On a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast, I chatted with Rachelle Starr about how to determine God’s calling on your life and walk in outrageous obedience. Rachelle was just 23 years old when God revealed His purpose for her life unexpectedly. If you missed her inspiring story, listen here: God’s Calling On Your Life: Walking In Outrageous Obedience – Episode 222. In today’s post, she shares how she and a group of women serve faithfully with a long-term commitment, letting go of expectations and embracing women with unconditional love, just as God loves us. You can be faithful in ministry because the One who calls us is faithful.
Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!
(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
Faithful Because HE is Faithful
By Rachelle Starr
The ﬁrst time I laid eyes on Cara she was smoking one of those long cigarettes you see in old-time movies and staring daggers at me. I smiled and asked her if she was hungry and if I could ﬁx her a plate of food. She didn’t respond, just blew smoke in my face, and walked away. Each week we would greet Cara with a smile, and each week she would glare and roll her eyes.
Since beginning Scarlet Hope ministry more than 15 years ago, to share the hope and love of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry, a team of women goes to the strip club every week, rain or shine. We share home cooked meals with the women working there, and by most of the women, we are greeted warmly with hugs and exclamations of: “the Church Ladies are here!” For hours at a time, we sit with the women as they eat dinner, learning about their families, their childhoods, and their dreams for the future. As we build trust with the women, we also seek opportunities to pray with or for them, as well as opportunities to share the gospel.
Of course, not everyone in the clubs likes us. We learned later that Cara felt like we were a distraction from her making money, and she couldn’t understand why we always seemed happy. Didn’t we get the point? She didn’t like us! Eventually, as often happens, we stopped seeing Cara. We assumed she’d moved on, either to a different club or maybe even a different job. But something unexpected happened a couple of years later.
One day a woman came into our resource center and asked to speak to me. I came into the lobby and there was Cara. I recognized her immediately. But this time, she wasn’t glaring at me. In fact, she was smiling! I brought her into my ofﬁce, and she proceeded to tell me her story of the past few years.
She told me a heartbreaking story ﬁlled with abusive relationships, drug addiction, and hitting rock bottom. This had led her, miraculously, to the doors of a church on a Sunday morning. During the service, she sang unfamiliar songs about God’s love and heard a message about a Savior who had died for sinners like her. That morning, Cara gave her life to the Lord, and everything began to change.
As God began to heal her past and repair her present, Cara remembered the Church Ladies she encountered in the club. Sitting there in my ofﬁce, Cara told me, “I just had to come and tell you I’m sorry for being so mean. Now I understand why you guys always seemed happy. Now I understand how God’s love changes everything!”
When I train volunteers to go into strip clubs, one of the ﬁrst things I teach them is that this kind of ministry is hard, laborious, and at times, heartbreaking. It’s not my wish to scare volunteers away, but I do want them to begin this journey with realistic expectations. I always tell them: “If you’re looking for a service project to check off your to-do list, this isn’t the ministry for you.”
Why do I say this?
I say it because of women like Cara. God was writing Cara’s story long before Scarlet Hope entered her club, and he continued writing her story after she left. Scarlet Hope is solely and exclusively relational. Our mission isn’t to rescue women from the industry, educate women on better ways to make money, or to legislate local prostitution laws. Instead, we share the hope and love of Jesus by patiently, consistently, and committedly building trust and relationships with the women.
Whether you’re ministering to the marginalized, caring for your aging parents, teaching Sunday school to preschoolers, or simply striving to be a light in your corporate job every day, I believe this is the approach we must all take. If we are going to model our lives after Jesus’, our daily ministries must be filled with long dinner conversations, eye contact, ups and downs, and genuine intimacy. This kind of relational ministry is hard and painstaking, but it is also the kind of ministry God will equip us for.
Faithful for the Long Haul
As I look at my own spiritual journey—all the lessons God has taught me over the years, all the times I had to learn the hard way—I am incredibly thankful that his love and faithfulness didn’t have an expiration date. God has always been patient with me, wooing me with his love, reminding me of his faithfulness even when I am not. So, we too remain faithful to the women in the sex industry. We humbly acknowledge that while we don’t have the full picture of each woman’s life, God has numbered each of her days and knows every hair on her head. Whether God allows us to be a part of her spiritual journey from beginning to end or for a moment, we are patient and steadfast, just as our Heavenly Father is patient and steadfast with us.
How often do we write people off? The guy at work who’s on his third marriage. The teenager with all the piercings who constantly skips school. The woman in the club who never wants to talk. While God’s love is constant and steadfast, our love is conditional and fickle. Too often, we make assumptions about the people around us. What would happen if we got rid of our expectations and instead focused on faithfully loving the people around us? What if there was no timeline, but our message was simply, “I love you because I have been perfectly and faithfully loved”? We can all practice this on a regular basis, going about our daily lives knowing that the waitress who pours our coffee, the man in the cubicle beside us, our next-door neighbor—all of them—were created by God, and he is writing each of their stories.
Faithful Regardless of the Outcome
The question I get the most when I tell people what I do is Why do the clubs let you in? Admittedly, there are several answers to this question, but the main one is simply by the power and miraculous work of God. He is the gatekeeper, and he is the one who gives us access inside the clubs. When we meet with the club owners and managers, we share that Scarlet Hope’s only purpose in entering the clubs is to share God’s love by doing something kind and loving for the women there. We do not enter the club secretly or with a hidden agenda. We simply desire to do what we believe Jesus would do.
Luke 5:30-32 says, “And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”
Faithfully loving those around you regardless of the outcome is freeing. If we believe we are responsible for convincing someone to forsake the world and turn to Jesus, we are wasting our time. We could never do this on our own. When we surrender the outcome to the Lord, trust the work of the Holy Spirit, and love those around us, the pressure is off. Yes, we still feel a burden for the lost and sadness when those around us reject the gospel, yet our message remains the same: I love you no matter what.
Though club management may be skeptical of us at ﬁrst, they quickly realize that we really mean what we say. We will serve and love the women even if they don’t stop doing drugs. Even if they continue working in the industry. Even if they glare at us from the end of their long cigarettes every week.
Faithful Because He is Faithful
There is no doubt about it: relational ministry can be heartbreaking. Relationships are messy. Sometimes I invest my whole heart into someone, and they still turn their back on Jesus. When I sit with a woman and hear her story, when I meet her children and invite her into my home, I am investing a lot more than a couple of hours to a service project. We can do hard, messy, relational ministry because our God will equip us to do it. We can be faithful to what he has called us to because he is faithful. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
I find it to be such a glorious mystery when I think about what God commands of us—how he calls us to the difficult, the impossible, and the heartbreaking in ministry. He certainly doesn’t need us, yet he invites us to participate with him. Why? Because he loves us, and he wants what is best for us. It is for our joy that we are brought to the end of ourselves so that we can fully rely on the Lord’s strength in relationship with one another. It is for our eternal good that we would forsake the things of this earth and instead set our eyes on the Kingdom.
Ministry that is in it for the long haul and that will remain committed regardless of the outcome is only possible when you have unfettered access to true hope and love, and we have that through relationship with and obedience to Jesus Christ.
Knowing and walking with God is such a fantastic and mysterious journey. Not only does he rescue us from sin and transform us from the inside out, but then he welcomes us to participate with him in this Kingdom work. He even gives us everything we need to do it. God knows our own love has limits, our passions wane, and our attentions are easily distracted; so, he calls us to do this work not with our own strength but with his. We can be faithful in ministry—no matter how hard—because the One who calls us is faithful.
About Rachelle Starr
Rachelle Starr is the author of Outrageous Obedience (Bethany House, 2022). She is the founder and president of Scarlet Hope, a national nonprofit ministry that share the hope and love of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and two sons. You can find out more at scarlethope.org and rachellestarr.co.
Connect with Rachelle Star:
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Rachelle is giving away a free copy of her book, Outrageous Obedience.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about the faithfulness of our God and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of her book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, July 24, 2023. Continental United States only.