Archive for January, 2013

Ten Ways to Love


Ten Ways to Love

Here’s a little Valentine’s Day inspiration for you all. Continue to seek out new ways to “love one another” and remember the words of C.S. Lewis, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”

Love in Christ,

Rachel Joy


Only In the Darkness…

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day on monday, I designed these quotes of his for a display. These are some of my favorites. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone!mlkquote2   mlkquote4 mlkquote5mlkquote3

Into Arabia


For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. (Galations 1:13-18, emphasis added)

It is interesting to note that, after his conversion, Paul did not immediately begin his ministry. After experiencing the Lord in such a mighty way, one would expect Paul to immediately begin to preach the gospel. Instead, he goes away into Arabia – the desert!

Wait – this sounds familiar! Didn’t Moses spend 4o years in the desert before helping Israel? John the Baptist spent years in the desert, and Jesus was even tempted and tried for 40 days in the desert.

Perhaps all this time in the desert was meant as a time of preparation. This time where seemingly nothing was happening in Paul’s life was an immensely important time in Paul’s ministry. This was a time of abiding, of simply BEing with God, rather than DOing. I’m sure Paul felt tremendously weak in the desert. After years of being zealous for what he thought was right, years of persecuting the church and trying to keep the law, Paul spent three years in the desert with God. He’d had a conversion experience, but he was still a baby in his faith. The author of a majority of the New Testament epistles needed time to unlearn the “traditions of his fathers” and learn to see the world through new eyes. He needed to be transformed and changed by God. It was in the desert that he learned how incredibly weak he was as a man, but it was during this time that he saw a glimpse of Christ’s power in his weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I hope and pray that you will be encouraged when it feels like you’re in a desert time in your life. Those times are not meaningless nor unfruitful. God is doing a work IN you! Abide in Christ during those times. Continue to cry out to Him in prayer and seek his face through reading His Word and spending time with other believers.

May God be with you as you journey into Arabia.



This is just a vision. A vision stirred by the love in our hearts for the fatherless and motherless; for those who do not have a roof over their heads or a family to call their own; for the street kids in Bolivia, among other places, who sniff glue to cope with life; for the children at risk of exploitation and for those already exploited—whether it be child labor, child trafficking, physical abuse, or other forms; and even for those children who are recruited to exploit other children. This is a vision that one day—hopefully soon, we can actually do something to help these children, to be vessels of protection and refuge for them, sharing the love of Christ with them, and helping them experience the joy that could only come from knowing Christ. Click here to read more about this vision!


Slave Across The StreetThe daughter of an executive, Theresa was used to moving every couple years. So when she moved to a Detroit suburb, it was nothing new. Fifteen years old and in a new community, she did what any teenager would do – she sought after acceptance and new friendships in school. Shortly after moving, she developed a crush on a boy. A good Catholic girl, Theresa was not allowed to date until she was 16, so she spent a lot of time just talking with him. Then one day, everything changed.

Two years of sexual slavery, gang rapes, manipulation, and blackmailing would begin by a simple infatuation with a teenage boy. One day, he offered to give Theresa a ride home from school. She agreed to ride with him, thrilled with the prospect of being able to spend a little bit of time with him. But he started driving in another direction. He said he needed something from his house and invited her in. He told her how much he liked her and started kissing her. Each moment during this interaction, little red flags popped up in Theresa’s head, but she ignored them believing everyone to essentially be good. She tried to stop things from progressing, but she ended up being drugged and raped by this boy. She had been a virgin.

While this was happening, two of his male relatives that were involved in a large underground criminal ring had taken pictures. They used these pictures to blackmail Theresa into “working for them”, threatening to show her dad’s boss (which would result in her dad losing his job) and passing them around school (which would tarnish her reputation). The threats became worse as she became more involved: dead animals would appear in her mailbox; they would threaten to harm her family; at school, his family members would verbally assault her and teachers turned their heads. They were able to track her every movement, even calling her at a home she was babysitting at. For two years this went on. Unsuspected by her busy parents, she would sneak out at night and be taken to different houses at unknown locations, forced to have sex with hundreds of men. One night, she was kidnapped and taken to a dirty motel in downtown Detroit and given as a ‘payment for a job well done’ to two dozen men to do as they pleased with her.

This horror only ended when her father was given another promotion and the family moved. But the horror has not really ended. Theresa still suffers from the psychological, physical, and mental abuse that she endured as a child. And before she left, the men who had so brutally enslaved her had already groomed another girl to take her place.

Theresa Flores went on to attend college and is now a licensed social worker who is dedicated to educating others about sex trafficking. Besides writing this book, she recently founded Gracehaven House, a group home for girls under the age of 18 who are victims and survivors of commercial sex exploitation, and she has shared her story and speaks on sex trafficking frequently. Visit her website here.

I urge you to read this book. It’s available on, at Barnes and Noble and most bookstores. Read it and pass it on to as many people as you can. It is gripping, horrifying, heartbreaking, yet gives a sense of hope. For those who believe sex trafficking is not an issue in the USA, this book will open your eyes to the reality that this is a global issue. It can happen to anyone, whether raised in the city or the country, from a stable or unstable home, wealthy or poor. Theresa talks about this reality, as well as some of the warning signs of exploitation and some of the qualities that traffickers look for.

To end, I quote the end of Theresa Flores’ testimony. You can read the full testimony here.

“As a social worker, I can tell you, it will cost our state far more if we don’t do anything about this now. The child who is tricked by an older boyfriend suddenly turns into her pimp. He gets her addicted to drugs to control her. She later has a child and he can control her even more. Pretty soon she isn’t able to make the money she once did and he turns her loose. All she knows by then is how to sell her for sex and she is addicted to drugs. She can’t hold a job. Hasn’t finished high school. She goes on public assistance. Children services take her children away because she can’t parent well. She doesn’t have medical insurance and goes to the ER frequently, because she is very ill from all the abuse that her body endured. She is arrested frequently for things like solicitation, drugs and theft. In and out of the court system. Perhaps she is lucky and goes through drug rehab at some point.

It’s a vicious cycle. One that doesn’t have a happy ending.

When my two teenage daughters asked me why I do this, why I went public and share my story and why I am trying to open Gracehaven, I told them it was for THEM. Because if this ever happened to them, I would want a law behind me. I would want every tool possible available to me to fight back. That it’s important to teach others that this is happening, to prevent it from happening to others, to reach out and rescue those that are going through this and to help turn victims into survivors and rehabilitate and heal.”


“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph 5:11).

Expose. Make known. Convince.

The works of darkness are not to be ignored among God’s holy people.

This means prayer, honesty, open eyes, discernment. It means having clear boundaries in my interactions. It means being clear, raw and honest, persistent, and speaking God’s truths consistently. It means not only speaking, but living out integrity. It means being honest about my failings, but remembering God’s victory through it all.

Here I am, Lord – willing and ready to share your truth. How do I convince someone they are living in the midst of deep darkness when they still believe they are living in the light? How do I speak when my voice is one that is not wanted to be heard?

Speak anyway. It is I who will speak through you. My Spirit will convince them of these things… in My time. It is not up to you to rescue anyone out of the darkness. That is My job. I AM – who created the universe, who knows all and sees all. Give them up to My care. Be patient, My child. And be assured that I have made known to them the truth. Their hardness of hearts is preventing them from surrendering to My truth right now, but My Spirit is at work still. So, speak anyway. I will give you My words. I will expose you in order to expose them. Do not be afraid of exposure. From the darkness and ashes of your former life, I have brought forth a blooming flower, fragrant with the light of new life. You are a child of the light. Speak anyway.



Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:1-14)

Does the Caterpillar Know?


Does the caterpillar know

When she must build a cocoon?

Does she know that she

Will one day be transformed?


Even if she does not know

Her instinct tells her what to do:

Build this cage to protect yourself

It’ll make you beautiful.


This time in a caterpillar’s life

Is just seen as a stage

Something she must go through

So that life may go on.


There are times in our lives

Where walls must be built

To protect who we are already

And to give us a safe place to grow.


Do not be discouraged

When you feel trapped or held back.

God has a purpose for this time

You’ll understand when you’re through.


From my first trip to Peru in 2009, my life has been an almost constant adventure. Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Kansas, Montana, Minnesota, California, Nevada, Colorado… Traveling and experiencing new things is a passion of mine, so having a full time corporate job in Grand Rapids, MI doesn’t quite match up to my dreams. But, besides the fact that having this job is a necessary step to start paying off my loans, God has been using this time to begin building walls around me – walls of protection and growth. Walls that will allow me to be transformed and bring clarity to what God has for me, and who I am in Christ. I wrote this poem a few weeks ago while at work, and I think I said it perfectly. I’ll understand this time when I’m through.