Not Your Grandma's Outreach Ministry
POLE Gem's Mission to bring love to those in the sex industry
Purposed. Original. Loved. Empowered.
This is the message that POLE Gems is getting out - a message that is reaching ladies who need to hear it, more than ever. These ladies aren’t working in a stuffy cubicle. Their place of employment looks a little different. It happens to be in adult entertainment - “the industry.” Many of them are victims of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation. Dancers, models, companions, actresses, victims, survivors...all who need to hear the message that no matter how they make ends meet, they are most certainly purposed. Each one is beautifully original. They are unconditionally loved. And can be empowered to walk toward a destiny that God has had in His mind for them since the beginning of time. One of health, fulfillment, and peace.
How do I know this? I’ve witnessed for myself how a great big God can make great big changes in a girl’s life. See, He strategically placed a former dancer in my pathway the summer of 2015. We met at a mutual friend’s place where she would show up from time to time. On and off of drugs, on and off the streets, “Emma” would dance as a last resort for income, hating every move, every turn. She was trying to keep her dignity, her sanity and partial custody of her little one, but it was all wearing her thin in more ways than she realized.
I remember a look of terror and shock in Emma’s eyes as I told her the news about a man who was arrested for shooting another man dead, at the club she worked earlier that week. She recognized the shooter as one of the men she had entertained the very night of the murder. God gave me a glance through a window into her life that day. He opened my eyes and softened my heart toward her, all at once.
Then she let us pray for her. I knew the Father had so much more than this life. His is a life abundant. I just didn’t know if I’d get to see breakthrough with my eyes. Most of the time you don’t get that privilege. You love, and you have to trust that nothing is wasted in love. You love. And you trust that nothing is wasted in love. You have to trust that your seed will germinate one day, and then trust that sapling will take root in spite of its environment, and then trust that root system will get nourished and you have to believe that eventually, love, in full-bloom will look like a color-drenched, life-giving tree, in and out of season.
POLE Gem's Focus and Needs
This mission to love unconditionally is the foundation of what POLE Gems is about in their community of Salem, OR as well. In a recent interview, Mike Norman, Manager of Operations at POLE Gems, shared about how they pursue their unique calling. And can I just say, this is not your Grandma’s outreach ministry.
What does a typical night at the strip club look like for your team?
Our outreach team meets together prior to going to the clubs so we can pray and plan our evening. At the clubs in Marion County we stay anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how busy they are. The females go into the clubs and hand out a gift to each dancer and staff member. Every time they look at their gift, we want them to remember our safe outreach people and organization, and that someone believes they are valued. We will talk with the ladies there, offer support, offer services (if they ask), and since many of us have developed friendships with the people working in clubs, sometimes we just visit with them. Afterward, we go back to the office and debrief. Within a few days, we either have our service staff reach out to the girls to provide or coordinate the support needed, whether it be counseling, resume building, job coaching, mentoring, or financial help if requested. We work with trusted trauma informed counselors as well as Allstar Labor and Staffing, a “second chance employer” specifically supporting those who either have a criminal record, or lack of employment in more “respected fields”.
I noticed you’re a faith-based organization. How does that play a role in supporting the girls?
POLE Gems is a faith based 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit organization. Our faith is “Christian” (such a loaded word these days), but that does not truly change how we would serve the girls in comparison to a non-faith based organization. If a girl wants to know “more about God” or attend a church, we will not push her to attend a specific church. Instead, we will provide her a list of “safe churches” we have communicated with - churches with leaders who have agreed that the pastors and everyone else in leadership there, from top to bottom, will do all they can to make sure these women feel welcomed - not judged. However, our goal is NOT to “rescue” those working in the clubs or to “convert” people. NEVER. Our goal is to love each dancer or club staff right where they are, offer support services if requested, and to be kind and safe people. Our goal is not to seek anything from them, but only to give.
Can you share one or two POLE Gems victories or “wins” from this year, 2016?
Sure! Our successful Jazz for Gems fundraiser was one. We were able to raise over $3,000, which is a lot for us, as we are an all-volunteer organization with a small operating budget. Another win for us would be the amount of women who have been successful using our counseling services. So many of them are:
working through trauma,
ending toxic relationships,
engaging in healthier relationships and
feeling more freedom and confidence!
What are some tangible ways Abolition Now readers can help you really excel at what you do?
There are many opportunities, such as sponsoring counseling sessions, volunteering with our outreach team, or helping coordinate further church partnerships. You can check out more information and contact us here if you’re interested!
Agents for Change
Remember Emma? I do, about every day. I text with her, replace a lie with some truth, bring her little things, or just pray for strength for the day. Today, I got to hug her and her new husband as they rushed out of their new apartment with their new baby boy. This young lady has survived trafficking, beatings, exploitation, substance abuse and homelessness. But I am constantly reminded by her that there is always hope for change. She and her husband read their Bibles together now. They pray and believe for great things. They fight and struggle and cry and learn how to budget. They laugh and kiss, confess and forgive. They are growing. Emma is growing into that tree. She’s grown so much in these last 17 months.
Would you like to get involved in helping girls like Emma through POLE Gems? Their vision is to reach out as the Body of Christ to bring awareness to all, and to offer assistance to those who are involved in the sex industry.
You never know...this could be your first step to planting an orchard of abundant lives.