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Former Dancer Returns to Clubs as Missionary

By Rob Hull

“I would call these photographers and they’d come from all over and shoot topless and naked photos of me and they said, ‘Oh you’re going to land great gigs.’ And I believed it, so I let them do that for free,” remembers Nadia Kohn.
Nadia Kohn was now entering the world of nude modeling; very different from the values she grew up with. “Every youth group or anything with God, I wanted to be there. I’d be praying in school. I’d do all that stuff that I’d read about, listen about, I was like, ‘this is cool, you know, I’m going to stand for Christ,’ and never imagined I’d go the opposite way.”
Nadia found herself beginning to resent her strict, Christian upbringing when she wasn’t allowed to join her friends in activities outside of church events. “I wanted to be popular. And I said, ‘well, you know, surely they have better lives than I do.’ ‘Cause nobody ever saw our controlling life. They thought we lived in a very perfect family. I dealt with a lot of imperfection in my life, having to be perfect. So I became really angry at that.”
In high school, she says a youth leader told Nadia he believed she had improper motives for attending a church youth retreat and would not permit her to go.

“So that was the start of my rebellion towards God. ‘Oh they don’t want me.’ It was so hurtful that I started shutting down my emotions with God. I just became angry. I was just like, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do and you can’t stop me.’ And so eventually I just went away from everybody that was good for me.”

When she was eighteen she left home to pursue a career in modeling. But the promise of high-paying photo shoots never materialized. Desperate for money and attention, Nadia found work at a strip club. It was everything she thought she wanted.

She says, “I felt like a celebrity. I remember like walking down to the pole and we’d have like a girls’ parade and we’d have to go on different stages. I felt beautiful. I felt like I had power. I had authority that I could manipulate guys into getting their money or getting anything I want, and so I started learning how to role play and trick people out of money. I enjoyed it. It was like a party every night for me.”

But, after a while she realized the life of a dancer wasn’t as glamorous as she first thought. “I didn’t realize the creepiness of the guys until much later on.” She says, “The guys, that’s all they wanted from me was, you know, your body. They didn’t care about you. The false identity, taking drugs, taking alcohol, using men, sex, whatever it might be, and it just really makes you broken and hard and it makes you almost anti-human. I just started feeling really lonely and down cause I didn’t really have any friends. Because if they found out you were a dancer, they would judge you, and I just tried to push people away from me, because I didn’t want anybody getting close to me either.”

Nadia says a darkness enveloped her life. “I always felt fearful. I couldn’t even sleep in my own bed for a whole year I was so scared that somebody would come in or follow me home. I started feeling this really black spirit over me. Every night I came home and I would just –I remember crying and being really scared. I had to have lights on. I had to have the TV on. I had to have some noise. I was that scared, I remember sitting there on the couch and drinking a whole bottle of champagne by myself. And I remember just feeling the loneliness and just I hit bottom. I just—I didn’t know what to do. I remember I felt so dark. I had no one there. I had no family. I was just like, ‘how could I have nothing in my life?’ And I contemplated on ending my life. It was just, you know, there was just no (way), you can’t possibly live in such loneliness.

Nadia longed for the love and peace she had when she was younger, but felt she had run too far from God. “I was too scared to talk to God or even pray to get me out of that despair” she says. “When I was younger, I had that love, and I had that relationship with Jesus. So I missed it. ‘Cause for so long I, you know, threw it away, I just walked away from God. Of all the things I did, (I was) like, ‘no, there’s no way God could take me back now.’”

A neighbor invited her to a women’s Bible study and a summer church retreat. She went. At the retreat, Nadia felt the love of God; something she had not experienced for a long time.

She says, “After so many painful experiences and just, you know, loneliness, I’m just like—I finally understood what the prodigal son story meant. When I came back to God and just felt the love that He poured out. He never left. I left. When I started feeling that love, I didn’t feel any judgment upon my life. I just gave Him back my life and my heart and all the mess that I’ve made it. God just erased all of that. He just rebuilt my life. He just broke my heart and made it His.”

Nadia recommitted her life to Jesus and quit her job as a dancer. Today she goes back to the night clubs but, with gifts of love for the women who need to know there is a God who loves them.

She says, “I’m just touched every time that He calls me to go back and show love to these women. This is real. So I’m just like amazed at what He’s done. I’m just so in awe that God would just use, you know, people like us. People like me.”

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