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'Call her by her name'

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 1/18/22

Whispers of Hope's goal is to “support other women right where they are in the adult entertainment industry,” while encouraging them to build a relationship with the Lord, according to the ministry’s founder Sally Youngblood.

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'Call her by her name'

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“...Her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10 (KJV)

It’s a verse that many women are longing to hear. And it’s a verse that local ministry Whispers of Hope takes with them while visiting adult entertainment venues and strip clubs to delivers bags of free gifts to the women there.

Their goal is to “support other women right where they are in the adult entertainment industry,” while encouraging them to build a relationship with the Lord, according to the ministry’s founder Sally Youngblood.

And if a woman wants to get out of the adult entertainment industry, Whispers of Hope has resources to provide counseling at no fee to them as well as resources to send them to a rehabilitation center if they are ready for it.

Youngblood referenced the scripture when Jesus called Mary Magdalene by her name in John’s gospel. Youngblood said Whispers of Hope looks to call women by their name who are trapped in the adult entertainment industry in cities likes Nashville, Chattanooga, and Huntsville.

“They’re just women like us,” Youngblood said. “The need to hear a message of hope.”

Background

In 2012, Youngblood, a Unionville native, rededicated her relationship with the Lord. From there, she began to study the Bible daily.

“Surrendering” herself completely to God’s Will, Youngblood felt the call to help women in the adult entertainment industry when she was introduced to a training program by Harmony Grillo—founder of “Treasures,” a California-based program that helps women get out of the sex industry.

After completing the training program, Youngblood started volunteering with ministry “Love Nashville.” Youngblood also took a mission trip to India in 2016 where she met many mothers and daughters who were trapped in the sex industry. The generational factor moved Youngblood to act.

“I move swiftly when I hear God’s call. Once I get a confirmation, I like to dive right into as soon as possible,” Youngblood said.

So, around 2017, Youngblood felt the desire to start Whispers of Hope. By January of 2021, Youngblood, with two other volunteers started the ministry. As a single mother with three

kids and with a job working at Clements Dental in Shelbyville, balancing the work was hard at first. But Youngblood says now that the ministry doesn’t feel like extra work.

Whispers of Hope became an official 501c3 nonprofit last July. Starting with three volunteers, they now have 14 volunteers who come from all over Tennessee. But “Christ is our common thread,” said Youngblood.

Salt and light

“We’ve been surprisingly well-received by most places,” said Youngblood.

Whispers of Hope always calls ahead and asks for permission before going into the clubs.

“For the club managers we’ve encountered, they’re kind of stuck, too. Most will say they want every woman in there to have any opportunity to change their lives. They want hope to spring up from their situation,” said Youngblood.

And when they arrive, the bouncers—who Whispers of Hope also give baked goods to—will help escort them inside the club. Youngblood says when the volunteers arrive, the women at the club gather around them, drawn to the group of ladies who come with gifts and cards saying, “You are loved by Him.”

“These women are not used to receiving things with ‘no strings attached,’” said Youngblood. “It’s a blessing for them.”

Youngblood said they are often more welcomed at these clubs than some Bible studies because the women they minister to are “hungry for the truth.”

Many of the women in this kind of industry, according to Youngblood, come from broken homes. They are struggling financially, have been abused before, or get trapped in the industry by a "boyfriend” who wanted to make a profit.

And what was surprising to Youngblood when she started the ministry is that most of them are only between the ages of 18 and 24. Some of them are young mothers, while other are married—and have husbands who know they work in the adult entertainment industry.

“That was shocking to me,” said Youngblood.

“We want them to know they are loved by the Lord, and that there is hope for their future, not just condemnation.”

Delicate balance

Part of Youngblood’s training, and Whispers of Hope’s goal, includes letting the women lead the conversation. For example, volunteers will only hug the women or pray with them when they ask.

The goal is to not push. With that in mind, Youngblood said they don’t bring Bibles into the clubs.

“Not that God’s Word isn’t vital—because it it—but we want it to be relationship-based versus pushing religion. We want them to want God’s Word,” said Youngblood. If the women want a Bible, Youngblood said they can request one on the Whispers of Hope website and receive a free Bible.

How you can help

For more information on Whispers of Hope, visit their website www.whispersfhpe.com or visit their Facebook or Instagram pages @whispersfhope. In February, they will be launching their podcast “Whispers of Hope,” which will be available on Spotify.

Youngblood said they accept donations of sunglasses, candles, nail polish, makeup, beach bags, body spray, hair accessories, and feminine hygiene products as well as monetary donations. The “small things” make a difference, though. “Some of the women tell us we’re the only gift they get that year,” said Youngblood.

Whispers of Hope will also be hosting their “Hope Ball” on April 22 at the Fly Cultural Arts Center at 7 p.m. with keynote speaker B.J. Garrett. Tickets are available on their website.

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