This post by Ellie Barrett was originally published at Seventy Two
As we look at the life of Jesus on earth, we see that He consistently makes a point of spending time with people who others would not. His time with the woman at the well (John 4:1-26) is one of these times and is part of a great demonstration that there is no one in society Jesus wouldn’t want to pursue. This woman was at the edge of society, coming to the well for water at noon in the heat of the afternoon to make sure she wouldn’t be seen by others who may judge or avoid her. As it says in the scripture, it was not the done thing for Jesus a Jew to associate with a Samaritan woman (John 4:9). But she needed something that only Jesus could give and so He stepped over a cultural boundary to bring her love, conviction and the offer of eternal life.
“…Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
Jesus was often intentionally in the most unusual of places. Those places which had been rejected by the current religious culture. One of these places today is the Strip Club industry. For Christians, these are places to be avoided at all costs. While it is true that it would be unwise as Christians to casually step into a Strip Club or a context that would be a compromise of our values, Jesus shows us that there also must be a context where we can love, impact and bring Jesus to people groups like this one. Just as with the Samaritan woman, every person on this earth has needs only Jesus can fulfil. We are called to partner with Him in reaching those in need (Matthew 28:18-20). The questions are who, how, and what does this look like?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
For us at Third Space Ministries, this looks like building relationships with Strip Clubs and sending in small groups of women who are trained and accountable once a week. They offer sweet treats, conversation, prayer and support to the women they encounter. This leads to opportunities for deeper conversations about faith, long term discipleship outside of the clubs and practical support depending on the needs of the individual. Through this we are able to introduce women to Jesus who may not usually feel comfortable or allowed to be themselves around Christians, visit a Church or explore faith.
Three years on from the start of ministry we have the access and strategy that allows us to reach women who work in Strip Clubs. To begin with however, all we had was a heart for an industry and time to pray for God to show us the way where it felt like there was no way. We didn’t know where to start but we knew Jesus would know the way and would already be moving in these places. After 18 months of prayer walking we felt God reveal our next step and over the next few months we aimed to build a relationship with the club God had highlighted but with no particular plan. We watched amazed, as God opened doors and connected us with all the right people to launch our ministry.
Because of the people Jesus chose to associate with, we know that even if it wouldn’t be the first place we would go as Christians, there is no person or culture that Jesus isn’t looking to impact today. For any person, place or culture we turn our eyes to, we will see that God is present, moving and ready for you and I to capture His heart for them. If we as Christians have a heart for a mission field, we can guarantee Jesus is already there, going before us and showing us the way. We can be confident in the assurance that we don’t need to go in blind trying to find a way to bring Jesus somewhere in our own strength. All we need to do is spend time asking Jesus where He is in that place, honour Him and welcome His already existing pursuit of those He created.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5-6
Strip Clubs is one of the places that we as Third Space Ministries felt God was leading us. Maybe for you God is highlighting another place or group of people? What do you see around you as you walk around your neighbourhood, your workplace, or the places you like to visit to unwind? Maybe in these places there are cultures or people groups you would love to impact but you wouldn’t know where to start? Maybe there are people you wouldn’t usually notice or come across. Maybe like the woman at the well they wouldn’t expect you to want to associate with them because of the culture you are both surrounded by. Only you will know who God is leading you to. I can tell you though, that He will be leading you to someone, and if He is He will show you the way.