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Book Excerpt from “Outrageous Obedience” by Rachelle Starr

God has put a calling on your life. You sense it. You feel it. You’re excited but also intimidated. You want to go, but you may feel like you first must get through a maze of questions. You might be asking:

Do I have what it takes?

What if the needs are greater than I can handle?

What if this requires gifts or expertise I don’t have?

What about when it gets difficult?

Those are real questions. In fact, they stop a lot of people from answering God’s call.

And depending on your calling, the questions may be even more daunting. As I’ve said, not everyone is called to go into the strip clubs. You might be called to take care of your aging parent or to come alongside a single mom and help with her kids in a significant way. But if God has called you to follow him into a dark place, you probably feel overwhelmed by other questions.

What if I can’t find my way?

What if the darkness overwhelms me?

You need to go. Even with unanswered questions, you need to go. That’s what faith is for—it gives us confidence and assurance even when we cannot see all the answers (see Hebrews 11:1).

God has called you to go—even without all the answers—but, good news, he’s got an answer for all those questions.

I know because I’ve experienced it.

Can I Go with You?

When God first spoke to me driving past that strip club on my way to work, I happened to be meeting weekly with my friend Sarah at our local Panera. We were working through Kelly Minter’s Bible study on the book of Ruth, and we’d been talking about how God was calling me to go and share his hope and love with women in the adult entertainment industry.

Then one day—like Ruth said to Naomi—Sarah looked me in the eyes and told me, “Where you go, I’ll go too. I don’t think you can do this alone.”

You can’t imagine the confidence those words gave me. I heard that and knew I could keep going forward. I realized I wasn’t going to reach women in the clubs by myself, and now knew I wouldn’t be alone.

Not long after that, Sarah and I started driving around Louisville strip clubs each Tuesday night in my little red Focus. We prayed God would open a door and show us the way to minister to the women inside. Our husbands went with us most of the time. Looking back, I guess they were scared for us. Though we were just praying in our cars, we were in some shady places in town, so they wanted to be there for protection.

When our husbands couldn’t come, Sarah and I would sit inside the Wendy’s across from the Fantasy X club and pray for the people we saw headed inside. We met off and on for over a year to drive past clubs or to just sit and pray.

Scarlet Hope began with the four of us—me, my husband, Sarah, and her husband—but over time others came along too. In those beginning stages when we were doing the prayer drives, I would tell people about the vision for our ministry, and they’d share it with others. Pretty soon, people started asking, “Hey, can I go with you?”

Then the day came when we entered the clubs for the first time. When the Lord told me to go into the clubs, the idea of serving meals to the women there seemed natural. I already knew how to cook and serve a lot of people, but catering takes a team. So it was essential for Sarah and me to gather other women who would help us cook and go into the clubs with us to serve the food.

In those beginning days of our ministry, Sarah made cookies at her house, and someone else would bake and bring bread. It’s crazy now to think that this strip club would allow us to bring a home-cooked meal into their business, but they did. God prepared the way for us, and preparing those meals together was the way he grew our ministry. He brought woman after woman to join us.

It wasn’t just women who made our ministry possible. Two key figures in those early days were pastors—Chris Harper and Travis Whalen. They supported the work, prayed for us, and spurred us on. Chris was the missions director at our church and one of our first financial supporters. I think we were six months into the ministry and didn’t even yet have a name when he wrote us into the church mission budget.

Chris had heard about what we were doing and asked me, “How much money do you need?”

I had no idea. I blurted out, “Umm, a hundred dollars per month?”

Chris fired right back, “Great, I’ll put it in the budget.” And he did. What an affirmation that was. It was the Lord assuring me, through his people, “I’m going to provide. I’m going to do this. You don’t have to worry.”

God is always with us. That’s something I clung to from Jesus’s command in Matthew. I trusted that he was all sufficient. Because of that, I think sometimes we look only to him. But sometimes the answer God provides to all those questions that slow us down is friends. In the beginning, God said it was not good for man to be alone, and that’s still true today. The stakes are even higher when you’re responding to God’s call and following him into the dark. You need people who will go with you.

In life and ministry, we need friends like Sarah and Chris. We need a supportive community that partners with us and helps us carry the mission forward. As the old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”

Friends on Mission Together

True friendship is locking arms and walking beside one another with one heart and one mission. In his chapter on friendship in The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis says friendship always arises from a common interest. “It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions.”1 I love that. At Scarlet Hope, we have a common purpose. It’s not merely to get women out of the adult entertainment industry. Our mission is to help those women know Jesus. And when you’re on that same mission together, you build strong connections.

Believe this truth: real friends go on mission together. Their friendship is built around a common commitment to a shared purpose.

At Scarlet Hope, we want to build deep relationships within our team and with the people we’re serving. Sometimes when people talk to me about volunteering in our ministry, they ask, “How long do I have to serve?” Usually I answer, “I’d like you to commit for a year. After all, you’re only seeing the women in the clubs a few times each month. So how can you build a relationship of trust with someone if you’re only seeing her a couple times each month and stop in less than a year?”

Some folks are taken aback: “A year?”

Now, we’re obviously not going to force anyone to serve with us forever, but I tell them, “Yeah, a year.” 

Too often, people want to serve with us once. They’ve heard our incredible stories and want to be a part of one. Our human hearts want to see immediate fruit, and we may hesitate to commit for the long haul. Immediate fruit is rare, if not almost impossible. But over time, a community of friends can build something amazing. Many of the people who serve in our ministry today benefit from the longevity of those who have served much longer. Our teams in Louisville can now go to pretty much any strip club in the city, but that’s because a group of friends invested fourteen years of hard work serving and helping the women in the clubs.

When you’re going into the dark, you cannot go by yourself. You must have people there with you. We’re not meant to go it alone. Not even Jesus did. He had twelve disciples—three who were very close confidants. And when Jesus sent out his disciples, he sent them two-by-two so they could share encouragement and accountability. If we’re going to be on mission today, we’ve got to follow his example. We’re supposed to partner together with others in the kingdom work. I’m convinced if you commit to go with God, he’ll provide someone to go with you.

*Adapted from Outrageous Obedience by Rachelle Starr provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2022. Used by permission. (

Rachelle Starr founded Scarlet Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to sharing the hope of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry. Rachelle also leads a gospel-centered career development program where women can receive employment and job skills while discovering their God-given gifts and talents. Rachelle and her husband, Josh, have two boys and reside in Louisville, Kentucky. Learn more at and by following on Instagram.