A message on Love for the Advent season. Written by RAHAB Ministries’ Akron Drop In Home Volunteer Coordinator, Stephanie Zufall.

I often hear the words the Lord spoke to the late prophet Bob Jones when he died and was raised from the dead. Before the Lord sent Bob back, He asked “Did you learn to love?”. When this echoes in my spirit my answer is sadly no, not because I believe I am mean or have some sort of misconception of myself but because Jesus is my standard. His love feels so impossible for my tiny little human self to express or to really live it out towards people, towards all people. This phrase rattled again when I was asked to share on love and even now, I am hesitant to touch such a weighty subject, especially when my consistent answer has been “No I have not learned to love.” 

When I think about the love of Jesus I am baffled at His unguarded stance. He knows our untrustworthy state and yet He offers Himself without condition. There is no withholding of love. He lives in the utter givenness of Himself to a Bride who may or may not ever receive His love and worse yet will mistreat Him. There is no greater love than one who lays down His life for His friends. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” The desire to love like Jesus calls me to lay down my life, regardless of another’s response, He is always calling me lower. The question “have I learned to love” only highlights my dependence on Him.   

It’s an impossible love, so how did Jesus do it? 

He received from His Father. Jesus’s number one boundary with mankind was “let me check in with my dad,” and “What’s my Father doing, I’ll do that.” He hid away in the secret place with Love Himself. 1 John 4:19 says “We love because He first loved us.” My only hope of loving as unconditionally, and with as much givenness as Jesus, is to simply receive His love. Surrender to Him is the hinge on which everything pivots one way or another, will I lay down and receive, or will I resist and do it myself? I’ve learned that I have no business offering another unconditional love unless I’ve met Him in the places I’ve deemed as conditional. If I haven’t met Love in the secret where shame mixes with pride, where I’ve stained His garments and spit in His face, in my own darkness and vulnerable place, and if I have a distorted view of His love for me then what do I actually have to offer another?  I can have sympathy, but can I withstand the suffering of another without squirming to get out of my own? We must receive this unconditional love if we intend to give it, and when we do, we cannot help but lay our lives down in utter givenness. Every time the Spirit of God stirs this simple question of learning to love, and I find myself responding again with a no, I often hear the gentle invite to go lower still. 

What does this have to do with the work we do here at Rahab? 

Everything! The stories are horrific, mostly unbearable, but He knows, and He sees. When the opportunity arises and we get to sit in our friends’ stories, where satan has held them captive and the darkness has prevailed, we don’t have to squirm in discomfort or scramble for scripture to fix it. We get to stare hell in the face with the confident assurance that Christ reigns even in the darkest place. And when the armor is put back on and rage begins to storm in regret of a vulnerable moment, because it will, we get to stay. Unguarded. When fists, spit, and curses are flying we don’t have to be scared. We get to be a different kind of love than every other experience they have had. We get to assure them, that just like Jesus, we aren’t budging in our love for them. We get to assure them there is nothing they can do to make us love them any less and there is nothing they can do to make us love them anymore. And when they can’t grasp why we’d stay when all they have done is push, we get to point them to the King who first loved us. What a privilege to pour back onto His Bride the unconditional love the Father has showered on us. It’s the simple Gospel, let us not complicate it. Receive the love of Jesus and love Him back. 

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it.  

John 1:5 

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Human Trafficking 101

Duration: 1 Hour

What it is: HT 101 is an essential teaching on the realities of human trafficking. In this course, we will illuminate the issues of sex trafficking, explain a generalized process for how someone becomes involved in trafficking, and provide practical insight of how trafficking takes place. We will also highlight what we know about traffickers, how someone becomes vulnerable to trafficking, and how demand for commercial sex fuels sex trafficking. By the end of this course, you will be able to articulate the needs and vulnerabilities of trafficking survivors and have knowledge of practical solutions

Who it is for: This course is offered to all members of the community who would like to understand human trafficking and is required for all of RAHAB’s volunteers and staff 

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