Beauty From Ashes Videos


Monday, January 24, 2011

Volunteering with Beauty From Ashes™, I saw a greater glimpse into God's heart

On Saturday, January 8th, Sara Karnes, a volunteer with the Hope Project, joined the Beauty From Ashes™ team in gift assembly and strip club outREACH.  She and Hope Project founder, Amanda Chapman, were on a country wide tour of human trafficking ministries and agencies and we were honored and blessed to have them with us.  Below is Sara's reflections on her experience.  
Beauty From Ashes Reflection        

Last week Amanda and I traveled to Ft. Myers, Florida to meet and learn from the ministry, Beauty from Ashes. We met Julie around 9:00 Saturday morning. We assisted the ministry with filling goodie bags for the dancers who would be receiving them later that night. I was very impressed with the ministry. Before we sorted makeup and other beauty products, Julie, the founder, led us into a little devotional. We then prayed for the day and the women who would be receiving the bags. I sensed the Holy Spirit there. I was impressed with how much love they put into each bag. They sorted the bags by dark, medium, and light skin tones. The bags were made with excellence and love. They put a donated Christian book, a Beauty From Ashes CD, their card, and make up in the clear plastic bag which was tied together with pink and black curled ribbon.

Throughout the day, we learned about their ministry and what God was doing in the volunteers' hearts. It was beautiful. I loved hearing and being reminded of how God loves to restore and redeem those who have fallen away from him. His heart is for them. He thinks about them all the time...

As the day went on, Amanda and I were aware that we would not be going on the outreach that night because we had not gone through the required training.  However, as we were getting ready to leave, Julie came to us and said, “We have never done this before, but we feel comfortable with you and was wondering if you two would like to go on the outreach with us.” Shocked, I told Amanda that it was up to her. We agreed to go with them, thinking, “Well, this must be the Lord if they have never done this before!”

As I nervously got into our car to drive back to the hotel to get ready, I thought to myself, “What am I doing?? I have never been in a strip club before...can I do this??” But even through my  anxious thoughts, I heard this calm whisper in my heart, “Sara, I am with you...don't be afraid. I am with you...”

We arrived at Julie's house and quickly got informed on what to expect and see at the club. We prayed for the night, packed up the car, stopped by Starbucks to get a little caffeine for the evening and a grocery store to pick up fresh flowers for the girls, and then headed to the club.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed doing the outreach! It's mind boggling how much favor Beauty From Ashes has with the manager. He loves having the ministry there (I think it helps that they feed everyone working there a delicious, home cooked, hot meal.) We set up the food in the girls' faded pink dressing room and began to talk to and greet the girls.

One girl was on her phone crying when we walked in. It turns out that the father of her baby was just put in jail for murder. Later that night she ended up getting fired for taking a shot (the girls are not suppose to drink while working). We asked if we could pray for her and she said, “Please!”. There were about four of us praying over her. She cried. She received Jesus and renounced any demonic activity happening in her life. After the prayer, I felt like the Lord wasn't done ministering to her. I held her as she cried. I told her that Jesus longs to hold her. I saw this picture in my mind of her as a little girl. She was alone on her bed, crying. She felt lonely and maybe even abandoned by her parents. I felt like Jesus was saying that he was with her then and holding her as she cried... Later that night she said she wanted to go to church in the morning.

Another dancer, her friend, saw all of this and was crying (you could tell that she knew what was happening spiritually). We prayed over her as well. I also got to hold her as she cried. She actually grew up with her grandmother taking her to church. She was so sweet. She said that she wanted to go to church too... and quit stripping. I know that even if this girl goes back to exotic dancing, or if she is driven by her addictions, I know that she experienced the presence of God. I know she felt loved. That's what it's about. Loving them with no conditions on it. If they want to get out of the industry, great; If not, fine. The ministry is there for them. They meet the girls for where they are at and give them options.

I loved that they had worship music playing in the background. Even one of the girls mentioned that it was nice. I felt like it helped change the dressing room's environment; it changed the bar-like atmosphere to a place where the Holy Spirit was welcomed and free to minister. One woman I talked with had a Church of Christ background. I was able to relate to her because I had grown up in the Church of Christ!  I asked her what her favorite hymn was and she said, “Amazing Grace”. It just so happened that Amazing Grace was playing in the background as we  discussed the story behind the song.

One thing that stuck out to me was the realization that the girls are no different from me: They desire to be loved. They want a good life for their children (they showed us pictures of their babies on their phone...). I don't think any of them really wanted to be there stripping...but they do it for the money. They need it to support their children.

As the night went on, I continued to talk to other girls, laughed with them, and listened to their stories. I loved it. Now being back home in Michigan, I would like to get involved in a ministry here, Eve's Angels, that goes into strip clubs. That's where Jesus is. The healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus loves the women so much and sees their brokenness... A few days ago I was spending time with the Lord and I felt like he told me some of his thoughts about the girls:  “Sara, I love them. I think about these girls every day. Did you know that I can heal them? Did you know that I care about them? Did you know that I see them when they cry? And when they laugh? When they long to be held? Did you know that I long to answer their prayers? Did you know they have feelings that shake the heavens?” God sees their dreams, their fears, their hurts and pain, and longs to step into their world and to be their savior. He wants to give them a hope and a future. It's beautiful. He longs to take their ashes and turn them into beauty- a true beauty, not flawed by makeup and glitter. He yearns to take their weeds and let them blossom into beautiful flowers. That is the power of the gospel; the power of the cross and resurrection.

Volunteering with Beauty From Ashes was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed learning from the ministry and hanging out with women whose lives have been transformed by the power of the cross. I liked the hands on activity of helping with the goodie bags and seeing for myself how the ministry functions. But most of all through volunteering with Beauty From Ashes, I got to see a greater glimpse into God's heart. I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the God who loves unconditionally no matter what we have done. He is one who longs to heal, restore, and to redeem.

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