Skip to comments.From porn to faith
Posted on 09/23/2005 11:08:46 PM PDT by SmithL
NEWPORT - She went from $25,000 weekly bank deposits to withdrawing bitterness from brokenhearted women.
But before she could let go of her "ladies-only" adult pornographic Web site fortune, Michele Washam would have to become one of those women.
With 7,000-plus members paying $29.99 a month, Washam started a Web site dedicated to female viewers some 10 years ago. Just4Ladies.com is still signing ladies up, except now the cost is free, and the message is of Jesus Christ.
To go from an adult Web site designer to "God's webmaster" was a journey that began in 1999 when the mother of three moved from Delaware back to her hometown of Palm Beach County, Fla., without the man she loved "more than air."
He had given her a diamond engagement ring and a promise to move with her to Florida. But, after a three-year courtship, he broke his promise, taking with him "my heart, my life."
"It hurt to breathe," said Washam.
With no will to live or work, the self-taught Web site builder and designer called the adult Web site business quits. No amount of money could take her pain away.
"It was never all about the money," said Washam.
"It was about providing food, shelter and an occasional Toys 'R' Usshopping trip for my three children, along with a future of security. The only big things I bought for myself were a used Mercedes-Benz and a Chanel suit that I eventually ended up giving away."
That summer, she was ready to give up her life as well.
"I went for a walk along the beach adjacent to the Port of Palm Beach, and my intention was to just keep walking until there was no more ground and only ocean beneath me," Washam said.
But then she drew on what little she could remember from her days of growing up in a devout Italian Catholic family.
"I had no idea who God was, but I looked over the ocean and literally cried out to Him," she said.
"And I saw a rainbow - the symbol of hope."
With a mustard seed of faith, Washam began studying miracles and the word of God.
Washam said she knew she no longer could do adult Web sites, and she realizes now that "back then, I should have paid attention to the tug on my heart and conscience not to get involved" in pornography.
The reformed Web site is now a faith-based site dedicated to restoration and healing of broken hearts.
She intentionally left the domain name the same as the former porn site's. Among its members are more than 1,000 who were seeking something besides a word from God.
With a membership of 58,000, and growing, from across the world, the site attracts both men and women who have had their hearts broken, said Washam.
Just4men.org is being developed with the guidance and support of Washam's pastor, Tom Mooty of West End Baptist Church, where Washam serves as the church secretary.
"Everybody wants something to look up to," Mooty said. "This Web site, this ministry can be the start of getting people to raise their sights on the Lord."
Washam moved to Newport after marrying Michael Washam in a 2003 New Orleans ceremony.
"God sent me an angel," Washam said.
"I loved my ex because I needed him; I need Mike because I love him," she said.
Washam teaches a free seven-step workshop, "A Course in Heartbreak," at West End Baptist Church in Newport.
"The class is not just for those who are Baptist," Washam said. "It is for anybody. It is not about religious denominations."
The class, which is already under way, is a spin-off from her self-published book, "A Course in Heartbreak," and HeartbreakUniversity.org, another Web site launched by Washam where classes are offered online for a nominal fee to help people find healing, faith and love "God's way."
"I am not a counselor trying to solve everybody's problem," Washam said. "I am trying to introduce the one (God) who can."