Alex Launius started cutting herself, hurling up her food and drinking heavily by the time she turned 14 years old.
A native Floridian, Alex struggled with not fitting in. She had "daddy issues,” as she calls them, and, ironically, struggled with long bouts of depression in the beautiful place they call the "Sunshine State."
The depression she felt growing up stemmed from the physical and emotional abuse levied by her father.
Alex’s life was set on a seemingly irreversible course at a young age. She began planning her life around drinking and drugs at a time when most girls her age were just trying to figure out their pre-algebra homework.
Throughout her teen years and into her 20s, Alex went on to have three abortions while simultaneously involved in multiple same-sex relationships. She became a stripper and put every drug you could possibly imagine inside her body.
She found herself in prison before her 21st birthday.
But Alex soon realized that time behind bars was the best thing that ever happened to her.
During her three-year stint, Alex was introduced to the Lord by a fellow inmate. At first, this inmate’s overwhelming love frustrated Alex. But when she left, the Lord began working on Alex’s hard heart, helping her understand the depths of His love.
One night, in the midst of this seeking and searching, Alex read about the life of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew. Moved by the story and the idea of baptism, she proceeded to her cold, metallic prison shower where she baptized herself before the Lord.
Even though she didn't completely understand what she was doing, Alex knew she was in need and that Jesus was the ultimate gift.
At that moment, she received Jesus Christ as her Savior.
Once she was freed from prison, both literally and physically, Alex's attraction to women – among a host of other addictions – was miraculously gone. Her greatest struggle now was something Philippians refers to as “knowledge and depth of insight.” Namely, that Alex didn’t have any.
She was placed in a transition home for 16 months. It was during this time that she began to study and learn more about the fundamental values of Christianity.
One day, while she was researching and worshiping via YouTube videos, Alex discovered a Bible college in South Dallas called Christ for the Nations. The worship videos from this place began to stir her heart, and she decided to move to Texas. After she moved to Dallas and enrolled at the school, things started to make sense, and her relationship with the Lord grew. She also found herself becoming rigid, falling more in love with the instructions than the Instructor.
Alex met a boy named Zach, though, while training for a mission trip to China. He helped teach her the freedoms of Christ and that living her Christian faith wasn’t about following rules but about worshiping God.
Zach says he’s become a connoisseur of narratives like the one in John 7 where Jesus challenged the person without sin to throw the first stone at the adulteress. He loves these because he now knows both sides of the story.
He and Alex dated for a year, got married, and Alex gave birth to a sweet baby girl named Olivia in October 2011.
Now Alex serves with Jesus Said Love, a partner organization of The Village that reaches out to strippers in the DFW Metroplex and teaches them about the love of Christ. “Ministering gives me so much hope, stirs up my faith and puts everything in perspective,” said Alex. “Even though it's my story, it's easy to forget."
It’s the reason she’s so excited about working with Jesus Said Love. She’s touched the depths of sin, and Jesus has redeemed her. Now her message to others is one of restoration. “I can’t ever look at someone and say ‘you’re too lost to be saved,’” she said.
It doesn't mean that Alex doesn't have tough days, but those are for a purpose, too. "I would love for the fear to just go away, but that wouldn't make me dependent on the Lord,” she said.
In January, she and Zach are heading to the Philippines to complete a missionary course for their collegiate credit. In the meantime, Alex continues to spend her days tending to Olivia and working on her Etsy store.
"I love making stuff for people that they're going to use and love. That's how I think of God sometimes,” she said. “You know, He creates things for us, for our enjoyment, for our good."
This passion for the visual representation of Christ through art is the very thing that inspired the thin, dark tattoo on Alex’s right forearm. It says "redeemed" in Hebrew and sprang from her love for the words of 1 Peter 1:17-19:
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.