Treasures in Darkness

(This is Part 2 of a weekly blog series I’m calling “Who Will Go?” about my journey of sharing the love of Jesus with the adult entertainment industry. You can read Part 1 here.)

The week that I made the decision to apply for the strip club outreach team, the devil did his very best to intimidate me and make me change my mind.  Over the course of just a few days, my household  became just a little bit like the house of Job in the Old Testament.  We could have been the subject of a country song where everything goes wrong.  Our refrigerator died, our stove died, we had a major plumbing disaster, one of our children was diagnosed with a parasite, another child got the stomach flu, I got the stomach flu, our car needed thousands of dollars-worth of repair, our bank account hit zero, I came down with shingles for the second time in a year, and we experienced a major relational rift with one of our children.  Amongst other things. 

But the devil’s efforts at intimidation only served to strengthen my resolve.  His obvious techniques only heightened my awareness that this was a ministry close to God’s heart.  I became more aware than ever before of the invisible warfare that was going on over my family.  Inspired by the movie War Room[1] and Priscilla Schirer’s book Fervent[2], I began writing out Scriptures to pray over each person and area in my life.  I taped them to my wall next to my bed, where I would see them every morning and every night.

Honestly, I felt fearful and anxious about participating in a strip club ministry.  I had so many questions that I didn’t know the answers to.  What if I found it sexually arousing?  What if I slid into sin myself through exposure to that world?  What if I couldn’t get the images I saw out of my mind?  What if it affected my relationship with my husband?  What if I was so disgusted with the customers that I could not be loving towards every person I encountered?  What about my physical safety?  As I prayed about it, the Holy Spirit led me to several different passages of scripture.  I wrote them out and taped them on my bedroom wall. I prayed through them out loud any time I was starting to feel fearful, and they gave me courage and peace every time. The first pivotal Scripture He gave me was from Isaiah 45:2-3:

I will go before you
    and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
    and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
    riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

God told me that he was going ahead of me and would break down barriers on my behalf.  He promised that I would find hidden treasures in dark places.  I’d always thought of God as only being in the light; but now I learned there were hidden treasures I would only find by venturing into those dark places.  I would find greater intimacy with him through depending completely on his mercy and protection.  I would grow in my understanding of my identity and of His.  As I left my comfort zone, He would teach me things I could not learn any other way.

Next, he highlighted Isaiah 42:6-7 for me:

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

This passage echoed a word I’d received from him two years earlier. I felt it cemented my calling to be a part of this ministry and I also knew that he would be holding my hand all along the way.  I knew that God had called me to be a light, to open eyes, to free captives, and release people from dungeons.  I could not think of a darker place than a strip club.  The spiritually blind eyes and the soul bondage the employees and customers experienced was obvious.  I could see the strip club employees as captives in prison, sitting in dark dungeons, and I wanted to help set them free.

In Isaiah 43:1-2, he promised me that I would not be harmed as I walked through those dark places:

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

I belong to Him no matter what.  Because I am called by his name, He will be with me every step of the way. I could walk through rising water, rushing river, or fierce flames, and not be harmed.

I had one final concern about participating in the strip club ministry.  Team members were required to commit to regular attendance on outreach nights, occurring the same Saturday of each month.  For years, I had frequently been ill for long periods of time, but I told God, “If you want me to participate in this ministry, you are going to have to keep me healthy enough to do it.” 

For three years, I never once had to miss an outreach due to being ill.

[1] Written by Alex & Steven Kendrick, and directed by Alex Kendrick, War Room, released 2015

[2] Priscilla Schirer, Fervent, B & H Publishing, August 2015

Published by Courtney

Courtney Goodwin is a woman on a mission: to live a life full of peace, joy, freedom, and hope, and then to release those things to others. She’s encountered the overwhelming love and supernatural power of Jesus, and she’s partnered with the Holy Spirit to to see freedom and healing in many areas of her life. She is currently writing a book about her testimony that is full of practical keys to help others experience supernatural transformation in their lives. Courtney loves to serve the body of Christ in a variety of roles and has been a worship leader for over twenty years. Courtney loves to co-create with Holy Spirit to write and release songs of worship and meditation. She has served as director of women’s ministries and pioneered new evangelistic ministries in her hometown of Oregon City, Oregon. She has a heart for seeing women and men freed from human trafficking, and has served in strip club ministry for the last three years. Courtney is a graduate of both the Oregon School of Supernatural Ministry and of Dr. Jennifer Miskov’s School of Revival, where she served on the leadership team.

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