Donny Pauling grew up in a pastor's home, but his father's struggles in the pastorate made him cynical and bitter towards the church. He married a Christian girl, but became involved in Internet pornography as a young adult. His college major was computer science, so he had the skills to set up a secret pornography Web site. He began recruiting girls to pose for photos he then sold to Websites. His customer base eventually grew to include Playboy.
After he confessed an affair to his wife, their marriage ended. Since he no longer needed to hide what he was doing, his activities and income exploded. The first month after his divorce, he grossed $50,350. As his pornography business grew, his animosity toward the faith grew with it.
Then he encountered a ministry called XXXChurch.com at a Las Vegas pornography convention. They didn't picket the meeting or shout at those inside. Rather, they built relationships with people in the porn industry and handed out Bibles with "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" on the cover. The back of the free Bibles added, "That might go against what you've heard about Jesus, but it's true: He loves porn stars as much as he loves pastors."
Eventually, their loving witness led Donny to Christ. He was confirmed into the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil, 2014. He has shared his story with more than six million people, exposing what really goes on in the porn industry and telling the world about Jesus' redeeming love.
Three facts about Donny Pauling's life and witness stand out to me.
First, we should never assume that a person knows Jesus personally. Just because someone is a minister's child—or a minister—does not guarantee that he or she has met Jesus. Nor should we necessarily equate religious activities with Christian discipleship. Our culture measures spirituality by church attendance, but "God looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
Second, Donny's porn activities are tragically common among church-goers. When he told Christians that he was a porn producer, he would then ask, "Have you ever consumed porn? Because the law of supply and demand says I couldn't be doing this without people like you!" Recent surveys indicate that nearly 40 percent of pastors struggle with porn, and 47 percent of Christians say pornography is a problem in their home. If this is an issue for you, please read my essay on the plague of pornography, where you'll find practical steps and hope.
Third, it's all about Jesus. He alone can forgive every sin and heal every heart. If he can use Donny Pauling's story to share his love with the world, he can use your sins and failures for greater good. So tell him what most causes you guilt today. Confess it to your Savior with a repentant heart. Claim his promise to forgive you and to cleanse you (1 John 1:9). Ask him to use your failure for his glory, and know that he will.
Anne Graham Lotz recently invited us to pray: "Remind us that Your love is stronger than hate, and the Light of Your Truth will never be overcome by the darkness, so that we lovingly and boldly proclaim that victory has been won! Jesus saves!"
Publication date: July 11, 2014