From Fallen to Freedom
Annie Lobert was a casualty of the sex industry before founding
Hookers for Jesus
Alone in her Las Vegas home, Annie Lobert decided to get higher than she ever had before. A huge dose of cocaine sent her body into overdrive: Her heart was beating out of her chest—it must be a heart attack, she thought—and then everything went black.
“I could hear my mother’s voice singing ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ and I could picture my family at my funeral,” Annie says. “I remembered that when I was a child my mother told me that if I was ever in trouble I could call out to Jesus and He would help me.” So she called Jesus’ name.
She woke up in a hospital. Her doctors told her they couldn’t believe she survived such a massive overdose.
A Painful History
Annie was far from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she had gone to church every Sunday since childhood. But memories of her church are not fond ones. “I learned that God is angry and He doesn’t like sinners,” she recalls. “And Jesus was just a character on a flannel board. I didn’t understand what He had done for me.”
When Annie was eight, a friend sexually abused her. In high school, a boyfriend cheated on her and broke her heart. She didn't feel God's protection in those days. Even hearing God referred to as “Father” only made her feel more isolated. “My own father was emotionally abusive, so that description just pulled me further from God,” she explains. As she grew, her painful history left her angry and distrustful.
As a teen, Annie learned to use her looks to get what she wanted. When she was 19, a friend invited her to Hawaii. She thought she was headed for a great opportunity, but it was there she prostituted herself for the first time. “After I did it, I felt empowered,” she remembers. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I had just put on a mask that I wouldn’t be able to take off for many years."
How Bad Could It Get?
After two weeks in Hawaii, Annie returned to Minneapolis and to her job at a strip club. She fell in love with a man who said he loved her back, but soon he had become her pimp.
They moved to Las Vegas, where Annie became a full-time prostitute. After her first night out on the strip, she returned home to her "boyfriend." who took the money she had made and beat her up. This wouldn't be the last time she was violently attacked. “My pimp regularly beat me up. Johns tried to choke me and throw me out hotel windows,” Annie says. “But I was afraid to leave.”
During that decade she never touched drugs: “I wanted to stay clean so I could stay in control.” After being involved in a serious car accident and being diagnosed with cancer, pain pills became an everyday fact of life. “I started taking one pill a day for my pain and that turned into 10 a day,” Annie admits. “Then my friend introduced me to cocaine.”
For over a year, she was high almost every waking hour of every day. “I couldn’t deal with life anymore,” she recalls. “I hated myself, I hated God and I was convinced that God hated me. But somehow, the drugs seemed to make things better.”
Everthing changed on August 2, 2003 when Annie experienced the overdose that should have killed her. “I made a promise to God that I would never go back to drugs and prostitution, and I kept that promise.”
People Like Me
The next year of her life was different. “I read my Bible all the time, and I found all of these stories about prostitutes,” she says. “I discovered that Jesus loved people like me. Those stories were what really convinced me that God still loved me, no matter what I’d done.”
Annie surrendered her life to Christ. “For so many years, I’d played games with God,” she says. “I was like that fable about the little boy who cried wolf. I’d pray emergency prayers when I was going out on a scary call or when someone was hurting me, but I was just using God.”
She points out that God never turned His back on her. “God never leaves us, no matter what. We can’t measure His love for us,” she says. “I just fell in love with God because of His grace.”
After taking a few years to heal, she felt God’s call to go back to the Vegas Strip and help other women trapped in prostitution. “I would go out to the Strip and tell them that they were beautiful and God loved them, no matter their past,” she says.
Annie founded a ministry called Hookers for Jesus. The name is based on Matthew 4:19—“Jesus called out to them: ‘Come follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people.’” She explains that the goal of the group is to “hook” people and help them find hope in Jesus.”
At the time, Annie was living with a couple of roommates. “I wanted to bring the girls back to my house and let them sleep on my couch, but my roommates didn’t really like that,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do until my church donated a house to be used as a safe house for these girls.”
Destiny House opened in September 2008. It was a safehouse for women desperately trying to escape prostitution. Destiny House is “a place of restoration and peace," Annie says. "The girls go through a curriculum that I wrote and they get vocational training. There is also a follow-up program for our graduates.”
Hookers for Jesus sponsors Ladies of Destiny, a Bible study, and Saturday Night Love, a program through which volunteers hand out gift bags to women working on the Strip. Hookers for Jesus also partners with Seeds of Hope, a Salvation Army anti-trafficking program in Las Vegas (see sidebar). “Seeds of Hope provides certain resources that we don’t offer and vice versa,” Annie says, “so we often refer clients to each other and work together to see that their needs are met.”
God has blessed Annie’s life and ministry. In 2009, Annie married Oz Fox, the lead guitarist of the Christian band Stryper. In 2015, she released a biography about her life, “Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry and into the Arms of the Savior.” Fallen was the name Annie chose for herself when she worked in the sex industry.
“I love my work with Hookers for Jesus, and I know I’m doing what I was meant to do,” Annie says happily. “I know that if I could be set free from my old life, then other women could too.”
Diane Stark lives in Brazil, IN.