Originally published in Christianity Today
Anny Donewald was making good money as a stripper and prostitute in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, but deep down in her soul there was loneliness and despair until an unexpected intervention of God dramatically changed the direction of her life.
Sharing her story on The 700 Club, Donewald told the harrowing story of being raped by one of her basketball coach father’s team members at just 13-years-old.
Instead of reporting what had happened to her, she made the “toxic decision” of keeping it to herself.
At the age of 19, she made what she thought was “one decision for one night” to enter a stripping contest at college.
She won the contest but in the end it wasn’t a win, as it marked the start of a seven-year career working in the adult industry.
Entering the sex industry was like being “indoctrinated into a whole other culture”, she told The 700 Club co-host Terry Meeuwsen.
She ended up in prostitution in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, and was making lots of money off her work.
Shortly before her 26th birthday she fell pregnant but she felt “dead on the inside” and like she didn’t deserve to be a parent, so she decided to have an abortion.
However, the decision troubled her and in her difficulty she prayed, even though she didn’t believe in God.
“I was an atheist at the time, [but] I prayed,” she said. “The running joke was that I was the praying atheist.”
And even though she described herself as an atheist, she nonetheless prayed that God would be the one to stop the abortion going ahead.
“And I said, ‘God, I don’t know if you’re real or if you can hear me, but I don’t think you want me to do this. But I’m not going to be the one to stop it. You stop it.'”
God answered her prayer and in a way that left her in no doubt that he was real.
“I made five different appointments, and they all got cancelled,” she said.
It was a turning point in her life and she finally left the sex industry. Now her life is dedicated to freeing other women trapped in the industry.
Her plea to the church is to be compassionate to these women.
“We demonize the people there,” she said.
“These girls are some of the most precious girls that have just taken a wrong turn, and all these need is another chance.
“I always tell people there’s always things that happen that get girls into the sex industry.
“Nobody ever wants to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I think I’ll be a stripper.'”