By Chuck Bailey
The Choctaw Plaindealer
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. Isaiah 40:31
A Glorious Past
If you’ve been in Choctaw County long you’ve probably heard of the ministry, Broken Wings, started by the Choctaw Baptist Association back in 1998. You may have volunteered there or received some type of its many forms of assistance, shopped in its thrift store or made a donation of time, talent or treasure. One way or another the ministry has probably touched someone you know.
The ministry actually came about from the food pantry that opened a year earlier.
The year was 1997, January 20th to be exact when a report was given of the results of a Southern Baptist Convention Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) survey of the needs of the county. One of those needs was temporary food assistance. A few months later that year, May 7, 1997 the Choctaw County Baptist Association Food Pantry opened its doors for its first day of business.
In January 1998 at the Choctaw County Baptist Association executive board meeting the mission development committee introduced a five-year mission plan, a vision if you will, for Choctaw County. This plan covered everything from the food ministry to jail ministry to family ministry.
Some said the plan was too large.
Brother Bill Hales the director of the Choctaw Baptist Association at the time and one of the co-founders of Broken Wings said, “It is easy to tell folks about Jesus. It is another to show people Jesus.”
“Yes and if people don’t see Jesus in us, they find him hard to believe,” agreed Brother Jimmy Flake the mission director of the Choctaw County Baptist Association at the time and the other co-founder of Broken Wings. “We need to be doing Jesus more in our county. I just don’t know how to get folks enthused to do anything.”
The famous author of “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers, once penned, God gives us a vision, and then takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision, until we get to the point he can trust us with the reality of the vision. But don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it.
In his time God revealed his plan in July of 1998 when two ladies attended a WMU seminar on the Christian Women’s Job Corps. They had gone with the impression that this would be a small ministry that a few women could do for a few other women. Just goes to show how much we underestimate God. The two ladies could talk of nothing else during the three-hour drive home from the conference.
Here it was an organized plan with a history of success that had the potential to accommodate every segment of the five-year mission vision.
In September of 1998 a special executive board meeting of the Choctaw County Baptist Association was called for the sole purpose of introducing the Christian Women’s Job Corp as the vehicle to help complete the five-year mission vision.
In October of 1998 at the Choctaw County Baptist Association Annual Meeting the Christian Women’s Job Corp model was accepted by a unanimous vote by the association.
A board of directors was enlisted that encompassed 30 people from Choctaw County from various walks of life. This new board met in December of 1998. At this meeting the mission statement was adopted along with the name Broken Wings Ministries; taking care of those whom can no longer fly on their own until their broken wings mend and once again they “mount up with eagles wings”. The ministry would draw from the Christian Women’s Job Corp corporate identity but also reach out to the needs of so many others.
During its existence, Broken Wings has had many homes first starting in a small building by Black Brothers Building Supply. Then they moved out to Highway 15 South in the former Belwood Plant. They then were in the old shoe plant, which is now where Hardwire is located on West Main in Ackerman until finally in 2007 the funds were raised and a new building was built on Jailhouse road in Ackerman where it is currently located. Today, Broken Wings is an inter-denominational, non-profit organization dedicated to helping people go from poverty to self-sufficiency by assisting with a hand up, not just a handout.
The Baptist still run the food pantry and it is housed in the same building, it is still part of the overall ministry, but today the Broken Wings Ministry is a separate entity and so much more than the Christian Women’s Job Corp and the Food Pantry that gave it, its humble beginning.
One of the ways the ministry raises funds is through its thrift store. Manager Kim Stephenson runs the thrift store. She has been the manager for the past five years. Connie Reed and Alynda Looney and a host of volunteers assist her.
One of those volunteers is Calvin Jones. Calvin has been working for Broken Wings for over 16 years he remembers when they started out in that small building by Black Brothers. He enjoys working at the thrift store and giving back to his community.
The thrift store was also set up to help families or individuals who have a need for clothing, furniture and household items.
If you have not been to the thrift store in a while, maybe it’s time to go back. Stephenson and her staff have implemented new sections within the store. One is a table of antique glassware and linens. This section has Wexford and Star of David glassware as well as hand tatted and embroidered linens. The linens range from furniture and table clothes in matching sets, to pieces of Irish linen.
The store also boasts of a sporting good section that has plenty of baseball uniform items in stock at this time.
Seasonal items are always a big hit at the store as they bring out Christmas, Easter, Halloween and other holiday items during the year.
The various sections in the store include fashion jewelry, a book section with a wide variety of hard and paperback books to choose from, baby items, lingerie, crafts, medical equipment, housewares, miscellaneous home furnishings and of course clothing; lots and lots of really good gently used clothing at very affordable prices.
The store is open on the first and third Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until Noon for what is known as Bag Day. For $5.00 dollars you can fill a 13-gallon bag with clothes, shoes, purses and belts.
Also, for every $5.00 dollars you spend in the store you can receive a chance on a drawing for some really great prizes. This month it was for Tanya Barlow Jewelry, next month it is for a gift certificate to Art’s Place Restaurant in downtown Ackerman.
The store also welcomes volunteers, especially students who need community service projects for their scholarship resumes.
Broken Wings Thrift Store is open Tuesday through Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. until Noon. Donation drop-off hours are the same for gently used items.
The Broken Wings Thrift store will be closed the last week in April getting ready for the summer season and a big Open House event they will have from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Saturday, May 14. This will also be an opportunity for the community to come by, not only the store, but to visit the overall facility as well and to meet the new Executive Director of Broken Wings Ministries, Mr. Scott Broughton.
New Director New Direction
The ministry will continue it’s many forms of helping the financially disadvantage, but starting in August of this year it plans to start helping train the men in our community basic skills to get a good paying job.
It is the brainchild of the new Executive Director of Broken Wings Mr. Scott Broughton who started February 1, 2016. Scott should be no stranger to Choctaw County as he grew up here and graduated from Weir in 2001. While in high school he began his public ministry speaking and filling in at local churches in the community.
In 2002 he began full-time ministry as pastor of the Nanih Waiya United Methodist Charge, while continuing his education at Mississippi State University.
Two years later he married his high school sweetheart, Amanda Keeton, a graduate of Ackerman High School.
Upon completion of his Bachelor’s degree in 2006 he and Amanda moved to Mount Pleasant to serve as pastor of Mt. Pleasant UMC.
In 2009 he received his Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary.
Later Scott served as pastor of Sandy Hook UMC.
In 2013 Scott felt God was leading him in a different direction and so he left the United Methodist Conference.
Today he is also pastor of New Zion Baptist Church and the director of the Food Pantry.
He and Amanda have three daughters and are proud to call Choctaw County home.
Scott has an ongoing relationship with Seven Bridges to Recovery, a homeless ministry in Atlanta.
He has also served on a team in Costa Rica with Rice and Beans Ministry to feed those in poverty.
He has gone on evangelical missions in Chile spreading the gospel to upstart churches.
Scott has a heart for serving others and has demonstrated this throughout his church ministry and mission endeavors.
Scott wears many hats, the day I met him he was working on a plumbing issue outside the Broken Wings building.
“That is just the way I was raised, nothing is going to fix itself,” said Broughton. “Just like some of the men in our community who have fallen through the cracks need help finding a job. Some don’t have the skills to get a good paying job to support their family and that is going to be the Holmes side of this. Our side is going to be to provide them the spiritual training they need to keep the job and quite honestly there are men here in the community who want to work they just need help to get the problem fixed and not only do we fix the person we also are able to reach that family as well.”
From that comes another vision for the 18-year old ministry.
Broughton would like to start a Men’s Training Group with ten men from Choctaw County who are 18-32 years of age and teach them how to weld. Holmes Community College Workforce Development Program has agreed to provide the teacher and resources. The Choctaw County Career and Technology Center has agreed to provide the space after school. Several businesses in the community have agreed to give them the chance to work for them.
The class would be for two hours a day for ten weeks. One hour would be focused on welding and one hour on Bible study.
He eventually wants to add carpentry and construction skills.
Broken Wings would also like to see the program be in its own building on the land next to where the current facility is. That of course will take a fund raising and volunteer support effort like the one that got the original building built in 2007.
Broken Wings Board President David Carter now in his third term, likes the vision his new executive director has brought to the ministry.
“You know we do the Women’s Job Corp, emergency utility assistance, financial planning, Christmas sponsorship, the thrift store, assistance during fire and weather crisis and I could go on and on; but we have never really focused on helping teach our financially disadvantaged men of our community skills that will help them get and keep good paying jobs,” said Carter. “Just like how we began, we have a model in place to help us reach this next chapter in our ministry.”
Everyone I spoke with that is involved with Broken Wings would like to first and foremost thank the community for their support over the years. Other than the thrift store and a grant here and there you are their main source of funding. Everyone has something to give either time, talent or treasure. Won’t you please consider them when you are able to give? The office is open Tuesday through Friday 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The telephone number is (662) 285-9133. They are available to come out and speak to groups in the community about their ministry.