Author: Katherina Toews
When you look at the scope of sexual exploitation in the world and our cities, it can seem pretty overwhelming. One of the biggest things that prevent people from taking action is that they feel like they can’t make a difference. However, the truth is that you don’t have to be raiding brothels to make a difference or effect change, all you have to do is take a step forward into supporting those affected by sexual exploitation. Sometimes that means donating to organizations who work directly with the women on the streets, and sometimes it means literally taking a step forward in a walk of solidarity or a fundraiser. That’s where Ride for Refuge comes in; this is a fundraiser where participants can either walk or bike anywhere from 5km to 25km.
The reasons that drive each person to fundraise and ride or walk are all different, but they share the same common thread: each person desires to see a world where the light of God is shone into the darkness, and the people we find there are restored back to a life of dignity and independence. Below you’ll read statements from the different Next Step Ministries team captains about what moves them to fundraise and join the Ride for Refuge, and maybe you’ll find something that moves you too:
Shari Watson “Watson Warriors”: Because no woman should feel that selling her body is the only option.
Becky Bradbury “For The Sparrows”: I am moved when I am bringing a new participant into one of our safe houses…often there are tears; she tells me how beautiful her new home is and that she feels safe and can breathe again. That moves me and inspires me to keep moving towards having safe and beautiful places for women so they can be free from the pain and fear they are running from.
Elise Shelly “Lil Sparrows”: Why I am doing this? Because I believe in NSM’s cause. I want to see women healed, whole and restored from the trauma and abuse that they have experienced from sexual exploitation. I want them to know that we and God care and value them. We want to them to know they have worth, that there is so much more to life than what they have experienced. NSM gives them that chance to become the person they can and want to be.
Emily Reimer “Freedom Fighters”: Because everyone deserves to be safe and have hope.
Karen Bartel “Team Bartel”: Knowing the women who are cared for get real love that heals!
Andrew Howarth “Harvest Heroes”: I’m riding for Next Step Ministries because in Jesus’ Name, with passion, they give hope and a future to those who are experiencing darkness in their lives right now.
Kaitlyn Schasny: I’m riding because Next Step Ministries helps make a change and break cycles in women’s lives.
Kerry Bennett: I want to walk the 5k “Ride for Refuge” to help women in need of a safe place to get healthy. Bringing awareness to the city of Calgary that these women need hope and security is a big step in making the changes needed.
Vickie Lynn Team “Eat My Dust”: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”— Nora Ephron
Phil Reimer “Team NSM”: I have seen the positive effects of having your own room, with your own bed. To be able to get up in the morning and have a shower and to be able to open the fridge and find food to eat. I have seen people go from a life on the run, full of trauma and fear to a life of peace and an understanding of who they are and what they want to do. This kind of transformation moves me to ride.
No matter what you think you’re able to do, or whether or not you believe that your voice will be heard, speak up nonetheless. When we all work together, a cultural change is guaranteed. It’s never too late to take a stand against what’s wrong, and if you don’t know how to start looking to those around you who are already speaking out and standing up. The Ride for Refuge is a great way to support organizations that are fighting against sexual exploitation, as well as a fantastic way to get connected with like-minded people. Come on out on September 29th and cheer on those who are riding and walking, or strap on your boots and tie your laces and join in, we can’t wait to see you there!