Hope in War

December 17, 2010

Close to 4,500 volunteer hours were accounted for this year through our Appalachia project in War, West Virginia. It is with great joy in our hearts that we bring out 2010 activities to a close in this region and at the same time there is a note of sadness. Our staff and volunteers who have committed themselves to underprivileged families here have all come away with a deep love and appreciation for these, the ?hidden poor? within our own nation. It is hard to take a break, knowing the great need that is present in Appalachia, yet we look ahead to 2011 with renewed vigor and enthusiasm to serve these lovely people. 

Frankie is one of the single mothers we have had the opportunity to reach out to and in turn, her story has touched our hearts deeply.  ?At age 11 she left home and started living with various boyfriends,? explains Craig Snow, coordinator for our Appalachia projects. ?She has given birth to two daughters ?one of whom was adopted out because she did not have the means to provide for her. Frankie is indicative of the stories of many, many people we have worked with in War. She has no diploma, is trying to kick a drug habit and has no apparent future. We?re working with our local partners to help her get on a better track, learn to drive and to get her GED.? 

Craig Snow is overseeing the work in West Virginia and Hope Force now has a functional team house in War thanks to Craig?s efforts. Hope Force has been focusing on the Appalachian region for several years now and recently came to the point that a more permanent presence was needed. This house was purchased and renovated to enable Hope Force host teams more easily and continue focusing on assistance to those who need our help in the area. The goal is to build into the community and provide a place for future teams. 

The town of War is in McDowell County ? the second poorest county in the nation. Hope Force Reservist teams are targeting homes that are in dire need of repairs or renovations and making a difference. Brett and Beth Johnson recently completed an assignment in War, working alongside more than a dozen volunteers from The Grove church in Painesville, Ohio. ?I knew that inner cities had depressed areas but honestly, I had no idea that there were places in the country where the people were so poor,? Brett explains. ?Most of them are living on government aid programs. Read the full story here. 

Southern West Virginia, located in the heart of Appalachia, is a mountainous region with a colorful and complex history. From the 1920?s through the 1950?s, the area was fueled by coal mining money. Over the past four decades the coal companies left, with fragmented, declining communities in their wake. Today McDowell County is dealing with fifth-generation welfare families who are living in persistent, inter-generational poverty. 

This summer, Pastor Ron Neff brought a missions team from Grace Covenant Church in Pennsylvania to bolster the efforts of Hope Force in West Virginia. ?Going to War was an interesting experience,? he recalls.  ?McDowell County is a beautiful place, rich in scenery, nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains. The people are warm and friendly, hard-working, and good hearted, but the need is great.  McDowell County is one of the poorest regions in the Nation? Click here for the rest of the story.

Pastor Ron reminds us, ?Mission outreach doesn?t have to be in a foreign land, there are desperate people everywhere looking for hope and longing to experience grace.? As we continue our focus on Appalachia,  we invite you to remain involved with us to reach others in the name of Jesus:

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