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Strip Church ministry borne of fast

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By ERIN STEVENS
Special to The Wilson Post

As a pastors wife, there are many things that are expected.

Knowing how to fix a delicious meal and entertaining guests is certainly high on the list. Feeding and socializing with strippers and porn stars are usually not in the job description. Let me explain.

Six years ago, my husband, Todd, and I, planted a church called Friendship Community Church at Lakeview Elementary in Mt. Juliet. We meet at 9 and 10:30 a.m. every Sunday. Our main goal has always been to reach those far from Christ. Did you know that 82 percent of the population in Hermitage, Old Hickory and Mt. Juliet are unchurched? That means that on any given Sunday, 82 percent of our neighbors are not in any Christian church. As the Bible says, The fields are ripe unto harvest. At FCC, 75 percent of our first time guests each week were not in any local church when they found us. That is an amazing statistic!

In just six short years, FCC has grown from 30 to 850 regular attenders. Community service is one of the backbones of our ministry. Perhaps you have seen us in the community giving out free gasoline, washing windshields, repairing elderly homes, or sharing hot chocolate and donuts at the Christmas parade. Or maybe you participated in the free Great Easter Bash at Charlie Daniels Park, got your oil changed at one of our many events geared to help single moms, or received a free meal in a local drive-through. Our bright orange shirts with the words, The church has left the building boldly displayed on the back can be seen all across Wilson County.

In October 2012, I started on a 21-day fast. At the end of the fast, I had one clear direction from God, and it was go feed the strippers. I contacted the general manager at Dj vu off Demonbreun, and he invited me to come. I then contacted Tom at Courtneys Restaurant. Together we planned a delicious meal of roast beef, mac and cheese, green beans, cornbread, sweet tea and banana pudding. I arrived at the strip club with dinner and gifts for the ladies, management and bouncers.

I now go every two weeks, and I cant wait to get down there! My ministry, through Friendship Community Church, is called Strip Church. I do not go into the club with a Bible or gospel tract. I simply go to show Gods love in a practical way with no strings attached. When I give the girls lavish gifts and they ask why, I simply say, Because you are valuable to me and you are valuable to God. I hold them. I pray with them. I love them.

One of the girls has quit the club and is attending FCC regularly. She is now a Christ follower and was obedient in baptism a few weeks ago. She is getting plugged into our growth group structure and is serving. She has just started going to Dj vu with me and talking to the other girls about Jesus and our church. She tells them that FCC is a place where they are more than welcome.

At FCC, we dont care about how you dress or what you say or how you act. We know that you dont have to get cleaned up to come to Jesus. We dont care about your past, because we all have one. We love you as you are, where you are. We always encourage our attenders, whether they believe in God or not, to simply take the next step towards Jesus Christ.

Not in a million years would I have dreamed that God would have me start the only ministry to strippers and people in the porn industry in the entire city of Nashville. But, I have no doubt that I am exactly where I need to be, and I know if Jesus were walking on earth today, He would be right beside me.

Our church website is www.friendshipcommunitychurch.org if you would like more information about our church or the Strip Church ministry.

Editors Note: Erin Stevens is the wife of Pastor Todd Stevens of Friendship Community Church in Mt. Juliet.

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