Ministry on the Margins at Abundant Life (Marion)

MEET THE NEED! Those were the words I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me at the end of 2018. My family and I came to Abundant Life in October of 2017. We came eager to serve these wonderful people and this community to the best of our ability. Our vision is simple, we want to love God and people, be Jesus to our community, and advance the Kingdom of God. For the first year, God really blessed our church. We were able to remodel the church, see spiritual and numerical growth, it was a good year. However, at the end of 2018 I had a longing for more, and that is when I heard the Holy Spirit speak so clearly to my heart, “meet the need.” I have to be honest; I didn’t really know what that meant for us as church. All I know is when reading about the miracles of Jesus we constantly see Him going to the point of someone’s need and meeting them there. I began to spend a lot of time in prayer, seeking God and asking Him to bring clarity to me to understand what the need was and how to meet it. I will never forget the words the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart in early January, “You have been praying for revival. Praying for signs miracles and wonders. You have been praying for souls. Josh, as you begin to meet the need, I will begin to perform that which you have been praying for.” WOW! To make a really long story short, God began to reveal to me that our church needs to do everything we can to begin to meet the need of addiction.  

Smyth County VA has the highest rate of meth use for the whole state of Virginia, as a matter of fact; it is 16.8% above the state average for use of meth. Now, I have to be honest, I have never had a drug addiction, I am a church kid. Drugs, alcohol or anything of the such has never been an issue for me. All I know is that God began to reveal to me through many ways, that this was something our church needed to do. We began pursing how our local church could play a part in seeing the epidemic come to an end (we are believing that it will literally come to an end). I began to make calls and meet with leaders in our community. The sheriff of our town literally said to me, “We need you, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.” I called a friend who has worked in the addiction community for a long time and began to share my heart. What I didn’t know was that they had been trying to get something started in our local community and couldn’t find an open door. They had actually been praying for last 5 or 6 years for an open door in our community. We made the decision to partner with Tri-Cities recover and began the process of starting the Living Free program out of our church. Living Free is the only non-residential program that is endorsed by Teen Challenge. Ninety-three percent of people that need long term residential help will refuse to go, so something locally needs to be offered. With that being said, on May 2nd we opened Freedom Life Ministries to the public. We have a core team that has been trained to facilitate the small groups, we will feed those that attend, and do everything we can to walk them through the process of freedom. Every Thursday night, we will offer an insight group that works with those that struggle with life controlling issues. We will also offer a concerned persons group with focuses on the family members or friends that have those who are addicted in their lives, but they need help as well.   

I know that this has been a lot, but I want share this with you. When God began to direct us to begin to combat that drug epidemic and we said yes, I cannot begin to describe to you the doors that have begun to open. We have begun to see open doors of favor with our community leaders, the court system, and local law enforcement. We have had interviews with radio programs and local media. People are beginning to inquire why our church would want to offer something like this to our community. There is something powerful that takes place when we say “yes” to the thing God is telling us to do.  

I believe that the most powerful force in the world is the local church. I believe our churches are strategically placed by the hand of God to make the greatest kingdom we can in our local communities. I support church growth strategies, I read, I go to conferences, and I do all I can to learn and grow. This I know, I have to GO! I have to go and begin to meet the needs of my community and trust that God will perform what He has said. Since we said yes, it has gone beyond our community. Since January, God has opened doors globally. We are now sending support to projects in Peru, Kenya, and Bulgaria. We have missionaries in our church going to Guatemala, Kenya, and Honduras. It’s amazing what happens when we say yes! Let me encourage fellow pastors that wherever you find yourself, God has placed you there. Dream big, pour your heart into your community, and blessings and favor will be poured out upon you and your ministries.   

I am blown away at how God has been blessing our church and our local community. Please be praying for us as we begin this journey of seeing our community changed forever.

Josh Pickett 
Lead Pastor  
Abundant Life Christian Center