darkness, discipleship, enemy, Jesus, light, love others, salvation, spiritual warfare, strip club ministry, strippers
Greater Is HeSaturday, August 17, 2013
A while back when Roger started to grow tremendously in his ministry, we began to experience spiritual warfare and sucker punches at full force. There would be nights when I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and be overcome with fear. I could feel something. Not to much longer after, Lucy would start to cry. I would go into her room and she’d be terrified, awoken from a nightmare. This happened almost every night for a few months, always around the same time.
Wondering how this ties into outreach last night? Well, here you go...(and don’t think I’m crazy, please?).
Last night, I felt discouraged before I met up with my outreach team. I really just wanted to cry (and it was more than just being pregnant) and things slowly fell apart for me as the night went on. When I was sitting in the club, I made small talk with my outreach partner, making sure she was okay and answering questions she had. But inwardly, I was thinking that this entire ministry was going to be impossible. What if the team fizzled out? What if we couldn’t make it work when our leader was no longer there to guide us each week? I mean, these are brand new clubs that an outreach team has never entered. I started this ministry when veterans had already laid the groundwork and developed some relationships. I went in with the club owners and dancers already knowing we were the church ladies that brought gifts. And this is how I sat there, with my partner oblivious to what was going on in my head, simply worried.
About 30 minutes in, I sent the prayer team a text stating that I felt like I was failing at this to which a friend quickly sent back an encouraging response. Soon after, a huge group of men walked in. They sat close to where we were; one guy pulling his chair all the way up to the stage. It quickly became obvious that this guy was the trouble maker and all his buddies were there just to cheer him on and encourage him to get hands on with the dancers. All of a sudden, the dancer on stage became much more energetic. She got down right in the guy’s face, presenting...body parts to be touched and fondled.
My hands started trembling. This has never happened to me in a club before. I once saw a girl I had just talked to, a girl that was sobbing over her drink, go to dance for a man and allow oral sex to be preformed on her right on the stage. I spoke with the same girl afterwards, tears still streaming down her cheek. But even then, my hands didn’t tremble.
My hands are my spiritual barometer, of sorts. That same terror, dark fear, that wakes me and Lucy in the night, came into the club with those men. I remember mentioning to my partner that I didn’t think we should stay much longer. I think she replied at some point about Greater is He...if not, it kept circling my brain (1 John 4:4). I said we would try to stick it out ten more minutes and pray hard core for the girls. But soon after, some guys in the group kept turning around to stare at us and I knew it was time to leave.
Then, all of a sudden, ‘C’ (a dancer a team had met two weeks ago) was standing at out table. My hands were still trembling and I wished I for have a face-to-face with God right at the moment. I wanted to ask Him, “What exactly is going on here? I have felt like getting the chance to speak to a girl was going to be impossible. Now, when I know it is time to go, You send a girl to our table when my hands are trembling and my head’s a mess?!”
Of course, I didn’t the chance for that face-to-face with God.
When ‘C’ moved on, we packed up our things and left...but I ended up taking that darkness all the way home with me. My mind couldn’t make sense out of what had happened or why the group of men bothered me so much. I felt kinda crazy.
You can blame it on my over active imagination, or my curiosity over C.S. Lewis’ ‘Screwtape Letters’, but I have a huge belief in the idea that people can bring their ‘garbage’ or their ‘spiritual junk’ along with them. I guess that’s what I felt when those guys got settled in. They weren’t doing anything more shocking than I’ve seen in the past.
I was up for a long time, laying in bed and trying to fall asleep. I kept thinking about random verses, none of which were particularly uplifting. I thought of God encountering Satan in the book of Job and how Satan tells God that he has been patrolling the earth. I thought about the demons in ‘Screwtape Letters’ that thought it funny that mankind did not even know that the demons are with them, sitting beside them, keeping them in bondage. And then, at that familiar time of night, Lucy let out a terrible scream of, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I think I almost peed, the sound scared me so much!
Roger and I jumped out of the bed, nearly running into each other, yanked open the door of the kids’ room, and found Lucy out of bed, shaking at the top of the stairway that goes to the top bunk. She was pointing at a dark corner of the room screeching, “Daddy! You have to get that snake! Get it out of here!”
There was no snake, but it took some convincing to get her to believe me. When she was calm, she climbed into bed, asked for us to turn some worship music on softly, and fell back to sleep. But me? I went back to bed still feeling defeated. Was being in ministry and trying to love people that are pretty hard to reach out to worth the sucker punches? Was it worth my daughter’s nightmares and the darkness that sometimes gets into my home? I mean, my gut reaction is to tell God, “Never mind!” It’s hard. And I think these attacks and other like it, have been regular for over a year.
I laid in bed for an hour. Then, I finally heard from God (to which I wanted to tell Him that I NEED sleep). He reaffirmed that I did feel the spiritual atmosphere change when those men walked in (so I’m not crazy). Who knew a strip club had spiritual atmosphere? But it’s everywhere. While my team was there, it changed. People don’t see it now, but we bring in light; we take the presence of The Lord in. And when those guys came in...goodness!...if we could only have looked at the scene with special glasses...see it the way God and His angel armies see it!
Yes, Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. We weren’t in danger, but I do believe those alarms both my partner and I felt were God’s way of saying it was time to go. But in that two-in-the-morning hour, God clearly told me, “Andrea...that may be how it felt to you, but you can’t feel what the darkness feels when you and the teams walk into those clubs.” I thought what I felt was troubling, but I suddenly understood: though we don’t see it yet, the battle being done and the victories already claimed in the name of The Lord, are ripping the enemies’ feet right out from under them. They do more than tremble in His presence. They eventually flee...and that’s a promise. If we keep going, if we stick it out, if we roll with the sucker punches and commit to do this thing even when there is so much on our calendar...the darkness will flee. God will win.
“And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.” Genesis 1:1
He could do this without us, really. But how awesome is it that He has called us to serve by His side? Don’t let sucker punches keep you from standing with a chin held high and your hand tucked into His. What’s happening that we can’t see with our earthly eyes, is well worth it.
PS: At six years old, my sweet baby girl is leaning how to be a trooper in these wars she can’t see with her own eyes. If she doesn’t ask for worship music when she is terrified in the night, she gets my phone, opens the YouVersion app and plays the Psalms audio. So...even a little girl is mightier than the enemy. If that’s true for her, it’s true for me...because I’ll be 31 next week!