Is there anyone you can think of who is beyond the power of God’s redeeming love? Can you imagine a situation so hopeless that God could not deliver a person from it? My friend Cathie lives to proclaim that no one and nothing is beyond God’s healing salvation.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Cathie is one of my favorite women. She inspires me on a weekly basis as she pours her heart into a ministry called Next Step Ministries to provide hope and healing after sexual exploitation.
Have you ever:
- thought about what life is like for women involved in sexual exploitation?
- considered how you might be able to offer them hope?
- assumed you can’t help because you can’t relate to their situation or have no experience?
Cathie found herself unexpectedly drawn into this unique ministry. It was not something “on her radar”, yet now she sees how masterfully God prepared her for it.
From Foster Mom to Helping Women Exit Sexual Exploitation
Cathie and her husband, Trevor, became foster parents in 2005. Their heart was to care for “drug babies”. After 3 years, they began their first of 3 adoptions, eventually growing their family to a total of 5 children.
During a few routine doctor’s appointments with her foster babies, Cathie had the opportunity to meet some of the biological moms.
Other foster parents expressed frustration over the bio moms who simply do not have the necessary skills to properly care for their children. But Cathie had a different reaction.
” I saw in their eyes the same love for their babies that I have for mine. For most of them, they didn’t have a chance. Life was hard for them from the very beginning,” observed Cathie.
Some of these babies have been born to moms who are drug addicts. Cathie learned to administer Methadone to her little ones every four hours as they were detoxing and healing.
Through those heart-wrenching seasons, she recognized that no mom wants this for their children. The moms became real to Cathie. Her heart for “drug babies” gave birth to a new ministry focus – the women.
“Our adopted kids’ moms were prostitutes,” explains Cathie. “I love these women. They’re resilient. They’re incredible.”
Take 3 minutes to listen to Cathie share her heart. It’s so much better hearing it from her own mouth! Listen to the depth of her love for these precious women. Seriously. Don’t read on until you listen.
Ministry to Women in the Sex Trade
A big part of ministry to women in the sex trade is about identity. These women need to know they have value – not because of what they do, but because of who they are, because they are human. That change in perspective doesn’t happen overnight.
“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31
Trust is a major factor, too. Most of these women have never had anyone in their lives whom they could really trust. It’s not enough to say, “You can trust us. We want what’s best for you. We will take care of you.” Those are just words.
That’s why Cathie became involved with Next Step Ministries. It’s a Christian non-profit that takes the long road to provide hope and healing for women exiting sexual exploitation. That long road is the necessary route for building the trust these women need to start a new life.
Next Step Ministries takes relationships very seriously. Far beyond meeting physical needs, they invest deeply into the mental, emotional, and spiritual healing of the women who enter their program.
What Does It Take to Exit Sexual Exploitation?
Not every woman is ready for the Next Step program. Inviting women involved in sexual exploitation to the program is asking them to leave everything they’ve ever known. Even though they may have known nothing but chaos their entire lives, it’s a scary thing to step into something unknown.
The ministry at Next Step is intense. It’s a lot of work. The women have to work through their trauma. And many of them are afraid they can’t handle that process if they’re sober (a requirement of entering the program).
Next Step Ministries makes it clear to the women what joining the program will involve – including the emphasis on Jesus Christ.
About Next Step Ministries
Next Step Ministries helps women exit sexual exploitation by meeting people where they’re at, offering practical supports, and creating choice. The ministry works through several programs:
The Outreach Program meets women exiting sexual exploitation where they are at, helping them access resources and create an exit plan for those ready to move forward.
The Housing Program provides second stage housing for women exiting sexual exploitation. (This is not an emergency shelter nor a treatment center.) They are given their own room with a key so they have a safe place to call their own.
While the women are in the Housing Program, they attend classes in the Day Program 4 days a week where they work on recovery and life skills, all facilitated through a trauma-informed lens.
Classes include lessons on healthy relationships, self awareness, Bible study, addiction, relapse prevention, trauma, budgeting, health and nutrition, cooking, equine therapy, art, career information, and more.
Key workers sit down with each woman every week to help them set goals and get things in order. At first, goals are essentials like getting ID, scheduling doctor’s appointments, getting eye glasses, clothing, and other basic needs. As they progress, goals move more into pursuing schooling or a career.
The long term Follow Care Program helps the women get jobs, permanent housing and follow their educational goals. Participants are able to access staff support at any time.
There’s no exit date. They leave when they’re ready. And Next Step Ministries keeps in touch with them as long as the women want them to – even for the rest of their lives.
An after care worker checks in on them, goes for coffee, gives them tips, helps them with parenting, etc.
The Power of God to Transform Lives
“Working with Next Step Ministries has strengthened my faith immensely and taught me to believe for big things. We serve a big God and He does big things.” – Cathie
A lot of the healing that happens at Next Step Ministries is healing that can only happen by the power of God. Women come in broken and Cathie gets to witness a complete transformation, seeing them become a whole new person – healthy, full of confidence, and equipped with the skills to live a new life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Cathie says she gets to see miracles (beyond the miracle of new life in Christ) on a regular basis. The women have seen everything from a damaged liver being healed supernaturally and baffling the doctors to answers to “small” everyday prayers like this one:
One of the women did not have custody of her children, but was allowed to write letters to them.
She came into class one day in tears. Her letter was written and ready to go, but she didn’t have a postage stamp to mail it.
Together, they prayed about the need for a postage stamp.
Within a few days, this woman found a whole book of stamps on the ground.
What a beautiful picture of God’s care for us and the love He has for each of us!
God’s Heart for Women Exiting Sexual Exploitation
Cathie’s heart for women exiting sexual exploitation is to minister the unfathomable love of God to them. When they understand who they are in Christ, it changes everything.
Showing them what real love looks like so they can trust God and people is a big job. But it’s absolutely necessary for the hope and healing these women need.
Just as “we love because [God] first loved us (John 4:19),” Next Step Ministries works to show the women what real love looks like. By ministering to the needs of the women in practical, compassionate, and respectful ways, their hearts can be softened to receive the truth that can set them free (John 8:32).
Psalm 25 is Cathie’s “absolute favorite” passage and a fitting prayer for women exiting sexual exploitation.
3 “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Psalm 25)
How to Help Women Exiting Sexual Exploitation
No matter where you live or what your situation is, you have the ability to help women exit sexual exploitation.
The women exiting sexual exploitation need our prayers, and so do the staff and volunteers who serve in organizations like Next Step Ministries. They’re in the middle of a vast, complex, dark issue. Only through prayer can significant change take place. If you want to be put on the Next Step Ministries prayer list, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
“They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107:13
Next Step Ministries is supported entirely by donation. The houses, physical needs of the women, and operating expenses are all taken care of by donors. Would you consider giving today?
If you live in or near Calgary, Alberta, you can get involved in various fundraising events. Pray about serving as a volunteer. Spread the word about the work Next Step Ministries is doing.