Cindy’s Story

We met a dancer named Cindy at a strip club one Thursday night. It was under unusual circumstances. She had overheard our conversation in the dressing room with another dancer who did not like that we were bringing God into “a place like that.” Cindy came over and began to defend us, quoting Scripture while telling the other dancer, it was a good thing we were there! As she was speaking I felt God’s presence around us. “How could this be?” I thought. I am here to encourage them, not the other way around! Oh my, what God will show you, when you think you’ve got it all figured out! At the time, Cindy didn’t have any quality female relationships. She was attending church and would observe from a distance but never truly felt a part of God’s family. I’ll let her share her amazing story with you…in her own words:

“When I met Kayla, I didn’t realize that God sometimes gives you what you need, though you may not know it yet. I was so happy to see her at the strip club that day because it showed me that God doesn’t forget about us. Even though we are out in the wilderness doing God knows what, He will send someone, all the way into the depths of the ocean, to the ends of the earth, to go get you.

I was very broken. That’s how I ended up in the strip club.

For a lot of us, our story goes like this: At some point in your life, due to unfortunate circumstances, you lose all self esteem and you don’t care about yourself anymore. We become broken. We don’t know what we need. We don’t know what love is. Satan put it in my head that I would never amount to anything, that dancing was the best thing I could do.

It’s a lonely life. It’s hard to get out of. The longer you do it, the emptier you become.
I feel that God got me just in time. I just needed a friend, someone that could help me get to the next level of my walk with God. I would go to church and listen and watch from a distance what everybody was doing but I never got involved. Then when I saw Kayla going into the clubs, it just dawned on me that there are people that care, that sacrifice their time to needy souls. It raised the bars in my head of what I could do. She had given back, despite the hard things she had been through personally. I wanted God to do the same thing for me.

Now it’s been two years and I haven’t gone back to dancing.

It’s not like money hasn’t been tough and there hasn’t been times when I’m like “Oh, I’m going to run out of this or that.” I could just call one of my ex customers and get the money I need. I have thought stupid things like that, but I have not given into those thoughts. I’ve learned to be content with the simple essentials, and I’m happier because of it. I’m not worshipping money anymore, I used to worship money. But now since I’ve come into the light, there is wisdom and understanding. It’s hopeful to know that there are people who love God that are willing to meet you where you’re at. It is important to reach out because you just don’t know what they’re going through.

The Lord wants me to do mission work. To start, I feel I can help Lavish with the ministry to the women in the sex industry, just simply because I’ve walked that path. I know it’s difficult. With all of the love and support that I’ve seen now, it encourages me to become more like Christ and to give back to others.

I am now in a place where I can serve them. It has come full circle. Jesus tells us to be a light in a dark world, and to go set the captives free. This is what I am passionate about now!”

Cindy’s story tells just one of the many amazing journeys our Pearls are on. Because of the giving of your time and resources, this woman, and many more like her, are being greatly impacted. *Names have been changed to protect identity*

Run 4 Hope

R4H

We are so thrilled to be a sponsor at the “Run 4 Hope” this year. All proceeds go to support a very vital organization in our community, The Rape Crisis Center. Join LAVISH at the “Run 4 Hope” to raise awareness of sexual violence while helping continue the good work of The Rape Crisis Center.

What exactly does The Rape Crisis Center do you may ask? 

They provide hope, help, and healing on a daily basis to those individuals and families affected by sexual violence. In Bexar County, they receive an average of 3 phone calls a day from local hospitals requesting advocates to support survivors during their assault exam. In addition, they provide counseling, a 24 hour hotline, education & training, and case management. Fundraisers, community donations, and grants allow them to continue to serve those in our community affected by this horrible crime. It is with your generosity that we can help support The Rape Crisis Center, providing hope to those who feel hopeless.

If you would like to Run or Walk with Lavish, please register with our group at:
https://runsignup.com/Race/Register/RaceGroup-16403?raceId=5463&embedId2=EeXi999F

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

Packet pick up:
Feb. 21, 2014, from 10:30a-6:30p at Soler’s Sports 2589 Jackson Keller Rd, San Antonio, TX 78230.

Schedule & Location:
Race Day at Pavilion 2 at McAllister Park starting at 7:00 a.m. (13102 Jones-Maltsberger, San Antonio, Texas 78247)
7:00am – Registration
7:45am – FREE Kid Sprint <— (Bring the whole family!)
8:00am – 5K Run/Walk

Entry Fees to 5K: “Early Bird” Before February 12:
Kids $15
Lavish Team Rate $20
Virtual Runner $25

After February 12th: $30
Race Day: $40

Free Run 4 Hope t-shirt and goodie bag included for everyone who registers before February 12. All proceeds to benefit The Rape Crisis Center.

Join us afterwards with free fun kids’ stations where you can test your superheros skills, get face painted, and participate in great photo opportunities!

If you are unable to join us but would like to make a donation, please follow this link:
http://www.athleteguild.com/runsignup?page=anycontent&contentUrl=Race%2FDonate%2F%3FraceId%3D5463%26runnerFundraiser%3DdNfC78wiqt8naqNW

For the main event website, go to:
http://rapecrisis.com/events.php

Why porn is more popular than church: Part 1

Porn > church

I know what you’re thinking, how dare I suggest such a thing. I assure you, what is written below will ruffle your feathers. At least I hope so.

Let’s set the scene. It’s Sunday morning which could mean one of two things: 1) either you’re snuggled up to the cold side of your pillow while basking in your weekly ritual of sleeping in, or 2) it’s a mad dash to get ready, eat a slice of toast, get in the car and speed away to church before anyone notices your tardiness.

Why is porn more popular than church? Well, there are a lot of reasons, less to do with porn and more to do with church, in my opinion. Let’s face it. At some point we have all been less than satisfied with church, maybe even disappointed. Church hasn’t always measured up and been all we hoped it would be. It has been a ritual for centuries, but not exactly a passion for everyone. I’m not saying that church can’t be exciting or relevant. It just doesn’t always live up to the expectation and the hype that surrounds it. For the record, I grew up in church, going week after week my whole life. It has definitely played a huge role in who I am today. However, I do not see many of the people I grew up with really caring for church much these days.

Why is that?

You know that time your mom made a little too much spaghetti, and it seemed like the leftovers would never end? It’s like the quail and manna God brought down from heaven; and just like the Israelites, it doesn’t feel much like a miracle after a few days. You can’t stand the smell of that same old spaghetti. You’ve lost the desire to eat it. You’re just over it. People are just over church. And honestly, I’m over church too. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a church hater, and what God did for the Israelites in the desert was indeed a miracle. Every single time He rained poultry and bread it was definitely an experience to be had. I’m just not sure that the leftovers we are dishing out of the church is what God had in mind when He wanted to feed His people. He has never been bound by rituals, or programs, or by the four walls of a church. We preach this all the time, but…do we really mean it? I’m not saying the answer is some new revelation that no one has ever heard of (even God Himself), I’m simply saying that God is bigger. He’s bigger than our church building and all of our organized activities. He’s bigger than our awesome youth band or twelve-step program. He’s bigger than our thinking, and the little box we tend to put Him in to suit us as our own little pseudo-Jesus idol.

“So what does an outside of the box Jesus look like?” you may ask. From what we read in Scripture, we know He spent time alone with His Creator, and He spent time with people, showing them who God was through His own life. He invited people to go on a journey with Him, to get to know Him, and experience His Father on an intimate level. Jesus answered the need for passion, not theological debate. He came and stirred up things a bit, because He didn’t come pre-packaged the way the church had hoped. Those who were looking for Him found Him, those who weren’t, did not. People want authenticity, something genuine. Better yet, someone genuine. Jesus didn’t have to advertise His authenticity with a postcard slogan that reads, ‘real church for real people.’ What exactly does that mean anyways? He was authentic because, He was authentic…if that makes sense. Part of the issue we have with church is how we treat it. Church has become an imitation, a substitute for God. We aren’t seeking out the real person Himself, therefore, we are unsatisfied. We bring people to church, but Jesus brought church to people. We need more Jesus. Stop trying to be a hipster Christian. Let’s just be our frumpy, less than perfect selves, and let God be Himself instead of someone’s ‘homeboy’.

So…having made our way here in a rather circuitous manner, what does all of this church talk have to do with porn? Good question…and, please excuse me for this less than subtle transition from church to porn.

Did you know that one out of every four searches on the internet is for porn? One out of every four searches…think about that for a minute. That’s a pretty big number. And, the most popular day of the week for viewing porn is…drum roll please…Sunday! Coincidence? I think not. Although, I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when He created the seventh day of rest! But the stats have spoken, porn has won, and church has struck out. What makes porn so attractive? What is so amazing about porn that justifies it’s 68 million internet searches per day, even more so on our glorious Sunday?

Porn has no expectations of me, and it makes no demands. It’s visually engaging, endorphin releasing, gets me higher than high, and is a full on orgasmic experience. Porn produces all the feel goods a person could ask for. It’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it. If we are honest, what’s not to love about that? Porn is available anytime, anywhere. It’s just a click away. It requires very little effort to get it. Its supply is virtually endless, literally. If I have a particular craving, the internet will seek it out for me, whether it be a busty brunette or a bombshell blondie, I will get what I want when I want it. And best of all, no one has to know. What some don’t realize are the adverse affects that porn has on your body, your soul, and your spirit. A recent Relevant Magazine article entitled, ‘This is your brain on porn‘ reveals that “Every time a person views porn, or eventually even thinks about porn, the burst of dopamine strengthens the connections between cells (in your brain). The stronger the connection, the easier it becomes for cells to communicate on that path…Porn becomes the path of least resistance in the brain. And the easier the path, the more likely we are to take it, even when we don’t want to.” Porn addiction is inevitable for viewers. Viewing porn releases more endorphins than a hit of crack cocaine. It is even being recognized as a leading cause of erectile dysfunction in not your dad or grandpa (apologies for the visual) but actually young men, in their 20′s and 30′s. Men aren’t the only ones partaking of pornography, either. Now there is visual and readable porn ready for any desperate housewife. Porn has a captive audience because it presents itself as a pleasurable experience without all the red tape. It seems less messy than real life, and especially less messy than church. Porn presents an alternative reality to the one we face. This “californication” takes us on a thrilling journey that seems to find gold at the end of the rainbow.

Be careful my friends. All is not what it’s cracked up to be. What started off as a leisurely escape, turns into an all consuming need that leaves you anxious about when you will get your next hit. That voice in your head won’t turn off anymore. Instead of you controlling it, it begins to control you. Just like church was not all it promised, neither will porn be in the end. Best frankly stated by Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch, Porn kills.” It kills brain cells, it kills innocence, it kills hopes, dreams, and marriages. It kills intimacy and healthy relationships with people and with God. Porn is killing the church. It’s killing you and me. The problem here is not that porn is available in copious amounts. It’s that the church (we) remain occupied.

So…what are we so occupied with?

For the answer, go to “Why porn is more popular than church: Part 2

Kayla Signature

Sources:
http://www.xxxchurch.com/extras/stats.html
http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/can-porn-cause-erectile-dysfunction-pt-1
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/features/29332-this-is-your-brain-on-porn
http://www.xxxchurch.com/extras/pornkills.html