You can read the first installment of our story here...
New Orleans Part 1
We 12 women entered the club. And no, we didn't see anything that scarred us for life. In fact, we didn't see anything at all. We had a precious man who led us to the party room where we'd be serving breakfast. He stood outside the door to our room the entire night and checked on us every 10 minutes. I must add...he wore a bullet-proof vest the entire time.
Our 7 men stood outside the entrance to the club and were adamant about not coming inside. This is a strict policy of One Ministry and one I most admire. It is imperative to take drastic measures at protecting the hearts of the men who work within this ministry, as they are no fools at what the devil would like to do to them as a result of working within this industry. It would have been a whole lot safer for them to be inside with us, but they trusted the Lord with their lives and chose to stand outside and pray for us while we served inside the club.
While inside, our group prepared to give those ladies an experience they would remember. We put up decorations, set out delicious breakfast food, displayed Bibles we so hoped to be able to give away, and hung canvas art on the walls with messages of Jesus and hope. And then we waited. While we waited, we prayed and became aware of a very dangerous situation outside. While we were counting on the prayers of our 7 men outside, we found ourselves lifting them up, instead, as they witnessed one horrific act after another. It is so interesting to me...but once we made it inside the club, I felt very safe. Oh, the irony! There is no other explanation than...God. He was there. He was waiting for us before we even came. And He had permeated that room with his sweet, sweet presence. There was nothing like it.
Oh sure! The enemy taunted us all night. Every boom and bang we heard within the walls of that party room, I attribute to him. But he pulled out his big bag of tricks outside where our 7 men were left to survive and to trust the One who had brought us there. While outside, our male group witnessed fights and taunting, curse words and name calling, EVIL in its meanest form. But here's the kicker...NOT one time did our group get touched or messed with. No one spoke to them or even asked them why they were there. Even though they stood out...it was obvious that they were outsiders...no one even made a remark or gesture. We believe, without a doubt, that was because our Lord God had His mighty hand of protection on them the entire time. It was almost as if they were invisible or untouchable...and just maybe they were. They were able to visit some with the club owner and the bouncers outside. Those conversations went well, and we are ALL still in awe of how the Lord fulfilled His promise in Joshua 1:9 as mentioned in my first installment of our story. Our men were in full-on survival mode. My words in trying to describe their feelings just don't do it justice. It was a nightmare. But one thing is certain...as they were in the middle of what I feel like is hell on earth...God was with them and they were not touched.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God... -Isaiah 43:2-3a (NIV)
Inside, we women had a great time serving, visiting and laughing with the ladies of the club. We never once felt scared or threatened. I am thrilled to tell you that a couple of meaningful conversations took place, and verbal invitations were given out for those who'd like to come to One Ministry's home church called Freedom Place - don't you just love that name? We gave out 22 Bibles that night! All in all, 52 women worked the club, and we were able to serve and hang out with about half of them.
When it was time to leave, I had experienced a mixture of emotions. I felt relieved to get out of there. I certainly was tired. But a part of me really wanted and needed to see those girls again. Our group is still processing everything we experienced. We believe the Lord wanted us there for many reasons, and we have asked Him to show us how we are to take what we learned and apply it here where we live and work. We all brought back a personal application, and I can only speak for myself. But because of what I experienced AND because the Lord used a woman who works within One Ministry to speak to my heart, I realized that fear is a serious stronghold in my life. It took me traveling to one of the darkest places in our country to realize how enslaved I am to being afraid. The Lord's message to me was never more clear than what is indicated in Joshua 1:9. There are many things I will remember and several lessons I have learned. But one thing stands out...
We serve a LIVING God!
He is with us always. And sometimes, it's just plain necessary to see what it would look like without Him in our lives. I am so thankful for Jesus, and I need Him every second of every day. And I can't wait to have another opportunity to share with someone else just how much they need Him, too.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Believe it, friends! Believe it!!