by Julie Jaunese
In Mark 16:15 Jesus said “Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation.” For Barbara Neu, founder of the ministry, Loves Way Out, there is no location too intimidating to take the truth of God’s word, including to Tampa’s strip club industry.
Loves Way Out goes into exotic dance clubs in Tampa and ministers God’s love to the dancers and club staff. Started in 2004, Loves Way Out has two chapters and goes into 14 of the 45 strip clubs in the Tampa area. A new chapter is beginning in Pinellas County in August.
Several weekends a month, a group of women volunteers from Loves Way Out head into the clubs. They take gifts to each dancer along with a note about how much God loves them. The gifts aren’t extravagant – nail polish or lotion – but each bag includes homemade cookies and treats. When they arrive at the club they begin by giving the gifts to each dancer. In some clubs they are welcomed into the dressing room where they are able to witness to the dancers, share a devotional and pray with them and for them. The dancers, with names like Pink, Kit Kat, Passion, Juicy, Coco and Pepper, often join in the prayer. They are hungry for lessons from and about God. They desire to know the God who loves them.
Each dancer has a different story as to how they came to work in the club. Some got started because they went in once to make some money to feed their children. Many of them continue to dance because they see no hope for a way out. They have children that need food and a roof over their head. Others are in college and are looking for a fast buck. The dancers express that Loves Way Out brings them hope. Hope for a different life for them and their children. Barbara said the majority of the dancers longing to get out have never known a man in their lives they could trust. God is the man they can trust.
When they’re in the club, Barbara and the other volunteers encourage prayers from the dancers – women who often think God has forgotten about them. The volunteers share how God doesn’t forget about any of us, and His desire is that not even one person should perish.
There are women in our congregation at Grace Family Church who volunteer with Loves Way Out. I was able to sit down with one of those volunteers who is a former prostitute and drug addict. She knows that if it hadn’t been for someone loving her and ministering to her, she may never have come to know God’s love. She loves sharing what God has done for her with the ladies of the clubs. She sees how much God loves each woman.
She told me the story of one of her Loves Way Out club visits, which happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. That day, the gifts for the dancers included a Valentine’s letter from Father’s Love Letter, a website that uses scripture to share how much God loves you. She went to the dance stage and placed the gift and the letter on the stage for the dancer. The dancer came over, got off the stage, and hugged her. The dancer said she found a copy of the letter in the dressing room the day before and was praying that someone would come and tell her more. The seed had been planted and now and now was being watered.
Loves Way Out is always looking for Christian women to help further their ministry. You can join with others to go into the strip clubs, serve as a prayer partner, bake goodies or donate items for gift bags. If you’re interested in helping Loves Way Out, please contact Barbara Neu at LovesWayOut@aol.com.
Julie Jaunese and her husband, Mike, have been married 41 years. They have two daughters and two grandsons, and are expecting their first granddaughter this summer. Julie writes her own blog at http://juliejaun.blogspot.com, and leads Fabulous Fems and the Yada book club at Grace Family Church. She also works full time at Moffitt Cancer Center.