To have a vision is an exciting thing and something that carries with it a great responsibility to walk out and persevere through the challenges that come on its way to fruition. It is not unlike the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13 where seed is sown, but there it is sown, and the results vary.
Some visions begin with great promise and enthusiasm, but like the seed sown on shallow soil those die. Some fall because the rocky soil of too many challenges defeat them.
As I reflect on visions and what I have observed over time and various arenas where visions are seen, I am persuaded that those that grow are those planted in good soil. No soil is as rich as what God provides. Such soil allows a vision to take root and grow if it is nurtured and remains rooted in Him.
March 2, 2016 I shared a post entitled “A Story Worth Telling: RAHAB Revisited” that gave readers a glimpse of such a vision begun 17 years ago to reach out to women who fell prey to human trafficking. It was a humble beginning, but the woman the Lord entrusted with the vision was obedient and passionate. She sought the Lord at each step and with no funding nor real understanding of how big the vision was, she persevered.
On August 15, 2018 I shared a post introducing you to the book I authored, Bring Me A Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope, detailing the life story of the woman the Lord used to bring RAHAB Ministries to life. The story did not end there, nor did it end when this woman retired as CEO of what had become a non-profit organization serving hundreds of women in the Akron, Ohio area.
February 25, 2019 I wrote a post entitled “Bring Me A Vision Revisited” looking at the impact of the book on those who purchased it and the subject of the book as well. She and I sought to turn proceeds from its sale into monies for RAHAB Ministries.
But the exciting thing to share with you as 2020 begins is how this initial vision continues to grow as the Lord provides and gives the increase.
RAHAB Ministries reminds all of us (not just those women and girls it serves) that there is reason for hope.
Human trafficking has been with us since the beginning of recorded history. Despite the efforts of various entities over time to stamp it out as it spread around the globe, it has continued and is prevalent even in countries in the western world where it appears unthinkable.
Perhaps it is unthinkable because it is so often unseen and yet intersects with every other criminal element in society. Maybe it is unthinkable because we prefer to believe that evil does not exist or is not so prevalent and often hidden right under our noses.
All the good efforts from any and all entities and resources are no match for evil save God alone and He is the hope that was in the seed first planted in RAHAB Ministries and He is the hope and foundation from which it continues to grow. The vision is walked out every day by 50+ staff and dozens of volunteers on the front lines willing to sacrifice and bring love and hope to those who have none in practical physical ways, but also powerful spiritual ways capable of defeating darkness in ways other resources cannot.
Individuals participating in this ministry are willing to put faith into action and walk into the darkness in order to bring light to those with no hope. Their humble calling stems from recognizing that brokenness happened long ago when Adam and Eve fell and none of us is immune from it in one form or another. They see and recognize that brokenness and darkness are more universal and pervasive than our headlines shout at us each day in every corner of the world.
The good news is this very evil darkness caused the light of God and his great love to shine ever more brightly. Jesus loved us so much that He left heaven to step into the darkness and evil to reveal and point us to the light. The incredible example He set is walked out by those called to serve in RAHAB Ministries and these individuals are the experts on the subject of human trafficking far more than academic studies about it.
These individuals know that despite no prosecution, it doesn’t mean human trafficking isn’t happening. They know because they have walked into places where it is hidden from view, in places you may least expect.
In the past year RAHAB Ministries has opened Rebecca’s Place, a safe house for adolescents, that is filled and has a staff who demonstrate the unconditional love these girls have never known. It is unlike anything else because such a place doesn’t exist elsewhere.
RAHAB has always watched to see where and how God is working to chart their course instead of making a decision founded in good ideas alone. They have walked with great faith as staff has grown and the budget is a multi-million dollar one. Some government grants have provided great blessings, but grants change and funding can be less or go away.
In a recent podcast Greg Colbeck, Chief Operating Officer, said, “We take a step and expect the ground to show up.” Their trust and faith as they daily seek God for direction is continually challenged. It takes everyone to stand against this evil device – the government, foundations, the church, and countless individuals.
How big is the need?
The last three months of 2019, 216 different women came to the first house RAHAB acquired – the drop-in house. (That is only a small glimpse of the women served at the adult women’s safe house, the adolescent safe house, jail, streets, strip clubs and more.) That same house is overseen by a woman who was among the first RAHAB touched. Her love, passion, and powerful testimony of healing and hope goes to the heart of each woman who enters through the door. It also recently spoke volumes when the Ohio Attorney General visited to observe the work going on there and told her, “I’m proud of you.”
More and more counties are asking for help moving the ministry outside Summit County, Ohio. Calls come in from other states and countries as well to learn more about this vision and ministry. Stark County is adjacent to Summit County and for some time a prayer team of those who participate in the street and strip club ministry have walked in the darkness there. What is needed is a drop-in house there as well.
As churches become more aware of how they can be tools in God’s hands, more are stepping up into the battle for light, hope, and life. One church committed to make 2020 a year they help raise resources to build two drop-in houses in Stark County in areas where they have identified a lot of human trafficking takes place, but it will take more people and many more dollars to provide the ongoing ministry there.
If you want to keep up with how God is moving or participate in this movement, and pray for its protection, provision, and growth, check out the website www.rahab-ministries.org or tune into their podcast. (You can find that link on their website.)
The vision continues to grow to combat the darkness and evil and to help those caught in its web find hope, healing, love, life, and freedom.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.”
Luke 4:18 (TPT)