Author: Katherina Toews
There are an estimated 3000 (City of Calgary study 2014) women trapped in prostitution in Calgary. Many of these women did not plan to have this life, and no matter how they got caught up in it they often times don’t know how to escape it. Walking away from any lifestyle is hard, especially one that is not only seldom talked about but also one that few people take notice of. These women often feel unnoticed, unimportant, and unequipped for escaping their chains. That is where we come into the picture, and into the lives of these precious women.
Next Step Ministries was established in 2011, and over the years we have gotten to know hundreds of women and have entered into close, redemptive relationships with them. Our vision is to see women exiting sexual exploitation and discovering their identity. We make it our priority to walk alongside women exiting sexual exploitation as they break the cycle of addiction and abuse. Every person is precious in the sight of God, and because of this we strongly believe that the body of Christ was called to stand up against the exploitation of human beings and also needs to be involved in the care and healing of those who have been exploited and abused. We work with many churches across Calgary, on the reality of human trafficking in Calgary and Canada and also the context of what the Bible actually says about justice for the oppressed.
Not only do we meet with women where they’re at, but we also offer programs and resources to help them take the first steps towards their new life in freedom. However it doesn’t just stop after they’ve left their life of prostitution behind, we continue to walk alongside them, building relationships and helping them become the beautifully brave women God created them to be. The main avenue that we do this through is our housing program. There are two houses that the women participating in the Next Steps Program live in. Our first house, Sparrow House was opened on November 15, 2013, and our second house, Robin’s Place was opened on August 14, 2017. These houses provide the women with a stable home environment and allow for them to experience what a “normal” life can be like. They have their own room, the ability to cook meals for themselves, and space to develop and nurture relationships at their own pace. Along with the housing program, there is also our Day Program where they can work on their healing journey and discover who they were created to be.
There’s never a point where we’re ever “finished” with the women who come into our hearts and into our program. Even after they graduate and move onto bigger and better dreams we provide Follow Care that women may access supports at any time and for any reason. Our relationship with them is key to everything we do. Throughout the entire process, from that first phone call that brings these women into our program all the way through to the day they move out, we offer choices, support, and accountability. However, it is up to the women to work through their healing journey which is always a story of trauma, abuse, and emotional pain; and it takes incredible courage to face that and to continue walking through and towards the life they dream of.
However not every woman that we help is a part of our housing program. On January 10, 2018, we opened our NSM Center which allows us to provide a space where women are able to come and access supports, practical resources, peer support, and 1:1 case management time for women who have needs but are not in our programming. We also offer an evening class for women who are unable or do not need to be in the house or Day Program
Our target at NSM is that the women know they are Loved. Loved by God, and that they have a choice to step into that love and find the identity and meaning that is waiting for them in his open arms. We hope that you join us on our passionate journey to finding redemption and fulfilment for these women in Christ!