When “Jill” came to Nashville to forge a life for herself and her 1-year-old and 3-year-old children, she beat the pavement to get a job. None came. As a last resort, she turned to the local upscale strip club to be able to pay the bills. That was a year ago. “Jill” made a decent living, but didn’t feel “right.”
“I was a single mom with two kids,” she said. “I came to Nashville thinking there were opportunities.”
She thought there would be jobs and schooling opportunities.
She tried hard. But, those opportunities didn’t pan out.
“The economy was hard,” said the now 23 year old. “I took the job to pay the bills. I needed to feed the kids and I wanted to be home with them when it was important.”
That was a year ago.
“Ideally, I wanted a job I wouldn’t feel so horrible about myself,” she said.
About three months into her job at the strip club, something happened– someone – made an appearance.
It was Erin Stevens, a home-school mom of her children and a preacher’s wife. She was part of a ministry where there was no judgment and she only wanted people to know the love of Christ….and herself. Her husband, Todd, is the preacher of Friendship Community Church in Mt. Juliet.
She talks about a scenario where there were windows of a church and those outside pressed their faces against the window looking in.
“But nobody came to let them in,” she said.
She had an epiphany and felt led to do something dramatic. She picked up the phone and called a Nashville strip club.
“I asked, ‘can I come and show the girls love in a practical way with no strings’,” she said.
She’s been going ever since – a home cooked meal, every other Thursday.
“I bring the girls gifts,” she said. “Lip gloss, fingernail polish and more.”
She goes about 8:30 at night just before the girls begin their shift.
“I just ask about their kids, and family and their lives,” she said.
“I show them love.”
She said they know she’s not trying to save them.
“I don’t thump a Bible and preach,” she said.
One time she had a donation of $150 worth of Mary Kay products. She thought about splitting them up, but decided “why not;” let’s give all the products at once.
“A girl came up to me crying,” she said.
That young woman couldn’t understand why someone would be so generous.
“’Why do you do this?’” she asked,” said Erin.
“I told her because you are valuable.”
“Jill” took notice of Erin’s visits.
Three months after Erin’s visit, “Jill” showed up at Friendship Christian Church.
“Erin ran to me and gave me the biggest hug,” said “Jill”. “She sat with me in the service. The love I felt, like I’ve never felt, was incomparable.”
“Jill” said she felt a sense of peace at FCC.
She quit her job at the strip club the next day. She doesn’t look back.
“I’ve never felt accepted at churches, “ she said. “Some ‘normal Christians’ don’t accept an ex-stripper with tattoos and kids.”
She didn’t have a job, but had faith something would happen. What happened was a woman at the church supplied her with a job that allows her to work from home, pay her bills, and be with her children.
“I feel so much better,” said “Jill” quietly. “My conscious is clear. I don’t have the worries. My reward is bettering myself and putting my trust into God.
She’s finishing up her associate’s degree and has a career plan.
“My hope and dream is to be the best mom I can be,” she said.
She said preacher Todd is “amazing.”
“He makes the little things normal,” she said. “He’s changed my life.”
As far as Erin’s influence on her life and her Strip Church, “Jill” said Erin is, “so close to the spirit she can do crazy things.”
“She’s going to change the world one day,” said “Jill.” “She changed my life remarkably.”