Community hero: seeing God at work in Soho's strip clubs
Our Community Hero for March is Lu Hardy. Lu, 31, is part of the Third Space Ministries team based in London.
Lu became a Christian in her last year of University. Shortly after this her friend arrived home from serving on the 24-7 Prayer team in Ibiza. Lu remembers, “my friend said that I loved clubbing and now I loved Jesus, so 24-7 Ibiza is an ideal mission opportunity for me”.
Lu applied to go on the 24-7 Ibiza team in 2011. She explains, “24-7 Prayer is a prayer community which seeks to meet local needs.
“The team in Ibiza offers practical help to people, often those who have overindulged in alcohol and drugs. We offer a prayer presence on the streets between 11.30pm and 4am.
“We are about building relationships with workers in the area and sharing God’s love in practical ways and seeking to journey the season with them.”
Whilst in Ibiza God broke Lu’s heart for the night-time industry. Having been a party animal at Uni she still wanted to be in that scene, ministering to people and releasing joy.
Lu says, “I realised how much God is already at work in the night-time industry. I very much wanted to be part of what God was doing, not only in Ibiza but also back home in London.”
Once back in London, Lu linked up with Third Space Ministries to look at setting up a Club Angels scheme. Club Angels was set up in Leeds in 2011 and is part of CNI Network. She heard how bar staff in Leeds had noticed a massive difference in the atmosphere within the club when Club Angels were operating.
Lu got in touch with Tiger Tiger in Croydon and then branched out to the Piccadilly club. Lu found that Club Angels presented an incredible opportunity to partner with what God was doing in the clubs and clubbers.
She says, “Club Angels is helping Christians to model prayer in action. It could be holding a girl's hair whilst she is being sick, assisting someone to make their way home safely in a taxi or contacting parents to come and pick someone up.
“The team also supports the club staff and have seen some incredible answers to prayer over the years.”
Third Space Ministries, who oversee Club Angels in London, are celebrating their 10th Birthday in 2020. Lu explains, “The mission of Third Space Ministries is sharing God’s love within the third spaces of society.
“The third spaces are places such as coffee shops, theatres, gyms, festivals and nightclubs.
“In our tenth birthday year we want a year of celebrating all that God has done through the Third Space team including: Gym Chaplaincy in a local gym; Love All Serve All, handing out sweet treats and prayer in the Wimbledon Tennis queues; DJ Chaplaincy offering pastoral, emotional and spiritual support to Christian DJ’s; and running Festival Angels at Eastern Electrics.”
One of the areas of ministry that Lu developed and heads up is within Soho’s strip clubs. Following on from work done in Ibiza Lu started to prayer walk around Soho. After 18 months of prayer walking she was given the opportunity to offer chaplaincy in one of the strip clubs.
Lu explains, “This then led to an invitation into two other strip clubs.
“Every Thursday night the teams visit each of the three clubs in pairs. We sit and chat to the girls in the changing rooms and, with lots of laughter and fun, we aim to be a breath of fresh air that night.
“We love the people who God puts in front of us.”
Offering brownies and cookies the team sit, listen and chat with the girls and offer prayer with them before they start their shift.
Lu tells the story, “One night we were praying for one of our regular girls. Another of the girls overheard and apologised for interrupting saying that was the most beautiful prayer she had ever heard.
“This girl then asked us to pray for her knee which she said had a pain level of seven.
“After prayer the girl said her knee felt lovely and had almost no pain.”
Lu shares a story of another of the strip club girls commenting, “It is cool how God is talking to some of the girls.
“I challenged one to ask God every day when you wake up what he thinks of you.
“She came back with the most beautiful words of how God described her.”
The team has just launched a Soho Alpha Course aimed at the girls in the strip clubs.
Lu still spends her summers in Ibiza working with 24-7 Prayer and has noticed a massive change on the streets in that local area. “Just like in the UK where similar teams work, Ibiza is a much more peaceful place and nowadays less practical help is given and we get far more opportunity to pray for people.
“There is an expectation on the streets of Ibiza or in the strip clubs of Soho that prayer will work, even amongst those who would call themselves atheists.”
Lu believes that more Christians should look to work in the night-time of our communities. “These are places where God is shining the brightest.
“Jesus is at work in these places maybe he is calling you to join him!”