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Rachel Chima: Abstinence Speaker

“I work really well under pressure, but I’ve learned I don’t have to!”—Rachel Chima

In a roomy office with a view of St. John’s Hospital across the street, Rachel Chima, Choices Project Coordinator for the Springfield Pregnancy Care Center, chats easily with an intern. Her desk is uncluttered, but not because she’s looking for work. “I’m not administrative! Get me in front of people, that’s where I want to be,” says Rachel. This energetic and passionate speaker has certainly grown into the role God has given her.

Rachel, tell us a little bit about your “call” into the ministry of sexual purity and abstinence education?

CHIMA: Let me just say, your ministry makes room for you. You know you’re “there” when you no longer have to call to make appointments or to find places to minister. Teachers, students, civic leaders, and religious leaders recognize our integrity and what we stand for, and so the opportunities to minister just come. We’re busy all the time! Just today I got a call to speak to an African American sorority tomorrow night. We’ll be there, because it’s a fantastic opportunity.

I’ve always been in ministry! Ministries of compassion have always been important to my family. It was not uncommon to have drug dealers and prostitutes in my home because Mom and Dad were reaching out to help them.

Going way back, my grandmother was a pioneer in teaching sexual purity and abstinence education in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. She understood that my sister and I faced incredible pressure to have sex. If we, who were Christians, struggled to deal with peer pressure, what must it be like for non-Christians? What started as a group of 22 teenagers from my sister’s high school and 8 of their parents, became a city-wide ministry called TAPS (Teenagers Against Premarital Sex). Pretty soon my grandma was speaking in school assemblies, after-school programs, and churches.

After I went off to college, I came home to visit Grandma and watch her speak. To my surprise, she acknowledged my presence in front of the group and said, “Rachel, my granddaughter is here! She knows as much about this stuff as I do. Rachel, come up here and help me.” I was 19 years old, and I haven’t stopped talking since!

I went to work for the city of Cincinnati, coordinating all of the city’s after-school clubs, and in 1996, Grandma turned the whole TAPS ministry over to me. Later, when my husband and I moved to Springfield, God opened a miraculous door for me to work with the newly opened Springfield Pregnancy Care Center. I worked with them on a volunteer basis until they were able to bring me on staff. Oh the joy of being paid for what you love to do!

So tell us a little more about what you do?

CHIMA: In a nutshell, I try to dispel the myth that “everybody’s doing it,” or “you can’t practice self control when it comes to sex.” We minister to kids, teens, young adults, and single adults in school assemblies, clubs, classes, workshops, and services.

People say, “You go in (to schools), but you don’t talk about Jesus, and you can’t quote Scripture. How can what you do be a ‘ministry’?” But you can’t argue with the Word of God. “The truth will set you free.” What we do is talk about the truth. We don’t sugar coat anything. There are huge consequences, spiritually, socially, physically, psychologically, to sex outside of marriage. We talk consequences. We talk about who else is affected by our choices. When we tell the kids the truth, they respond to it. People know we are Christians. They can just see something different in us. And we know that someone else will come along and complete the good work that God started through us.

Abstinence education is not just about a program. It is discipleship, too. How do you say “no” in a society that says “yes?” We don’t just tell them why to say “no,” but we teach them how to say “no.” With the kids in the church, we want them to get past the fear of having sex (pregnancy, STDs, parents finding out) to the place where their heart is so connected to God they would never dream of sinning against Him.

Your ministry is an exciting one, yet “out of the box.” What would you say to women considering pursuing a ministry idea that doesn’t fit traditional roles?

CHIMA: I would say that it doesn’t matter about your background, your level of education, whether you messed up in your earlier years or not. God will use YOU. He’ll use who you are to reach out to people. People will recognize your sincerity, and they will recognize the truth you speak. The bottom line is that it’s not we who change lives anyway. It’s God.

I’ve learned not to second guess God. If He is calling, then who am I not to go where He leads? I’ve seen Him do some incredible miracles. I’ve seen His hand of faithfulness. How can I not serve Him with everything I have? Nothing God asks me to do scares me anymore. God says to me, “Let’s go speak life to these people,” and so we go. It all comes down to faithfulness and obedience. He equips the people He calls.