Joshua: Rahab-Woman Of Faith
In Chapter 2, we see God's concern for a prostitute in a heathen country. Jesus was concerned for the souls of the prostitutes of His day. We see the same concern in God's heart here. Rahab was a well known prostitute in Jericho. Burt she was sick and tired of her profession, just like many prostitutes today. Mary Magdalene was sick and tired of her profession. Very few people recognize that. They just despised the prostitutes. Many prostitutes in our cities are not there because they love to be there. Many of them have been deceived and or forced into such a life. And many of them are sick and tired of being exploited by men. They near to hear the gospel. I praise God for godly men through the ages who have had a burden for saving prostitutes. They shared the burden of God's heart for these unfortunate women.
As and example, let us look at St Vitalis of Gaza who was a 7th century Egyptian hermit.
When Vitalis was about 60 years old, after many years in the desert, he gave up being a hermit and went to Alexandria. There he became a day laborer. He would work all day at back-breaking tasks to earn a wage and then proceed to the local brothel to spend it.
Every night, this former hermit found himself with a different prostitute. You can imagine what the local Christians thought! Vitalis was ridiculed and harassed. People even approached the Patriarch to try to have him excommunicated, but the Patriarch refused to act on hearsay. Vitalis’ life became rather miserable until one day he was attacked in the street and killed. When he was found, he was clutching a paper with 1 Corinthians 4:5 written on it: “Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts.”
But the Christians of Alexandria had already judged. “Good riddance,” they thought, until his funeral. Dozens (if not hundreds) of former prostitutes attended his funeral, and each testified that she owed her soul to Vitalis.
As it turns out, Vitalis’ life wasn’t quite as debauched as people thought. Each night, after Vitalis had paid for a woman’s services, he would tell her he had bought her one night without sin. She was free to sleep. He, meanwhile, would hold vigil over her and pray for her. Naturally, some were curious. They asked Vitalis what he was about and he told them: God loved them and wanted them to be saved. He told them of God’s mercy, of his death on the cross, of the way he delighted in them. And when they were ready to accept this, he found them a way out. He worked to arrange marriages, provide dowries, even find monasteries willing to accept them. The only thing he asked was that they keep quiet about what he had done. If his good deeds had been known, after all, he would have been barred entry to the women he wanted to serve. So he submitted to ignominy, willingly offering his reputation for the sake of their souls.
I think of Father Francis Regis...
who every summer, worked in town, preaching, hearing confessions, and serving the poor. Like St. Vitalis of Gaza, he had a particular ministry to prostitutes, pounding on brothel doors and demanding that new “recruits” be given into his custody. Sometimes, he would see a woman being dragged off by an attacker and would throw himself upon the man, pulling the woman from the grasp of her assailant and allowing himself to be beaten instead.