Many women find themselves trapped in the cycle of prostitution. It is a lifestyle that is fraught with violence and exploitation through human trafficking, addictions, and poverty. These women are coerced, forced, recruited or pimped to become sexual slaves. Built on the solid foundation of Christ, the primary focus of Dignity House is to lead these ladies into an understanding and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and to show them His love. Only Jesus offers the freedom, love, peace and hope these women so long for.
Dignity House is more than a home – it has become a ministry that includes housing, a ministry centre and a place to volunteer and/or serve community hours or fine options. All of this is specifically designed for women who desire to leave the life of prostitution and want to be mentored and cared for in a supportive and loving manner. It provides these women with a place to heal, learn basic life skills, and to experience the love of God in a real and tangible way. Dignity House Ministry represents hope and a future for women who are bravely seeking a different and better life.
How it Began
The concept of Dignity House began when the Women’s Ministry of the Christian and Missionary Alliance under the leadership of Glendyne Gerrard became aware of the injustice inflicted upon the women and girls who were victims of the sex trade. It was evident that there were hurting women who needed help to be free of the cycle of prostitution and who would benefit from an opportunity to change their lives.
Glendyne became aware of a ministry of Cornerstone Alliance, who under the invitation from Union Gospel Mission, were including women from Charis Center in their church outreach. This ministry involved providing transportation for these women to attend the church service and also supported and mentored them, as they participated in treatment programs at Charis Centre. Cornerstone Alliance had a vision to provide a second stage home where these women could rebuild their lives.
Glendyne recognized the potential of the ministry and invited Cornerstone to partner with the Women’s Ministries of the Christian and Missionary Alliance to provide assistance to women who were trying to end the cycle of substance abuse, violence and prostitution. Within this time frame, Glendyne also met Shona Stewart in Regina who had started a ministry called Setting the Captives Free Ministries Inc. Shona had established this ministry to help women exit the sex trade and had created a faith based program named PEARL (Prostitutes Exiting and Restoring Life) for this purpose.
With the support of CMA Women’s Ministry, this small church of 200 boldly followed God’s leading in establishing a second stage recovery house for prostitutes coming out of an addictions recovery program. The initial financial support for Dignity House was primarily from two Christian and Missionary Alliance Women’s Ministries projects, the Canadian Midwest District 2012 project, Home of Hope and the National Women’s Ministries 2012/13 Social Justice, Compassion project, Beauty from Ashes. The support now comes from donors, churches and fundraising efforts.
The hand of God at work was obvious when you consider the connections that occurred for a common purpose. The Women’s Ministry of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and Cornerstone Alliance Church saw a need, a body of believers worked together and connections were made. Shona Stewart was invited to become the Director of Dignity House in February of 2012 and the first residents moved into Dignity House in September of 2012.
As the ministry of Dignity House expanded, it became evident that a larger church was required to be the primary support of the ministry and a new partnership with Kilcona Park Alliance was established. The ministry of Dignity House continues to be endorsed by the Christian and Missionary Alliance and now has accountability to and support from Kilcona Park Alliance. The ministry is also blessed by the involvement of many other churches and denominations in Winnipeg and nationally through prayer and financial support.