EXCLUSIVE: Ohio Church brings Gospel to strip club
For eight years, an evangelical church in Warsaw, Ohio has been ministering and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ outside the doors of the Foxhole North strip club.
In an exclusive interview with BarbWire, Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Ministries explained the purpose of ministering outside the exotic dance club. Every weekend for eight years, the sole objective of the ministry has been to lead people to Christ. “My commitment is to let my light shine. Light and darkness, they don’t mix and the scripture makes it very clear that darkness can never put out the light. We just let our light shine,” said the pastor.
The church has recently made headlines for the “protest”-driven battle between the strip club and the ministry that has escalated over the past several months. Last August, exotic dancers from the club protested topless outside the church on a Sunday and engaged in several heated verbal exchanges with church members.
The owner of the club, Thomas George, has repeatedly asked for an injunction against New Beginnings Ministries in the form of a buffer zone to keep ministry workers away from the club, but has been denied. George recently commented about the topless protest: “I don’t have a problem with people expressing their First Amendment rights, but at what point does it become harassment? They backed us in a corner, and we have no recourse at law.”
However, Pastor Dunfee thinks it’s absurd that they are calling his ministry a protest. “Have you ever heard of a protest lasting eight years?” he questioned. The approach of the ministry is to engage those who park on public property in a conversation and pray with them. “We share the gospel and try to appeal to their conscience. We don’t bully anyone. We are gentle Christians who love Christ and our primary goal is to sow the seed of the gospel into the life of someone.”
Early in the ministry, there was some controversial methods used such as photographing patron’s license plates to archive in an online website. Pastor Dunfee defended this approach even though he agreed it was not very effective. “The gospel of Jesus Christ is established upon controversy and it is confrontational because you are exposing the darkness,” he remarked regarding sharing the gospel and exposing an establishment like Foxhole that promotes pornography.
As an evangelical preacher, Pastor Dunfee understands his responsibility to present all facets of the gospel. New Beginnings Ministries makes a distinction between two types of ministries; the compassionate Christianity that meets the needs of the poor, but also the prophetic side which confronts sin and exposes darkness. He explains the church’s calling: “We are the full gospel. We deal with sin and we also deal with brokenness in people’s lives.”
Employees and supporters of the strip club have protested against the church’s ministry numerous times over the course of several years, but the protests have primarily been civil. However, the recent protest escalated with the topless dancers picketing in front of Sunday worshipers. It is legal in Ohio to go topless, as the state does not ban baring breasts in public.
Recently, a Foxhole employee asked for the Bible of one of the ministry workers ministering outside the club. The Bible was then torn, burned, spit upon, stomped on, and pages of the Bible were even used to “wipe the butt” of the employee as an act of protest. The club’s recent defiant demonstration can be seen on this recent video:
New Beginnings Ministries posted the Bible burning video to counter the biased media reporting about their ministry and the purpose behind it. “Our desire is to glorify God, build up the kingdom of God, rescue the perishing and deal with evil in our community,” the pastor stated.
Lives have been changed because of the ministry. A former headline stripper is now a professed Christian who no longer works in the club. She has expressed her thankfulness to Pastor Bill and the ministry that “planted a seed” and brought her out of the sex addiction business. Men have been able to pray with the church workers about their sexual addictions and marriages have been restored from the destruction of pornography.
Recently, local law enforcement has pressured Pastor Dunfee to waive his First Amendment rights to free speech. The church, however, will continue this ministry as long as the strip club remains open. “Sexual entertainment businesses prey on the weaknesses of men,” the pastor stated. “They steal husbands from wives and they steal the heart of the father away from the child. As long as the club is there, we will be doing ministry but we will do it in a way that is glorifying to Christ and builds up the Kingdom of heaven but it does expose the darkness.”
Below is an example of New Beginnings Ministry at the Foxhole strip club:
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