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UNION TOWNSHIP, OH — A strip club that closed its doors in 2011 has now reopened as a house of God.

Full Gospel House of Refuge searched for a new home for seven years until, church secretary Timothy Thoma told, “the Lord told us to stop looking. That we wouldn't find the building, the building would find us.”

In December 2013, Gospel House was able to purchase the former strip club for $300,000. It opened as their new church on June 29.

The story that took the strip club, called Déjà Vu, from hedonistic bastion to spiritual refuge began in the mid-1990s. At that time, the group Citizens for Community Values (CCV) tried shutting Déjà Vu down, without success. “We just couldn't gain any headway,” CCV president Phil Burress told the newspaper.

Burress, whose group focuses on shutting down strip clubs and pornography shops in Cincinnati, says a state law the group helped pass was critical to getting “over 100 sexually oriented businesses [to] close in the state of Ohio.” The law prevented pornography stores and strip bars from being open between midnight and six a.m., and said that dancers could not touch customers.

But none of that could harm Déjà Vu, which fought Union Township's laws and regulations against sexually oriented businesses until 2010. According to local reporter Jeanne Houck, that was the year Burress worked with town officials to set up a sting that eventually led to the strip club's closing.

In 2011, Déjà Vu went out of business after employees were found guilty of illegally operating a sex-oriented business.

Subsequently, the town purchased the location. Eventually, for the same price it paid for the property, Union Township sold it to Gospel House. Now, with services on Sundays and Tuesdays, parking for over 200 cars, and a goal to “serve the community and provide a foundation for salvation,” what was formerly a strip club is a house of God.

“The Lord came through for us,” says Thoma.


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