Tony Hale has seen God’s redemptive power at work in people’s lives.
He cites the example of a couple who attended a homeless shelter Bible study. Drugs and alcohol were part of their lives and their children were taken away.
“But they came to know Jesus through Bible study and their lives changed,” Hale said. “They got their kids back. You see them on Sundays in church. They come to Bible study and different activities. That’s what God can do. God’s the only one who can change people’s lives.”
With examples like this in mind, Hale is part of the Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit organization. The Fremont man and his wife, Donna, serve on the ministry board with Jo Wacker of Hooper and Barbara Hart of Cedar Bluffs.
Last November, The Lighthouse Ministry Center, 84 W. Sixth St., in Fremont had a grand opening.
Now, a worship night is planned from 7-8:30 p.m. July 13 at the downtown center during the John C. Fremont Days festival. The public is invited.
Various non-denominational Bible studies and other events already take place at the center.
They include a:
- Large women’s book club/Bible study on Monday mornings. Approximately 10 different churches are represented. “We get people from everywhere and that’s a big thing to us — is that it be across denominational lines,” Hart said.
- Spiritually based 12-Step program for anyone on Monday nights.
- Men’s Bible Study at 1 p.m. and Impact for Women at 3 p.m. Wednesdays.
- Women’s Bible study at 12:30 p.m. Thursdays.
- Women’s prayer group at 12:30 p.m. and Women’s Over the Hill and Going Higher group at 2 p.m. Fridays.
- #SheIsFearless group for women of all ages at 7 p.m. the last Friday of each month.
- Fremont Men’s Prayer Breakfast, 7 a.m., the first Saturday of each month. Cost is $8 for breakfast. The breakfast had been at Valentino’s, which since has moved to a new location.
The ministry team also had a “Valentines for Veterans” event, which included a meal and speaker.
In the future, the ministry group hopes to offer a Bible study for couples, more outreach activities and an evening worship service.
Board members hope the ministry can be a resource for churches.
Those on the Lighthouse Ministry board have known each other for 25 years. They attended Fremont Nazarene Church and were in a small prayer group together.
Hart said the four have stayed in touch throughout the years.
“We kind of went our own separate ways, but the Lord has brought us back together,” Tony Hale said.
“Probably because of whom we minister to — the lost and broken,” Wacker added.
Hale, an ordained, licensed minister, and his wife have been involved in jail ministry for years. They’ve ministered to people with addictions.
But the group doesn’t only minister to people in these situations.
Lighthouse ministry reaches people from various walks of life and the center provides a gathering place.
“God kind of laid it on my heart to have a center to do ministry out of,” Hart said.
Hart, the Hales and Wacker discussed this at a meeting.
“And God just started throwing the doors open,” Hart said.
Hale said the desire was to have a center downtown not far from places like the Lifehouse homeless shelter, Uniquely Yours Stability Support, and Chapter 5 gathering place for Alcoholics Anonymous.
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The group found the center in what Hart describes as an “instant answer to prayer.”
“God directed the whole thing,” he said.
Group members put in a kitchen with a stove and refrigerator in a place where groups of various sizes can meet.
One reason for a center is to help group members stay connected to those to whom they minister.
“If they don’t stay connected, they’re going to go right back out to their playground,” he said.
That playground can include drugs, alcohol and friends, who aren’t good influences.
“We want to lift up Christ,” Wacker said. “It’s not about a church. It’s not about a denomination. It’s just about Christ, because he’s the one who can really make the difference in their lives, change lives.”
One of the group’s outreach endeavors is a jail ministry for men and women at the Saunders County Jail in Wahoo.
The Lighthouse Ministries website states that it is: “involved in jail and prison ministry but also serves others in our communities who have been trapped in other ‘prisons’ including drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, criminal activities, homelessness, poverty, broken relationships, unemployment, trauma, anger, unforgiveness and much more.”
Other information mentions that the ministry is designed to build relationships and provide spiritual encouragement through support groups, Bible studies, discipleship, mentoring and other opportunities.
“We use a Christ-centered approach to show and teach the love of Christ to all broken and hurting people so they can see their value and purpose in life through God’s eyes and become a contributing and vital part of our communities,” the site states.
While there are no Sunday events, the group has discussed having a future service on Friday or Saturday evening, a safe option for people trying to recover from addictions, and a place where they can feel welcome, wanted and accepted.
People, who’ve struggled with different life circumstances, sometimes can carry so much shame and guilt that they don’t want to attend a church.
“We’re not here to judge,” Hale said. “We not here to condemn. We’re here to show the love of Jesus Christ.”
“We believe inside every one of them, there is value,” Wacker said.
Wacker noted something else.
“As you get to know them and what they’ve experienced, you begin to understand why they made the decisions they made and you want to speak truth into the lies they’ve heard and believed,” she said.
Besides helping people, the ministry center is a place where individuals are being trained to use their talents to minister to others, Donna Hale said.
Some of these individuals have come from jail, are staying clean and doing a fabulous job of helping others.
“We’ve got others who have not seen that population of people before, but they’re coming to Bible studies and mingling with some of these gals and guys and they’re seeing that they’re just people, too, and friendships are being developed,” Donna Hale said. “They’re dropping their assumptions about people. We assume so much about people we know nothing about.”
Hale said the group welcomes others who’d like to be involved.
More information about the Lighthouse Ministry is available at firstname.lastname@example.org