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A Countryside Connection

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Hinsons find their calling at mobile home park

By Denyse Clark

For Grant and Amber Hinson, the mission field isn’t half a world away.

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It’s in a trailer  park on McIlwain Road.

Grant, a former youth pastor at a children’s home and his wife, Amber, a registered nurse, said they followed a deeper call into ministry that led them from Salisbury, N.C., to Countryside Mobile Home Park. 

How they got here, Grant said, is a testimony to hearing God’s voice. 

Called into ministry in 2006, Grant said he met local pastor, the Rev. Patrick Clark, in Turkey in 2007 while Clark was serving as a missionary there. 

Through their acquaintance, Grant accepted an invitation to come here for an opportunity to witness, he said.

“We were looking to reach out to a community,” he said. “We did a prayer walk through this community and God said, ‘bring your family here.’”

Amber said there was no trouble convincing her of the divine directive her husband received.

“We had to obey,” she said. “There was no other choice – that’s what we live for, to please Christ.”

The Hinsons consider themselves “missionaries” although their assignment is not in a foreign land. 

That mind-set gives credence to the notion that the biggest mission field isn’t across the sea, but across the street.

Among the 115 homes and about 500 residents of the diverse neighborhood, the Hinsons, their son, Asher, 4, and daughter, Evan Grace, 2 1/2, live and lead The Connection  ministry. 

“It (the neighborhood) is 60 percent Hispanic, 20 percent black and 20 percent white,” Grant said of Countryside Mobile Home Park. “When we first got here, every morning we would go out and walk through the community, pray for our neighbors and share Jesus Christ with them.”

The sole purpose of The Connection is forming caring relationships with those God puts in their pathway, Grant said.

“We just want people to see the life of Christ in our family and that’s how family is supposed to be,” Amber said. “The way we do ministry is to meet our neighbors where they’re at.”

Meeting needs include helping children with homework, taking neighbors grocery shopping, to  doctor’s visits or home for dinner, Amber said.

“It’s been amazing to see God work in so many different ways,” she said. 

Since starting The Connection, residents in Countryside are getting to know and trust each other more, Amber said. This comes from simple acts of kindness such as helping a neighbor pick up litter or mow  lawns. 

“The greatest part of this has been salvation,” she said. “We’ve seen 10 souls saved since we've been here and we’re amazed that He (God) would allow us to see that, but that’s what we say, ‘one soul at a time! – one life at a time.’”

Amber said getting up close and personal with neighbors generates a greater compassion and love.

Grant agreed.

“Here, there are homes full of addiction, homes with people with no jobs, homes with the disabled, homes with children with no mom or dad around, homes with elderly who’ve lived here 20 or 30 years and homes with Hispanics who don’t speak much English,” he said. 

“When you get close, you see the brokenness. We love the people here and we know God loves them. We just want them to see him.”

The Connection is assisted and supported by three community houses of worship; New Hope Baptist Church, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and Olive Green, Grant said.

In addition to a fall festival, a Thanksgiving dinner for the residents at Brooklyn Springs Elementary School and a live Nativity during Christmas, weekly programs at The Connection include men’s fellowship, women's Bible study, and “Homework Helpers,” along with an English as Second Language (ESL) class for Hispanic residents. 

Each Friday night, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Grant plays pickup basketball with some of the men, and on Saturdays, the Hinsons attend a Hispanic Bible study.

“We worship with Hispanic churches regularly and we’re learning the language,” Grant said.

The Hinsons say The Connection focuses on family.  

“Our picture of ministry is us walking hand-in-hand  – I can’t do anything without my wife. She is my queen,” Grant said. “Our business card is a family walking down the road together. That’s what we believe God has called us to.”

The ultimate goal of  The Connection is to see lives transformed and minds renewed through the grace of Jesus Christ.

“Our goal isn’t to get them out of the trailer park,” Grant said. “What I’ve seen in the past eight months is just a little more freedom, a lot more trust and hope.”

Grant said he wants to spread the word of the Gospel with residents of his neighborhood, from Philippians 4:11-12, but especially, “that part in 11-B,” he said

“...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content,” Grant said. “As long as you have Christ, you’ve got joy – that’s what I want to show them.”

To learn more about The Connection visit callingallhinsons.wordpress.com

 

Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152