It was a scorching summer afternoon when Joanna got the call. Someone in our network had met a twenty-one-year-old young woman who wanted to connect with us. So last summer, Joanna travelled to Waterloo and waited to meet our new friend Prairie. At the time, she was homeless and had been for several years, but moved from hotel to hotel, working to keep a roof over her head.
It wasn’t easy to reach Prairie; Joanna, Rahab’s director, spent a few trips trying to find her without success. Eventually, though, we did make contact after she relocated to a city in the Southwest Ontario. Joanna did an intake assessment sitting outside of a busy cafe on a gloomy August afternoon. Mask clad, we learned Prairie’s story piece by piece. It didn’t take long to find out that she had been on her own for an awfully long time.
At only thirteen years old, Prairie was being trafficked by a pimp in her small town. What started as a one-time event turned into ads placed on various trafficking sites. Soon everyone knew what she was doing and disregarded her. Prairie’s mother did visit her a few times over the years, but never stayed for long. She grew up on the streets, away from a large family with many other siblings. As she got older, she began moving around through different cities with her pimp. During this time, she was using marijuanna and meth to numb her pain, anxiety, and depression, which continued until we met her.
But this is not the whole story – a few years ago, Prairie met a man who wanted her out of her work for good. Kai showed up and took care of her, making sure she wouldn’t need to go back to the sex trade or be towed around by a pimp. During their time together, Prairie became pregnant. Sadly, not long after, Kai was arrested for attempted murder and never got to see the birth of his daughter, Ariana.
On her own as a single mother, Prairie began to struggle more than she had before. Continuing to use drugs and work whilst caring for her daughter was not safe or easy on her. CAS became involved, and she was forced to choose between leaving Ariana with her mother or subjecting her to the system. Prairie decided to keep her daughter with her mother and found comfort in staying close by, though it was her deepest wish from that point to have custody of her daughter again and be the mother she always wanted.
After getting to know Prairie, hearing her goals, and offering support from afar, she decided to move into our residence. The day Prairie arrived her speech was slurred and her mind scattered. We learned her story in bits and pieces. She had not had any good sleep for almost a year. The insomnia began when Ariana was taken into custody by CSA; Prairie was not allowed to visit her, even in her mother’s home.
She cried a lot in the first week of her stay at the residence. Frustrated with herself, she wanted to be a good mom. There were happy tears too though, as she was touched by our concern for her. Though she is a mom, she appeared to our staff as a young child needing intentional love and care. Sadly, those basic needs went unmet by her family. After a few days at the residence with the constant companionship of Rahab team members, Prairie was calmer, and seemed to speak in fuller sentences.
During Prairie’s stay, she had an open mind, so we shared our faith with her and had conversations about the gospel. Our ministry partners joined us in prayer, as she explored faith and eventually gave her life to Christ. We encouraged Prairie and committed to walk alongside her as she sought to be reunited with Ariana as soon as possible. As a mother, nothing could keep Prairie from her daughter; she was determined to reunite with her child, willing to quit drugs to do so.
After some time, we began to notice that Prairie felt out of place in the big city. She missed her daughter and grandma (the only family member she’s close to). Because of this, Prairie left our residence and began working with her caseworker back home. We were happy to continue supporting Prairie as much as we could from afar.
Fast forward nearly a year later: Prairie’s change has led her to have good standing with CAS. This resulted in her having custody of her daughter, followed by a quick process of permanent housing, which she has now received. We were able to connect her with a church in her new neighbourhood where she can continue to grow in her faith with the support of her church friends.
Today, Prairie is a different person from the girl we met not one year ago. Earlier this summer she moved into her new place, so we hosted a drive-through furniture donation event to furnish her apartment. When Joanna and Carol drove to deliver the furniture, they were happily surprised to see that Prairie truly is healthy and healing.
Please continue to pray for Prairie as she and Ariana settle into their new home, and Prairie seeks employment. Finding work is not easy for her due to her disabilities and past trauma, but she is optimistic and persevering. Though this journey with Prairie has been a learning curve, we are so thankful that God’s love shone in her life. Prairie has experienced the love of Christ, the love that transforms all things. During our journey with Prairie, God certainly worked through you, our ministry partners. You prayed, donated furniture, finances, and time as we gathered together to support Prairie. We praise God for your willing hearts that so eagerly advance the kingdom.
Pictured: Carol, Chloe and 2 volunteers receiving items outside the Jonesville office during the Rahab drive-through donation day
Donors dropping off items
The drive-through event happened at the height of the third wave of Covid. With everyone heavily masked and taking all required precautions, we were thankful that no one got sick as a result of this event.
Carol drops off a truckload full of donations to Prairie.
Joanna was the driver but could not help moving because of a frozen shoulder.