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'Redemption Story': Alaska Woman Turns Strip Club into a Church, and Souls Are Already Being Saved

Open Door Baptist Church (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Open Door Baptist Church (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

"Fantasies" strip club in Anchorage, Alaska underwent a major transformation last year, replacing its dance poles with pews. 

The new owner, Linda Dunegan, tried to buy the building several years ago however she was unable to reach an agreement with the tenant. Fast-forward a few years and the former hot spot of degradation has now become an oasis of new life – Open Door Baptist Church.

"This church came about because I prayed for five years," Dunegan said. "God has been very good to me." 

Dunegan's interest in the club stemmed from her past and knowing that her mother chose to make ends meet by dancing. 

"It was very hard for me to see those strip poles," she explained. "It was really hard for me because I had condemnation in my heart from my mom. So I think the redemption story is not for the public. It was for me and for my mom."

After acquiring the location, Dunegan knew she needed to find a pastor.

Kenny Menendez and his family were living in Oregon when God called him to begin a new venture and start a church, Alaska Public Media reports.

"It is a fast change of life, but you know, the things that are impossible for man are possible with God. And the Bible also says that without faith, it's impossible to please Him. So we took that leap of faith, so to speak," he said. 

During his first trip to see the building, there was no electricity and he had to wade through rooms full of left-behind furniture. 

"I looked at it as, 'Yeah, it could be a church,'" Menendez said. "It just needed a facelift."

During its first Sunday service, 76 people showed up to worship with 6 committing their lives to Jesus Christ. On average, 45 guests come each Sunday to worship at the church which will celebrate its one-year anniversary this October.

And Menendez believes God is satisfied with the work they have done so far and their future plans.

"I would say God is pleased to have a change, a transformation in the building, a place that really ultimately points more people towards him instead of away," Menendez explained.

The sanctuary is located on the first floor of the building and Dunegan hopes to use the second floor for fundraisers.

"We're starting out small, but our heart is big," Dunegan said.

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