US church helps ex-porn star come back to Christ

A former porn star has left the sex industry to start a new life as a college student and church secretary, a group ministering to sex workers announced Tuesday.

Sophia Lynn, 24, is now an office staff at Celebrate Community Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the US, where she will work while attending college. The South Dakota church offered Lynn a place to live, a college scholarship, and a job at the church office when they heard she wanted to leave the sex business.

"This is like a dream," Lynn reflected from her new home in South Dakota nearly a week after her move. "I hope I don't have to wake up from this. I feel like my life has been saved."

Lynn came from a self-described devout Christian family and entered the porn industry only to make money to support herself and her young child after a divorce.

"When you have bill collectors calling you every five minutes, you start to feel hopeless," she said to ABC News last year.

She began with modelling but then was encouraged to try the porn business at the age of 18.

"I kept thinking, 'Why am I doing this?' But then I reminded [myself that] my car payment was due."

Lynn was re-introduced to Jesus Christ and eventually delivered from the sex industry with the help of Heather Veitch, an ex-stripper turned Christian evangelist. Veitch, who founded the ministry JC (Jesus Christ)'s Girls, and has been counselling Lynn for more than a year.

Veitch said many girls want to leave the business, but find it difficult to start a new life.

"It takes the kind of commitment we're seeing from Celebrate Community Church," the ex-stripper explained. "This is the story of the little church that could."

Celebrate Community Church claims to have 550 members and about 2,200 attendees on the weekends.

The South Dakota church first heard about Lynn when she appeared on an ABC news report last March and expressed her intention to leave the industry. The church reached out and invited Lynn to visit, but without success.

Instead, Veitch flew to South Dakota and spent a weekend educating the church on the size and extensiveness of America's sex industry. The former stripper told the congregation that the first step towards helping girls like Sophia Lynn is to pray for them, which the church did, according to a report by the ministry.

"Three weeks later, my phone rang and it was Sophia," Veitch recalled. "She told me she was ready to make a real life change and wanted some real help. I called Pastor Loy [of Celebrate Community Church] and told him God held up his end, so now what are we going to do?"

The following morning at 6 am Pastor Keith Loy called Veitch and said, "We're ready to take this on."

Sophia Lynn, who was living in New Jersey at the time, was on a plane to a new life in South Dakota six hours later.

"We're not going to play church anymore," Loy said. "We're going to be a church."

The JC's Girls founder urges churches to follow Celebrate Community Church and help a sex worker leave the industry and start a new life.

"I'm calling it 'One Church For One Girl Program'," said Veitch.

Last month, a new documentary - "The PussyCat Preacher" - was released chronicling Veitch's journey as she formed the ministry JC's Girls. The film records her initial struggle with gaining acceptance from women at her former church in California to winning them over and actually bringing them to strip clubs to minister to dancers.

Veitch now resides in Las Vegas where her ministry is supported by Central Christian Church.