LEARN MORE ABOUT HOPE INSPIRED MINISTRIES
(Interview with Faith Radio 12/17/12)
Moments Like These
Make It All Worth It
Our life skill that we are
focusing on this week has been on relationships. We teach our students to
identify each person in their life in one of three categories: mentor, menace,
or mystery. A mentor is someone that desires the best for you and one that you
need to draw closer to in your life. A menace is someone that is not truly
interested in your best interest and therefore need to exclude from your life.
A mystery is someone that you have not yet determined whether they are a mentor
or menace and therefore need to establish healthy boundaries with until that
determination is made.
One morning in a discussion with
the men, I challenged them to foster the positive relationships (mentors) they
had in their lives. I asked them to identify those who they were closest to and
to let them know how important they were to their lives and how much they loved
and appreciated them. This is something that was a novel concept to them.
One student who is 18 years old
said that he could not do that with his mother. When I asked why not, he told
me “because if I tell my mom I love her
and appreciate her, she will think I am playing her”. I believe there are a couple of reasons for
this response. First, he has been guilty of emotionally manipulating his mother
in the past and she would naturally question how genuine he was if he, out of
the blue, showered her with love and praise. Second, it is symptomatic of what
plagues many men which is, we are scared to express genuine feelings and
emotions for fear of what people will do with them. In fact, in inner city
culture, it is a sign of weaknesses to cry or even express sadness and pain
over almost anything.
Nevertheless, I convinced him to
not predetermine his mother’s reaction and communicate to her how he felt. The
next day I asked him if he did it. He got this smile on his face, pulled out
his phone, and said, “Let me show you”. Here is a picture that I took of the
When I asked him how that made him feel he rubbed his chest and said, “All
warm inside.” Hopefully this is one lesson that truly sank home.
Loving Them Enough to
Let Them Go(2/14/14)
The events of this week remind
me of an encounter between Jesus and a rich young man. Most of you know the
story…a young man wants to know how to obtain eternal life. The young man was
obviously very religious by the fact that he was great at keeping the law. But
Jesus challenged him with a deeper truth which is that he had to love Him more
than his wealth. The young man was willing to give Jesus part of his life but
not all of it. So the young man turned and walked away from Jesus.
While there are many great
lessons that can be gleaned from this meeting, one that is impressed upon my
mind is how Jesus let this man just walk away. He didn’t chase after him and
say, “I was just kidding” or “I will compromise the truth for you”. The truth
is that Jesus loved this man like He does all of creation. He wanted him as a
disciple…but on Jesus’ terms and not the young man’s terms.
This week I had to dismiss four
students; two men and two women. I found no joy in doing so at all. In fact, my
heart aches over their situation. We desperately wanted them to become
successful. However, much like the rich young man in the story, they wanted to
do it on their terms. They wanted what was being offered (a chance at future
employment) but were not willing to make the changes necessary to be
successful. The reality is that they
have not hit rock bottom yet. They want to change but do not want it enough to
actually go through the challenges to accomplish real and meaningful change. It
is kind of like me and eating sweets… (but I digress).
This is actually a situation we
face daily…when to let go and when to hold on. I pray daily for wisdom and for
God to lead me to a proper understanding in each case. A simple test I try to
apply is asking myself this question, “Do I want this for the student more than
he wants this for himself?” If the answer is “yes”, then I have to love him
enough to let him go, pray that he soon hits his bottom, and returns with an
attitude that says, “I am now ready to become what God has created me to
become.” I ask that you pray this for all our past, present, and future
The Ongoing Drug Problem
There has been a lot mentioned in the
news lately in reference to drug abuse. It ranges from the extreme of the
heroin overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman to the legalization in Washington and
Colorado of recreational marijuana use. Regardless of where you stand on the
legalization of marijuana use, we need to understand how it hurts those are
fighting to get out of a life of poverty.
Here is why I
believe it to be so harmful. Almost all of our students have spent their lives
running from real emotions such as anger, pain, sorrow, etc. If they can escape
having to deal with emotions, then they are not faced with the need to make the
necessary changes to become a different and better person. In other words, they
fail to grow from bad experiences. We all know that God allows us to face these
emotions in an effort to turn us back towards Him. If we can zone out, even for
a little while, then the pain is removed and my need for change lessens. The
bottom line for us is that marijuana itself is not an addictive substance but
the escape that it provides does become addictive.
this, allow me to explain how our drug policy works. If a potential student is
otherwise well qualified for our program but is positive for marijuana (not
other drugs), we sometimes accept them on a probationary basis. We allow them
time for the marijuana to work out of their system (usually four weeks) and
then test them again. If they are clean, they are allowed to stay in the
program. If they test positive, they are immediately dismissed because it
demonstrates a continued use. Just this past Monday we tested six students that
we accepted on a probationary status and five of them tested clean. One tested
positive and was dismissed from the program.
is evidence that our students, having been given the chance to change, have
chosen to face life soberly and seriously. While we were sorry to have to say
goodbye to one of our students due to drugs, we rejoice over the five that are
well onto a better path for themselves and their future!
CLASS NEWS AND NOTES(01/28/2014)
I want to take the opportunity this
week to share with you a critical need in our program. It seems to crop up once
or twice every class. Although we do not accept students with unstable living
situations, occasionally a student finds themselves homeless. This creates a
situation where making successful changes to their lives becomes nearly
impossible. There are a couple of temporary shelters but the use of drugs is very
prominent in many of these places and creates an even worse environment for our
As a result, we need loving, Christian
homes that would be willing to temporarily open their homes to a student. It
would be an adult foster care program so to speak.
Let me share with you the person I have
in mind. We had a student whose mom and sister live in Georgia and he was left
to live with his grandmother and uncle. The other day, this student had an
altercation which was initiated by his uncle. His grandmother sided with the
uncle and the result was she threw him out onto the street. He is a 20 year old
male who has no one here in Montgomery in which to turn. We genuinely feel that
he has tons of potential or we would not waste our time with him. We are asking
for a Christian family to allow him to stay in their home.
Here are a few anticipated questions
that I hope to answer in advance:
about transportation? Each
of our students is provided a monthly bus pass to get them to school and
about safety? We
will share all our student's background with the provider. No one with a
violent background or a propensity for violence will be placed in anyone's
about additional costs such as clothes, food, etc.? The only additional cost that a family would
incur is the additional food they would eat and household utilities. We
will cover any expenses. If the student requires medical attention (other
than emergency care) please contact Michael or Leanne for instructions.
about liability issues? Each
student will sign a liability waiver which will protect the provider from
happens if it simply does not work out? Notify us immediately of any problems and
they will be addressed. If the provider no longer wishes to participate or
the burden of care becomes too great, they can cancel the agreement and
other arrangements for care will be made.
would be a typical length of stay? Our best guess at this point would be 3-4
there specific responsibilities the provider must adhere to? We ask that each student be treated as you
would any other family member. They should be expected to do chores
(inside and outside) as well as attend church or any other functions the
family participates in. They both need, and in most cases, desire this
type of structure and accountability.
would I contact with issues? I
or Leanne will be available 24 hours a day at 334-210-0604 (Michael) and
We are hopeful that with 5-10 families
willing to provide this type care, we will not need a single family to do this
more than once every two years.
If you have questions
or responses, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of a family who might be interested in serving in this capacity,
please forward this blog to them.
MEET OUR NEW CLASS!We are off to an incredible start with our
new class! All indications are they are highly motivated, enthusiastic,
and ready for the challenges of our training. God has placed all of these
23 individuals in our path, each with different stories to share and challenges
to overcome. We at Hope Inspired Ministries are excited about the chance to
share life with our students and guide them through these challenges in order
to become all that God has created them to become.
Many of you know that, during the first week
of every class, we get our students to write a short statement as to why they
are here. We post their reasons on the wall for them to see every day so they
can always remember what they are working towards when it gets really hard.
We give them a sheet of paper that states,
"I am at Hope Inspired Ministries because _______" and they identify
specific reasons why they are here. I want to share with you some of the
responses that were given:
Student #1 "To better myself and turn my
life around and become a better person...and take care of my family."
Student #2 "Because I am tired of doing
the same thing and getting the same result."
Student #3 "I need to better myself and
then I can help others to become better."
Student #4 "To make my mother
Student #5 "I want to change my
lifestyle, get my G.E.D., and have a good job."
Student #6 "To change my life completely
Student #7 "To learn more about myself
so I can learn to stay clean and pursue a career and get closer to
Student #8 "I have never given myself a
real chance to make a change in my life."
Student #9 "I want to succeed."
Student #10 "I am determined to do
better than my current circumstances."
Student #11 "I refuse to live in the
past. I choose to change today for a better tomorrow."
Student #12 "I want to expand my
knowledge and learn social skills."
Student #13 "I am here to bring the
inside on the outside."
Student #14 "I want to push harder to a
Student #15 "I am ready for a new
While I didn't mention every student (due to
some repetition), you can't help but be impressed at the attitude our students
have. They know they must change and they are willing to be try something
different so they can produce a different result. Of course, all will not be
successful, at least with this first attempt. But some lives will forever be
changed and that is worth every ounce of effort that is put forth. Please pray
for each of them to achieve their goals and realize what God is calling each of
them to become.
Graduation and Student Speeches
Thursday, we had our biggest graduation to date, both in the number of
graduates and the size of our audience. In fact, attendance was so good that we
are going to have to move our location for our reception next graduation. What
a great problem to have!
students walked across the stage and told our audience about the many changes
that have taken place in their lives over the previous 13 weeks. For those in
our audience, it was quite moving. To add to the excitement, most of our
students have already been hired as a result of their performance during their
internships as well.
with past practice, we will send out our students’ speeches over the coming
weeks. This will allow those who were unable to attend the graduation to share
in the successes of our students. I believe that the speeches will both move
and encourage you and will serve as proof that some of the most broken in our
society can be reached in the name of our Lord Jesus! Enjoy!
everyone, my name is Friencherria Burch. Before coming to Hope Inspired
Ministries, I had no direction. I had dropped out of school at 16 and sat
at home doing nothing. Don't get me wrong, I am not a lazy person, but my
self-esteem would not allow it. At 19, the time I was ready to do
something, I found out I was pregnant with my son. After I had my son, I
felt I had to be with him every minute. I wanted to guide him in the right
direction but in reality, although I was helping him, I was going in the wrong
direction for our family.
day my sister came up to me with a Hope Inspired Ministries pamphlet and told
me all about meeting Michael. Just 15 minutes later my Mom brought me the same
pamphlet. At that moment I thought "This must be a sign." I have a 5
month old son who is counting on me to make a better life and I felt this might
be the way to do that for us.
called Hope Inspired Ministries to schedule an interview and that day my
blessing came true because it was the last day for interviews. Another blessing
came when out of all the interviews they had I was chosen to become a student
here. I came to Hope Inspired Ministries and did what I had to do to make a
better life for me and my son. So here I am 13 weeks later!!!
approaching my wedding date in January. I will continue to volunteer at
the YMCA where I had my internship, to continue to learn good work habits and
stay on a good path. I am still working towards my GED, and am continuing
to apply for jobs. In the future I want to go back to school and study
psychology. Since being in the classes at Hope Inspired Ministries I have also
moved closer to God and as every day goes by I believe that I will get even
For that I
want to thank the entire staff of Hope Inspired Ministries: Michael Coleman,
Leanne Armstrong, Barbara Anderson, my teacher Ashton Herrod. I would also like
to thank my mentor, Anna McKee for being there for me and being an ear when
something was bothering me.
Above all I
would like to thank God for my healthy son, Latayvian Pettiway and my fiancé
Larry Pettiway. I am thankful to stand in front of you this evening. I am
grateful I have had this opportunity. Thank you.
My name is
Anthony Cornley and I am 31 years old. Before I started going to Hope
Inspired Ministries, my life was totally different. My life was up and
down. In my past I did things that I regret to this day.
smoking and drinking at an early age. It was cool at first, but I got
older and I felt I was wasting my time doing it. Smoking weed was good
when I needed it, but it was holding me back from doing what I needed to do.
smoking when I met the mother of my children. I was 22. She was a
big inspiration to me. She was the only female I talked to that knew me
better than I knew myself. Things were going good for us and we had three
beautiful kids together.
was pregnant with our youngest child, the doctor told her she was high
risk. That meant that either she or the baby was going to live, but not
both. After she delivered they both appeared to be alright, but then my
wife took a turn for the worst. They put her in the Intensive Care Unit
and she was on a ventilator to help her breath. She was on the ventilator
for two months and didn't make any progress and so they took her off.
passed away November 11, 2009. It was very hard for me because I was
losing my other half. My little boy was alright but I took her death
hard. I was 27.
going back to my bad habits again. I was smoking weed and drinking so I
wouldn't think about what happened. One day my mom and dad went to a
church to get some food. Next to that church was a place that helped you
find a job and get a GED. My daddy came home and told me about it and I
went and signed up the next day.
I talked to
them and I was in class the next week. That was my blessing to get out of
the streets and get my life together because I was also going in and out of
jail. When I started school at Hope Inspired Ministries, things started
to go good for me again. Michael and Leanne changed my life whether they
knew it or not.
well in class and I am learning how to control my attitude. I have been blessed
ever since I started this school. One of the positive changes I have made
is going back to church.
is I am now at my internship at Chappy's, and taking a GED class. They
like me at Chappy's because they say I work hard and catch on fast. They
have already offered me a job there when I finish Hope Inspired
I am doing
well at my GED class too. My teacher told me if I went and took my GED
test right now, I would probably pass it. Things are going very good for
me and I don't even think about my bad past anymore.
I live with
my mom and dad and I am raising my children. They are ages 7, 6, and 4.
I'm enjoying the present and looking forward to the future. That's
why I am grateful for being at Hope Inspired Ministries, because they have made
me a better person.
I want to
thank my momma and my daddy and my kids for motivating me. I want to also
thank Michael and Leanne and the whole Hope Inspired Ministries staff. I
want to thank my mentor, Gary Mitchell, my classmates, my internship provider,
Chappy's Deli, and all of the people who donated lunches for us. Most of
all I want to thank God for bringing me to where I am today. Thank you.
There is a verse in the book of Malachi which says, “Bring
all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.
If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of
heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room
to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Mal 3:10
When Hope Inspired Ministries began almost two full years
ago, I truly wanted to be that person who trusted this ministry to the care of
God. God challenges his people to test Him and see if what He says is not true.
Two years later, God has proven here to be what all the Scriptures say He is…a
God who is faithful to His promises. Let me share with you some of the special
blessings that we have encountered here:
First Baptist Church opened up their doors to this
ministry from the very beginning by providing us enough office and classroom
space to host H.I.M. In addition, they have never charged us one cent for any
of the utilities we use. For us to have a great location in downtown Montgomery
at no charge is truly a blessing that is hard to put into words. We cannot
thank Jay Wolf, Jane Ferguson, and all the wonderful Christians at First
Baptist for their hospitality!
Then I think of all the men and women who provide lunch
for our students every day of class. When people ask me how we have gathered
such a volunteer force to accomplish this, I tell them that it is a testament
to the heart for God they possess. For this last class, our lunch requirement
was going to be doubled because of the growth of our program. After three
messages sent over Facebook, every lunch date for the 13 period had been
filled. We even were having to turn some away who wanted to join in. Praise God
for all you volunteers who have prepared wonderful meals for our students!
We have another special group of men and women who come
once a week to mentor our students. They are not here to “fix” them but simply
share life with them. They share a meal together and build relationship with
one another. The idea is that both parties will grow in love and appreciation
for the other one. These relationships, that encourage our students to continue
on, are critical towards accomplishing their goal of graduation and ultimately
Of course, none of this would be possible without the
businesses, churches, and individuals that give of their resources to support
what we do. I have been amazed at the people who have stepped forward to offer
financial support for H.I.M. Some of the gifts are big and some are small but
all are critical to our success and are appreciated so much! We value
everything done in the name of our Lord Jesus!
We have incredible teachers and tutors who freely share
their expertise in order to advance the education of our students. These giving
men and women are vital to accomplishing the academic goals we have set for our
students. Thank you!
Because of God’s faithfulness to what we are doing, we
are very excited about all the possibilities going forward in 2014. I truly
feel like our storehouses are overflowing due to God’s blessings. Please know
how important you all are to our success and how pleasing it must be to God to
serve Him in this way!
We ask that you keep praying for us and helping us by spreading
the word about what we are doing to get people off of dependency and into a
self-sufficient lifestyle and to become all that our God has created them to
Male Student of the Week
Great job James!
Female Student of the Week
Well done Shannon and Tanja!
Sometimes It Gets Really
We had two challenging situations that occurred with our
students this past week. I wanted to share them with you to give you a sense of
the accountability we bring to the table but also the compassion that is needed
One male student came to us last Thursday and expressed
frustration with where he was in the course. This is not uncommon for students
to experience this feeling as they are making the transition from where they
are to where they need to be. When we sat down with him to talk about it, he
said, in essence, he was ready to quit. We really encouraged him to stick with
it because he had already made such tremendous progress and we didn’t want him
to throw it all away after eight weeks. We told him to go home and pray about
the decision and think about what he is potentially would be giving up if he
When Monday came rolling around, this student was not in
class. We thought that he had made his decision and had given up. He would have
normally been expelled from our program for being a no-call/no-show to class.
However, things are not always so black and white.
We talked to his federal parole officer who went to this
student’s house and spent over an hour talking to him and encouraging him not
to give up. Just a side note, it is really encouraging to see a probation
officer go the extra mile to help his parolee prosper. The next morning, this
student walked in my office. He apologized for quitting and we had a long
discussion as to what his issues truly are. He has agreed to further counseling
to deal with some underlying issues that are affecting his outlook on life. The
bottom line is that we decided to give him one more chance and he was back in
class by Thursday with a fresh new attitude.
On a more frustrating note, we had a female student who
walked out of her internship on Tuesday afternoon without notifying anyone she
was leaving. She did not report to her internship the next day nor did she come
to class on Thursday. Needless to say she has been expelled. It is hard to
believe that she would behave like this in her 9th week of training.
To make matters worse, her mentor showed up here on Thursday with a job offer
for her; one in which she sacrificed due to her unwillingness to stick it out.
Now the opportunity has gone to another student so not all is lost.
I pray for wisdom almost every day. I vacillate between
thinking I am too hard or not hard enough. Rarely is the situation clear-cut.
We must have strict accountability while also understanding that our students
are overcoming quite a lot of brokenness even to get to this point. Sometimes
all it takes is a little more encouragement to get them back on track.
Please pray daily for God to provide our students the
wisdom and strength they need to complete this training, get a job, and become
self-sufficient. Some have further to go than others but all of them are
experiencing multiple changes which can be really tough. They need your prayers
and your encouragement!
A Heartwarming Benefit
We had a wonderful gathering last night at the Capital
City for our first annual benefit dinner. It was an opportunity to share just a
little of the transformative power God demonstrates in the lives of our students.
Luventhia Moore, who graduated in our very first class in
August, shared with the audience her remarkable transformation over the past 14
months. Luventhia (we all call her Lulu) came to us as a 23 year old on
disability for a mental health issue. The reality was that she simply had
problems controlling her anger; she was not mentally ill. And why not…her
mother was a crack addict who died from AIDS, she was brought up by a
grandmother who didn’t know how to show love, she experienced abuse in many
different forms, and she had her only child removed from her home by Child
Protective Services. But that was then and this is now!
Now, through hard work and determination, Lulu maintains
a full-time position with Montgomery Veterinarian Associates as well as a job
sitting with the elderly on the weekend. Her personal life has taken shape
because she got rid of a troubled relationship where her boyfriend was in and
out of jail. Now her spare time is spent with the youth at her church where she
volunteers her time as a youth pastor. She has obtained and maintained her own
apartment in preparation for the return of her son. Speaking of which, she has
petitioned the court to regain custody of her son and her court date is January
28, 2014. Please pray that she is reunited again with her child. Luventhia is
just one of many examples of the transformation that can take place when you
invest yourself into the lives of others through meaningful relationship and
We also were blessed to hear the story from a current
student Anthony Corley. Anthony told a story of his wife passing away after
giving birth to their third child. She was in a coma for the last two months until
a decision was made to allow her to pass. Anthony, who admitted past marijuana
and alcohol abuse, was not well-equipped to raise these three children as
things were. But given the opportunity to come to our training, Anthony got off
the drugs and alcohol and has become a man with a purpose. He has taken his
studies very seriously and, as a result, has already been offered a job! His
future is bright and Anthony feels that he is on a path to restoring his life
to what God intended him to be!
I want to say thank you again to all of our many donors
and volunteers who make this transformative ministry possible. Our students’
success is due to what you do and, of course, we all do this for the glory of
I hope you all plan to come to our graduation on December
5th and hear many stories just like these. I guarantee you that your
heart will be touched in a lasting way!
For Him, Michael
Next week our students will go to their internship
assignments for two days each week. They will still attend class two days a
week as well. I want to take just a minute to recognize our internship partners
and thank them for their assistance (the number in parentheses represent the
number of internships provided): Reinvention by G.E.A.R.(1), Alabama Department
of Community and Economic Affairs (3), Jones Brothers Roofing (1), Y.M.C.A.
(1), Partner’s Realty (1), Montgomery Area Food Bank (2), Family Guidance
Center (1), Heritage Baptist Child Care Center (1), and Chappy’s Deli (2). They
all have been a blessing to this ministry!
I want to share with you what happened yesterday
afternoon. Each student was driven by a staff member to the place where their internship
was taking place. I personally had four students in my car. As we were
approaching the ADECA surplus facilities, one student said from the back seat,
“I am really excited about this.” The student in the front seat echoed those
exact same sentiment. When I returned I learned that the other students
expressed similar feelings. I could not help but ask myself, “Why are our
students so excited about going to a place of business that they are going to
have to work very hard for no money?” The answer to the question is because
this is a fresh start for them. They finally see a light at the end of the
tunnel. This is the beginning of a brighter future and they are motivated about
the chance to prove themselves worthy of the opportunity provided to them. They
Adding to the excitement is the idea that there are
people who really and truly believe in them. And we do! This class has been
exceptional in their attitudes, motivation, and willingness to do whatever we
have asked them. I have no doubt they will excel in their internships.
One quick note…our Annual Extra Mile Race (5K + 1 mile),
sponsored by Adams Dr