The Day a Kid Asked Me About “That Prostitute”

March 3, 2014 | 6 comments

We could have dwelt on the fact that this woman was involved in — how shall I say this delicately — “the hospitality industry.” The woman did, in fact, have her very own red-light district under her very own roof.

Says so, right there in the Bible, in the Book of Joshua —

“So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.”

But there’s a certain sensitivity required for in-depth Bible study, especially when your Bible study companions are three fifth-graders.

So um, I, uh, stumbled a bit awkwardly when one of the girls, reading the words, stopped mid-sentence with her index finger glued to that one word–

“What’s a prostitute?” The 11-year-old girl looked me straight in the eye and lobbed the question into our tiny country-church Sunday School room.

“Well, um, it’s a, um, …,” I could feel the crimson rising in my cheeks. “It’s um, someone who … made some bad choices with her life. And uhhh … maybe you’ll want to ask one of your parents more about that when you get home.”

Yes, ask a parent. Good answer, Jennifer.

She looked back at me with slow, blinking eyes, while her finger stayed glued on the offending word.

“You ARE my parent.”

Oh, that Lydia. Always such a literalist.

I gave her a wide-eyed look from across the table, that one look that says  wordlessly: “We’ll talk about this in more detail when we get home, m’kay?”

But there was more. There was more than one reason why I didn’t want to dwell on the prostitute thing for too long. That’s because there’s way more to Rahab’s story than her job at the time.

In the end, her sin didn’t define her. Her Savior did.

“Children,” I said, clapping my hands together. “We’re going to depart from the Sunday School lesson plan here for a moment. Because I’d like you to turn to Matthew 1:5.”

The three children abandoned their half-eaten Cosmic Brownies and rustled the pages, racing toward the Gospels, eager to unwrap the mystery and perhaps sensing the excitement in my voice, eager to know why we were breaking the rules, or at least, the day’s lesson plan. I dare say the moment was a bit electric. I could feel the hair raising on the back of my neck, hopeful that they would behold the miracle of what God can do with the sinner, the outcast, the fringe-livers, the people who’ve lived out the unmentionables behind closed doors.

My good friend Jordan, age 11, raised his hand, volunteering to read the verse. I nodded my head, and held my breath, as he read the words for the rest of us:

“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was,” (he paused for dramatic effect) “Rahab.”

Suddenly, I had three sets of little eyes on me.

“Whoa. … That’s cool. Is that the … ?” Jordan asked.

I bobbed my head up and down, a smile widening across my whole face, feeling my heart swell in their discovery — and in my re-discovery. Like this was the first time I’d heard it myself, that Red-Light Rahab was an ancestor of my Jesus. I heard it like it was fresh news, hot off the press. “Yes, Jordan. Yes it is! It’s the same Rahab!” 

And, right then, we just sat in the gape-mouthed silence. For one moment, for one holy moment, the four of us stared at the words in Matthew 1, while remembering the words in Joshua 2. Three 11-year-old children and a 40-something, tongue-tied teacher could only sit in awe, and behold the miracle and the truth about life with Jesus:

No sin is too heinous
No mistake too grievous
No past too dark
No reputation too shady
No life too useless
To be important to the story of God.

For every “Joshua 2” of your life, there’s a “Matthew 1” story.  What’s yours?




Love Idol Movement

I’m reposting from the archive while busily making preparations from the launch of our Love Idol Movement. You can find more details about that movement here, or over here on our Love Idol Movement Facebook page, where we’re evicting some idols of the heart for Lent … and for-EVER.

(Join us? Find the printables below.)



Click here to print the preapproved cutouts. Place these where ever your Love Idols have lurked! 

Preapproved printable: to frame, to put on your refrigerator, to give to a friend. Click here to print. My gift to you, brave soul!


Linking today with the lovely Michelle DeRusha. She’s the author of the forthcoming book, Spiritual Misfit

. Highly recommended! Five stars!

by | March 3, 2014 | 6 comments


  1. rachel lee

    YES. gah. YES. okay, time for a novel from Rachel.

    this whole thing is one of my hills-to-die-on when it comes to my faith. Rahab, the woman at the well, Mary Magdeline, the woman Mary who poured her perfume over His feet at Simon’s banquet…this list goes on and on for me. these are the women that we read about in Scripture and nod knowing over their love, and then the same women we turn away at the door because their skirts are too high and their necklines too low to be “appropriate for Jesus.”

    this piece from you resounds like a bell in my soul. this is what we need to be teaching our children. there is NO SHAME, NO CONDEMNATION, and there is REDEMPTION. forgiven much because she loved much. that is the call of Christ Jesus.

  2. Asheritah Ciuciu

    This is beautiful. I don’t know that I would have had the presence of mind to point them to the genealogy of Jesus, but what a beautiful teaching moment. Nothing is too ruined for Jesus to redeem and make new. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Marina Bromley

    Love love LOVE this Jennifer!! I have applied this to my HIStory often… and remain open to ALWAYS giving God the glory for my past… not hiding it, because it will always show how far He has brought me, healed me, restored me… and how much He is continuing to work in my life!

    {Specifics?? Hmm… an abused girl from a messed up homelife, growing into the life of Southern CA sex-drugs-rock and roll, believing the lies of the world, a forced abortion (convinced by my dad that it was my only choice after I found out that the baby’s dad had lied to me about everything in his life) and suffered severe depression afterwards … it was THAT moment that God met me where I was in my brokenness… to cry out to the air “if there IS a God, I need to KNOW Him…” and feel a Holy Spirit hug to comfort me… then a 2 year journey of breaking horrid habits and learning that to be a believer in God isn’t enough… I needed to be a FOLLOWER of His Way… to becoming a prayer warrior, a worshiper, a disciple and mentor, a missionary, wounded, healed, a wife, a mom, a mother of 3 (and “mom” to so many more!), and now a grandma! YES, God has done SO much TO me, and THROUGH me, and FOR me and AROUND me… and I pray He continues to take my “Rahab moments” and turn them to His glory… that He is glorified in my wholeness and brokenness!}

  4. Being Woven

    WOW! Jennifer, this was so great! You went from an “oh no!” moment to a beautifully God-inspired one for those kids. Praising God.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    I love the way God inspired you to turn to Matthew 1:5! He took an awkward moment and turned it into a memorable lesson for your fifth graders. Nothing like an “A-ha Discovery” to sink an important concept deep into kids’ souls. Now they’ll remember Rahab for what she became, not what she was–just as God does with us!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest