Like lepers of the bible, the people of inner cities are considered by many to be unclean. While we do not require them to walk down the streets announcing themselves, we do try to avoid those unsavory areas of our towns as much as possible. In Griffin, Georgia, that is changing because in July 2007 Ron and Wanda Cook opened the doors to Rushton’s Hope, a faith-based ministry serving an especially impoverished part of the city. Like many places across America the loss of textile mills and manufacturers left the people of the area hurting even before the economic crisis. The current unemployment rate in Griffin is 18% and people are struggling to survive.
After several years on a church staff, the Cooks felt God’s call to serve the homeless, poverty-stricken and often unseen of their hometown. A desire to see the people of the old Ruston‘s Mill community hear the Good News from within grew in the Cooks’ hearts. The couple own a home and live right in the midst of the “hood.” They strive to meet real needs in the community and by doing so are given an opportunity to share Jesus. In addition to meeting some immediate needs for food and clothing, those who require assistance in getting legal identification and other documents or who need to find somewhere to come clean from drugs or alcohol seek help.
At Rushton’s Hope they found one of the biggest concerns to be a need for food over weekends when Meals-on-Wheels and other resources are not available. To address this, Wanda lovingly prepares a home-cooked meal for folks who attend the Sunday evening service, never offering anything she wouldn’t serve guests in her home.
Rushton’s Hope is not a hook-em, dunk-em, and done place. Both those seeking and those who have come to Christ are discipled through Bible study and mentoring. Some of the men Ron has had the pleasure of seeing come to know the Lord are now working alongside him, and Wanda is hopeful that soon she will have some women from Bible study doing the same with her.
Every day brings new opportunity, and Ron says they never know what each day will hold. There are some constants: Sunday services, morning Bible study for men, Wednesday Bible study for women. Special events such as a back to school block party and a vacation Bible school for the many neighborhood children are planned for the summer. In the past three years, Ron and Wanda have received no salary or financial support from a mission board. They see miracles in God’s provision for them constantly. Certainly they miss some of the amenities a paycheck affords but there is no doubt this is where God has called them to serve. A ministry such as this is relatively new; Memphis has something similar and others are cropping up throughout the United States. With no instruction manual to guide them, the Cooks continue to learn as they go. But go they do–serving, touching, loving, and telling in the name of Jesus.
To learn more about Rushton’s Hope visit the website at http://www.rushtonshope.org.