This was our very first time in Chicago for the eXXXotica show. We were so excited to have the opportunity to impact the lives of new people in a new city. Chicago was quite unique because we had a team of nearly ALL women. We had eleven young ladies from California, two from Ohio, and one from Arizona. Craig, and our Twitter guy, Steve Oh, helped hold down the fort, as well. It was an amazing weekend! Some highlights include giving out makeup bags, snacks, and coffee to the porn stars working at the convention, sharing the message of Christ’s love with thousands of people, handing out stickers and Bibles, letting an industry girl know her family in Haiti is praying for her, and seeing the positive impact the trip made on our team members. Below are some cool stories from our team:
Overall, this trip was awesome. We were able to meet some of the stars that were there and enter into some real conversations about how they got there and what life is truly like for them in their line of work. Also, we went around and gave out free gifts for the girls throughout the weekend. And it was through those simple conversations and giving of our time that we were able to show them that we care and through that we were able to show the people there the love that Christ has for them. Yes, there were a few people who responded with hostility, but the positive feedback outweighed the negative responses by far and ultimately this experience has been very encouraging and affirming in that we were all meant to be where we were that weekend.
I have been on several trips with XXX Church in the past and this by far was one of the best. I love working the booth handing our bibles and having great and sometimes insane conversations with people. This show was not as busy as others but there were plenty of people to talk to. I had conversations with a businessman, a former church leader, swingers and some crazy rock-n-rollers. I was able to share my story with these guys and tell them how Jesus brought me from Christian to denouncing Christ and back to Christ again. At one point in my life I was exactly where most of these people are right now. I thank God that I am able to use my past to help someone change their future.
Going into this trip I was really nervous. I've done overseas missions trips every year for the past 9 years but I knew this trip would be completely different. I was nervous about what I would be exposed to, visually. But once I got on the convention floor, that apprehension was gone completely. The people that I met, both those in the industry and the attendees, were the priority. I absolutely loved that I was talking to people who have never stepped into a church. People who were brought up in the church but despise it now. People who are agnostics, atheists or hate Christians. To be able to represent Christ in a way that he SHOULD be represented was such a privilege and a blessing. We showed nothing but love, understanding and acceptance and it was shown right back. XXXChurch has such an amazing reputation among those in the industry that we were greeted with smiles and hugs from porn stars, producers and others in the business. Even those who came up to us wanting to debate or argue walked away with the knowledge that we profess Christ and come with no judgment or agenda other than to show God's love the way we believe He has called us to. I have never felt like I was doing God's work more than I did during my four days in Chicago. To walk into a place filled with things that break His heart and reach out to those that are broken and far from Him was a privilege. To be in a place that I know Jesus would have been in if he were in physical form today was empowering and comforting. Allowing God to use me in spite of my initial fears has only increased my faith and my love for every single person I came in contact with at the Chicago Porn Convention. It was like no other experience I've ever had and I cannot wait to do it again.
I can honestly say this weekend was one of the most impacting weekends of my entire life. In the midst of this dark and broken place there were so many people that were literally drawn to the light at this Jesus loves porn stars booth. God had so many divine appointments waiting on us and I was in awe. God opened my eyes to seeing instead of "porn stars" just "girls" who were in need of a friend and in need of a Savior. I was told by my father while I was there that if Jesus was on this earth in physical form that show would be exactly where He would be. I totally agree with that and if we are going to follow Jesus this is where we need to be!!! I would attend as many of these shows as xxxchurch would allow me!!!
This was my second show with xxxChurch and wow what an incredible experience. This time around I had a little more experience and I thought I knew what I was getting myself into but OH boy I was wrong. God used me at the Chicago convention way differently then He did in the LA convention. I felt this time around I got to talk to and get to know more of the go-go dancers and the people attending the show. I loved getting to walk around the convention to give the girls some snacks and coffee, it really brightens up their faces. One girl that stood out to me when we were doing that said, "OMG coffee! For me? That is the nicest thing someone has said to me today!" That in itself is all worth it to me to get to brighten up the girls’ day and show them love in the most simplest of ways. It did get challenging at some points but I knew God was bringing these certain people into my life for a reason and I kept having to remind myself of that. I got to talk to some of the stars but for some reason it was a lot tougher than last year. I saw some of the stars that I really got to know last year there at the convention this year, and that was probably the hardest thing I experienced this year. Seeing them there still in porn made me want to break down and cry. In fact, I really had to hold in the tears. I pray to one day get the good news of these ladies getting out of the industry. Overall, God was definitely protecting us from the darkness that the convention holds but I feel beyond blessed that I got to be a light for so many of the people that I got to know in the small amount of time in Chicago.
Growing up and still having a Pastor as a father, mission trips, outreaches and reaching out to the community have always been a part of my life. But being a part of XXXchurch and the Chicago Team for the porn convention was totally different. It struck a deeper chord with me because it hit real close to home. There was a point in my life where I almost got involved with this industry and had close people in my life working in it as well. I related to many of the women that I met and the reasons why they got involved in the first place so it was very emotional for me. At the same time, it made me that much fore grateful to God for how He changed my paths and now, I want to continue reaching out to the hurting people in this industry who are just like you and me. It was powerful, it was love, it was team work and I know many seeds were planted.
This experience is so hard to shorten into just a few words, but the thought that comes to mind is "beautifully dark". When you look into some of the girl's eyes all you can see darkness and tiredness. You can just tell that some people really do not want to be in the industry, but have found themselves wrapped up in it. They just searching for some light. But what is beautiful is the smile they get when you bring them some snacks or a bag of make-up, and these gorgeous smiles lead to even more beautiful conversations. These conversations do not just stay inside the confines of a Star's booth, but expand to everyone roaming the floor. Passing out a simple sticker or a Bible lead to many conversations that flourished as well. Although it is a broken and dark place to be, there was a lot of light that was shined throughout those couple of days. All you need is a few sparks to ignite a fire, right?