Seven years ago I would not have thought that I would be where I am today. You see I have had the honor and privilege to walk alongside men and women in the sex industry. It all began when I was invited to come and serve with XXXchurch at a Los Angeles Porn Convention with a college student from the church where I serve as a college pastor. I had heard of the ministry of XXXchurch, but I wondered what I had to offer these men and women that worked the various areas of the porn convention floor? Would I be chased out of the convention? What was I even doing there? But from the first show that I attended it became abundantly clear that God opened doors for us to come and be present.
So much of what I do is to come and meet the women that are the faces of the sex industry. We give out gifts, we bring coffee, and we try to care for some of their basic needs during the show. But I know that the reason I keep coming back is because I believe that we have created relationships that are true and lasting with these men and women. I get to hear their stories as they tell me of their greatest joys and deepest pains. What starts with a simple gift or kind gesture has blossomed into deep friendships.
I think of the sweet family that comes every year that runs a sex shop in the middle of the convention floor, and I seek them out every show to hear of their family and to catch up on life. When their son was sick I had the opportunity to pray God would give the doctor’s wisdom and would help find healing quickly for them. Then there is the sweet girl who has been in the business for years. She is a bubbly young girl with a head of sweet curls and who has a vivacious zest for life. Each convention we swap life stories and we talk about the future and what big plans she has, and I tell her that I am rooting for her to live out her dreams and that God goes with her wherever she is. And I believe this in my deepest place of my heart that God goes alongside all of us wherever we are in life, whether we choose to recognize him or not.
Almost all of the men and women I meet sense that there is something greater than themselves in this world, and they love and respect our ministry because we don’t have to preach, we just show up. Because when there is the darker side of the sex industry, where young men and women get caught up drugs and alcohol, or self abuse or depression, I get to be someone that is there to help them in whatever way possible. I am someone who has learned that I don’t have all the answers but I know that sometimes it just takes someone to show up humbly and take time to love others that may not be the usual suspects.
Like Ron Jeremy, he is not someone who you would think would have captured my heart, but he has. Anyone who knows Ron knows that he is one of the kindest and gentle hearted people you can meet. Over the years he has shared with me his love for animals and basically most people that he meets. Every convention I get to bring Ron his classic turkey sandwich with coleslaw and a pickle. And we catch up on life and he plays a little harmonica and then tells everyone that I am a pastor and I help keep him fed. Then he gives me a kiss on my cheek and he goes back to work. But most times after the convention is over, we take Ron to dinner where we talk about life and God and a good amount about love.
For years Ron has said that he wanted me and Craig to help do his wedding someday and I had always promised that when I met a good man and wanted to marry him, then Ron would have to be there to see that day. Not too long ago I got a call that Ron had been rushed to the hospital and things were not looking good for him. Craig and myself rushed to the hospital to sit, wait, and pray. We sat with Ron’s friends who were like family, and when the doctor’s came out they explained just how serious of a condition Ron was in. But Ron, that stubborn “Hedghog,” made it through.
You see, God is not done with Ron. On September 6th 2013, Ron made good on his promise to come to my wedding. It was a picture of how God can bring all people together. God is the God of reconciliation and peace. And if he can bring a Porn King and a college pastor into a true friendship, then God can do anything.
Rachel Ceballos (formerly The Rach Collins)