March 10, 2011

Hookers for Jesus

When we first moved here to Ft. Bliss, one of the first things I noticed was the very prolific adult entertainment industry. In fact, a friend of ours who got stationed here right before we did said in the first week he had already visited two strip clubs (which are all over the city). When we got here, I searched for a drive-in movie theater. There is only one in town, and it only shows porn. The management even built an - ahem - "encounter" room in the back of the lot for patrons. Ugh.

I don't know why this kind of thing is tolerated in the military environment, but it shouldn't be. And not because I'm a prude (even though I sort of am) or because I'm trying to push my morality on others. But because sex trafficking is human trafficking, and supporting the sex industry supports slavery.

Pop culture has told us for years that sex workers (or at least some) are really regular people just doing this as a sort of moonlighting, raising money to go to medical school (i.e. tertiary characters in Oceans 11) or raise their children in a stable home (Pay it Forward). It's a testament to the power of Hollywood that millions of women cite Pretty Woman as one of their favorite chick flicks, forgetting (or ignoring) that it's about a prostitute. The sad truth is, Pretty Woman has no bearing on reality.

Annie Lobert lived in the sex industry for 11 years. As she puts it, you name it, she did it. She says she fell for the pop culture/Pretty Woman lie, thinking she could go to Vegas, do some escort/dancing work, save money and go to college. She had no interest in drug or alcohol abuse. She had dreams of Richard Gere finding her one day and whisking her off to a mansion. Before she knew what was happening, her dream turned into a nightmare.

If you click her name, you can go read her story. I'll warn you, it's not pretty. She even has a disclaimer at the top that says if you are under 18, you need to obtain permission from your parents to read it. She holds nothing back. She lays it all out - for two reasons.

First, she wants us - those of us who grew up in comfortable homes with no personal exposure to the sex industry - to know exactly what the sex industry looks like from the inside - not what it looks like in the movies.

Second, because she wants other sex workers to know that there is hope. When she was at her lowest, Jesus revealed Himself to her and she became His follower. It did more than save her soul - it saved her life. And now she is called to actively seek out and rescue her fellow sex workers.
That's where Hookers for Jesus started. The name might be a little jarring to those of us used to outreach programs named "Evangelism Explosion" or "Way of the Master." But that is her ministry - former sex workers reaching out to current and former sex workers in the name of Jesus. Also, as she says, Jesus came to make us fishers of men, and you can't fish without a hook, right? So - Hookers for Jesus.

And - of course - I have to get a little political here. This is why I'm a Conservative, not a Libertarian. One of the planks of Libertarian philosophy is legalized prostitution a.k.a. legalized slavery. The justification is, "Adults have the right to make their own decisions, even if those decisions are self-destructive." But that's not what sex trafficking is. Sex trafficking is human trafficking. It's slavery.

The women (and men, but definitely women) who get involved in sex trafficking sometimes do initially because they are trying to get money to make their lives better (i.e. college, child support, a house.) They stay in it because when they try to leave, they are abused almost to the point of death, or else are addicted to drugs (as part of their career) and can't afford to feed the habit without the constant stream of money sex trafficking brings.

Make no mistake, sex trafficking - in any form, whether it's prostitution, dancing, or porn - is human trafficking, our sophisticated 21st Century term for slavery. Yes, even in high profile Vegas where the glamor and the shine can make us forget that these women are trapped. The same way we were all enslaved to sin before Jesus set us free. These women need our prayers that God will put someone in their path to show them the way out...and our prayers asking God if perhaps we are the ones who are supposed to do it.

One of the things I have been looking for in a church since we got here is an outreach ministry to the trafficked workers in our city. So far, either there aren't any or they don't advertise it. But I'm not giving up hope. We're here for a least a couple of years. In that time, I really hope to either find one or help jump-start one.

I highly encourage you to go to hookersforjesus.com (clicking Annie's name above) and read her story. Then get honest with God and ask if He's got something for you to do to help the trafficked, either through donating to Destiny House, becoming a prayer warrior for the trafficked and for Annie's ministry, spreading the word about the truth of human trafficking, or even getting involved personally and putting your arms around a woman who hasn't felt genuine love in years, maybe ever.

EDIT: you can find Annie on Twitter at @hookersforjesus for current news and daily encouragement. She has such a sweet and joyful spirit.
all photos and stories are the property of Annie Lobert

11 comments:

  1. I think what she is doing is awesome, trying to help those who are stuck in that lifestyle get out.

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  2. She had a show on Investigation/Discovery channel that was pretty good! It followed her and the ladies that she was trying to help...it really showed the difficulty in going back to being 'straight'. As most of them had at least one criminal charge of prostitution, it was hard for them to find jobs, etc. I haven't seen it on in a while...I hope it didn't get canceled!!

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  3. thats a pretty cool story...I sadly live in a home where 2 of my brothers have porn addictions, and I have had to deal with that thing since I was 13.
    Lucky my husband hates strip clubs which is more then I can say for alot of men in the Military...I dont understand why they think its attractive when they (usually) have a lovely wife at home willing to actually give them these things they are flaunting at for FREE.
    I'm glad you wrote this, because even though I personally love Pretty Woman, that movie is a fairytale and not a reality.

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  4. She has an amazing testimony. I really admire what she is doing with her ministry. I will definitely be in prayer about how I can help her ministry.

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  5. In Germany working as a prostitute is considered a job. Of course there is the bad and the ugly, the drugs and the abuse, however, there are many upscale prostitute that make a real living out of their "job" and truly live the Pretty Woman life. But that's the exception. Most are stuck, use drugs and can't get out. I'm glad there is people out there who try to reach out and tell their story. Thanks for sharing this!

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  6. I think she's doing a great thing.

    I'm like you, I'm not a total prude, but I don't understand why this stuff is tolerated in the military, let alone ENCOURAGED. I'm the type of person who thinks that strip clubs should be off limits to military members, because NO good EVER comes from them. I've always said they should blacklist them all. I mean, they'll blacklist "adult entertainment" stores with no problem, but most strip clubs go untouched.

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  7. Thanks for sharing her story! I heard her testimony a few years ago on a Dateline program she participated in with Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Powerful testimony, and amazing ministry! I hope God leads you to what you are searching for...either in an already established ministry, or in pushing you in the right direction to get one going yourself. It might be a bit of an advantage to you being a mil spouse also...hint hint ;0) I so appreciate your heart for such tragedy in our culture!

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  8. The first time I drove through a "real" military town with my fiance, there were strip clubs galore. He told me, "There are four things you will always find at any post or base: strip clubs, wedding boutiques, wedding chapels, and divorce lawyers." Kind of gross. You don't hear of a lot of these women getting out so good for her!

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  9. You always impress me with your knowledge of such a broad base of subjects. It really is incredible what He can do when we let him. There is no one too far from His reach. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this! Definitely something to be made aware of and think on - I think we can so often take sex trafficking as a "norm" in our current culture - and it should NOT be!

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  11. I had not heard of her or her cause! I'm going to read her story right now!

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