By: Katie Sobiech
The book of Joshua records the story of Rahab, a prostitute who lived in the streets of Jericho and is famous for assisting Israelite spies by hiding them from local authorities. She eventually left prostitution, joined the Jewish people and married.
Rahab Ministries has one purpose – to reach out to the Rahabs of today. Their volunteers want to bring the light of Jesus to rescue women caught up in prostitution and destructive street lifestyles.
A New Beginning
A little over seven years ago a supervisor and counselor to Becky Moreland, Founder of Rahab Ministries, told her that it was time to give back and encouraged Moreland to get involved in a ministry.
“Nothing really excited me,” Moreland said, “but I remember hearing on WCRF radio that there was a lady in Chicago doing a ministry with prostitutes – a street outreach. I found her and went to Chicago to shadow her for about a week, learned as much as I could, came back here and wrote up a plan.”
Although she had a plan it took months before Moreland actually put it into action. Then one morning her supervisor called saying “You need to pray before you get to church, your ministry just walked through the door.”
Moreland arrived at the church to find a lady who had been on the streets all night, lying in a fetal position in a corner. The lady said she was tired and just couldn’t do it anymore.
“That’s how it sort of launched itself,” Moreland said, “I finally got the courage to take a small group of people to walk the streets.”
They started out meeting at Arlington and Archwood to walk around on Friday nights.
“According to police reports, that was the area where there were the most solicitation charges, so that’s where we chose to walk.”
From that day forward they began to approach women, engage in conversation, give them a tract or some other type of Christian literature and a phone number so that they could stay in contact and build relationships.
“It’s all about building relationships,” Moreland said.
“We are received remarkably well by the women,” Moreland said, “We were kind of worried about that and didn’t want to try to convert anyone, we just wanted to befriend them.”
Ministry volunteers ask ‘Is there anything we can pray for you about?’ or ‘Is there anything we can do for you?’
Nine times out of ten they pray for the ladies on the spot. The requests are mostly for their children and relatives.
God has protected the ministry throughout it all.
“The only danger has been loose dogs; the pit bulls,” Moreland laughed.
The Rahab House is a unique gem that sparkles in a somewhat risky neighborhood.
“We bought this house a year and a half ago purposely near the area where we walk so that it could be a ministry center,” Moreland explained.
They offer different services for the women with the intentions of getting them off of the streets. Some of these include Soup-n-Shop, a clothing room, Bible studies and community service opportunities.
“The word spread quickly that this is a safe place for women to come and just get off the streets for a short time if they need to,” Moreland said.
Though it is not a residential facility, the women are welcome anytime.
Needs of the Women
“All of these women are individual and different,” Moreland explained, “Their needs and backgrounds are different. Some are out there to support a drug habit, some are out there because it’s all they’ve ever known, some are out there because they’ve been abused so bad.”
They come from all different ethnicities, socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
“We’ve seen college girls out there and grandmothers out there,” Moreland said.
One thing the ladies appreciate about Rahab Ministries, and often tell Moreland is “You never give up on us.”
Moreland says that chances are they are going to relapse but it’s important that the ministry is there for them when they come back.
“It’s just a matter of us being prayed up, staying close to the Lord and allowing Him to be the driving force behind us as volunteers,” Moreland said.
A Changed Life
One young woman, Lauren Buser, has experienced first hand the life transforming affects of this ministry.
She says, “I think showing the women God’s love is so important. When women come here everyone is like ‘I love you’ and the women haven’t had that. They feel safe here regardless of what they’ve done or where they’ve been. We still love them.”
Buser got involved with the ministry after spending time in jail.
“I was 18 years old, grew up in Tallmadge and was the typical teen on the outside. I looked great, but growing up was pretty rough,” she shared.
At 18 Buser was arrested and put into the Summit County Jail looking at 23 years in prison for being a getaway driver of two armed robberies. It was there that she met Janet Paul of the Abah House and who now works with Rahab Ministries. At the time Buser did not believe in God, but after talking with Janet, things changed.
“I remember reading II Timothy Chapter 3 where it talks about the weak willed women who are always trying to understand but never really learn the truth and I felt that was me,” Buser said.
“I just knew that God was speaking to me as I was sitting in jail for those five months,” she continued.
This gave her peace.
“I was looking at 23 years – basically my whole life in prison,” she said.
Buser continued reading her Bible and meeting with Janet which she says turned her life around.
“As I was sitting in jail I just knew that God has a different plan for me. I remember looking in the mirror saying ‘How did I get here? This wasn’t me.’ But I was there and it was me and my choices.”
Judge Brenda Unruh, a Christian, was Busers judge. With that, Buser’s charges kept going down and she went from having 6 felonies to 1.
“Judge Brenda Unruh said that she had this feeling that God told her not to send me to prison, so she tried to get with Janet to see what they would do with me,” Buser said.
Judge Brenda Unruh ended up cutting Buser’s time in jail and sent her to the Walter Hoven Home, a Christian Discipleship Home in New York, for a one year treatment program.
Buser came back to Ohio not knowing where to live, so the Abah House opened its doors to her. She has now been on staff with Rahab Ministries for about 6 months.
“God totally restored everything to me,” Buser smiled, “I have two jobs, I’m going to college. I’m really just enjoying life and being 20. My parents talk to me. And it’s funny, when I run into people from High School they say ‘You were so good at being bad, how are you a good person now?’ and I say ‘It’s only God’!”
Though they have their unique differences, the Rahab House and Abah House are very similar in vision. Because of this they merged on June 1st, 2009.
“Now we have a full circle of services to offer women,” Moreland said, “My ministry started from the outside in and Janet was always inside of jails and then bringing the women out. So now it’s been amazing to see what God’s been doing.”
“What I really like about the ministry,” Buser added, “is that there is someone who is going to walk beside you the whole way. There’s always someone to talk to. We never give up.”
Be a Part of the Plan
Volunteer training is offered for those interested in becoming a part of the ministry. There are also plenty of other ways to get plugged in.
Every Thursday night they go to the women’s correctional facility and do Bible study and aerobics. For those who like to cook, they can use food donations for their Soup-n-Shop, particularly soups and cookies. They are also always in need of household items.
For more information please visit their website at http://www.rahab-ministries.org. For a powerful DVD produced by the ministry please request one by contacting Becky Mooreland.