Happy Anniversary!

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A year ago, three women set out to do something pretty revolutionary.  Instead of telling people about “church” we would go be the hands of Jesus to those in the adult entertainment industry.  We’d love, and we’d expect nothing in return. 

A year later, we got so much more than we expected.  We got the most wonderful hugs and welcomes.  We got lovely letters, and we even had one manager help us in a makeover (Thanks Dani!) We’ve grown from three to more than twenty volunteers, and we have made a lot of friends.

We know that when we first began visiting, there were a LOT of sideways glances and most of the dancers wondered “What do they want from me?—You don’t get anything for free.”

We hope that when we don’t take the cash that is offered, and we don’t insist you come to church with us or sing hymns that ladies, you know we just really care.  We really just feel like someone should come and say “You were made beautifully and wonderfully, and God has always loved you.  You are his precious daughter.”

If you want to go to church, awesome.  If you want us to do a once-a-month service for strippers, fantastic.  If you get baptized, we’ll celebrate with you.   If you are looking for an industry friendly church—we can help.  But that isn’t what it is about.

We just hope that you’ll know where you can turn when the world is dark, and life isn’t fun.  We hope you know that God has always loved you, and He has always just wanted you to look up and say “Hi, can we talk?”  It’s about a relationship with Jesus, and we hope, one with us.  Because we really do care.

We care that some nights your feet ache, and you’re going to be short on the power bill.  We care that your daughter has a toothache, or that your mom passed away.  We care that you just got your AA degree, and that you hope to be a graphic artist. 

It’s been a year.  Some months, we weren’t sure we’d have enough in the account to buy gifts.  Other months, we struggled with weather, and sometimes we just had a fantastic time having coffee with one of the dancers we’ve met, or painting a dressing room!  What a marvelous, up and down, crazy year.

What’s coming next year?  We hope we’ll have a few more teams to go to more clubs.  We hope to be able to help girls with small needs, and to makeover another dressing room.  We hope that our gifts won’t be lame, and that it won’t rain every time we come to visit, making us look like drowned rats.  But we hope next year, mostly, for more hugs, more coffee meet ups, to just get to know you as people.  And for you to get to know us.

Happy Anniversary to Xpose Hope.  Every wild and crazy volunteer, and every single bouncer, dancer, bartender and club owner we serve.  You are wonderful!  May this relationship last forever!

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Hit the Easy Button!

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After our makeover, we had a lot of club managers and dancers chatting with us about the number of volunteers we were able to amass, and how far some of them came to participate.

We had people who were painting, laying carpet, installing moulding, re-laminating the tables, decorating and providing food for the volunteers.  They came from Hillsboro, Portland, Oregon City, Milwaukee, Forest Grove, and Vernonia.  They spent twelve grueling hours creating a makeover so amazing that one caller said she could not believe it was the same room when she showed up for work.

During conversations at the clubs, we were asked why would these people come do this? Simple, to let the folks who work in that club know they are loved by us, that we value them. We wanted them to know that our love is more than words.  We are willing to invest our time, money, and hearts into them as people.  We really care.  We wanted to remind them too, that to God, they are cherished and amazing.  Some dancers know that.  Some don’t.

We were asked “What’s the process for getting in touch with God?”

The process.  Well, that’s an easy question, and a hard question.  But let’s explain it like this:

There was a process.  We separated ourselves from God by sinning… when Eve took that apple and shared it with Adam, the close relationship that God had with humans, it was severed.  No more were we able to walk and talk with God and have that personal connection.  God is holy, and he cannot exist around what is unholy.  Let’s face it, none of us are holy, NONE.  Not even those who may be a bit self-righteous.  None of us are holy or “righteous.”  It says so in the Bible.

But He wanted to be in connection with us, so He decided that the process was too much for humans–impossible, in fact.  Someone had to be sinless to go through the “process”.  So he sent his son to die, and complete that work, that process.

And He then gave us an “EASY BUTTON.”  Basically, you call out to God.  You let Him love you.  You say “God, I’d like to use the sacrifice of Jesus to start over with you.”  That’s the easy button.

It is as easy as saying, “Hey God.”

Prayers aren’t anything in particular.  There are no fancy words you need, or knowledge you need to talk to Him.  Just hit him by saying “Hey, can we talk?”

Sometimes, honestly, I just tell him, “Dad, I’m really pissed off right now.” He gets it.

He’s there to listen.

And He even has answers.

There is no process required from your end.  There is no need to be in a certain job (or out of a certain job), wear a particular style of dress, be giving a certain amount of money, or doing anything special.  In fact, nothing we do can get us that relationship.  Nothing.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Because Jesus did it all.

He just wants you to take that gift He has given and hit Him up once in a while for a chat.  Anywhere, anytime.

Hit that easy button, and just chat.

Making All Things New

unnamedThis weekend, Xpose Hope will bring volunteers, men, women, young, old, former strippers, prostitutes, pastors, computer geeks, mentors and writers to a local gentlemen’s club.  We come bearing gifts of carpet, paint, decor items, curtains and food.  We will create an Xtreme Xpose Hope Makeover–and the question that people are asking us is:  Why?

Why would you do this?  It seems like a lot of money, effort and time, what do you hope to gain?

Nothing.

We hope to gain nothing.  We hope to give. 

We go into the clubs every month, and we bring a message that you are valued, you are cherished, you are loved.  But the place that these folks prepare for work may not make them feel valued or cherished.  There is something about changing your surroundings–it changes your heart and your attitude.  You know that when someone works to provide beauty to you, that they care.  

In order to truly express that Jesus loves them where they are, where they work, we need to provide a solid message that is enduring.  Sometimes God’s word is not taught from the pulpit as well as it is in the streets when you give a hug, some extra cash, or a sandwich.  We don’t believe that Jesus is waiting for strippers, bouncers and DJ’s to quit the business before He will love on them.  We know that He loves them now, while…and He can be there for them when things are dark.  Just as He is for us.

It’s been a dark week for some of us.  We’ve been under severe attack.  Our marriages have been tested, our faith rocked, our hearts broken.  But you know what?  Jesus has loved us while.  We are not crushed.  

Those Xpose Hope serves are not crushed.  They are overcomers.  We know this.  Our gift of a bit of paint merely lets them know we are putting our money and time where our mouths are.  Our love is true.  It’s enduring.  Because only comes through us, not from us.  It comes from someone who loved enough to give all–for each of us.

This song ladies and gentlemen, is for you.  Because you are overcomers.  While, when, during….  We love you!!!

Click here for “Overcomer” by Mandisa

 

Break Every Chain

Break Every Chain (Jesus Culture)

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Most people have it all wrong.

When people hear about Xpose Hope, they think that we are a “rescue” ministry.  We really aren’t.  We’re a ministry of support and love.

Let’s face it.  We’re a group of women, with few resources, we can’t “rescue” anyone.

We don’t have unlimited funds.

We don’t have huge donors.

We don’t have degrees in psychiatry or justice.

And that’s okay because that isn’t our focus.

What we do is love.  We love people in the sex industry.  We love strippers, porn stars, bouncers, club owners, prostitutes, johns, bartenders, house moms.  That’s our goal.

Some people hear the song “Break Every Chain” and they think we are out to change things, to change the world.  Well, in a way we are.

We hope to tell people that Jesus loves them and we love them.  We think love changes things.

But it isn’t our job to take girls out of clubs.  Some ladies in the industry, believe it or not, like their jobs.  (Gasp!)  They like their co-workers (What???!!!) Some like their customers and look forward to seeing special customers.

Some do it for the money.  The same as some people are doctors or lawyers or food service workers.

But they are all wrapped up in chains.  And we hope to break those chains.

How do I know this?

Because I spent my fair share of time in stilettoes.  Because when I returned to my very first club recently, it became apparent to me that the reason I had hidden my past profession for so long was the chains that bound me, that hindered me, that pulled me down. (The photo above was taken at that location.)

These chains, this barbed wire, this encumbrance ripped at my soul.  It stopped me from going back to others who I cared about and letting them know that Jesus loves them and I love them, right where they are.  WHILE.  While they are working for a living in lace.  While they are in the industry.  While.

These fences and wires caused me to hide my past, to be ashamed, to be embarrassed.

But these chains were not placed on me by the industry as many would like to believe.  Nope.  My shame, my pain, it came from people who believed that in order for God to love me, or for me to be lovable, I had to clean myself up, I had to be different, I had to do certain things to fit into the model of a proper church lady.

Those were the chains that for years kept me from giving a hug when it was needed, praying for a girl who needs to make enough money to keep the electric on tonight, or a club owner who is under stress.  Those chains are made in the minds of those who, unfortunately, don’t really get what Jesus came to do.

Jesus is all about grace and freedom.  He’s about loving us where we are, and while we are imperfect.  Because we are never, ever, even in our best pressed dress with a high neck collar going to be perfect.  We will never be “good enough”.  That’s why He came.  To be perfect.  And to hold us when life is just plain hard.

It took me a lot of time and prayer  to break free of those chains.  Some of them were pretty sharp, and they ripped my soul up pretty deeply.  They caused me to hide behind a mask, a fake persona, because I feared being labeled and looked down on by more “perfect” people.  Those scars are going to be there for a long, long time.

But the chains themselves, the barbed wire, the barrier between me and my sisters in the industry—those are gone.  I stood in front of my club, symbolically wrapped in those chains that Jesus came to free me from—the downward glances from others, the shame, the harsh words that God could not love me because of a job I did. All chains forged by people, never by God.  Jesus himself said that prostitutes and tax collectors will get to heaven before the religious leaders he was chatting with.  And his lineage includes a famous streetwalker, Rahab.

Those of us at Xpose Hope believe that Jesus can break every chain. He can change perceptions, he can change situations, he can lift us from depression or physical pains.  We hope that the ladies and gents we serve in the industry know that we don’t come to judge or to look down on.  We come as sisters, the same in every way, in love.  We come to support and to care.  Our small gifts are a symbol of that, but in the end, it’s about breaking every chain.

Our sympathies ….

The staff and support team at Xpose Hope wish to express their deepest condolences to the family Shantina Turner and the dancers, staff and management at Club Skinn. We mourn the loss of Shantina, and are offering 3 hours of free trauma counseling on June 25 (Saturday) from 2-5 pm at NE Baptist Church at 6701 NE Prescott St.  The church has been kind enough to DONATE the room (Thank you!)

This counseling is private, FREE OF CHARGE and without any obligation to you–we’ll have some snacks for everyone while they wait.  It is open to staff members, dancers, and family members of Shantina, all those affected by this tragedy.

If you need to talk, please email xposehope@gmail.com, contact us on Facebook or call us at 971-319-4413. We love you.

We love you too!

After we go out, we love getting emails, Facebook and Instagram posts from the ladies we visit.  Sometimes, they just want to say “thank you” and sometimes they have a pressing need.  Honestly, we are happy that they know they are worthy of the attention and that we care.fb

It’s a tough job.  If you have never stood for 8-10 hours in stilettos, wrecked your back to get into positions that would make the folks at Cirque Du Soleil wonder how you did that, and gone out to have your car not start, you really can’t understand the life of a dancer. It’s not an easy life, but it pays the bills, and it keeps food on the table.  

We also love our bouncers and club managers.  They are kind to us, though we know they must wonder what our “angle” is…it’s hard for them to believe, too, that we really want nothing in return.  We aren’t in the clubs to condemn or to pull the girls out.  We actually want them to know that there is someone out there who cares, and cared enough to die for them.  When they feel totally alone, that someone thinks they are the BOMB!  And He always will, because He created them.  There is nothing they can do or need to do to earn that love.  When it’s dark and lonely, we want them to know they are not alone.  That’s it.  

The bouncers and managers keep us safe, and they smile when we arrive.  That’s our total payment, and we love it.  We hope they also know that we care about them, we don’t discriminate between dancers and bouncers–Jesus loves you all and so do we.  

Sure, it’s just earrings, a bracelet, cookies, maybe some requested brownies that we bring.  All things that are not beyond the reach of the recipient to get for themselves.  But we bring it with the gift of ourselves, and you know what, with hugs and Facebook messages, the staff of these clubs love us back.  

Paying it forward…just to share the love. 

Into the Night…

On any given weekend evening, our team ventures out.  We go out with bags of gifts–earrings, chocolate dipped strawberries, coffee mugs, bath salts…but more than that, we take with us the greatest gift of all.  Love.

Why do we leave our families to venture out into the night?  Into a world that so much of Portland tries to pretend does not exist?  Because it does exist, and there are women and men there who need to know that God loves them.  He doesn’t love them when they are cleaned up, different or when and if they change.  He loves them now.  He loves them during.  He loves them when.  He always has, and He always will.12923088_205581143147626_8384558690596619529_n

It’s an interesting world, one filled with ID checks, hard drinks, and the drag of a cigarette outside the doors.  But some of the most real people that you’ll ever meet are behind those doors.  Some of the sweetest people–some of the most amazing talents–are waiting there.  My life has been made better by knowing these people.

Into the night we step, to give a hug, to check on a pregnant mama, to see how business is going and if anyone needs help to hold a curling iron.  We offer snacks, Starbucks cards, and homemade organic lip balm, and in return, we are given compassion and love.

On any given weekend evening, we are chatting about babies, and sore backs and late electric bills.  We are conversing with baristas who wear pasties, and bartenders who love a good homemade cookie once in a while.  We’re offering rides if cars break down, and knowing that in return, if these folks saw us in need, they’d help us too.

On any given weekend night, we are popping into see those we see as friends, as sisters and brothers.  And we appreciate the few minutes they take to let us do that.  Because on those nights, we are being given so much more than we could ever take in a bag with a bow.

For on those nights, the men and women of the Portland adult entertainment industry are returning the gift that we brought…  love.

Thank you Portland. 🙂

A Long and Winding Road

The journey of tonight into the adult entertainment industry of Portland began decades ago….it began in a dimly lit club in Columbus, Ohio.  It began with a young woman, seeking the approval of her love, seeking money, seeking acceptance.  A young woman who shyly stepped onto a stage and wiggled out of her dress…and was then engulfed in a world of money and power.

That young woman left the industry but the industry lived on in her heart.  A feeling of being “less than” invaded her soul.  She worried that if ever her secret came out, people in her social circle would look at her differently.  Because exotic dancers, strippers, pole girls, they just aren’t the same as everyone else.  Or so she felt others believed.

lookingcoolIsn’t that what society says? Good moms and good wives may fantasize about dancing…they might even take a pole dancing exercise class.  But they don’t ever, ever, “sell their souls” for a few dollars stuck into their hands in a dark, dank club.  And so the secret was buried, hidden away where it was safe.  Her spouse knew, but no one else could know that inside the mom who pretended to be able to dance so her kids wouldn’t ever have any idea, lived a girl who had used every curve of her body to lure men to pay her well.

Then one night, while ministering to the late night crowd, she found herself right in front of a gentleman’s club, hugging a woman in a wheelchair who sobbed because her husband was in the club, being fawned over by women in the profession.  The woman’s heart broke for her.  It broke for the girls in the club whose jobs are physically demanding with long hours and many clients who are less than kind. It broke for the men looking for perfection that doesn’t exist, and for love they could never find in that place.

And so, that journey led her back–back into the dressing room of the place she swore she would never tell anyone about.  Back to let the women in the industry know that their profession doesn’t matter.  They are valued.  They are loved.  They are of so much worth and yes, that Jesus does love strippers.  He doesn’t care about your job.

For you see, the most supposedly “upright citizen,” the Intel employee, the lawyer, the teacher, they all have dark secrets.  And though they may believe otherwise, their value comes not from their jobs.  Jesus really doesn’t care about their jobs.  He cares about them because he created them.  And he feels exactly the same about those in the adult industry.  It’s not about your job.  It’s about YOU.  The you who He created perfectly, and for whom He stretched out his arms to die.  He loves you.  You may know that already.  But in case there are some in the clubs who don’t get to hear it enough, we want to express it by giving, not by taking.

So from Looking Kool to the Runway, Casa Diablo and Xpose…the road has been a winding one.  And that road returns us to the beginning.  Into familiar surroundings.  To say:  We love you.

Xposing Ourselves

Three women met in a small office a few weeks back, all drawn to the mission of sending out love to those in the adult entertainment industry in the form of gifts, hugs and notes.  There was no way to monetize or physically count the gains from such an effort.  In reality, the entire offering could be rebuffed by those to whom it is given.  Yet all three felt drawn to these women and men.  All three believed that God had placed them in that office, at that moment, to begin something with no foreseeable end, because the need is so great.

In reality however, Xpose Hope begins with broken people.  All three of are imperfect.  All three have issues with which Jesus patiently deals.  All three owe a debt we cannot ever pay on our own for the wrongs we have done.

And so we are grateful.  Grateful that someone loved us when we were unlovable.  When we were broken and without hope.  When we were naked before the one who made us with no excuses.  And Jesus looked at us, and loved us.

We come from different backgrounds, some from picture perfect families, others not, and one from a family broken by the death of a mother.  One of us had never entered a strip club before this adventure began, one of us had personally walked the runway, so walking into the dimly lit lounge room and costumed strewn dressing rooms was, in a way, like going home.

We don’t enter into the community of late night and adult entertainment as ones who have all the answers.  We just go out to love, to cherish, to hug.  We hope that in this effort, some, who like us are imperfect–broken even, will be reminded that they are loved.

Jesus doesn’t really have a lot of concern about what we do for a living.  He cares about HOW we are living, and how He can help us live fully.  He wants to love on us.  It’s more about where we are going when this is all over than where we have come from.  Because we all come from what church folks like to call “the mire”….the mud, the despair, the mess.  But it’s hard to believe that someone knows you like that,  when you feel “less than”, used or embattled, and yet that someone really cares.  That’s where we hope, our physical gifts can be a reminder that yes, you are worthy.  You are valued, you are loved.  And inside and out, you are wonderfully made!  (Psalm 139:14-16)