Most of us speak of goals and dreams about things we hope to do or accomplish. A few of us might say we have a vision for our lives or a particular thing. Perhaps the word vision connotes something grander than we can imagine or we associate it with ancient stories we have heard. What’s the difference between a vision and a dream?
One way to differentiate between these two is this: a dream tends to be a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal while a vision is the ability to see or plan something for the future – something that does not exist.
We could likely point to a vision as being able to see something that perhaps no one else has seen and then proceed to develop or bring it about. If it is an inspiring idea that emanates from our own mind and wisdom, history shows it may or may not succeed with bumps along the road even if it does.
But when God gives the vision, I think it is invariably beyond what we can even imagine and the way it evolves and grows points to a source beyond ourselves. An Old Testament scripture speaks to this:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
I shared a story about a vision God gave to one woman I knew well in a post written in 2016 (https://pamecrement.com/2016/03/02/a-story-worth-telling-rahab-revisited/) and then how God led me to tell that story in a book, Bring Me a Vision (https://pamecrement.com/2018/08/15/bring-me-a-vision/) that details how God planted a small seed in a vision to reach those who have been broken and battered through human trafficking. Updates about how the vision grew appeared in another post in January of 2020 (https://pamecrement.com/2020/01/01/and-the-vision-grows/). But the story continues to show God’s hand was there from the beginning moving the vision beyond one woman with a pack of sticky notes on which she wrote her phone number to give to the women on the streets to a drop-in center, a safe house for adult women, mentoring program, a safe house for adolescents and more. You can read more about this using the links included, but as I continue to hear about how this ministry expands, I wanted to give you a glimpse into how God’s thoughts and his vision grows beyond what we can think or imagine.
That’s just like God, isn’t it? He creates something out of nothing at creation and in all He has done since then.
Rahab began in one area on the streets of Akron, OH, located in Summit County and despite the pandemic opened two new drop-in centers for women in Stark County taking light into the dark street corners and strip clubs of Canton, OH, another town in Midwest Ohio that few would expect to have a reason for such a ministry to be needed there. Yet that is exactly what too often we don’t get. We see ugly headlines routinely, but often “the world has been pulled over our eyes” as The Matrix might say and we miss what is happening in our own communities in places we barely notice when we drive by.
God sees and notices each one of those dark streets and the women who walk them and those who have heard the call to reach them go out to them, not with tracts but with the love of Jesus, not with judgment but seeing each one as valuable. When that happens, miracles begin to happen as well because love and light from the teams on the street are more powerful than the darkness and evil they have been ensnared in. Approximately 90 people make up the outreach team. Twenty-five of these walk the streets with a vision for the women they meet there and the remainder serve in the clubs. They offer an invitation to a different community than these women have known.
Is it dangerous? Absolutely, those who are trafficking these women do not want to lose their income stream that includes not only trafficking the women but keeping them on drugs to control them and the abuse they incur.
We may read about how Jesus responds to women such as this in scripture, but these are not women who will show up on a church doorstep or try to sit in our pews. Few will consider the call to go out to them and see a vision for some of the least of these Jesus spoke of.
In addition to the ministry on the streets of Akron and Canton, teams are now doing outreach in five different counties (three counties adjacent to those where Akron and Canton are located). Eight teams are trained to reach into 27 strip clubs over the five-county area and far more are needed in this effort as larger metropolitan areas begin to be tapped for ministry.
God’s fingerprints are evident in every aspect of this ministry since it began in 2002. How can I say that? Because He has always noticed those others avoided, rejected, devalued, and threw aside. And that is what this ministry demonstrates wherever they go. Not unlike the first disciples, the teams on outreach are really ordinary women whose hearts have a vision for those women who have none and do extraordinary work by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Their obedience leads them to the exact street and to the woman God has a heart for they just happen to meet.
You may not be called to such a ministry but where has God called you to see something beyond what your natural eyes might see? If He has called you to something like this, be prepared for your heart to be broken and your eyes to see miracles happen.
That’s what happens when God gives the vision.