Judy Lamborn was born August 12, 1966, in Los Angeles, CA, to a young single mother. The woman was immediately faced with the harsh reality that, if she chose to keep this baby, the infant would inevitably be raised in their family business—a local bar on Hollywood Boulevard. With her own father’s health failing and knowing she would soon be saddled with the responsibility of managing the family business, this brave young woman made the painstaking decision to place her baby girl for adoption with the hope that this sacrifice would provide a better opportunity for her to live a full and happy life.
Judy was eventually adopted at 4 months old into what outwardly appeared to be the picture-perfect family. While every material need was met, Judy’s childhood was also filled with dysfunction and paralyzing fear as the result of a physically and emotionally abusive environment. Things like church attendance were a mandate on Sundays; however, it was more like a social club gathering and, similar to many other things in Judy’s life, it was all a façade.
Exposure to pornography at 12 years of age formed Judy’s ideals of what women were supposed to be like and painted the picture of sexual relationships, but she had no outlet for these twisted fantasies because of her parent’s stifling overprotection. Driven by an insatiable desire for more excitement, in her early twenties Judy left everything and moved to San Diego, where she became a popular topless dancer known as “Pepper.” Surviving on a steady diet of bar food, alcohol and cigarettes, it was there that Pepper was also introduced to cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, which left her hopelessly addicted the very first time she tried it.
Quickly bored with San Diego, Pepper moved on to Las Vegas to see what it had to offer. Her life now spiralling out of control, she ended up a pregnant brothel prostitute, which led to an abortion—a decision that would haunt her for decades. Even though her life was rich with money, men and influence, every night Pepper secretly longed to return to a clean, simple existence. She was worn out from depending on drugs and alcohol to numb her enough to make it through each day. Something had to change. On a direct collision course with death, alone and desperate for deliverance, Pepper cried out to God for help…and He answered her. Right there on the floor of the brothel, she surrendered her life back to Jesus, asking Him to forgive her of her sin and save her from this destructive lifestyle.
After that encounter with God, it was as if a veil had been taken off her eyes and Pepper could clearly see she had to get out of there. Taking a huge risk, she abruptly decided to leave Las Vegas to marry one of her “Johns.” She didn’t realize it at the time, but she was instantly delivered her from her drug addiction the very day she left Vegas for good; a miracle that she attributes to God. Pepper was dying, and Judy was slowly coming back to life.
Finally completely free from drugs, alcohol and prostitution, Judy began her new life, which included learning how to be a wife and mother. Determined to sustain this new found freedom, Judy immersed herself in the Word of God. Day after day, she devoured the scriptures, hungry to know the One who saved her life.
In 1998, Judy and her family moved to St. Louis, MO, where she and her husband began working at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Judy served in various ministry capacities, including the Call Center, Executive Office and Conference Department Manager. Judy resigned in 2006 to complete her autobiography, From Vegas to Victory which was originally published in 2009.
She returned to Joyce Meyer Ministries in 2008 to serve at her home church, the St. Louis Dream Center. She was eventually ordained as the Family Life Pastor and remained there for eight years.
In November, 2016, armed with her passion to help groups of marginalized people and fuelled by her powerful personal testimony, Judy helped to launch Open Gate International, a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping people from vulnerable life situations with culinary arts and life skills in order for them to continue their journey of healing and reintegration to society. Using her gifts of writing and teaching, Judy created the life skills curriculum for the organization and was instrumental in growing it from its flagship program in Orange County, CA, to four additional countries including Moldova, Mexico, Cambodia and India.
A devoted wife, mother, grandmother and licensed minister, Judy’s passion is to travel around the world empowering people as a global ambassador of hope sharing her transformative journey from prostitute to pastor.
Judy and her husband, Rick still reside in St. Louis, MO.
My life is proof that it’s never too late to start over. I was at rock bottom; I had given up on myself, but God never gave up on me. He loved me and saw worth and value in me when I didn’t see anything good in myself. You may be at your rock bottom right now, but God can rescue you too…it’s never too late to start again.