“I desperately wanted to love people with the same sacrificial kindness and love with which Jesus first loved me.” —Rachelle Starr.
I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE; I HAVE DRAWN YOU WITH UNFAILING KINDNESS. — JEREMIAH 31:3b
In 2006, Rachelle Starr felt God leading her to share his love and kindness with the women working at the local strip club she drove past every day. At first, she had no idea where to begin. But after 18 months of prayer and fasting, she asked the owner of the club if she could bring the women a meal. It was a small thing, just a simple meal—an ordinary, tangible expression of God’s love for the women in that club. Here’s what Rachelle says about that experience:
“Through the middle of that week, Sarah and I planned the meal we would take on Thursday. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I’m an Italian girl who learned to cook from Mom and Nonna back in New York, so I baked a hearty, million-dollar spaghetti filled with mozzarella, meat, sausage, and marinara. Sarah prepared a salad, and together we baked delicious garlic bread, cookies, and brownies.
We arrived back at the club that Thursday at 8:30 p.m.—just as promised—and carried in all the food with the serving ware. We asked where to set it up. The DJ, a guy named Jimmy, heard we were coming, so he was ready with a white pop-up table right in front of his booth. I was so relieved Alan hadn’t forgotten about us.
As we put out the spread, all eyes in the room were on us. Sarah stayed at the table, and I walked around to some of the women who were sitting by themselves, trying to invite them to have dinner.
The first woman looked at me and said flatly, “No, thanks. I already ate.”
A second woman asked, “How much does it cost?”
“Nothing,” I responded. “It’s free.”
She tentatively made her way over to the table, and we began to make her a plate. Then I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Rachelle, and this is Sarah. What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you.” She smiled. “I’m Ashley. So, what catering business are y’all from?” She had to be thinking, What kind of catering business gives away free meals in a strip club?
I chuckled a little. “We aren’t from a catering company.” I said a quick prayer before explaining, “We’re bringing food because Jesus loves you, and he wanted us to tell you that tonight.”
“Well, no one has ever done that before,” said Ashley, puzzled. She couldn’t believe someone would offer her food for free and, I think, couldn’t figure out what Jesus had to do with it.
Only one woman ate. The others stared at us, wondering why we were really there. It felt a little awkward—okay, it felt a lot awkward. It wasn’t what we had hoped for, but it was okay. If you try something great for God, it might start small, and that’s okay…
As we showed up, week after week, bringing meals and compassionate listening ears, we earned their trust. And one by one we got to know the women. We heard about their lives—their kids and hobbies. And about the way they viewed Christians before we walked in. Jesus taught us—little by little, moment by moment—to listen to them and to his Spirit. As we obeyed his promptings, he did the rest. He’d show up time and time again, giving us words to say.
Sometimes people in the church can think the way Jesus loved—the way he moved toward sinners and touched the despised—is the kind of ministry meant for someone else. We rejoice in what Jesus did for us, but we don’t see how he calls us to do the same. Shane Claiborne describes it this way:
We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.
Could you go back and read that quote one more time?
How does it make you feel? Guilty? Inspired?
I read that quote from Claiborne before God called me to reach out to women in the adult entertainment industry; it had a profound impact on my life. I didn’t want to think that what Jesus said or did was for someone else. The truth is that what Jesus has done for us as sinners should move us to do the same for sinners. We move toward them, touch them, and meet their needs.
I read that quote and it broke me. It convicted me out of my complacency. I desperately wanted to love people with the same sacrificial kindness and love with which Jesus first loved me.”
And that is exactly what Rachelle did. She expressed the kindness and the love of Jesus to the women she was called to love. She started living out the verse we’re memorizing in a real and tangible way. It started humbly, with a simple meal and the offer of a seat at God’s table. But over the years, that table has grown. Her ministry, Scarlet Hope, continues to be the tangible expression of God’s unfailing kindness and love to women caught in the adult entertainment industry. They now have chapters in nine cities, sharing the love of Jesus, gospel-centered community, and resources for whole-life restoration. And as we consider her story, would we too lay our hearts open before our kind and loving God, asking him how we might show his goodness and favor to the people in our own lives.
You can hear more stories from Rachelle on the Dwell Differently Podcast. Today’s story was an excerpt from her new book, Outrageous Obedience. To donate or volunteer for Scarlet Hope, go to ScarletHope.org.
 Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (New York: Harper Collins, 2006), 113.
Meet RACHELLE,AUTHOR AND FOUNDER OF SCARLET HOPE
Rachelle is the founder of Scarlet Hope and the author of Outrageous Obedience: Answering God's Call to Shine in the Darkest Places.
ON THE PODCAST
3 Barriers to Receiving the Everlasting Love of God // Vera Schmitz
If you’re a human being listening today, you’re going to resonate with the 3 things Vera shares that can be roadblocks to feeling like we can receive God’s everlasting love for us. Listen in as she not only helps us to understand what those things are, but shares verses from Scripture to help us combat those lies and root our minds in the truth of God’s Word. And don’t miss the inside scoop at the end about why we created a new necklace featuring Jeremiah 31:3b with our friends at Starfish Project. We even have a special discount code exclusively for our podcast listeners all month long!