Friday, 03 April 2015 19:12

Neighbors in Christ: Serving Victims of Crime in the River Region

Written by  Mandy Pascal
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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you strength and all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27

The story of the Good Samaritan is the scripture upon which Neighbors in Christ was founded.  “We are the Good Samaritan who came and helped the man who was lying on the side of the road,” explains Executive Director Barbara Hopkins.  “We got him up and got him whatever he needed to be safe, secure and back on his feet.  As Neighbors in Christ, that is what we do.”

 

Neighbors in Christ began in 1989 under the name Neighbors Who Care.  This organization was formed when several local leaders, including Judge Joseph Phelps and District Attorney Ellen Brooks, went to Chuck Colson, who was known for his work with prison ministry, with a question. They acknowledged all that he did for the prisoners and their families, but they wanted to know what he did for the victims. 

 

Shortly after that a program called Neighbors Who Care was formed, and it was designed to serve victims of crime and people whose homes had been broken into. 

 

In 2000, Chuck Colson and his group from Washington pulled out of Neighbors Who Care and allowed the City of Montgomery to keep the ministry under a different name.  From there, Neighbors in Christ was formed, and 15 years later still touches the lives of many families in this community.

 

After the name change, Neighbors in Christ continued to do the same thing the ministry was designed to do, serve victims of crime.  They do this by repairing doors that may have been kicked in, fixing locks that were broken, or even windows that might have been destroyed. 

 

Not only does NIC lend a helping hand to those who have been burglarized, they also work closely with the Family Sunshine Center to remove people from domestic violence situations and place them in a safe location. 

 

In 2009, NIC received one of the biggest blessings to date when a moving truck was donated to this ministry.  Since then, they have been able to transport domestic violence victims from their homes, which are not safe for them to continue living in, to a new location where they will be much safer.

When it comes to getting in contact with victims, NIC works closely with the Montgomery Police Department and the Montgomery Sheriff’s Department.  Until 2008, NIC was able to get copies of all of the police reports which were filed and find anyone who had experienced a break in.  With this list, they were able to contact any of those people and let them know that NIC was there for them and willing to do whatever they could to help out.

 

After the police reports were unable to be handed out anymore, NIC had to come up with a whole new plan of reaching victims.  Up until that point, NIC had done no advertising; they strictly counted on the police reports to be able to personally reach out to these families.  However, they did not let this mild obstacle stop them from doing what they know they are designed to do, help others.

 

NIC began going to roll calls at the police department and passing their cards out to the officers, telling them anytime there was a break in to either call them or give their information to the victims so they could help. 

 

“Every time we see a slowdown in our business, we know it is time to get back in the police department and make our presence known,” says Hopkins.

 

NIC is designed to help those victims in Montgomery and Montgomery County, simply because they do not have the funding to reach out to those surrounding counties.  With domestic violence cases, they do often times have to work cases outside of the city limits. 

 

Neighbors in Christ is a strictly non-profit organization that does not charge the victims anything for their services.  They operate solely on volunteers and are always looking for anyone who wants to help.

 

“Although our services are free of charge to our victims, we have had instances where the victim has the funding to purchase the new fixtures and simply needs help installing them, and we are always more than happy to do that as well,” says Hopkins.

 

Currently, NIC is in desperate need of volunteers.  Helping out is easy.  All you need to do is call NIC at (334) 271-3313, or visit their office at 2101 Eastern Boulevard, Suite #313.  From there, you will need to fill out a volunteer form and they will place you where they feel you will be the best fit for the ministry.

 

They are currently in the most need of people to go out and actually preform the repairs that need to be made to the houses.  They have one church group that currently volunteers for them, but would love to see many more get involved because it is such a great way to help out in the community while also sharing the Gospel of Christ.

 

If repairs are not your thing, then Barbara can always use an extra hand in the office.  Whether filing papers, answering phones or simply getting flyers together, every little bit helps.

 

“We appreciate every bit of help and support we get, from donations to volunteers, but we need more,” expressed Hopkins.

 

Think back to the story of the Good Samaritan.  If it had not been for the Samaritan traveling down the road, that poor beaten man would have continued to lie on the ground.  But the Good Samaritan took it upon himself to have mercy on him.  We are instructed in Luke 10:37 to “Go and do likewise.”

 

 

 

Mandy Pascal is a graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism.

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:15
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