and Rob are the real deal, I cannot thank you all enough for making me feel so welcomed!!!
Two mornings on during the trip I was just over whelmed by the holy spirit. Never did I think that something that would seem so wrong (going to a porn show), would feel so right!!! I feel like I’ve finally found my place of service, I cannot thank you and the ministry enough for the honor of being able to serve along side you. I am in awe that God would trust someone like me to be a part of something like this. I love the simplicity of the Lord. This trip showed me that doing Christ’s work can be as simple as loving people where they are at & loving them for who they are despite their faults. It taught me that I have nothing to offer but to call upon the Lord to do it through me.
One thing that God really spoke to my heart before, during and after the show: Be faithful in the little things, the everyday opportunities I come in contact with to be a Christ (easier said then done). On the way home I read the JLP book we gave out and Craig’s story about his relationship with Ron truly spoke to my heart. That book as well as the trip made me realize evangelism is much more simple then I make it out to be, it all comes down to love. Love people and let them know Jesus loves them. Be a Christ. I don’t have to go to a porn show to let people know God loves them and wants a relationship with them. I need to see every opportunity and do so. This trip opened my eyes to that. I need to be faithful with what God has given me, regardless of whether I am happy with it or not, in order for God to entrust me with bigger things. This trip prepared me to witness to a co-worker who does not know Christ. It showed me that I don’t have to fix her or convert her, I just have to make myself available, listen, love and rely on God every step of the way. It was incredible and I had such a peace about it the whole way through.
I would love an opportunity to serve alongside you guys and be a part of your ministry. Ministering to those lost in porn addiction and the sex industry is something God birth in my heart when I was working in publishing, through my own life experience of growing up waning to be in playboy, and my own pursuit into stripping when I was younger. God really showed me how much these women are starving for Christ and that God has so much more to offer them.
Never have I felt such an ease and passion in serving and giving. I always thought serving was more of an obligation then an honor. This experience has truly changed my life and revealed to me how incredible serving can be and that it truly is an honor not an obligation. This trip was something God put on my heart 2 1/2 years ago and to get to finally fulfill it was astonishing. It showed me that all I need to do is show up, make myself available, and rely on Him every step of the way.
Thank you so, so much!!
May the grace and peace of God be with you!!
On the first day of NY Exxxotica I approached a group of about six girls who walked by our booth. I gave them a big smile while saying “Jesus loves Porn Stars”. Not only did they not take the Bibles I was trying to give them they totally shut me down. Serious crash and burn time! The young ladies were hired to walk around the convention practically naked. They dance in cages on poles in chains on pink satin beds. They pose for pictures and dance all in the hopes of earning some good tips. They were gearing up for a long weekend of being grabbed and gawked at. The last thing they needed was some crazy “Jesus” chick shoving Bibles in their faces.
At past conventions we have had tee shirts to give to the girls. The shirts kind of break the ice because the girls really like them. Giving a gift opens up the door to conversation. Our team decided we needed to give away something. We handed out candy and snacks, and then someone had the great idea of giving coffee to the girls. A warm beverage was really welcome because half of the girls were freezing.
I learned that serving others breaks down walls. After a day or so of serving those same girls I told you about a relationship started to form. Names were exchanged and after some more time… hugs. Initially the girls would be shocked when we gave to them. They thought we were charging for the food and coffee or we had some angle. When they learned that there were no strings attached we simply wanted to make them feel loved they would smile and sure enough a spark friendship would start to form. To reach these girls we had to serve them.
What really stood out to me over the weekend in Jersey was the love of Christ that doesn’t stop with the Christians at their booth, or the porn stars, but is extended to all people. The message of His love is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board. I think about the bouncer, Pete who for four days greeted me with a frown and a smart comment about how I was “trouble” at the entry door. Pete was the bad cop and tried to keep it that way, until the last day after a few chats and trying to exchange smiles over the weekend, he went out of his way to find me and thanked me for coming with a sincere attitude and gave me a hug. It wasn’t that I had done anything abnormal, except treat him with respect and love. You never know what people are going through. You don’t know and can’t assume things. Choosing to see Pete and other guys that were working the event as people, valuable and cared for by a living God, was an unexpected blessings that just proved to me that the mission is that all man would know Him!
This was my second trip with XXX Church. I was just as excited about
this trip as I was my first. From set up till time to go our separate
ways God used each of us in various ways to reach others and teach
each other new things. I have been amazed at the unity of the crew and
volunteers. After about 10 minutes with each other it feels like you
have been friends a lifetime. When you have the bond of loving Jesus
and the willingness to share that love with others it is impossible
not to become friends fast. I was glad that I serve with friends made
during the Miami trip and new friends on this one.
The convention was the usual pink and black attack with all the
furnishings you could expect at a porn show. I saw quite a few people
that I had met while working the Miami show. I was able to take time
and reconnect with them. I was also able to make some new friendships
with various vendors, magician, DJ, and an rap artist. Some of the
things that transpired I could have never imagined. My favorite story
was on Friday night after the show was over and I was back at the
hotel in bed. I was thinking about things and made up my mind that one
of my goals on Saturday was to give one of the preforming rap groups
Jesus Loves Porn Star bibles. I prayed about it and went to sleep. The
next morning I was up early too excited to sleep. I went downstairs to
the Starbucks got a cup of coffee and went and had a seat in the
lobby. While sitting in the lobby I noticed sitting next to me was one
of the members of the rap group I had prayed about just hours earlier.
I struck up a conversation with him and told him who I was there with
and what we did. Then in that moment right there in the hotel lobby
this man began to tell me somethings and he told me that God looks out
for me even though I don’t always do right and I don’t know why. We
continued to talk and one of the other volunteers was in the lobby
also and just so happened to have a bible on them. So we gave this man
a bible and told him that we would be praying for him. He said “please
do”. Later on in the day I saw him again at the convention and told
him that I had prayed for him and would continue to do so. We talked a
little more and he gave me his number so we could stay in touch. Long
story short I had one more encounter with him on Sunday morning and I
gave him my number and told him to call if he needed anything and gave
him a note with a prayer in it. Then I was also able to get bibles in
the hands of the rest of the group sitting in the lobby Sunday
morning. Later that evening while driving home I received a phone call
from that man thanking me for the note and asking me again to keep him
in my prayers.
I was floored! All I had asked God for was to place bibles in the
hands of the group which he did. But he also trusted me enough to let
me be hopefully be a light on someones dark day.
There were several other people I came in contact with like a couple
of wrestlers from the NY area, an old school metalhead artist called
“Filthy”, a cop, graphic designer. the list goes on and on. All these
people will be in my prayers. I hope to see them again some day. My
prayer is that I will see them at a church giving their testimony
about how Jesus has changed their life. If not there then I guess I
will see them at another porn show as I continue to hand out bibles
and let people know Jesus loves you.
Love Jesus/Love People
I was reading Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace on the plane flying into Newark. In truth, I had been reading it all week and kept coming back to it even now as we prepared for the NY Exxxotica Show. I had been looking forward to this trip for a few months, preparing to lead a team into an unlikely arena for an outreach, and the theme of God’s amazing grace was where I had camped out. It struck me how simple the message was, how uncomplicated His message of love and forgiveness was. That’s what we were there to do, right?
Jess had done an outstanding job of coordinating all of the logistics as our team consisted of volunteers who were coming in from all over the country. We gathered in the hotel lobby, made introductions, and then grabbed a meal. It struck me how oddly familiar everyone became with each other so quickly. I say odd because this was a group of total strangers being thrown together, and yet there was a comfortability that everyone seemed to share. Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me – after all they had much in common. They all had made a decision to step up and serve in a way that would challenge them, stretch them, grow them. Each of them had made a commitment to be used to show Jesus to people whom He loved. They were all ready… really ready. And so it shouldn’t have surprised me how quickly everyone seemed like old friends… but it did.
The team worked the show floor for three days, sharing, serving, connecting, the whole time walking out the simple message of God’s grace in ways that people could see and touch. Even if they didn’t recognize initially what they were encountering was Jesus’ love for them, they certainly had to walk away from our booth with questions that would follow them home.
We talked with all sorts of people that weekend. All of them coming from different backgrounds. All of them having unique stories and experiences. That’s when the simple reality of God’s grace smacks me upside the head again. Because I’m reminded that their unique stories and experiences aren’t that far removed from my own. And the us vs. them mentality that has been bred in me from years of looking at the ‘unsaved’ as some separate almost foreign population has grown into some subtle kind of arrogance that I’m somehow better than or more enlightened because I’m forgiven. The truth is it’s not ‘they’ who needs God’s grace, it’s ‘we’. It’s not ‘them’, it’s ‘us’.
Jesus loves US, He died for US, He wants to know US better. Simple. For our team last weekend, US was everyone at the Edison Expo Center. Today, US is everyone in this coffee shop I’m sitting in as I type this. US catches everyone, it includes me, and it attaches me to those around me. US reminds me that we’re more the same than we’re different, and that US follows me everywhere I go. So, who is your US and does it look more or less like Jesus because you’re in it?