Believing In Your True Identity
EMILY MILLS | FOUNDER + CEO
Emily Mills is a singer/songwriter, worship leader, and creative living on #TheMotherside in Waco, Texas with her husband, Brett, and 3 kids. In December 2015, her parody of Adele's "Hello" went viral and in a short week hit 2.2 million views on YouTube.
Along with creating music and space for the arts, her working hours and passion are spent as founder and Co-CEO of Jesus Said Love, a ministry to women in the commercial sex industry. After serving commercial sex exploits for over a decade, Jesus Said Love has expanded into 6 Texas cities: Waco, Dallas, Bryan/College Station, Killeen, San Antonio and Houston. Emily has a B.A. in Communications from Baylor University. She and her husband serve the church through opening their home on Sunday nights for worship, prayer, study, and fellowship.
What’s the biggest lie you think women believe about their identity?
That identity is external of us, for example: performance, appearance, achievement based.
How do we keep from believing that?
Knowing Jesus intimately and ourselves instinctively. Gut-level honesty with ourselves and community. Practice confession/repentance/reconciliation with others. Let down our defenses and enjoy God's enjoyment of us.
In your line of work with JSL, what are key ways you or your staff speak identity into others?
When we are in a club interacting with women, we try not to draw attention to the physical "your hair is so pretty, I love your outfit," we work to know another based on our soul’s humanity. We try to look past the external and say things like: "You're an amazing mom!” “What a smart person you are!” “Thank you for that hug, I needed it."
We also call every commercial sex exploit a Potential Team Leader, because they are, and they need to know it. Within JSL, we know our women are smarter than we are. They are survivors and very strategic. They are diamonds and an underdeveloped resource to our communities.
What’s one piece of advice you’d want to share with working women today?
I think when I hear from stay at home moms: "my calling is to my kids," it implies that my calling is not. It's important for our response in these situations not to be fueled with fists or fighting words but a gracious response that says, "Mine is too." Believing working women need to understand that we don't choose between family and work or kingdom and family, it's ALL the kingdom. Our family is the kingdom, our work is for the kingdom, our rest and our enjoyment is part of the kingdom. This is where we begin to rest, and experience shalom so that our work is vibrant and our families are full of joy.
For Fun: What is your favorite food?
I am currently loving Luna Juice Bar and learning to be good to my body! Their cashew milk has helped me stay off dairy, it's not like anything you buy in the store! Plus, the owner is an amazing advocate of JSL, creating jobs for many of our women! When you visit the Silos in Waco, be sure to visit Luna!
JESUS SAID LOVE
Founded in 2003 by worship leaders Brett & Emily Mills, the Mills led worship for a conference focused on ministry to sex workers. Overwhelmed by stories from former exotic entertainers, Emily became burdened for the marginalized in Waco, the Mills' hometown. Within two weeks, the first Easter outreach extended the love of Jesus to women in the Waco sex industry. A small group of women ventured into two strip clubs, armed with gift bags filled with practical, high-quality gifts. The outreach was a success! In fact, each club manager extended an open invitation for JSL to return at any time. For the next few years, volunteers would return to the clubs bi-annually: at Christmas and Easter.
In 2007, the Mills made the decision to bring this new ministry under the administration of their already-established worship ministry and nonprofit organization: Bartimaeus Ministries, Inc. The name Jesus Said Love was then adopted for this specific outreach program to women in the commercial sex industry. The burden was for the marginalized: those whom the church was not reaching because of ignorance or negligence. What began as a bi-annual outreach in Waco has now grown into a full time ministry of monthly club outreaches, social work assistance, education, awareness, medical education, childcare and nutritional advocacy in Waco, Dallas, Bryan/College Station, San Antonio, Temple/Killeen, and (most recently) Houston.
"Regardless of what you think of the sex industry, the Bible is very explicit and very clear: Christ's life always gave dignity to and empowered women."
-Emily Mills, Founder
We share the revolutionary love of Christ with women in the commercial sex industry by awakening hope and empowering change. We go into strip clubs across Texas, build relationships with commercial sex exploits without strings attached, and connect them to community and spiritual resources.