HIM graduates discover hope and a new purpose

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Hope Inspired Ministries’ Lowndes County location held a graduation ceremony on Oct. 13 at Imago Dei Church at the 45 in Hayneville. 

The service featured awards and testimonies of how HIM helped graduates find hope and a new purpose.

Demetrist Porter came to HIM feeling lost, longing to find her purpose.

Email newsletter signup

“I asked God if I do have a purpose,” Porter reflected. “I couldn’t eat, nor sleep. I even stopped being the best mom and wife.”

When Porter’s friend Lucy Burrell called, inviting her to join HIM’s program, Porter said her outlook began to change.

“On the first day of class, I received a book, ‘The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For,’ and all I could say was. ‘Thank you, Lord,’” Porter exclaimed.

HIM serves the chronically unemployed by preparing and equipping them to obtain, maintain, and excel at employment. Roughly 96% of the Lowndes students are African American, and 81% are also single.

“Our students come from all walks of life,” explained site director Jessica Fails. “We pride ourselves on meeting them where they are to make them self‐sufficient. Some of our students have addiction, death of family members, and rough bumps in the road.”

Ministry participants learn about technology basics, communications, personal growth, job preparation, workplace behaviors, wellness, financial management, and problem solving. Many say they also gained much more than job skills training.

Brenda Lane, also invited by Burrell, came to HIM after the death of her father left her feeling lost and without hope.

“After the death of my father, I was always angry, bitter, unhappy, depressed, and stressed,” Lane reflected. “But when I enrolled in Hope Inspired Ministries, [counselors] listened to my story. My life map opened my eyes to let me know that everything’s gonna be alright. My anger began to turn into happiness. My bitterness is turning to sweet.”

Fails said she witnesses the students transform from their first day in the program. 

“They come to us with what seems to be life changing problems, but we see them take the problems head on and succeed through life and grow into their purpose,” she said.

The ministry offers students a devotion each morning. According to executive director John Bowman, some students develop a relationship with Christ while in the program.

“I often tell people we meet our students exactly where they are, just like Jesus did,” Bowman said. “This means in the middle of their brokenness, addiction, criminal background, broken relationship, mental illness, etc. Meeting them where they are means loving them unconditionally and encouraging them every step of the way.”

Burrell said HIM taught her about the Bible and about herself.

“I learned who we are and what we are living for,” Burrell said. “I learned that better friendship with God is what He wants us to do.”

HIM expanded to open the Lowndes County location in 2020 through a joint effort with the Montgomery Baptist Association and operates in the association’s Hayneville Mobilization Center.

“It had been the desire of HIM founder, Michael Coleman, to have a physical presence in the county where he was born,” recalled MBA Director of Missions Neal Hughes. “After much prayer, I felt that HIM fit the purpose of God’s gift to the MBA of the mobilization center.”

Local business and churches also help — serving as mentors, providing daily lunches, or driving students to appointments or to gain necessary credentials.

Volunteer Davey Lyons, who pastors Imago Dei, said HIM helps participants discover God’s purpose in work.

“HIM helps people who need help to get a job,” Lyon said. “But mainly, they teach [students] they have a purpose, that God’s created them, and He loves them. HIM gives them the hope of the gospel and shows them their purpose is found in Christ.”

The recent award of an Alabama Department of Commerce’s Delta Regional Authority Grant will allow the ministry to expand services into The Calhoun School and Central High School in Hayneville early in 2023. Seniors who participate can earn Alabama Certified Worker and ACT WorkKeys Certificates.

The ministry is seeking additional staff and volunteers. For more information, visit hopeinspiredministries.org.