We had an amazing time at the Sydney Sexpo. You can read some of the things that Craig posted here. Here are some recaps from our team members.
had never been to anything like this before...
When I first walked in to the Sydney Sexpo, it was quite a shock. As one of the team members prayed over me, we made our way to the XXXChurch booth. Passing stand after stand of broken people looking for love in completely wrong places, I had to smile when I saw the familiar phrase "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" on a giant banner squeezed into the booth straight ahead of us. The team was already hard at work slapping stickers on everything that moved, passing out bibles and postcards.
I was introduced to the team and handed a roll of stickers. I tucked a couple bibles into my back pocket and stepped out onto the floor. My immediate reaction was how normal all of these people looked. There were mothers and daughters, groups of innocent looking young people who wouldn't look out of place at a church, fathers... and nearly every one of them was perfectly willing to rock a few "Jesus Loves Pornstars" stickers for the day.
Conversations started as soon as I stepped away from the booth. Because of the nature of the event, people had completely opened themselves up for any and all experiences that would happen that day. Honestly, I haven't seen people more receptive to the message of Jesus in any other venue.
The first woman who came up to me was a lesbian who had brought her straight married friend along to Sexpo as a sort of "show and tell" of who she was. Her friend was the most noticeably uncomfortable person I would see the whole day. They shared with me their hesitations about Jesus and church and I was able to tell them clearly that Jesus loved them and any person claiming the name of Jesus who had told them otherwise was flat out wrong.
They weren't leaving. That was pretty much as far as I'd gotten in my head when I planned what to say. They were looking to me for more. More proof that Jesus loved them. I handed them a bible, and they immediately asked for another so they could both read. I told them again that Jesus loved them and that he wanted so much for them, and with a sincere "thank you," they were off into the world of Sexpo.
Encounters like this one would play out again and again throughout the following days. People were completely willing to give the message of Jesus another chance, because we had caught them at just the right moment. We weren't coming at them aggressively or forcing this on them, and they realised that. I not only handed out more bibles than I can count, but was ASKED for a bible so many times. By the end of my Jesus speech, some people in the groups would be helping me explain the love message to their friends who still didn't buy it.
It was truly amazing to see Jesus work in the lives of these people.
Thursday started off a bit slow in terms of numbers to the show but that was not unexpected. Some thought we were a joke (until we started speaking), some didn't want to know and some actually sought us out for our 'Jesus Loves Porn Stars' stickers. But I would say that most who stopped were actually supprised that Christians were at a Sex trade show. Many opportunities to tell people that Jesus loves and died for them were utilized. I had a few good conversations with people. One lady in particular who we gave a bible to (her name was Grace) wanted to find out more about why Jesus would love everyone and not just 'churchies'. I would say that overall the xxxchurch stall achieved it's purpose in showing Jesus love to people.
Our Pastor asked if there were any women, mature in their faith (confident of God's love) who would volunteer to help hand out bibles. I thought, I fit that description, I'll do it. Because I "live in God's pocket", this was a very unusual opportunity for me. I have a different spectrum of people to pray for now. And the presence of light in darkness, to love these distinct people, without agenda, would definitely 'irk' our enemy (and unfortunately also quite a few of our 'friends'!) I write. So here's what God's given me thus far (He's heaps interesting & the way He loves is AMAZING):
Post 'sexpo'! Well, I felt like I did nothing, but I learnt 'stuff', (about the XXX Church's ministering style, I mean! Although I did learn 'other stuff' too! Yeek!) I loved the team's genuine approach, especially impressed by their engagement with people. But later, about midnight or so, I was a bit teary for 'them'. More those who 'think' they're happy & OK but somehow had a little ‘openness’ towards us. I kind of 'expected' some poems, but not this one! I guess He always wants to love first because that's just Him. I was sweeping today, when my God's giant wave of feeling came rolling in on me! I kinda went, 'woh-oh, help, I don't think I'm gonna handle this at all!' Anyway, this is God loving the people that ‘moved’ me yesterday, I’ll pray for them that they feel the same hit of God’s love that I did.
John 3:17 “ For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Australia is crazy beautiful, the people are so kind and welcoming, the food was kinda gross, but what I take away from our trip is the time we spent in the convention. I know that Australia considers itself a Post Christian country, but God has never stopped doing big things in Australia. Maybe it's because the people we met did not have high expectations of what Christians are doing, but the conversations we had with those in the convention were meaningful and so genuine. I can remember standing in the booth, and a group of 10 college girls stopped to find out what we were all about. I got to share the truth that God loves porn stars, but that he also truly loves college students, and every person in that room. This girls stood in front of me while I basically gave them the good news of Jesus and the freedom he can bring to all of us. I get chills when I think of the look in their eyes, the way that they caught something in what I was saying, and then I handed them one of our bibles and sent this group of girls back into the convention. They were buying sex toys and looking for male strippers, but they left with a bible and glimpse of something so true, God was moving.
Later that weekend, I got to talk for a good amount of time to a guy who worked for a company that sold bondage items and whips, and we talked about friendships and love. Here is the crazy part, we both agreed on a lot of things. For him he was looking for trust, for someone to love him for him, and that he wanted a community of people that would be there for him. He found that in a fetish community. Yes they beat each other with whips and like it, but he was telling me that when a friends house burnt down, this community rallied around and took care of this friend and all of his family's needs. That's how it's suppose to be, people caring for one another, this is what the church should be for so many. I can see that at the deep core of each person in that convention, that we were all looking for the same things. For love, for belonging, for community and acceptance, and I believe a search for something greater than ourselves. God has opened the door with all people, leather daddy's, furries, porn addicts, college girls buying sex toys, and even Ron Jeremy, for our ministry to come and share God's truth in kindness and love.
I am so thankful for this trip, I know that God is doing big things in Australia, and I was blown away to be a part of it!
Years ago before I even joined the advisory board of XXXchurch I was excited to learn that one of the 10 year goals of the ministry was to have a presence in every English speaking country in the world. Our ministry should not be unique to the United States. Through the internet the global community has become a smaller place. We have an amazing opportunity to reach people all over the globe. The only thing we need is local volunteers to take the issue of pornography head on! We need people to step out of the safety of their local church and bring the light of Jesus into a porn show, a strip club or a brothel.
When the opportunity to go to Sydney Australia presented itself I jumped at the chance to go. I had been to Australia before and the people are amazing. We were received well at sexpo. Lots of explaining was required because most people had never heard of us before and they were slightly confused. Everybody seemed genuinely surprised to meet a Christian in that setting. We had some great conversations at the show with people who felt very far from the love of God. It never fails to surprise me how some people can open up and allow you to have a deep conversation with them at a porn show! I guess that’s why they call them divine appointments because anything is possible with God.
We had some amazing volunteers from Thrive church that helped us out at the show and on Sunday Craig gave an awesome talk at their church. I was so encouraged when Mike Hardie pastor of Thrive community church said that he had been following our ministry for many years and he and many of his fiends have our accountability software on their computers.
Many of the Christian’s I met in Sydney expressed a deep sadness over the many brothels in their city. I believe that porn fuels the engine of prostitution. I’m praying that God will call his church to reach out to the men and women in their local sex industry. I’m excited to see what God is going to do, and I look forward to XXXChurch visiting Australia again soon.