God Has an Ever-Unfolding Vision for You

The knock at the door came as no surprise. Rahab was used to furtive visitors at all hours as male customers came to her door, and yet this pair was different, for they were part of Israel’s advance surveillance strategy, the first wave in their mission to conquer Jericho for the glory of God. It was Rahab’s quick thinking that saved the spies, rescued her own family, and earned her a paragraph in the Hebrews 11 honor roll of faith.

God’s vision for Rahab was larger than anything she had ever dreamed, and it was this dramatic turn-around that inspired Becky Moreland to name RAHAB ministries in 2002, when her vision for impacting lives on the streets of Akron, Ohio was just getting off the ground. Reaching Above Hopelessness and Brokenness, RAHAB’s outreach ministries serve women and children who are trapped in lives of addiction, prostitution, abuse, and fear. Team members do their work directly on the the streets of Akron, exposing the darkness of the sex trafficking industry, praying on the spot with the needy, and cooperating with law enforcement officials to protect women who live in continual danger. Their safe house provides a refuge to women with nowhere else to go, and their plans for a juvenile safe house will be an invitation to home for girls ages 11 to 17.

God’s Ever-Unfolding Vision

Bring Me a Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope is the true unfolding of Becky Moreland’s story. Founder of RAHAB, she lived her own miracle of turn-around and her co-author Pam Ecrement bore witness to it, first as her counselor and then, later, as her friend and colleague in ministry. When Becky first approached Pam for counseling, she was seeking help for her children, but Pam soon learned that Becky’s own traumatic childhood was impacting her mothering in ways that were detrimental, in spite of her best intentions.

Becky learned early on that the world was a dangerous place, and it was risky to trust even the adults who were supposedly in her life to protect and care for her. A victim of serial abuse, Becky learned to close off her early memories, setting the stage for poor relational choices and a downward spiral into alcoholism and immorality.  Pam Ecrement brings a counselor’s voice to her description of Becky’s life, lending a helpful sub-narrative that spills over to educate the reader on the complexities of tangled generational webs of sin and sadness. The glory of God is put on display as His story runs its course in the life of an ordinary woman who has been impacted by the love of an extraordinary God.

RAHAB continues to provide rescue and resources for victims of trafficking, and you can learn more at their website. Furthermore, all proceeds from the sale of Bring Me a Vision will go directly to fund RAHAB’s continued outreach. The book is available only through the Resources page of Pam’s website, A New Lens, and you can click here to order your copy.

Let the unfolding of Becky’s story encourage you that God has a vision for you as well, for these are His Words to His beloved:

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters. . . 

 “Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”  (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19)

Because God’s Vision for You Is Also Amazing,

Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

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Shame-filled to Shame-free

Christine unwrapped her sandwich, completely unaware of the scornful expressions on the faces of her Kindergarten classmates.  “Mmmmm . . . feta cheese and olive,” she thought, taking that first delectable bite.

“What’s that stinky stuff you’re eating,” wailed one boy, wrinkling his nose in disgust. “She’s eating Greek cheese!” someone announced.  “No wonder Greeks stink!”

Surrounded by scowling faces, Christine Caine was being schooled in shame, and even though her six-year-old self did not have a word to wrap around her feelings on that day, she spent twenty-two years of her life battling the feelings of rejection that came as a result of events that followed this early memory.  Ethnic bias, childhood abuse, and the perception that her Type A personality was unacceptable to her family and to her teachers taught her to hide her true self, and it became clear to her that shame had an agenda — a curriculum —  that would rule her life if she allowed it to:

  1.  Shame teaches you to hide yourself, to hunker down wherever you can find a wall of protection.
  2.  Shame pushes you down and prevents you from becoming all you could be.
  3.  Shame whispers lies to your soul about the character of God and His love for you.

Overcoming these lies has been a miracle of grace in Christine’s life, and she shares her journey in Unashamed, and then challenges her readers to come out of hiding and accept the very same grace that God offered to Adam and Eve when they responded to His call and emerged from their long-ago hiding place.  The fact that their Genesis 2:25 status of shame-free living came to a crashing conclusion when they disobeyed God reveals the connection between shame and guilt.  Brene Brown helpfully distinguishes between the two:

Shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.  .  . Guilt says, ‘You’ve done something bad.’ Shame says: ‘You are bad.’  There is a big difference between ‘you made a mistake’ and ‘you are a mistake.’

Christine summarizes it this way:

“Guilt is about my do.   Shame is about my who.”

Shame kept Adam and Eve hiding from God, rather than running to Him to deal with their guilt.

Enter:  The Gospel.

The rescuing truth is two-fold.  Romans 3:23 verifies our guilt; Psalm 139:14 testifies to our value and worth to God, and this is the truth around which we must shape our lives.  Christine calls the love of our crucified Savior “the key that will unfasten the shackles of shame.”

The same voice that coaxed Adam and Eve out of hiding invites you to be found and known.  The heart of compassion that brought the woman of Mark 5 out of hiding and into healing is found in the God who calls us “Daughter.”  He invites those who are tired of bleeding into His family where what is hidden in the dark is brought into the healing Light and loses its power.

Joining God in His work on this earth, Christine found Mercy and began living out the Truth that God could weave her leadership skills and her outgoing personality and her passion for ministry into His implementation of the Great Commission.

This did not happen overnight.

Overcoming fear of rejection, embracing her God-given power of choice to “move past her past,” looking at her future through a “resurrection lens” instead of a “shame lens,” and taking the risk of intimacy felt like coming out of a wilderness life and learning to live in deliverance and freedom.

Skillfully straddling memoir and manifesto, Christine shares lessons learned in the cauldron of leadership and the sometimes painful realization that “wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds.”  In her personal journey from shattered to restored, God has set Christine’s course on the path of forgiveness and growing trust.  Working to rescue victims of trafficking and to help women “internalize a leadership identity and fulfill their purpose, passion, and potential” has been Christine’s way of living out her identity in Christ and of demonstrating to the world that none of the pain she endured in her past was wasted.  God has redeemed it all, and the message of Unashamed invites women to set their feet on Truth, “unwavering in purpose and unstoppable in [the journey] from shame-filled living to shame-free living.”

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This book was provided by Zondervan, through the BookLook Bloggers program, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Traffic-Proof Your Children

Stolen by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD and Cecil Murphey:  A Book Review

When my children were small, the traffic I worried about had four wheels and was engine-powered.  We could avoid the danger by staying away from the road.  Stolen will open the reader’s eyes to another danger which shares the same name, but with grave differences:   it comes looking for its prey,  and it is powered by money.  As a sex trafficking survivor, the author’s story is bleak and frightening, but not without hope.

The message for parents and teachers is this:   every child is a potential target for recruitment.  Risk is heightened in situations where there is: (1)an insecure home life; (2) instability of the parents’ marriage; (3) distractions which prevent appropriate supervision of a child’s schedule and companions; (4) anything that gets in the way of the child’s development of a healthy, God-oriented self-esteem and appreciation for his or her own uniqueness.  These are risk factors, but no child is safe from recruitment by traffickers, and this is true of boys as well as girls.  Some chronological looping in the telling of the tale does not detract from the crucial message the author shares.

Rosenblatt and Murphey do an incredible job of tracing the sadness of a lifestyle that is like quicksand.  The truth is that abuse numbs, but serial abuse deadens.  Over time, victims,  because of the drugs used to control them and the steep banks of their pit, seem to lose all traction.  After multiple incidents of being bought and sold, taken advantage of in every way, Katariina found freedom in Christ, but then married an abuser and spent over twenty years in his power.  Although plagued by poor advice from counselors (who incorrectly used the writings of the Apostle Paul as clubs for beating women over the head), her healing came through trust in God’s view of her as a valuable person.  Among the results of her educational and professional accomplishments are:  legislation in Florida that provides safe housing for children coming out of prostitution, a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing victims of human trafficking, and a heightened awareness of the need for resources and personnel directed toward fighting this modern day form of slavery.

Stolen is not a pleasant read, but it is an important book for:

Parents — Read and ask yourself, “Am I attempting to traffic-proof my children?”

Church leaders —  Read and evaluate, “What is my church doing to minister to individuals who are trapped in this lifestyle?”

Community leaders —  Read and investigate, “Are there locations in my community where traffickers are recruiting or operating?”

I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.