As a part of our "Redemption Stories" series, I'll be highlighting some pretty incredible stories over the next few days.
Over the past couple of decades porn has become normalized and mainstream in our culture. The advent of the internet has perhaps been the greatest element in this surge. The adult industry annually rakes in billions of dollars. The math is fuzzy and totals vary based upon the group reporting, but it is universally agreed that the adult industry is a lucrative one.
The glamour, money, parties and all that is promoted as "good" in the porn industry tend to be straw houses that dissolve over time.
Churches and ministries developed over the years focusing on reaching and ministering to those in the industry. For many, mostly women, feeling trapped in the industry left them hopeless and helpless. Rest assured, God is not blind and His love never changes. He has been drawing these individuals to Himself (just like He's done for me and others.)
What happens when a porn star comes to Jesus?
This is happening. For years, the two-dimensional images of beautiful women in magazines and film were objectified to such a degree that the concept of eternity and personal salvation were far (very far) from the minds of those viewing such images. Since the objectifying of women (and men) is ultimately a practice in self-love and narcissism, eternal matters seem foreign to the subject.
But. . .Jesus loves porn stars and He is drawing many to Himself.
Jesus loves porn stars just like he loves every other depraved and sinful human being on the planet.
Our friend Crissy Moran will be at First Baptist next Sunday morning to share her personal story of redemption and rescue. I've blogged about her journey previously and we will get to hear from her directly this weekend.
However, Crissy is not the only person to leave the adult industry behind after meeting Christ. Recently, Brittni's story made headlines.
This is what happens when a porn star finds God. . .
Brittni Ruiz was 18 when she started working in porn. She was going to college and working as a dancer when producers from a porn company approached her and asked if she wanted to do “romance movies.” She knew exactly what they were referring to, but wanted to find out more.
“The next day, they put me in hair and makeup,” she says. “They had me do a scene. They were telling me how much money I’d make … I didn’t even think about the consequences.”
She became Jenna Presley. She performed in hundreds of films, was named one of Maxim magazine’s top 12 female performers in porn, and placed second in Jenna Jameson’s American Sex Star on Playboy TV. She once raked in $13,000 for an eight-hour gig in Tokyo.
Ruiz had been working in the adult industry for four years when she first saw people passing out Bibles at an adult convention, the Exxxotica Expo, in New Jersey. She described the convention as a trade show that’s “like Comic-Con, but a different crowd.”
She’d spend hours in heels signing autographs and taking pictures with fans who’d often ask her to pose provocatively. It was tiring and draining, and fans could be “too comfortable” with her, she explained, but ultimately, “we would sell our product.”
The people passing out Bibles were from the XXXchurch, sometimes known at the expos as the “Jesus loves porn stars” people because of the banners, Bibles, and T-shirts at their booth with the slogan written across the front.
The gimmick factor certainly caught peoples’ attention, but adult conventions aren’t the easiest place to save souls. Still, Ruiz was impressed. “There’s just something about them. It sets them apart from every person,” she says.
Their Bibles aren’t like typical Bibles. One of their latest editions doesn’t have the word “Bible” anywhere on the front and is a New English Translation of the Book of John with a mustached man in aviators on the cover.
“Does Jesus really love porn stars?” the opening page asks. “Absolutely. Now, that may go against what you thought about Jesus, but it’s true. You see Jesus loves porn stars as much as he loves pastors, soccer moms, liars, thieves and prostitutes. In his eyes, we are all the same.”
“It’s fun; it’s provocative,” says Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch. “You stop in your tracks … and then you have all these Bibles in front of you.”
Several years after encountering XXXchurch, things changed for Ruiz when a friend invited her to a church in San Diego. “I was invited to church and I felt the love of God,” she says. She brought a Bible with her on a flight from San Diego to Las Vegas, where she was going to shoot another film, started reading, and she knew it was time to leave. “I knew it was my last scene,” she says.
When she told the director in Las Vegas she was done, “He didn’t believe me,” she says, but, “here I am seven months later with a completely turned heart and have not looked back.”
Ruiz changed her phone number, deleted her Twitter account with more than 80,000 followers, and didn’t tell anyone where she was going. Not a single person from the industry ever called her or reached out to see what happened, she says. “Funny thing is, a lot of those men and women knew my real name and could have sought me out on Facebook, but they didn’t.”
From Hunter Schwarz of BuzzFeed. Read the rest of the article here.
Brittni's story, Crissy's story, others XXXChurch has reached, my story and your story are the same at this point. We all need the rescue.
Interesting isn't it how the industry gave Brittni a new name. When she came to Christ, she reclaimed her true name.
The name matters.
Here's Brittni's story from an interview with XXXChurch: