I was being shown to a front-row seat along the stage of a beautiful theater and thought, This is awesome. What kind of dancing will this be? A very handsome guy I had met at my London gym had asked me if I wanted to see him dance that night, and gave me tickets. I was hesitant at first, but now with such fantastic seats, I was starting to feel excited.
Suddenly, six guys burst onstage, the lights went on and the clothes came off. I was at a strip show and 200 ladies that I hadn’t noticed made up the entire audience started to scream. I was aghast, but at the same time, it all seemed so exciting. I was more than intrigued.
In time, the dancer and I started a relationship, moved to the U.S., got married, and later landed in San Diego where my husband began working for his friend, Billy, doing stripper-grams. In a few months, Billy graduated to sending out female escorts to customers for individual parties and asked me to be the one who fielded calls; he figured that his clientele would like my British accent.
Boy, did he figure right.
Men seemed to be drawn to my voice like a snake to a snake charmer and little by little it began to dawn on me that I had power over these guys. I turned on the flirty charm and they salivated. The business began to boom and it wasn’t long before my husband began to wonder why we were making money for Billy when we could be doing it for ourselves.
With a dream to make it big, we put what money we had into going off on our own and suddenly, I was taking calls until the wee hours of the night, easily keeping guys on the phone long enough to drain more from their bank accounts than they ever expected. They wanted one girl for a half-hour, but by the time I was done with them, they’d be forking over for multiple girls for multiple hours. That was the risk they were taking by giving me a call—I squeezed their amped-up libidos for more money and there was nothing they could do about it. I was sending out as many as 15 girls a night to these desperate and hungry guys—and we were raking it in.
There I was, 26 years old, living the dream with a cool car, a six-bedroom house with a pool and jacuzzi, making more easy money than I could have dreamed of and I spent most of my days laying by the pool with a can of beer in my hand and a Xanax in my system…because I was miserable.
I spent most of my days laying by the pool with a can of beer in my hand and a Xanax in my system…because I was miserable.
I found myself with a growing hatred of men. I began to despise what I talked to them about in the middle of the night. I was a part of the seedy underworld that goes on when the rest of society goes to sleep and I began to feel a growing shame about it. I was disillusioned with money because I was certain it was supposed to bring me happiness—and it left me flatter than before. And worst of all was my husband; the more successful he got, the more abusive he got. And that’s where life turned darkest for me. The oppression that I felt at his hands was unbearable, and I didn’t know how much more I could take.
One day I was sitting in the chair of my hairdresser and noticed that all the pictures of her boyfriend that she kept on her desk were gone. When I asked her where they were, she told me, with an unusual amount of calm and peace, how he had left her, and how she was finding her joy by going to church and learning about Jesus.
I felt myself sit up. What’s this all about? I thought. When she invited me to come to church with her, I jumped at the chance.
The morning of her church service, the pastor said something that changed my life. “I promise you, if you go home and ask God to reveal himself, you will not return here next Sunday not knowing if he’s real.”
That night I did as the pastor asked. I got down on my knees and asked God to reveal himself to me.
The next morning I awoke to my husband sitting on the edge of my bed crying. He said that he felt terrible that he had been so awful to me. The man I married was arrogant, dominant, crude and mean—this wasn’t just a mere moment of introspection. It was a miracle. If this wasn’t God, I didn’t know what was. God had just revealed Himself. Suddenly, I was different. What I didn’t know was that my life as about to be different.
I began spending lots of time at the church and I couldn’t get enough. Sitting down with a pastor one evening, I confessed what it was I did for a living and he didn’t even flinch—I felt no judgment whatsoever. He simply told me to do that right thing and trust that the Lord will never leave me or forsake me. Could Jesus really love me, a person doing horrible things, enough to always be with me? That was all it took for the dam to break.
I drove home weeping uncontrollably—broken by a God who could love me so much. When I got there I walked in and told my husband that I wouldn’t be manning the phones anymore; I was done. Enraged, he kicked me out of the house. It was an awful, ugly scene right out of a movie; he threw my belongings out onto the street from our balcony window.
I had no money and no place to call home, but I was out from under his thumb. By God’s mercy, I had been rescued.
At church one Sunday, a film about the famine in South Sudan was played, and all of a sudden I began to tremble. Most of the people caught in the famine and civil war hadn’t eaten in two months and were slowly dying away. I was overcome by the feeling that most of the people in church that morning were going to leave after the service, have lunch and never think twice about the plight of the South Sudanese—and I couldn’t stand it. If we were really changed by the blood of Christ, we would have a heart for these people. We would know we had been shown mercy, and that mercy was now a part of our charter. I had been shown mercy, now it was time to do the same for the people of South Sudan.
A film about the famine in South Sudan was played, and all of a sudden I began to tremble.
On a missions trip there, a young South Sudanese interpreter walked into the room and it was like Jesus himself had entered. He was so kind and loving to everyone and seemed to beam with the grace of God. All I knew of men was shaped in me from my now former husband. But this interpreter, Sabet, was the exact opposite. He was entirely about service to others; he wanted nothing for himself. I was attracted to his character immediately.
In time, we fell in love and got married, and we both felt a calling to be God’s hands and feet in a small village in South Sudan called Tonj. We started out by helping with water needs that graduated to diet and health, which turned into a small clinic. Twenty years and three children later, our ministry, In Deed and Truth, offers the people of Tonj a large hospital, community health evangelism and the planting of churches.
Our lives are hard and without many of the comforts of the western world, but we, the entire family, live in service to the Lord as we love the South Sudanese, 24/7. And we have more joy and blessing than we could have ever dared hope. In my case, life got good when it stopped being about me—and about who I can help in the name of Jesus.
The day I asked if Jesus was real, He didn’t answer me by giving a mere realization. He answered me by giving me a new life.
Now, finally, I’m really living the dream.
Rock Church supports Suzy and Sabet Kuj and their In Deed and Truth Ministry. To donate, visit https://www.indeedandtruth.org/donate/