What do homemade chocolate brownies, wet wipes and a bucket, prayer, and 4am in the morning have in common? Well, for us at Third Space Ministries these are all features of our nightlife ministries.
The wonder woman who makes it all happen is Lu, our Nightlife Ministries Coordinator (left). As a teenager, Lu loved to go clubbing, drawn by the music and dancing but also often drawn into drinking too much, sometimes not knowing how she got home. When she met Jesus as a student, she heard about mission teams in clubs through a friend, and loved the idea of bringing the love and care of Jesus into the nightlife scene. This passion led her to join a 24-7 Ibiza summer mission team. Each night she and the team were faced with people's deep searching for the answers to life's questions that spilled over into drug and alchohol abuse. And while they offered practical help cleaning up those who had been sick and making sure they got home safely, they would offer a listening ear and prayer, often talking to people long after the sun had risen again over the sea. Returning to the UK, Lu's passion prompted her to set up Club Angel teams doing similar work in London nightclubs.
Whilst in Ibiza, Lu also encountered a darker side of nightlife, meeting women trapped in the sex industry who would visit their prayer spaces, looking for kind hearts and listening ears. Lu's heart broke for them as she listened to their stories. Returning to Ibiza a year later, trained as a massage therapist, Lu and the team sought access into strip clubs, returning each week with homemade chocolate brownies, and as trust grew, so did friendships: the women drawn to their kindness and concern for their welfare. During a massage, one woman opened up to Lu about how eviction from her apartment and desperately needing money had led to her becoming a strip club dancer. Now she didn't know how to leave. In tears she said how all she wanted in life was to make her mother proud and how disappointed she thought her mother would be if she knew.
Lu shares that, 'as I listen to stories like this, as I care for clubbers who have drunk too much or lost their friends and need help getting home, I know that if I hadn't met Jesus, this could be me. It is such a joy to be there, to be able to care practically and to pray with people and tell them how much Jesus loves them. When we are in the clubs, the atmosphere changes and people notice.'
In London, many of the same needs prevail, and through working with Third Space Ministries, Lu has mobilised a team of Club Angel volunteers who are regularly present in two London nightclubs. She is also currently seeking access into strip clubs in Soho. Her vision and passion is that chaplaincy becomes normalised in clubs in London and beyond; that clubbers, staff and dancers will have access to people who are there to care for their welfare, offering practical and pastoral support.