in her gym T-shirt, headband and small silver earrings. And
in her love for God, clearly tested, deeply true.
“I’ve always been a follower of Jesus Christ. When I went
to jail when I was in my addiction, I felt God was protecting
me,” she says. “Even when I went to the federal penitentiary
[on drug trafficking charges] and got my sentencing, that
was my saving grace.”
Eve credits one woman who stuck by her and told her
she saw something else in her. “She told me that she saw
such potential in me. It only took one person to do that,
having faith in me so I could have faith in myself. And if I
can help one person, it's all worth it.”
These days Eve is weaving back together her torn rela-
tionship with her sons. She tells me she listens to Christian
music all the time, recites lyrics by heart. Track five of her
Kirk Franklin CD is pretty much worn out.
“I feel like my life is rich. I’ve had people say to me they
see wealth in me. I really feel like something wonderful is
going to happen,” says Eve. “I feel like I’m okay. I’m okay.”
Winnipeg. Sargent and burnell.
11:00pm. Sept. 20.
Ayoung woman hunkers on a store step with her head under a hoodie and a crack pipe in her hand when the sudden appearance of a middle-aged man and woman
bearing a thermos and sandwiches startles her back to the
Friday night street scene.
“Oh, God!” she erupts, and hastens to let us know she’s
just fine and doesn’t need anything – no food, no drink, no
ride, no prayer. Then, for a moment she softens and gives us
her name. It’s Jasmine*. “I’m a little embarrassed,” she allows.
Yet no sooner are these welcoming words out of her
mouth than one of her friends appears on the sidewalk.
“Hey!” Jasmine calls to her. “Christians!” Her friend hauls
her away. The wailing of sirens punctuates the late night
noise of the street.
The Christians return to the Love Lives Here shuttle bus
and move on to find other nighthawk souls who may be
hungry or tired, lonely or afraid on a brisk September evening. Over the course of three hours we speak with about a
dozen prostituted people. Some want warmth. Some want
company. Some want a ride. Some want to be left alone.
Some receive prayer.
On a dark residential street Stephanie* steps aboard as
soon as the bus pulls over. She’s been here before. Something
within her craves the coziness and safety of this little band
of charismatic Christian workers who regularly give up their
weekends to show kindness on the harshest streets of Winnipeg and extend a helping hand to those who feel trapped.
Stephanie is just settling in to pray with a couple of
women when Noreen* bounds energetically up the steps
and changes the mood on the bus in an instant. The two
20-something street workers bounce around like schoolgirls
greeting each other after a long holiday. They are giddy in
their exuberance and delighted by their chance meeting.
Noreen has just jumped out of a john’s van. She reeks of
alcohol, but she’s in a happy mood and irreverently joins
the prayer meeting that’s forming at the back of the bus.
Five women hold hands in a circle and begin to raise their
voices in prayer. Noreen is gripping the arms and hands of
Heidi, a volunteer who is speaking in tongues.
As one of the other Christians utters a more conventional
prayer, Noreen interrupts with an admonition to “Wrap it
up soon and say ‘amen’ so I know when it is over.” When
they finally do, Noreen is in hurry-up-and-let’s-move-on
mode. But before she leaves, she stops and turns to look
into Heidi’s eyes.
“I didn’t understand a word you said.” She pauses. “But
I felt it. Thank you.”
Prayer and compassion are the currency of the little band
of Love Lives Here volunteers. Before they head out to the
streets, they gather together to pray to God for each other
and the people they’ll encounter. They believe there is work
to be done, people to be saved and set free. “Give them an-
other chance, Lord. Come against every darkness.”
On the streets they are eager to offer prayer to any and
all they meet. Many refuse, but others tolerate the request
and some respond eagerly and gratefully. “There are a lot
of ‘Christian’ girls out there,” advises one of the volunteers.
“They may have had an encounter at camp or somewhere
in their childhood. They are just fine with Jesus.” Some even
welcome the anointing touch of oil and the soothing words
of God’s unending love.
Of course, not everyone is interested in the God talk. Jes-sica* shivers on a dark corner on a sketchy street looking at
the pickup trucks and boisterous men huddled a half block
away. She is desperately unhappy, a hard-looking woman in
her mid- to late 30s. “I need $20, so I’m doing this,” she ex-
Love Lives Here
pray with a woman
on the streets of