Being part of a Go Team is an adventure. In a sense, it’s like going on a mission trip, because you’re leaving the familiarity of your community and traveling “cross-culturally” to another world, one with its own customs, rules, dress, and language. Every other Friday night for a year, I would get in my car and drive just a few miles down the road from my home to meet up with my Go Team. But I felt so out of my element it might as well have been a thousand.
After my very first night out, I recorded these reflections in my journal:
As we entered the club, my senses were assaulted – flashing lights, thumping loud music, and smoke of all varieties. My heart was pounding and I could feel the adrenaline rush – it was exciting and scary at the same time. We quickly made our way back to the dressing room, a large room with rows of lockers, brightly lit counters, and 30 to 40 women bustling around all in various states of dress and undress. I was surprised that their toplessness didn’t bother me, I guess because it was like being in any other locker room in that sense. But I found their outfits to be completely intriguing: lots of lace, G-strings, and platform heels. I tried my hardest not to stare…
As we were walking back through the club on our way out, one of the girls on the pole nearest us stopped dancing for a moment and waved, smiled, and said, ‘thanks for coming!’ It was a powerful moment for me because one minute she looked like an objectified female, dancing around with an emotionally detached look on her face, and the next moment we were making eye contact and I could see her beautiful soul, her personhood, that wants love and affection just like the rest of us. I came home totally shell-shocked and smelling like perfume and marijuana. I kept thinking of that precious soul smiling at me from the pole, and was overcome with a mix of compassion and heaviness that brought me to tears.
Walking into that club for the first time was like walking into another country. I saw and heard (and smelled!) things I had never before experienced. However, the encounter on the way out with the girl on the pole was an epiphany: it reminded me that we ALL are human and want and need the same thing. It doesn’t matter where we are from, what our culture is, what we do for a living, or what our surroundings are. We all are hard-wired to connect with others, to be shown love and dignity and respect. It is what theologians call the imago Dei, the image of God. We are all, every single one of us, are created in God’s image. The imago Dei is the great equalizer.
That moment of locking eyes with the dancer on that first outing with the Go Team stuck with me. From that point on, every time I would go into the clubs I would look the dancers in the eye, seeking to make that same connection. I tried my hardest to look past the things that made us different – the clothes we were wearing, our different backgrounds, ethnicities, life choices – and focus on the things that made us the same… The need for love. The search for meaning. The desire for connection. The need of a savior.
It reminds me of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:16: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” To see someone from a worldly point of view is to judge people according to outward appearance, or what they do for a living, or what sins they have committed. But what I think Paul is saying here is that we are to regard everyone with an eternal perspective, one that sees that divine spark, that image of God in every person. It is to lock eyes with another and see their precious soul, just as God showed me in that powerful moment. Then, Paul goes on to say, we can be “Christ’s ambassadors” that go into the world and share the good news of Christ with everyone. I realized that when I went into the clubs to minister I didn’t have to get hung up or sidetracked by any of the worldly stuff. I could simply focus on the beautiful souls of the girls, knowing that ultimately we are all looking for the same things.
Being on a Go Team has made me realize how guilty I’ve been for most of my life of considering other people from a worldly point of view. But, with God’s help, I am starting to see others through His eyes. Thanks to my experience with Velvet Hearts, I try and see all people according to their eternal value. Now, back in my own world, when I go to the grocery store, hang out with friends and family, or deal with those difficult people in my life, I ask God to help me remember that they are searching for significance and connection, just like I am. At that point, my heart is ready to be an ambassador for Christ so that all may know His love.