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New ministry forming to help those in need

When Loretta Bryant received the vision of a ministry to helpsenior citizens and low income families, she knew she would need tofind people who could share her dream and help her make it areality.

After long hours spent in prayer, Bryant spoke with Linda Warrenand Lennie Lewis-Bracey, and the three women put together AgapeFirst Response Ministries, Inc., a place for people to go in timesof need.

Bryant said her first idea was to provide utility assistance andtransportation for the elderly and for families who can’t affordit.

“We don’t have a taxi or any kind of public transportation,” shesaid. “It was a vision that God gave me to provide transportationfor senior citizens.”

From there the idea grew and has now blossomed into a plan tooffer utility assistance, referrals and counseling as well.

“There are so many people that have crises and needs that needto be met,” said Warren. “And we can offer that help to anyone whoneeds it.”

The mission statement of Agape First Response Ministry is “tohelp those in need through training, encouragement, and financialassistance,” and the goal is stated in their brochure as “to helpas many people as possible, and to help them be helpful to someoneelse.”

The idea has been coming to fruition since the three women puttheir heads together in August of 2006, but they have been in theircurrent location at 747 Industrial Park Road for about three weeksnow.

The women said the ministry is priding itself on helping peopleacross the racial boundaries, because God does not see incolor.

“The thing we want people to know is that we have to moveforward from yesterday and keep pressing on,” said Lewis-Bracey.”We can’t let what has been in the past slow us down, because if wedon’t move forward, we stagnate.”

Lewis-Bracey said they will start actively taking applicationsfor assistance August 1.

The service will offer utility assistance for those in times ofcrisis, as well as counseling, different financial and homeimprovement classes, and other services to be announced.

Warren said the business is aiming to find help for anyone whoneeds it, almost like a group of guardian angels.

“We try to be, anyway,” she said.

The final stages of funding the charity are in the worksnow.

“Right now we’re raising funds to subsidize our business,” shesaid. “And we could have the transportation up and running rightnow if we had the vehicles.”

What the women are praying for is a miracle in the area of thetransportation ministry.

“We were hoping to raise enough funds to begin to find vehiclesto transport people,” said Lewis-Bracey. “There are so many placeswe can get secondary funding, but they won’t do it until you haveall of your equipment.”

Bryant said any auto donation would be a help at this stage,just to get the service on the road.

“It can come in with the wheels off,” she said. “We’ll take anyauto that’s available. We’re not choosy.”

The business is a 501 C-3, is tax-exempt, and incorporated bythe state of Mississippi as a charity. The women said several areachurches, community leaders and businesses have been generous intheir help with the startup of the ministry.

Pending their opening for business, the ministry is sponsoringtwo different fundraisers, one is a basketball tournament to beheld July 28, and one is a penny drive.

Customers at Happy Food Mart, Desirable Hair, Toot’s Florist,Antecho Salon, Sonya’s Wig Shop, Unity One, the Boys and GirlsClubs, and Bread of Life Christian Book Store can drop their extrachange in the jars to donate to help Agape’s ministry.

Anyone who wants to donate or help Agape with their startup caneither call the ministry direct at (601) 823-4175, or they candonate to Agape directly through the Bank of Brookhaven.