Dancing for the Devil: From the Pole to the Pulpit by Anny Donewald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Reviewer's note: I received, upon request, a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Howard Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, in exchange for my honest review. vmls)
Fame... one's own or that of a friend or family... and the price that we are willing to pay to protect that fame, coupled with being sexually abused as a young teen set young Anny Donewald on a course... on a journey... of self-destruction that very nearly claimed her soul forever.
Dancing with the Devil tells the heart-wrenching story of a young woman caught up in the world of drugs, sex trafficking, prostitution and trade and her journey to and through that dark, dangerous world that has claimed literally tens of thousands of lives... many to the point of death and many to a life in which death would have been a welcome release from the hell on Earth they found themselves in.
It begins innocently enough... amateur night at a small time strip club. A few bucks... some free drinks are the 'prize'... and 'stories' to tell your friends later ... just another Saturday night, right?
But, wait... that wasn't the beginning of Anny's long dark night - a night that would last for years. No, for Anny the darkness began the first time she was abused by one of the players on her father's college basketball team.
For far, far too many women, their own journey into darkness began - will begin - the same way. Sexually abused at a young age by, not a stranger, but someone known... someone they are close to. Someone they trusted. And like Anny, their guilt and shame over what had been done to them made their own abuse a secret. One, as Anny says, had to be kept at all costs!
For Anny, that night was the beginning of a nightmare that seemed would never end. Guilt and shame overwhelmed her, robbing her of self-esteem, self-worth... robbing her of hope. And just when Anny feels that everything is lost... that she has used up all her chances at life... she has lost everything and everyone... save one... she ever loved or cared about... and she has finally hit rock bottom... and there is nowhere left to go...
A spark inside Anny refuses to die and a tiny voice inside her... a whimper almost lost in her dark despair... "help me... please!"
And God hears that plea... that tiny prayer... and He answers! God picks up Anny and touches her in such a soul-deep way that only our Creator... our Father... our Healer... our Redeemer... can.
Even after all the things Anny has done... after all the times that she turned away from God... all the times she set aside what she had read in the Bible... been told by friends... the messages she heard in church...
Even after all the times Anny turned her back on God... when she finally called out to Him.... He answered. Without hesitation... without condemnation... without any conditions... God answered Anny.
He lifted her up from the darkness and showed her light. He showed Anny his purpose for her.
That moment marked the beginning of Anny's next journey... one of salvation and redemption... one of hope and a message. A journey that would set her on a path of ministry that would come to touch many, many lives... and bring the message of Christ our savior to other lost souls. A message of love... of hope... of grace and mercy to countless 'lost souls', because this was Anny's calling.
It hasn't been an easy journey and I think Anny would be the first one to tell you that her journey is far from over.
At one point in the book, Anny relates something Jesus said to her. "Don't let people tell you who I am; let me show you who I am."
Anny doesn't tell us who Jesus is. She shows us. Her amazing story... from her 'fall from grace' all those years ago to where she is now... her salvation and redemption... the ministry known as Eve's Angels that she began... is an amazing testimony of God's love and of His grace and mercy.
Anny, through God's grace and with the support and encouragement of her cousin Carrie, tells an amazing, riveting and at times heart-stopping story of her journey through darkness and her divine rescue from the sex industry. Anny's open, frank words lay bare a world of depravity... a world no one wants to acknowledge exists... a world that isn't spoken of in polite company and only obliquely referenced in churches. A world that makes us squirm in our seats and change the television channel.
But more than that, it is a testimony of God's amazing grace and healing... and His unconditional, never-ending, never changing love. It is a reminder that we are all His children and there is nothing we can do... no hole so deep or dark or depraved that we find ourselves in... that He can't lift us out of.
Anny Donewald is living proof of that. She is also proof that the 'cycle' can be broken. That is part of the message of Eve's Angels, the ministry that she founded.
It doesn't matter how you got where you are. God will bring you home.
Dancing With The Devil is one of those rare reads that is hard to put down. It is told in such a compelling manner and voice that one could easily finish the book in a single sitting. I recommend this book without reservation.
Dancing For The Devil should be on everyone's 'must-read' list!
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
(writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)
View all my reviews