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, hav-
ing 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 relationship 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
Winnipeg. Sargent and
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
KARen STILLeR is a senior editor
at Faith Today.
Burnell. 11:00 p.m. 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 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 work-
ers 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
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 another
chance, Lord. Come against every darkness.”
Of course, not everyone is interested
in the God talk. Jessica* 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
with Love Lives
Here pray with
a woman on
the streets of