this,” she explains. Because she is cold she
climbs reluctantly aboard the bus, complaining how “This isn’t making me any
money.” The volunteers don’t carry cash.
Addictions and a lifetime of hardships
have brought Jessica to this tough place.
As she sees it, renting her body for sex on
this street corner is her only option. She
doesn’t want prayer. “I don’t believe in
God.” When one of the volunteers asks
if she sometimes gets mad at God for the
way things are turning out, she says, “No.
Like I said, I don’t believe in God.” She
doesn’t want food. She doesn’t want a
ride home. She accepts a pair of gloves
and steps back onto the dark street.
Our encounter with Carina* is very different.
We’re rumbling along a thoroughfare when
the Love Lives Here driver makes a sudden
left turn, cuts through a parking lot and
heads back the way we’d just come. “I saw
a girl at the bus stop,” he says as he pulls over.
Two volunteers, a man and a woman,
step out to greet her. A few minutes later
they return with Carina, who appears to
be only 16 or 17. She’d been afraid, wait-
ing for the bus. Men kept pulling over and
propositioning her. That’s not what she
was looking for. She just wanted a ride
home and was very grateful to be sitting
in safe company. When she realizes she’s
with Christians, she says she’d been to
church recently with a friend who’d got-
“Have you been saved, Carina?” asks a
“No,” she replies. “I’m not saved. I want
to. I don’t know how.”
As the bus jolts and bounces towards
Carina’s home, a younger volunteer of-
fers a brief and simple explanation of sal-
vation through Jesus Christ and invites
Carina to say a prayer with her. After
the prayer the busload bursts into song.
“Happy birthday, dear Carina, all the an-
When Carina steps from the bus, her
arms are laden with bags of sandwiches
and chocolate milk. A new prayer scarf
hangs loosely around her neck. She has
an appointment to meet Heidi at a church
luncheon in a few days, the same church
she’d attended with her friend. She is smil-
ing. “I’m so glad I met up with you guys,”
“Don’t forget to tell others,” says Heidi.
The Love Lives Here volunteers don’t
believe in coincidences. They see each
engagement as a divinely ordained connection that was meant to happen. They
believe they are planting seeds of hope and
healing, even in the women who walk away
or reject their compassion with cursing.
The encounter with Carina boosts the
volunteers’ spirits and bolsters their belief.
Their intervention has given a vulnerable
person another chance. It is an answer
to their earlier prayer for “more light in
people’s lives, more flickers of hope.”
They love the prostituted women
Volunteers with ReeD (Resist exploitation, embrace Dignity) hold an unusual communion service in front of Brandi’s
exotic Show Lounge in Vancouver.