A message on Joy for the Advent season. Written by RAHAB Ministries Director of Operations, Becca Kahle.

What a fitting topic for the 2nd week of our devotional. Joy is often portrayed synonymous with the Christmas season. Sparkling lights, giggling children, perfectly wrapped presents under the tree, that is what I thought joy was…until I came to RAHAB.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 – 23.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. True joy, biblical joy, is only a product of the overflowing and presence of the Spirit of God. It is not influenced by circumstance or pain. It just is. The women and youth we serve here at RAHAB bear this fruit abundantly. And it is in their bearing that I have learned exactly what it means to count it all joy.

Human trafficking is a dark and difficult world. Our friends frequently go through unimaginable pain and abuse, sometimes daily, at the hands of another human being. The thought of that can be sickening, and then when you know them and you love them, it is gut wrenching. This devotional is not in ignorance of that, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Joy and pain, I’ve learned, can co-exist.

Joy, as a fruit of the Spirit, gets to co-exist with pain. Pain cannot contend, replace, or diminish joy that’s rooted in the Spirit of God. We see it every day in our Drop-In homes, on the streets, in jails, and even in the dressing rooms of strip clubs. Women, coming from difficult days and heavy hearts, walk through our doors and radiate the love & joy of the Father. They don’t put their pain away for the period of time they’re with us or shove it deep into themselves in an attempt to ignore it. They just are both.

The first time I did street outreach, I heard the story of a woman named Joy. Her story was a combination of pain, redemption, and tangible joy even amid difficulty. I left that interaction wondering how in the world she was capable of being so joyful. God used her to plant a seed in my heart that day about what His joy was truly about.

Months later, I overheard a different woman say, “I got my new apartment!” She was beaming with pride and joy like she had won the largest award of her life. In the very next sentence, she would describe that the apartment wasn’t quite perfect, after all it was missing some lights and key furniture pieces. But this had not stalled her for a moment. She was committed to feeling the joy of this new home and there was nothing, nor the lack of anything, that was going to keep her from showing it.

As I sat listening to her, scheming in my mind of where to find the missing pieces, she continued to express no desire in solving all of things I deemed as problems. She was content. She was full of joy.

Every time I get to sit in the space with these women, they make me laugh until I cry. I am so often greeted with hugs, and welcomes, despite the fact that to many of them, I am a perfect stranger. The joy inside of our small homes is palpable, because the Spirit of God lives within the women who walk into the room.

If you’re like me, and this is a new perspective for you, I welcome you into it. There are many, many lessons the women at RAHAB have taught me, but this is the one that sticks with me most.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

We rejoice in our sufferings. God tells us – you do not have to be happy to feel joy. You do not have to be removed from pain, abuse, trafficking, or any other weapon to experience joy. It is a free, overflowing gift from a loving God who wants to see you bear the good fruits of His Spirit.

If your Christmas does not include sparking lights or happy feelings, know that you are not alone in that space. But you are also not kept from joy. Every day at RAHAB, we get to share the joy of the Lord with people in the middle of hard circumstances. We don’t do this in spite of the hard, we do this because of it. Because God tells us, hope in our sufferings does not put us to shame.

So, at RAHAB, we rejoice. My prayer for every person reading this is that you will join in the rejoicing with us. God is good, and joy is always possible.

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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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