- LINDA AUSTIN
MINISTRY UPDATE - OCTOBER 2020
In 2019 – we assisted 116 people (adults and children with incarcerated parents); adults were mostly assisted with re-entry needs including housing, utilities, household goods, work-related needs, food and clothing; children & their caretakers were assisted with household needs, school supplies and Christmas.
We normally have ongoing church services and Bible studies at the two closest Correctional Facilities:
At Northeast Correctional, Mountain City facilities each month:
· 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 5th Tuesdays - Bible study in the compound, 2nd Friday in the Annex
· church services the 1st & 3rd Fridays, 3rd Sundays, and 5th Wednesdays in the
compound, and the 4th Friday in the Annex.
In addition to these Bible studies, we also held a New Believers Class and a Purpose Driven Life Class in 2019, finishing early in 2020 due to delays within the facility (lockdowns and Christmas events).
December 3rd, 6th, 7th, 10th, and 11th we had 193 Volunteers (including 15 college students from Virginia Highlands Community College) to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus at all 3 locations of Northeast Correctional Complex!
734 Inmates and Officers were fed (687 Inmates – Each received a gift bag, which included a written prayer by one of the volunteers) and 47 Officers.
29 Men came up to pray; 24 rededicated themselves to the Lord; and, 65 said YES to Jesus!
We were working to begin Bible studies and church services at the Carter County Annex for the first time when COVID-19 suspended all services and Bible studies at all local Correctional Facilities.
We were planning to start New Believer’s Classes at all 3 NECX facilities (Mountain City & Roan Mountain, TN); new life skills classes (Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace”) was scheduled to begin in the Mountain City Annex, and possibly the Carter County Annex, and in Carter County we were planning to start parenting classes as well. We still hope and plan to begin these classes when we are permitted back into the facilities.
At Abingdon Regional Jail, we normally have 2 of our board members and volunteers who go in regularly; one is the Chaplain’s Assistant and acts as the primary Chaplain to the females; she goes in 3 days a week. One goes in weekly to facilitate “The Alpha Series” Bible study in the men’s TOP pod. We have 4 other volunteers who go in to help with Bible studies with the females. We have several female volunteers who will be helping with the TOP pod for females at ARJ once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for volunteer at the facility. We are assisting ARJ staff in plans to open that pod and will be helping with the programs, Bible and recovery studies taught in that pod.
2019 we were able to collaborate with Community Partners to sponsor “Facets of Recovery” Conference, looking at recovering from co-dependency as well as addiction, recovering professionally from addiction and incarceration, recovering physically and spiritually from addiction and incarceration, and, recovery as a community from the addiction/incarceration crisis; “Five Bridges to Wellness” and focus group with the incarcerated and previously incarcerated; Facilitators’ training for “Jobs for Life” faith-based, job-readiness program; and a Town Hall Meeting with Marvin Figueroa, Deputy Secretary of the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, with locals, as well as inmates in the TOP pod at ARJ.
Thus far in 2020, through September 30, 2020 we have assisted 99 adults and children with incarcerated parents. We have seen 9 salvations and 8 rededications through the ministry.
We have also assisted the residential programs that are open with needs as they arise – The Gray House, Hearts and Horizons and the House of Valor.
We have continued to collaborate with other ministries and agencies. Our partnerships with some of them have brought funding to Hands and Feet. We have been reimbursed for thousands of dollars spent to provide for folks we have ministered to; we have also received $20,000 from the Holy Friendship Collaborative - $10,000 is for my assistance in connecting the HF with the Faith Community in far Southwest Virginia and the second $10,000 was given to us to fund us starting Mountain Movers – Faith Coalitions in Johnson and Sullivan Counties. The Executive Committee felt this offer from the HF was something that Hands and Feet should do to further and expand our ministry. Once the pandemic leaves and it is safe to do so, we will have “Faith Community Dinners and Discussions” in those counties, like ASAC has had in several Virginia counties and subsequently form the Coalitions.
God continues to bless us, and those blessings come because of the strength and commitment of our Board and the servants that are part of this ministry. Thank you for serving! For praying! And for having a vision and being obedient to the Holy Spirit. I appreciate all of you.