Missions were a major focus over the past summer, and we began to experience increased discernment and vision for what God desires as our role. Below are updates for each of our mission emphases:
- Haiti Ministry
Ever since we went on our last mission trip to Haiti in November of 2013, God has put the city of Petit Goave on our hearts. We learned that 600 children at a local school are without sponsors, teachers were not getting paid, and a church needs to be rebuilt. As we began praying and seeking the Lord, it became very clear this city is where we need to be.
Since then, we have begun work in Haiti to start meeting many of these needs. In June, we held a benefit concert with Jason Gray to raise funds to begin making a difference in Petit Goave. Because of the generosity of our event attendees, we raised over $7,000, part of which has already been used to fund the teacher’s back pay. The remaining money will be utilized for future projects.
In July, our team met with our friend and Haitian pastor, Yves Regaillard, to discuss next steps. Talking with Pastor Yves, he felt the best place to start is to develop the property of where the church is going to be located. The vision of this property is to have a multi-purpose building for a church and trade school, as well as a separate house for missionaries and pastors to stay in while ministering in Petit Goave. Therefore, we sent funds down to begin working on the property and building the missionary house.
We realize a lot of work needs to be done and it will take time to complete these projects. We understand the real need is for us to be there long-term and create stability where the school, church, and mission house can be sustainable. Our goal is not to build a few buildings and call it good, rather to build relationships and invest long-term in the people of Petit Goave.
- Mission Bible Training Center (MBTC)
For the last two years, we have done a MBTC tour where we visit several centers throughout the country. In July, we visited the MBTCs in Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama. Our friends Tru-Serva and Dj Kirk joined us as we performed music, gave testimonies, worshipped, and presented the Gospel in all the centers.
Although we go down ministering to the residents, we often leave feeling encouraged and blessed ourselves. There is something about meeting desperate people at their wit’s end and encouraging them to find Jesus. Often, we experience the most intense worship in these rehab centers, seeing God at work in their lives. God is transforming lives through the power of Jesus in these centers, and people are being set free of their addictions and turning to Christ.
We look forward to continue building relationships with MBTCs and making visits to their centers a priority. Our next MBTC event is in September at the Michigan center, and we are excited to see how God has been moving there!
- Prison Ministry
This was a big year for our prison ministry. We finalized our relationship with Prison Fellowship, and 513FREE now is a collaborator in the ministry Operation Starting Line. This allows us to visit more prisons, expanding our ability to spread the gospel in facilities across the U.S.
Last Easter Sunday, we ministered alongside of Jim Liske, CEO of PF, and other staff at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum security prison in Illinois. Additionally, we visited Cook County Jail in Chicago and Sheridan Correctional Center. At Cook County Jail, PF CEO Jim Liske gave an altar call where almost every inmate in the room raised their hands to receive Jesus!
Aside from PF events, over the summer we ministered with Brian Cole, our friend and pastor who has an incredible testimony (click here to watch), at Chippewa Valley Correctional Facility. We worshipped with the inmates, and Pastor Brian gave his testimony. Earlier in the year, we visited Stanley Correctional, Prairie Du Chien Correctional, Mineral Point Prison, Lincoln Hills & Copper Lake Schools, and Black River Correctional Boot Camp.
Moving forward, we continue to work with PF and our established connections within the Midwest to visit correctional facilities and minster the Gospel. Currently, we are planning a prison tour with PF, and later this month and in early October we will be visiting Ojibway Correctional Facility, Lincoln Hills & Copper Lake Schools, Jackson Correctional Institution, and Black River Correctional.
- B-Side (Eau Claire)
Right before summer started, we moved our offices into B-Side’s building in downtown Eau Claire. The church blessed us with opportunity to share a space with them, and we are excited to continue to develop our relationship.
Later this month, we will be helping B-Side with a few renovations to make the space more functional to carry out ministry. Additionally, we are leading a night of worship in November at B-Side and joining them for their Christmas Concerts tentatively planned for December 5 & 6. Agape also will be joining B-Side for their Christmas party which includes a meal and gifts on December 21.
As we continue to develop our relationship with B-Side, we are pursuing additional opportunities in our community. This past summer, we learned about a ministry, the Lighthouse, located near B-Side which provides a safe place for kids to hang out. We see a lot of potential in partnering with The Lighthouse, as they fit very close to our missions. In August, we brought Agape in to perform a concert for the kids at the Lighthouse, and we are now working on ways we can get more involved with that ministry.