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Plans for ex-convicts, drug addicts, homeless church

Plans for ex-convicts, drug addicts, homeless church

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Plans are underway for the establishment of a church with a difference, designed to cater to the needs of ex-convicts, drug addicts and the homeless.{{more}}

Two officials from the Set Free Ministries, which sprang up in Los Angeles, California, more than 28 years ago, are here in St. Vincent doing in the groundwork for an institution which they believe will be a blessing to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Pastor Ron Thomas and Pastor Kirk Overstreet, both of whom have had their struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness, are part of a six-man team who are here for one week, spreading the word of God, counseling, and paving the way for a church, which will be one of few in the region.

The team includes Kirk’s father Pastor Don Overstreet, who is a veteran church planter and strategist; Mark Hammond, Director of Missions for Los Angeles Baptist churches; new church starting specialist for California Southern Baptist Churches Ross Shepherd, and Professor Rodney Harrison of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Kansas City, Missouri.

Last Saturday, January 8, the Overstreets and Thomas, accompanied by evangelist Steve Duncan, canvassed the Paul’s Avenue community, looking for an area to hold an outdoor meeting as well as ministering to residents of the area.

According to Overstreet, the passion of the Set Free Ministry is to approach the forgotten members of society and bring them to an environment which offers them hope and show them that Jesus still loves them.

“When we do an outreach, we don’t want the people to come to church; we go to them sharing testimonies of victory over drugs and different lifestyles that God saved us from.”

When they get saved, we take their names, find out who they are. We ask them ‘hey are you struggling with drugs? Are you struggling with something in your life that you really want to get conquered, are you homeless? We say come home with us.”

“We are not here just to talk it; we will take it another step: we will give you our shirt, we will have you come live with us if needs be; we train you up to get into a job and try to get you an income to take care of yourself.”

The men are optimistic that their church will soon be set up, but in the mean time are looking for an outpost where they can have fellowship and offer assistance to those who seek it.

Pastor Thomas noted that they are hoping to secure a location which is outside their normal surroundings.

“…We take them to our ‘ranch’ to get them away from the local environment. It’s not so much of a geographical change, it’s just a chance to get them set aside long enough for the addiction to settle and get the dust off and then to teach them the word of God, teach them about Jesus and strengthen them.”

“The cool thing about that is that people like myself have gone through this process and got trained up and those are the kind of guys you want to use, because they know everybody in this community.”

“And when we train them up, as they begin to walk with the Lord and we send them out, people will see the power of God moving in their lives… they would want the same thing in their lives because they know without a shadow of a doubt this guy/girl didn’t do it on their own; that had to take the power of God to move in their lives.”

Thomas, who testified that he once lived in a cardboard box in the downtown Los Angeles area called Skid Row, where he now has a church, said that he was once a crack/cocaine addict who had a change of heart when he was told of God’s love by a small child. He said that he was moved to reach out to others on the streets, in order to take them to Christ.

The younger Overstreet, who grew up in St. Vincent in the late 70’s, also turned to drugs in his early life.

He was finally encouraged to turn his life around and is now a Junior Minister at a Set Free church in Yucipa, California.

If all goes according to plan, the team will hold an outreach meeting in the heart of the Paul’s Lot community this Thursday, January 13, where they intend to minister to not only the homeless and hopeless, but also to any who need a change in their lives and in their hearts.

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