Comforting Words: Daughters of Rahab

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Daughters of Rahab

A dear friend of mine gave me a small book some time ago. He said he wanted me to have this book after listening to some of my thoughts about ministry and the vision that I hold for myself in ministry. Though there are differences between the author’s context and mine, this 100-page book had a profound effect on me, as the author, Henri J. M. Nouwen, seemed to be speaking directly to me.

A major point in my spiritual growth came, surprisingly enough, with the words of a television evangelist who said, “Let your mess be your message!” As in the case of Nouwen, it felt as if she, Joyce Meyers, was also speaking directly to me. The commonality between these two very different people in their ministries is that they have “bumped into life” a few times and instead of shriveling up and dying, they made their mess into messages and have become Wounded Healers.

This week, I met another Wounded Healer. Her name eludes me now but her message, her strength and her courage will never leave my mind. She is a 21st century Daughter of Rahab and I invite you to share some of the insight from her story, her pain and the reality that many women (and children) across the world are living. Read the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart and then lend a hand, a dollar (or more) and a prayer to these your sisters.


WORDS FROM SCRIPTURES

From Judeo-Christianity:

James 2:25

“Was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?”


Genesis 34: 31

“But they said, ‘Should our sister be treated like a whore?’”


From Siecho-no-le:

Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines:

“When God appears, there is goodness, there is justice, there is benevolence, harmony comes of itself, all creatures find their places, and there is no conflict, no preying on each other, no disease, no suffering, no poverty.”



(Excerpt from Siecho-no-le taken from World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology (St. Paul: Paragon House, 1995) 792


WORDS OF COMFORT

Again, in the small prints of the Edmonton Journal this week, I came across a most astounding story. Headlined “German law pushes unemployed women into legalized sex trade,” the story came not more than a week after I had written about the objectification of women and the trafficking of women and children.

Written by a reporter for “The Sunday Telegraph” the story is material for both anger and pain. As a woman, it is extremely painful to read confirmation that people in high places, educated people and worse yet people in governments are still, to this day, oblivious to the effects of macro-economic policies on women. The feminization of poverty is a ‘growing business’ in not only so-called developing countries but, as this story shows, in the developed, industrialized nations such as Germany.

Still reeling from the impact of the story, I continued preparations for an upcoming ‘Lunchtime Talk’ at my college. Fate would have it that the committee that I so happen to chair had months ago planned to host the Executive Director of a local organization at our consciousness-raising event for future leaders of ministries and other interested persons.

Over the years, I have come to realize that fate never travels alone and this day was to be no different. Synchronicity came along and brought J. with her (yes, I remembered the name, but as I do not have permission to publicize her name, I will only use her first initial). So on this rather pleasant wintry day in Alberta, theological students gathered to hear from Kate Quinn, Executive Director of The Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAFFE). Although I had been told by Kate that she would try to bring someone with more direct experience there was no confirmation of that, so none of us were prepared for the myth-shattering personality named J.

Many of us have the notion that women in prostitution are in the business as a career choice. At the other end of the pole are those who will argue that prostitution is not only humanity’s oldest profession but also a ‘job’ and therefore should be respected and sex workers, as they prefer to be called, should enjoy the benefits of any other professional.

The prostitutes that I have had personal contact with, including J., tell a different tale. Their story is one of poverty, abuse and rejection. J. spoke of knowing three generations of women (mother, daughter, and granddaughter) prostituting themselves right now on the streets of Edmonton. J. herself represents the second generation of her family. She related her personal history of parental abuse, poverty and being sexually abused at the age of twelve – the year in which she ‘turned her first trick’.

As we listened to J., the emotions in the small lounge ran the gamut of anger, pain and laughter. She is a natural speaker, telling her ‘mess’ and imparting a powerful message to all of us living in our self-righteous kingdoms. It is hard to imagine that anyone could have left that room not feeling like Dinah’s brothers, wondering what right does anyone have to treat our sisters as whores (Gen.34: 1- 31). The truth is, there were some that did leave the lounge that afternoon totally unaffected by the reality of this modern day Rahab.

The situation is Germany is international proof of this aloofness to the suffering of women. One participant in that lunchtime social justice series made mentioned of this sad fact. An older professional lady, one who is a quiet presence on the campus shared her reaction to the news report about women being forced into prostitution by the German government.

More important for this lady was the fact that this could happen anywhere in the world, including a progressive country such as Canada. It could happen here because we have become so complacent in our democracy, self-righteous in our faith and distant to the "preying on others" to the point of social and moral blindness to ensuring justice for all in all spheres of life.

Kate Quinn, "an angel among us" as J. described her, reinforced this point. She told the gathering that the establishment of PAFFE came about when the community in which she lived could no longer ignore what was taking place around them. She said that the community finally woke up when they realized that not only tricks were being turned on their doorsteps, but also their prep school daughters could not leave their homes for school without being solicited.

J. is a living testament to the blessings being in service for each other brings. She had nothing but gratitude to and praises for PAFFE and the people who serve the organization. The counselling and employment support she has received from this wonderful group of people have helped her to be off drugs for seven years now and gainfully employed for four. Most of us were simultaneously laughing and crying when she told us of receiving a food basket valued at $40.00, after contributing $20.00 of her own, which included fruits and vegetables – products she had never eaten in her life.

Nowhere in J.s’ story did I hear her regretting learning how to cook cauliflower, being able to buy a computer for her children’s use with matching funds from PAFFE or being able to walk the streets with PAFFE to get her sisters off. Instead, she was urging each of us to do whatever we can to end the cycle of poverty and abuse which keep women on the streets.

A cycle, as seen in the German story, which continues everywhere. It continues in cities like Edmonton and in small villages. Since writing the piece of the pornography and the sex trade, I have received e-mail messages about girls being put up for sale in Westmoreland in Jamaica every Thursday. The government is supposedly caught with its pants down – figuratively and I would venture to say literally.

J. and all the women who, by the grace of God, have managed to escape the clutches of prostitution, are truly daughters of Rahab. These women are following the footsteps of the foremother and through their faith and their works are giving safe passage to the messengers of hope.

J. is a kindred spirit and a Wounded Healer who, with the help of PAFFE, is healing the wounds of countless sisters on the streets of Edmonton. She is also healing the wounds that puffed up self-righteousness has inflicted on those of us who turn a blind eye - one speech at a time.



WORDS FROM THE HEART


From this moment, I choose to be all that my heart holds dear.
Loving, committed, faithful, harmonious and peaceful.
I have long desired these qualities for all my relationships
However, until today, they have eluded me.

I have come to know that to have is to be.
So today, I courageously erase all that bars my true unfolding.
My thoughts are pure, my desires pristine
Witnessing to the glory of You in me.

This is the moment of change.
Now is my New Year, the beginning of a new being.
No longer do I need to feel guilt or shame
About who I am and where I have been.

Thank you God for presence that comforts.
Moreover, for your love that guides me into each tomorrow.
Courageously, I grow forward
Speaking my truth



Blessings, until next week.




1 Comments:

Blogger Tymofiy the Man said...

Claudette,
Keep on speaking the truth for women who are to be treated equally, fully and unequivocally.
Every woman who is freed from the bondage of drugs, prostitution, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of men will create beauty, power, love and wonder in the lives of all people around her.
Be free. Create freedom to ensure your freedom is real and filled with vitality.

Thu Oct 06, 01:49:00 AM MDT  

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