Emily and Brett Mills lead an interesting life as worship leaders and the founders of Jesus Said Love. They’re a staple in the community, welcomed into local strip clubs and have three kids. In other words, they know what it’s like to walk in two different worlds.
But the Mills don’t see their life as a dichotomy; they see it as following Jesus’ footsteps. When their ministry was founded in 2003, God had been stirring something in their hearts through what they saw in churches across America.
After leading worship in Austin one-night, Emily (’99) was overwhelmed by the stories of former exotic entertainers and became burdened for the marginalized. On their way back to Waco, God pressed an opportunity on her heart: go to the strip clubs and take Easter. What sounded wild at the time, became an open door in God’s plan for them.
Brett (’98) led worship for more than 2,000 kids every Monday at the Hippodrome. One Monday the service was held outside at Fountain Mall when the speakers blew. People began singing in small groups, filling the air with song. That’s when he heard a voice rise over the crowd. It was Emily Washmon.
That night Emily and Brett met on the lawn of Fountain Mall and later began leading together. In 2000 they were married and traveled full time leading worship around the states.
Slowly, Emily said, “God began to put feet on the songs that we were writing.”
During their journey, the Mills discovered that if you’re willing, God can do anything. Just because they were called to worship didn’t mean worship couldn’t take place in strip clubs. That’s how Jesus Said Love became what it is now.
Now, Jesus Said Love goes into strip clubs across Texas to build relationships and connect employees with community and spiritual resources. The Mills partake in monthly club outreaches, social work assistance, education, awareness, medical education, childcare and nutritional advocacy in Waco, Dallas, Bryan/College Station, San Antonio, Temple/Killeen, Houston, and (launching soon) Tyler.
Their mission is about seeing people as God’s creation without feeling the pressure to change them. God changes people, the Mills just love them.
“In the early years especially, reception was mixed,” Emily said. “Some of the women embraced the gesture while others ignored it. Management was wary, wanting to know the cost or the catch. More than anything, we were constantly asked, “Why? Why would you come into a place like this, with a love for women like these, with absolutely nothing to gain?”
As God continues to replace their desires with their calling, Brett and Emily have seen every “yes” lead them exactly to what God wants them to do.
Brett said, “calling is what holds you in the dark days. The days that the paycheck doesn’t come—or there is no affirmation.” When you are called to something you go the extra mile, you buy into the vision.
Brett came to Baylor with a plan to become a doctor, and Emily wanted to be a broadcast journalist. They left as traveling worship leaders. And yet, looking back at the past years, the Mills faced many challenges where they had to tune out and tune into God’s voice.
“Where you’ll be used the most is not where your strengths are,” Emily said, “but where your strengths and the needs of people intersect.”
Jesus Said Love continues to expand as they say yes to new opportunities and walk out their calling.
You can find our more about their organization at jesussaidlove.com.