On Friday’s Facebook Live, I shared about a time a number of years ago when I began one day by asking God for a sign of hope. As I wrestled with the crushing weight of injustice, I prayed … and “It is finished” rang through my soul.  

Soon after I started my morning commute, I spotted a rainbow that appeared to rise up out of a cemetery. A sign of God’s promise. 

And yet, a cemetery didn’t seem very hopeful. 

Then those words came back to me: It is finished. And I remembered …

It was when it seemed most hopeless that Christ rose again. Life came from death.  

Although death dominates the news cycle, and so many people fear for their own lives or those closest to them, I have hope. 

In my most recent RAHAB blog post, I explained my hope that with church buildings empty as a tomb, the Body of Christ would rise for Easter.  

I have hope, and I pray, that Love and Truth will indwell each of us to such a degree that they spill out onto neighbors who have previously gone unseen — bringing life and setting people in need free, both physically and spiritually.

I hope this is your prayer as well. God bless you and yours.

In this COVID-19 crisis, RAHAB’s outreach teams do not rest. We still have boots on the ground — we’re still sharing tangible hope with women and children in need.

We have the joy and privilege of providing groceries and hot meals to homes and people on the streets. With each bag of food, we include handwritten messages that remind people about God’s love and that we care … we are speaking Truth and Love to the least of these!

Since March 16 and with your generosity, we’ve been able to provide groceries or meals to 862 people! What a blessing!

Your support is making an impact throughout our community. Thank you!

Debbie Lingenhoel, RAHAB’s Director of Outreach, has taken up journaling …

And today you get a glimpse of the one-on-one, God-ordained interactions she gets to have with women around Canton and Akron … it’s YOUR support in action!

Here are just a few of her most recent entries:

3.16.20 — with Angel and Marie

We passed a woman on the street who had just pulled into her driveway. She was having a conversation with a man in her yard — their body language was tense and you could tell something was wrong. We pulled up to the house, introduced ourselves as being from RAHAB Ministries, and that we were out and about checking on people. 

I made the comment that we had some food. The woman immediately looked at me and said, “You are from God! I just left the welfare office and it was closed. I just said to him [pointing at the man] that I didn’t know what we were going to do. We don’t have much food, and here you come to my house with food! This is an answer to prayer!” 

When we shared that we also had cookies and some games and books for her children, the emotional atmosphere shifted and I got to see a smile on her face, and her children’s too. Many Thank yous and God bless yous were exchanged. We will go back next week and check on them.

3.23.20 —

Our day started with visiting one of the ladies we met during a recent outreach in Tallmadge. She’s known about RAHAB for a while and has been to the Drop-In Center a few times. 

After a series of overdoses, she quit the clubs in Tallmadge … but then we connected with her in Barberton. On her FIRST NIGHT working at a strip club there, our RAHAB team walked in. Later that night she called to tell me “You guys are everywhere!” … to which I replied, “Jesus is chasing you down. See how much He loves you? He won’t let you get away.”

Today marks her 58th day of sobriety, and I am so proud of her. She has a long road ahead of her as she waits to get into Touchstone, but she is determined. We took her some food — but more importantly we took some love and hope to her. We got to pray with her and speak words of life and truth over her. She is grateful she has a RAHAB family “who won’t give up on me, no matter what.”

3.26.20 —

Today we met some folks who live on 5th Street. Paula* was sitting on her front porch with her grandson — he’s about 18 months old. Her daughter, who also lives with Paula, is still struggling to work part-time. When we pulled up to talk to Paula and asked her if we could give her some groceries, her response was “heavens, yes!”  

She needed to go to the store but could not 1) because of her grandson, but also 2) because of her age (74). As she put it, “I shouldn’t be out in all that mess.” We were able to give her some much-needed milk and other items … and got to pray a blessing on their home!

4.3.20 — Jesus provided, with 3 pennies left…

Two people gave me a total of $60 cash today. They said to “use it for the people today.” I put in my pocket, and we went out to deliver food. We had two boxes to give away, and Angel and I were praying about where it should go. 

That’s when we saw a lady helping her elderly mom into the car. We pulled up and introduced ourselves. She told us, “My daughter could really use some help. She lives here (projects), and I just brought her home from the hospital. She just had a baby and she’s got 3 other kids.” 

I followed her to her daughter’s door, where she introduced us. The daughter looked overwhelmed and said: “I just got home from the hospital. I don’t have any food for these three boys and only a little bit of formula, I really do need help…” 

We gave her the boxes that we had with us and told her we would be back soon. Angel and I returned to the Matthews House where Kellie, after hearing what was going on, began packing up a big box of fresh food. We also grabbed some games, books, and toys for the boys, as well as some newborn girl clothes for the baby. 

On the way back to her house, we stopped at the store to buy formula. When the clerk rang up the cost of the formula, it came to $59.97, so I took out the $60 handed to me earlier that day and purchased the formula that Jesus wanted to provide for this new friend — and had three pennies left.

*Names changed for protection/anonymity

“I wouldn’t call Luke 5:5 my life verse, but it is the verse that led me to work for RAHAB,” Debbie Lingenhoel says.

God brought Debbie to us in 2018 — right around the time we launched our juvenile safe home, Rebecca’s Place — and her impact on women, children, and families is undeniable.

Here’s a bit about her, in her own words:

[Luke 5:5] records Peter’s response to Jesus’ request to do something a little crazy — something that didn’t make sense. Little did Peter know that this wasn’t the last crazy thing Jesus would ask him to do! 

The verse reads, “Because you say so, I will…” In this moment, nothing Jesus was asking Peter to do made sense, but Peter knew enough to trust the One who was doing the asking. 

My journey to RAHAB weaves itself through several years of volunteering — first with the minors teaching self-defense, and then with the strip club ministry. In the fall of 2018, God began to call me away from 25 years of a career in teaching and toward RAHAB. I loved my students and the place I was working; in fact, my plan was to retire from there. But then Jesus called me to something different — something a little crazy.

As Director of Outreach, I get the privilege of orchestrating the army of amazing volunteers who consistently display the love and grace of Jesus to women who are often in a very vulnerable place in life. Our teams go into strip clubs, out on the streets, and anywhere else words of grace and hope need to be spoken.  

There are so many things I love about my job, but by far the best is when I have connected, eye-to-eye, with a new RAHAB friend. The look says it all: “You see me, and I see you, and I know that you really care.” 

In those moments, I am thankful for the honor of this calling.

As we celebrate all the gifts Debbie brings to RAHAB and to the women she serves so well … we also celebrate the one-year anniversary of Rebecca’s Place, where girls are healing and given hope for the future (check out the next article for more!).

Hope. It’s a profound word.  It is who we are: Reaching Above Hopelessness and Brokenness 

Hope is what Rebecca’s Place is all about. We opened this juvenile safe house in 2018, licensed by the State of Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services, and named it after RAHAB Founder, Becky Moreland.

As far as we know, the residential home — not at all a “facility” — is the only one of its kind in the country, accepting child victims of trafficking ages 11 to 17 who previously would have fallen through the cracks.  More than a place to escape their traffickers’ networks, Rebecca’s Place offers intense trauma therapies, skill building, and case management to equip survivors to become thrivers and all they were created to be.

We provide mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual healing to young girls through trauma-informed care in a beautiful, welcoming environment.

  • Construction of the house itself was fully funded through the efforts of private supporters, foundations, and houses of worship who put faith into action. 
  • Victim of Crime Assistance funds awarded through Ohio’s Attorney General enabled us to put the staff in place to turn the house into a home.  

Rebecca’s Place is licensed to care for 14 girls. Because of a gap in funding and the impact of COVID-19, we have held to only serving five girls at a time for a while.  Soon, as a result of new private donations and houses of worship who have seen and responded to this need, that number will rise to eight girls.  

That is still six six fewer girls than the state says we can serve in this house.

So while we have 14 beds, all decorated with beautiful quilts and artwork, we are operating at less than our potential. Not only do we have a waiting list for children needing help … but we have also had to turn dozens of girls away to date. 

As we celebrate together the first anniversary of the opening of Rebecca’s Place, please join us to help make this safe home everything it was designed to be