In May of 2016, Morgan D’Avanzo began to hear the Lord speaking to her, telling her to start a strip club ministry.
She remembered thinking, “That’s an interesting calling,” and continued to pray for several months. She called clubs to find out if she could deliver gifts, but all said no.
After searching online, Morgan said, “I stumbled upon an organization called Strip Church, which provides training, one-on-one coaching, and resources for groups all across the US that want to do outreach in strip clubs.” After her application and references were checked, she began training as a Network Partner, which acted as the foundation and umbrella for Forever Loved SC, the ministry she founded in January 2017.
Morgan shied away from being called “founder” of Forever Loved SC, as she considers it a technicality. “We all serve, pray, and make decisions together.” Their first launch meeting was in February, then the first outreach was in March.
Forever Loved SC is fulfilling a unique space in ministry for obvious reasons. Morgan explained that many have not even heard of strip club ministry. “We have a unique opportunity to literally meet these women where they are by going into their places of work to deliver dinner, snacks, and gifts,” she added.
“Our goal is simply to encourage and remind these women that they are beautiful and loved. All of the gifts we deliver have our business card with contact information so they can reach out if they ever need a friend.”
A Radical Change in Perspective
Morgan recalled being terrified to step into a strip club before starting this ministry. “I thought of strip clubs only as dangerous places where bad people hang out.”
Her perspective of women in this industry has radically changed since then. Before Forever Loved SC was started, she had the opportunity to go on an outreach night with a group in another city that had been pouring out their love for 5 years. After that night Morgan “cried because [she] saw these women as daughters of God rather than just ‘strippers.’”
Reaching out to the hearts behind the faces she sees at each outreach night has humanized the women working in clubs.
“They have children, they have boyfriends; they have goals and dreams. Several of them are in college or have other jobs during the day. When we serve in the clubs, we talk about everything from their career goals to what they are studying in school to parenting. The reality is that we are all daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, and friends who have chosen different paths in life.”
Morgan has also felt a leveling effect due to Forever Loved SC.
“God has taught me that my sins are no different than the sins of anyone else. It can be easy to think of gossip, pride, and impatience as “not as bad” as stripping, but the reality is that sin is sin and it just looks different for different people,” Morgan insisted.
Morgan’s values and view of sin are in sync with one of the foundational purposes of this website, to help all women fight sin at its very core, at the heart.
Morgan explained that she also saw how God provides for the callings and ministries he is leading believers to carry out. “He will take care of the fear, anxiety, and struggles that come along with that calling… God has allowed us to form great relationships with 3 strip clubs and 4 massage parlors, [showing] that God will fulfill the calling He places in our hearts.”
And indeed, Forever Loved SC has been incredibly blessed with support. “I was not sure at first how my church would react to it, but I have been so encouraged to see friends, family, and church members step up and volunteer to drive, bake goodies, and provide items for gift bags,” she explained.
Trust Built with Hugs, Prayers, and Goodie Bags
At each night of outreach, the team will send in 3 women into a club and a male volunteer acts as driver to wait in the car for them to return.
In just a short five months since its inception, the outreach ministry has started to bear fruit. “I love to talk about how the Lord is growing these relationships with the club managers, bouncers, and dancers,” Morgan beamed.
“We have had so many girls say that they love nights when we come visit. Two months ago we had one woman chase us out into the street to hug us as we were walking back to the car. Two weeks ago, one woman left the customer she was sitting with when we were walking toward the door to share her heart with us and ask us to pray for her.”
Morgan is incredibly thankful for the friendships she and the team have made over the past months. “Every single woman we have met is special to me and has impacted me far beyond words can express. Praise Jesus for His abounding love and unending grace.”
Love Despite Danger
Though the ministry has been incredibly blessed, there are still precautions to take for both physical and spiritual safety.
“We were in one club recently waiting to speak with the bouncer when a fight broke out right in front of us. It was scary because it was just 3 girls from our team surrounded by 8 or 10 guys. One customer started screaming at the bouncer, then the bouncer got up and started running toward him. We left right away and on the way out, a customer stopped us and asked if I was a prostitute.”
Morgan has also become sensitive to spiritual warfare. Though she already accepted it as a reality based on the truthfulness of scripture, she has just recently started to experience it at a greater magnitude.
“One thing that I have noticed is that when I am praying daily, fasting, and seeking God’s guidance for Forever Loved SC, I struggle more with being overtired and sometimes lacking interest in things I normally love to do. I often battle bouts of depression, major fatigue, and physical illness before, during, and immediately after outreach nights. If I do not get enough sleep the night before or after outreach nights, these symptoms are worse.”
She discovered this very real battle one night immediately after outreach night. She was so physically exhausted for three days that she didn’t want to get out of bed. She felt depressed, but she didn’t understand why. Everything was going perfectly with the ministry and she was taking care of her body; there was absolutely no other reason to explain why she was feeling as she was.
Now that she is aware of the spiritual attacks, she has pinpointed that after outreach nights Satan attacks the most.
Morgan draws on Ephesians 6:10-20 to know how to battle against spiritual warfare. “Verse 11 (NIV) says “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Satan is constantly attempting to deceive, distract, and confuse us. I have found that Satan attacks me the hardest before, during, and after outreach nights,” she explained. That’s when the love of Jesus for these beautiful women created in his image is shining the brightest.
Morgan’s advice to others who are interested in starting such a ministry is first to pray for several months. If the Lord is truly calling to this ministry, the desire will grow. She also suggests researching to see if Strip Church is already operating in an area or city near those interested. Under the Strip Church umbrella, training, support, and scholarships are available to groups partnering with them. The benefit of continuing to partner with an already operating group is experience and already established relationships and connections.
“If there is not club ministry in your area, I recommend reaching out to the leaders at Strip Church about beginning ministry,” she said.
If you’re in South Carolina and interested in joining by supporting Forever Loved SC, that doesn’t necessarily require visiting a club on an outreach night. There is gift preparation and prayer.
“If your church or small group would like to sponsor a month of outreach gifts (such as bags of candy, make up samples, hand lotion), or prepare a snack for the dancers, you would be covering a vital area of the ministry.” Morgan explained.
The team actually considers prayer to be the most important part of the ministry and hope to begin a prayer team that would pray from home on outreach nights.
“The reality is that God can do His work without us. We could serve a thousand brownies and give out a thousand business cards with contact information, but it does not matter if the Lord isn’t preparing hearts beforehand.”
To volunteer prayer, time or gifts, contact Forever Loved SC at ForeverLovedSC@yahoo.com or liking their Facebook page.
To learn more about Strip Church, visit their website.
So, what are your thoughts? Could you have a godly, Christ-centered love for women in this industry? I certainly hope this post has challenged you to do so. You can comment below or let me know via email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com.