Heartbreaking, humbling, encouraged, challenged, moved. Those are just a few of the words that my wife Cissy and I would use to describe our experience at the Exxxotica Convention, April 11-13. We have never been in an environment like before and we are so thankful that many of you were praying for us.
I realized that it was definitely another way that God has answered our simple prayer, which led us to plant a church in New Jersey… “Lord make us UNCOMFORTABLE.”
It is funny, when I think about the fact that Cissy and I had both prayed that simple prayer at different times and different seasons, without either of us knowing it. Later in God’s timing he revealed to us that we both had that same desire.
We knew that we had become satisfied and comfortable in our own ways when we were in Tampa. God started putting a tension that made us aware of where things are and where they should be. We both knew that God wanted more from us individually, as well as a family. It was our desire to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Who knew that praying that desire would lead to leaving an amazing church, incredible network of friends and family, our home, and much more, to move to a state that I had never visited in my life, to a city that I had only heard of, to plant a church, which was something I had never dreamed of. And then to think that I would be attending a porn convention with my wife, which was something I would have said is unthinkable.
This past weekend, we were fortunate to cheerfully submit to the leadership of XXX Church to learn more about what this amazing ministry has been doing for the past 12 years. They are on the front lines of breaching the darkness of the beast, which feeds a nasty addiction that is destroying men and women, both inside and outside of the church.
In fact, a couple attending the convention stopped by the booth and were engaged in a conversation with a few of the volunteers from XXX Church. They were asked to pose for a picture and be willing to tag themselves with the hash tag #XXXchurch on social media. The couple declined because they served at their church and didn’t want anyone to see where they were.
I also witnessed another conversation with two girls who were curious as to what this booth was all about and what the free t-shirts were all about. A pastor from New Jersey named Mike engaged in a great discussion with the young ladies. Mike found out that the girls were in the industry and they were from Las Vegas. One of the girls held her head down in shame when she revealed who she was and what she did. Mike explained to her, out of a heart full of grace, that “the slogan on the t-shirt, which read – ‘JESUS LOVES PORN STARS’ – wasn’t just a slogan – it was truth and it was true for her.”
That moment was POWERFUL. The young girl looked at Mike and the tension was obvious – had to be similar to the tension Cissy and I felt – and it was in that moment that she looked at Mike and said with a sense of brokenness that she wanted to believe that it was true. Mike explained that he knew it was true, because God loved him and he told his story. I pray that she would come to know that it is true and that she would receive that love for herself.
We learned a lot from XXX Church and their ministry. The favor that God has given them is nothing short of the work of the Holy Spirit. I asked Carl, who is on staff, what it was they did and his answer was simple and direct, “approach.” After spending a weekend with them and witnessing it first hand, I can see why he said that, approach is what they do. They approach people in kindness and love just like Jesus did.
The Lord Jesus’ offer of friendship to the bad characters around him gives us reason to admire Him but it also gives us reason to ask ourselves a question. How many bad characters do I talk to? We must be willing to be the good news and share it with absolutely anyone. We can’t expect to win others to faith in Christ unless we offer them genuine friendship.
We have been given some neat opportunities to come alongside and work more with XXX church. XXX Church was praying about working in Atlantic City and when they found out that we were already doing what they had been asking God for, they were excited to meet us. It was reassuring to know that God was allowing us to be an answer to that prayer. We have been asked to help them with the Exxxotica Convention Atlantic City show next year.
We have also been asked to help XXX Church go to Sydney, Australia and work with them there. This is a major and bold step for XXX Church and there is a strong possibility that it may not happen. Carl expressed that this was a huge burden and prayer of theirs and asked if we might be willing to help them put this show on. The need is there. We feel like it would be amazing to learn more from them. We also believe that it would be a great on-ramp to helping us to widen our ministry here in Atlantic City by giving us a strong partner like XXX Church. They bring experience, wisdom and accountability, as we seek to be salt and light in difficult places.
There is a major cost to helping them… and it is 20,000 dollars. For a church plant like us and for a ministry like XXX Church it is impossible. But to God, if it is what He wants, then we know it is possible. Carl and I agreed that if God provided, then we would know it was His will. If He didn’t, then it wasn’t. I told Him that we would pray and if we didn’t receive the funds by May 7th then we would pass. SO, will you join me in praying for God’s will to be revealed? If God wants you to help in any way, please let us know ASAP. PRAY with us and PRAY for this amazing ministry.