For over 17 years, Ernie Culley has been part of various groups whose focus is reaching the women and girls caught up in the "sex trade" with the life changing alternatives provided through Jesus and His friends. Over the years Ernie and Merrilyn have even founded and funded a recovery home, where those exiting "the trade" could have a safe respite to realign their lives. The home was called, "The Life Back House" as Jesus was giving them their lives back. As the initial clients in the home reached the point of stability where they could re-launch their lives, the home was handed over to a wonderful Christian group operating from a Baptist church in Vancouver which needed to house new immigrants and refugees coming into our city.
Now twice a month on a Thursday evening a group of Life Center people and friends can be found out talking to the women bringing refreshments and the message of Hope for a better life.
This style of outreach has continued through the auspices of the Life Center, as we confront the "mean streets" of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side on a regular basis. A group of volunteers, led by Ernie and Merrilyn Culley load a van with the aforementioned volunteers as well as easily transportable refreshments and any other items we’ve been able to acquire that might be a blessing to the people this ministry is focused upon, and off we go.
We meet at a central location in the early evening, spend a bit of time in orientation of new volunteers, pray fervently together, and head out. We typically drop volunteers off by twos or threes with refreshments on Hastings St. and Cordova, and they begin walking the sidewalks, looking for the numerous "working girls" who are there to be found.
The approach is friendly, light, and non-condemning. We introduce ourselves by our first names, and offer the refreshments (hot chocolate in the winter and a cool juice box in the summer) and let them know that we are there to insure that they never forget that Jesus loves them enough to have died for them. We typically ask their names – usually they provide only their "street names" – and we inquire about any prayer requests they have. We have numerous drug recovery programs of which we are aware to refer them to, if they are ready to come off of the streets. Occasionally they will allow us to actually pray for them right there on the sidewalk. When that opportunity comes, it is treasured, and we ask Father to bless them / heal them / care for their children / deliver them from legal troubles / set them free from the enslavement of drugs / set them free from their pimps, etc. as they request.
Before we disburse, we have another prayer meeting, and intercede for the ones we have just spoken to, and bring any prayer requests before the Father for his intervention. We pray in faith, believing, and knowing that Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said:
"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." Matt 21:31 NIV
Over the years, we have often seen as many of 30 to 50 of these precious ones for whom Jesus died walking away from their destructive lifestyles and finding the love and acceptance that is only found in Jesus.
Ahava Life Centre, a multinational congregation serving the needs of our community, emphasizing Hebrew roots of our faith, loving God and one another.