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Alumna of Tyndale Seminary and founder of Rahab Ministries

March 2010

Volume 2

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I want you to meet three mothers. Yoyo has two sons aged ten and fourteen.1 She works day and night and is exhausted most of the time.  I asked why she was working so hard and suggested that she consider taking a vacation. Yoyo replied that she could not stop because she needed to save for her son’s education and her retirement. Linda has been in Canada for almost a year now.  She works in a resort area but does not have time to do sightseeing because she is preparing for her boy’s arrival in Canada.  When I inquired if she needed anything, Linda indicated that all she needed was to find a good high school for her child. Maggie thanked God that she had a job and that she and her son were able stay in Canada without having to rely on anybody else. While giving thanks she paused, looked at me and asked, “Will God forgive me?”

From this account you can tell that Yoyo, Linda and Maggie are single parents struggling to make a living. We read their stories and can identify with their need to provide for their children and their retirement. They are driven by the same desires that compel many of us to work non-stop in order to conform to the social constructs of affluence propagated by the media and a consumer based economy.2 When we hear that Yoyo, Linda and Maggie are Chinese sex workers in Toronto we are tempted to think that we no longer have anything in common with them. They have chosen their trade and we have respectable jobs. The bible however, tells a different story. In scripture prostitution is a metaphor for unfaithfulness to God (Hos 4:10-18; 5:4,7), which encompasses the spectrum of chasing after the lusts of our hearts (Judg 15:39) and worshipping the idols of the culture around us (Deut 31:16) to entering into alliances with oppressive power structures in order to secure our future rather than trusting God to provide for us (Ezek 16:23-29; 23:1-49). While we may not sell our bodies, we often engage in metaphorical prostitution to satisfy our cravings for material security and gain.

My connection with these women started during a conversation with my hairstylist who told me about the circumstances and lives of the sex trade workers who frequent his salon. Many of the women are single moms who are poorly educated. Because they are the sole breadwinners of their families they view selling their bodies as their only means of earning a living.  The women are incredibly vulnerable and live in constant fear. They are concerned that their families will find out what they do and are afraid that police will raid their homes and arrest them. They are defenceless against robbers who consider them easy prey since they dare not call the police. Thugs beat and rape them without being brought to account. The women feel alone, unprotected, unloved and have no one to trust. They believe that money is their passport to friendship and a better life, yet they are often exploited as people befriend them in order to get access to their cash.

After the conversation with my hairstylist I was plagued by the women’s plight. My heart was drawn toward them and I experienced a strong prompting to help them. I remembered that Jesus befriended sinners and prostitutes and I recalled his love for them. I wanted the women know Jesus, but many Christians discouraged me from pursuing such a calling. They told me that these women were difficult and dangerous. God, however, made a way through CARE Inc. (Christian Aid and Relational Evangelism Inc.), which was willing to support the ministry. In September the Toronto Police  introduced me to several Chinese women who work in a massage parlour and I started visiting them. Over the past number of months I have spent time with the women, helping them with the tasks of living while praying for them and introducing Jesus to them whenever the opportunity arises. In this inconspicuous way Rahab ministries were born.

I chose the name Rahab because the Canaanite prostitute whose story is narrated in Joshua 2 and 6 embodies the hope that I have for these women. In the biblical account Rahab is confronted with a choice when the agents of two kingdoms knocked on her door. The spies sent by Joshua represented Yahweh who by his mighty deeds demonstrated his lordship over nature and human history. The king of Jericho epitomized Canaan and the established world order of which Canaan was a part including its religions, power systems and lifestyles. Rahab believed the accounts she had heard about Yahweh and responded by transferring her allegiance to him, making the choice to turn from her Canaanite identity, community, and ways of life to seek inclusion among the people of God (Stek, “Rahab of Canaan”, 48).This decision rendered her immediate existence in Jericho perilous but it ensured her and her family of future preservation (Rhee, “Chiasm and the Concept of Faith” , 38). For this reason the letter to the Hebrews includes Rahab among the exemplars of faith (Heb 11:31) and she is commended as righteous in the book of James (James 2:25-26). 

My mission at Rahab ministries is to be the agent who extends God’s offer of forgiveness and acceptance to the women who like Yoyo, Linda and Maggie are bound by the shame and guilt of a profession they chose in order to buy acceptance in a culture driven by the pursuit of money and material well being. My prayer is for a present day Rahab who will hear of the great deed God accomplished in the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ and that she too will place her trust in God and turn her back on the idols of money and luxury despite the hardship it might cause in the present. Like Rahab she will be saved from destruction while being assured of life in God’s presence, available through faith in the present and by sight after the return of Christ to those who remain faithful to him. It is my hope that this women will in turn become the messenger through whom God draws others from the sex trade to himself.


  • 1 The women’s names have been altered to protect their identity.
  • 2 In his book Child Prostitution in Thailand, Siroj Sorajjakool mentions that high school and college-aged women in Thailand voluntarily engage in prostitution in order to pursue their dreams, support their lifestyles and their families or fund their schooling. Sorajjakool ascribes these desires to social constructs propagated by the media. He also points out that as money became the measure of progress in Thailand, it grew to be the standard for morality and meaning. While he described the situation in Thailand the same social constructs are operating in Canada. Professing Christians who espouse consumerism unwittingly propagate these values and I find it difficult to convince the woman I am working with to turn their back on cultural ideals when the people who call themselves by God’s name do not demonstrate that they are willing to do so.

Bibliography

  • Beardsley, L. “Child Prostitution in Thailand: Listening to Rahab.” Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling 58 (2004): 280 -281.
  • Campbell, K. “Rahab’s covenant : a short note on Joshua 2:9-21.” Vetus Testamentum 22 (1972): 243-490.
  • Rhee, V. “Chiasm and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 11.” Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (1998): 327-345.
  • Sorajjakool, S. Child Prostitution in Thailand: Listening to Rahab. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press Inc., 2003.
  • Stek, J. “Rahab of Canaan and Israel: The Meaning of Joshua 2.” Calvin Theological Journal 37 (2002): 28-48.

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