Enlighten The World Ministries is opening a Community Crisis Center in Autryville. The center will house a food pantry, clothing closet and computer lab for job search assistance and computer training so applicants can be more employable.
The Rev. Thom Miles, pastor of Enlighten The World Ministries, said he is very excited to see his vision of what God has for him to do come to fruition.
“God has laid it on my heart to start this ministry,” Miles explained. “We have many more homeless and addicted people in our area than the other food banks and ministries are able to handle. God has given me a vision and I want to get it all done immediately but I am learning patience that he will do all things in his time and not mine. Getting this building completed is just the first step,” cited Miles.
The building is not yet completed but the ministry has already started getting tons of donations of food, clothing, and computers. But Miles stresses they will need additional donations throughout the year. The center is affiliated with the Second Harvest Food Bank.
“We ask that people spend an additional $5 per week at the grocery store and donate the canned goods to us or the Salemburg Food Bank. If the community pulls together, we can end hunger and homelessness in our community,” explained the minister.
The center is located in an outbuilding on Miles’ property at 75 Knight Lane, Autryville. It will be open every second and fourth Wednesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., and every second and fourth Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We anticipate it opening Jan. 9. Though we have a building, we will remain mobile, helping homeless folks in Fayetteville, Clinton and wherever else God leads us. For Thanksgiving, we prepared the food and fed over 65 needy folks at the Hope Center in Fayetteville. We held our Holiday Helping Hands Christmas Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Massey Hill Recreation Center. Donations for this event came from all around. We gave away 200 care packages, 100 coats, 100 blankets, and many other items to those who otherwise would not have a Christmas. Subway of Fort Bragg donated food for the event,” shared Miles.
Miles stated that the Salemburg Christian Food Bank is open every third Saturday of each month and this new Community Crisis Center will add to supplement what they do.
“They try to supply food that will last about a week. Hopefully we will be able to extend the amount of food and other items that people may be in need of on the weeks they are not supplying these services,” explained Miles. “There are just so many homeless and disadvantaged people in our community that are in need of help. Statistics tells us that 32.5 percent of the children in Sampson County are living in poverty. That means they are living with an insufficient food supply,” asserted Miles.
The Community Crisis Center is not a stationary operation. Miles stated that often people in need do not have the means to travel and it is necessary for the ministry to go to where they are.
“There are times when we will have to go to where the needy are. We have ministered not only locally but across the area. One can never know where God will take you. So many of us are unaware that we have homeless among us. They are here but many are too proud to let someone know that they are without somewhere to sleep at night. And often when there are centers that provide a warm bed, there is a cost involved that too many cannot afford,” explained the minister.
Miles shared that the community has already been so ready to step up and make donations. He has received several tents that he has passed out to families that needed shelter. He is hopeful that more tents will be donated.
There are not facilities currently in Sampson County that can house multiple homeless individuals nor does Fayetteville have a family homeless facility. Miles stated that Fayetteville has a shelter for men, and shelters for women and others for just women and children. He also shared that plans were in the works to establish a homeless shelter for families but there again there are costs involved for the individuals in need that too often just do not have the money to pay to stay.
“Many people who are homeless also have addictions, be it alcohol or drugs. These addictions often lead to their being homeless. As we minister to them, we have to help them overcome their addictions in order to help them overcome their homelessness. Eventually we will need to have medical personnel to assist in this area. For right now we are just trying to help them survive from day to day,” stressed Miles.
Enlighten The World Ministries is a vision given by God to Miles and he has envisioned, in the future, the center having a building where hot meals will be served and computer classes and worship can be held.
“That is the vision God has given me. I know one day we will have a building where we can serve as a food bank, serve hot meals, conduct computer classes and express our love and appreciation to God through worship. I just have to wait upon him to make it available to us,” asserted Miles.
Because Miles is a computer programmer and has vast experience in computers, he works as a civilian computer specialist at Fort Bragg, the minister is hoping to eventually have a trailer that he can turn into a mobile computer lab.
“With the computer lab we will be able to help the needy to learn computer skills but also apply and seek jobs over the Internet. If we can teach these skills to them it will make them more employable and help them to get to a place where they are no longer dependent on others and can become self sufficient,” explained Miles.
Miles expressed that the community and others from anywhere are welcome to make donations.
“We not only accept non-perishable food items, we need children’s clothing, diapers, small appliances, cookware, silverware, soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, blankets, tents and coats. The needs of these people are so great. Financial support is also welcome too. Clinton Pentecostal Holiness Church has been so gracious to us in assisting us with this ministry. Hopefully other church will join us as we attempt to serve our fellowman,” said Miles.
For anyone wishing to contribute they may do so by contacting Thom Miles at www.EnlightenNC.org; Thom_Miles@yahoo.com; on facebook.com/enlightentheworldministries; or by calling 910-495-3595.