Editor’s note: The 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting this November in the heart of Appalachia. This article is part of a series looking at some of the ministries Kentucky Baptists might want to visit in the days before and after the annual meeting, which will be in Pikeville on Nov. 13.
Andrea walked in the door for the fourth time, “Hey, I just need $10, just $10 to get my daughter’s medicine. She’s over there.” She pointed across the street to a well-known meth house. I looked at the clock. “Andrea,” I said, “It’s a quarter past eleven in the morning, and it’s the middle of the week. Why is she not in school today?”
“Would you like us to pray for her?”
“No, I just need $10, just the $10 to get her medicine. Please. She needs her medicine!”
“Maybe we should call Cathy at the health department.”
“Andrea, your daughter was taken by foster care a week ago. Let me call Marshall, or Kayla from Addiction Recovery.”
“Oh, thank you! You call them. I have to go check on my daughter, and I’ll be back in an hour.”
With that, she left. She wouldn’t be back in an hour.
She would come back, however, six times before she overdosed and was hospitalized.
Eddie was in the next room with one of our new volunteers during this encounter. Eddie is a client as well. A somewhat reformed gang member, work-in-progress, who has distinct knowledge of exactly what $10 can buy on the street, and is using his entrepreneurial spirit to carve out a better life for himself in our employment program. He would be shipping out for Lexington in the next two days for a sober living home.
Eddie understood fully why giving Andrea $10 would have been ill advised.
“Shoot, don’t you know what ten bucks can buy?” asked Eddie incredulously. “She could buy two pills, grind them down, add some stuff, and resell those two pills for $40, then she can party!”
The drug trade from the late 1990’s has left an open wound on eastern Kentucky that needs critical care. There have been hundreds of relief efforts, from hundreds of organizations that pinpoint certain needs, but the effect of an increased drug trade and criminality, added to a chronically impoverished area that had taken economic hit after economical hit, is seemingly hopeless.
But there is hope.
Hope Central began its life as a resource center to the immediate community, but as we grew, we realized that the organizations themselves had needs. What good did it do for a food pantry to give a seven-day box to a family who had no electricity? So, we began putting together “complementary” organizations and ministries. We also began what we refer to as “gap” ministries on site. Many of our affiliates have an area within their organization where some “specialization” may be required. For instance, our “Baby Bank” is a gap ministry we do in conjunction with Two Heart’s Pregnancy Care Center (which provides pre-natal and new born supplies) and The Dressing Room (which provides school age to adult clothing). Our program works in conjunction with theirs to “fill the gap” of needs of kids 2 years to second grade. Our motto became, “Strengthen the Brethren, Fill the Gaps!”
Working with agencies, government, ministries, churches, non-profits, businesses, and individuals, we combine the efforts and have created a “one stop shop” for people who have need, any need, pointing them to the right provider, all the while telling them of the One who can provide for them eternally.
Renee' Parsons is director of Hope Central in Ashland, an organization that ministers to the spiritual and physical needs of people in eastern Kentucky. Learn more at www.hcashland.com.