Rah’Keisha is known around Pleasant Valley for her warm smile, her deep and heartfelt prayers, and her passion for Jesus. Rah’Keisha explains that the suburbs of Kansas City haven’t always been her home. She lived in the inner city of Kansas City until she was four or five then lived with her great-grandma for several years.
“My mom was a teen mom, and my brother and I are one year and seven months apart. She was really young. Growing up without a dad, I dealt with rejection. I don’t feel like I have an issue with loving, but it was hard when I didn’t feel love from others. For many years I just felt tolerated by certain people.”
Rah’Keisha’s great-grandma, Grammy Ida, loves the Lord and is deeply impactful in Rah’Keisha’s walk with Him while also being the motherly influence.
“Grammy Ida is 87 now and looks like she’s 60. She is up and moving and driving and living on her own. She would always take us to church, and we would be there all day. Everything was Christ-centered. I know people have experiences of seeing people who are influential in their life and they see certain failures,but she’s completely sold out, as much as we can be in our human form. I’ve seen her get upset but her voice never elevates or anything like that. She disciplined us though. But she was always so sweet and generous. Even if you go to her house now, it doesn’t matter your relationship with her, she’s going to make sure you’re not hungry and comfortable. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but I wouldn’t have ever known that with her. It is just amazing how God uses her in our lives.”
Grammy Ida was Rah’Keisha’s constant when everything else was often changing – she and her mom and brother moved every year or so until she was in high school. Because of Grammy Ida’s consistency and spiritual influence, Rah’Keisha decided to follow Jesus as a little girl.
“I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of nine and was baptized around the same time. The church I grew up in didn’t have a baptismal so we went to another church.”
Rah’Keisha’s story isn’t this simple, however.
“Around four or five years old, that’s when I was molested for the first time,and it lasted until I was 13-14. It led to me being promiscuous as a teenager. There was a spirit of perversion and the enemy tried to take me out, not physically but mentally.”
Rah’Keisha went into high school struggling, and it only got harder from there.
“My high school years were really hard for me. There was a lot of stress. It was just me, my mom, and my brother, and he got in a lot of trouble – he was away for a while. Throughout high school I found myself being very promiscuous because of things when I grew up. I was in a relationship where I thought I was so in love, but there was a lot of verbal abuse and disrespect because I didn’t know who I was, so I was allowing things [to happen in our relationship], even things that my mouth would say I wouldn’t allow. I see a lot of things go back to not having a father figure to teach me about men or about how to respect myself.”
Because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, Rah’Keisha felt convicted.
“Promiscuity was always uncomfortable. When we’re in sin we say it is fun, but deep down inside I knew it wasn’t right and it didn’t feel good. For a long time I didn’t know my worth. I knew it was wrong but didn’t operate out of that. The Lord would say, ‘This is not what you want to do or who you are.’ I wasn’t doing everything to fit in, and it felt like I was a leader, but still fell into sin. There was a lot of hurt and pain, and that’s why I did what I did. I was trying to find love in all the wrong places.
Rah’Keisha crosses her arms onto the table in front of her, her pearl earrings shimmer in the light while she tilts her head and remembers…
“There was this one year at Christmas – my favorite holiday – I guess we were doing really bad. We had no decorations or Christmas tree or presents – it was so crazy because we didn’t have any of that. But I was in my room, it was across the hall from my mom’s room. We weren’t even communicating much at all. But I sat in the corner of my room just bawling because God was showing me that this was my favorite holiday and I don’t have anything, but I had everything I needed. Which is Him. It was so eye-opening. After that, Christ was just calling me back into Himself. From that moment on, I strove to do what was right in His eyes.”
When she graduated from high school, Rah’Keisha chose to completely commit herself back to Him. “Take all of me. I surrender.” was her heart’s cry and her prayer. No more was she going to look to boys to find love and acceptance. No more was she going to allow her past trauma and hurt define who God has created her to be.
“It’s so amazing because I’ve always viewed God as, ‘He is who He says He is.’.I can see how He kept me in those moments [when I was being molested]. He’s not a God who winks at sin or wants people to experience those types of things, but it’s because of sin we have to endure those kinds of things. For the people molesting me, He wasn’t telling them to do that. I always viewed Him to be my protector. At times it was very hard to walk in that – Him as my protector – but I always knew it.”
God never left Rah’Keisha- not when she was a little girl moving and making new friends, not when she was being molested, and not during her wild high school days. He never stopped loving her. He never stopped pursuing her. He never stopped calling her back to Him.
“Now my relationship with God – it is way deeper than it used to be. Now that I know that I can go to Him for anything even in the midst of trials and hard situations, He’s there. He loves me. Nothing can stop Him from loving me. He’s a righteous God and doesn’t wink at my sin, but He’s a gracious God and I can go to Him with a repentant heart and be restored. He is my safety. Above all, He is my everything. Literally. Sometimes it is still hard for me. I’ve dealt with a lot of condemnation and Bible-thumping, and I started to wonder, ‘Does God really love me? Am I forgiven?’ But now I hear God say, ‘What does My Word say?’ I learned not to turn from Him, but to stay at His feet. I know He is who He says He is. I stand on that. Jesus is faithful. He’s true. He’s forgiving. He’s gracious. He’s longsuffering. He’s all-knowing and all-powerful. Jesus is my everything.”