Thank you for your support for the ministry of Victory Acres. I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a short report on the impact that your giving is making.
The farm has grown so much in the past 17 years. It has developed from the seed of a dream born in prayer and desperation to a place of hospitality and healing. When I came to our 6 generation, family farm for a prayer retreat in October 2005, I was pastoring an inner-city congregation in Indianapolis, and we were surrounded by need.
“They found my son dead in a dumpster,” Mrs. Thomas, an African American mother said to me through tears in our sanctuary on East 10th Street, “When I picked up his things from the police, he had this brochure from your church in his pocket.” He was one of hundreds of people who flowed through our lives in this place. Surrounded by forces that would pull people in and destroy their souls, I came to see that we needed a place outside the “vortex” of the inner city. I knew that place; I had grown up there.
As I walked the farm for those three days, I called out to God to make a way where there seemed to be no way. I cried out for the people like Antwon Thomas who so desperately needed a place like this. But how could a poor, struggling inner-city church with no building and such a small bank account purchase a farm? Only by faith. The only way it could happen was if God made it happen, and He did!
In 2006, we began purchasing the farm on contract from my grandmother after my grandfather passed away. It was his dying wish that the farm be used in this way. Grandma was able to live in her own home until she passed away because of the support she received from the contract sale to our ministry, and God helped us to grow enough food and raise enough funds to make the payments. He always provided just enough, just in time. It has been an adventure, a journey, and a struggle, but little by little, that dream of a place of hospitality and healing to share with our urban neighbors has become a reality. While we have welcomed over fifty long term guests coming out of prison, homelessness, addiction and other life challenges, we have also been working to pay off the farm. Currently, we owe just $66,960 on the land and all improvements. While we want to retire that debt as soon as possible, we are currently on track with our monthly payments to be debt free by August 2029.
In October 2020, Matthew and Keyara came to Victory Acres from inner city Cincinnati. He had been dealing with addiction for nearly 25 years, but thanks to God’s deliverance and their time at Victory Acres, he just celebrated 2 years clean! They are now more than “ministry guests.” They have become a committed part of our congregation and ministry team. Keyara became our guest services coordinator in March, and with her leadership in this area we have hosted over 800 “camper-nights” this year! She has done an incredible job preparing spaces, making beds, communicating with guests, and actively meeting their needs. Our mission is to serve each guest as we would Jesus himself. We pray for each one. We seek to meet their physical needs and make their time with us special. Matthew helps around the farm in a variety of ways and has a pastor’s heart for each one here. He is my assistant leader in our times of daily prayer and Bible study, and God is opening some exciting new doors for ministry as he continues to grow.
In January, Eddie Chapman came to Victory Acres to volunteer. “I feel like God said to me like he did to Moses, ‘What do you have in your hand?’” he told me in that first conversation. “I know how to farm a little and I know how to fix stuff, and I wondered what God could do with that.” That’s when he thought of Victory Acres and contacted us. Over the past few months, he has “farmed and fixed stuff” and discipled some young men in the process. He has been such a blessing.
In May, we welcomed forty-three youth along with numerous families to Victory Acres Farm for our third annual Nehemiah Discipleship Program Experience. We housed over 80 people at the farm that week and had over 100 in our evening services. It was an intense time of work, training, and discipleship. Each afternoon participants spent time with skilled mentors in hands on “life skills” training. Breadmaking, culinary arts, excavating, welding, logging and milling wood, childcare and evangelism, hand therapy, and videography were our training opportunities this year. Getting a taste of a new vocation was a “lightbulb moment” for more than one young person. Our morning training focused on missions and evangelism, emphasizing our theme “Ministry is life, and we are all ministers of God’s Reconciliation.” Each evening we heard an inspiring message from Dr. Matt Hallam. God is using the NDP program, and we look forward to seeing it continue and expand as we develop more guest space.
As we finish our 17th growing season here on the farm, would you prayerfully consider supporting the work of Victory Acres with a strategic year-end gift? We have big plans, and we want to move forward. But we can only move forward as people give to make that happen. Your gift of $50, $100, or even $500 will make it possible for us to continue developing the farm as a place of hospitality and healing and to share God’s love with even more guests in 2023 and beyond.
Some of our next steps include building a restroom and bathhouse facility as well as more cabins for guests, but we will need your help in order to make that happen. We appreciate your partnership with us. It is because God’s people gave that Victory Acres has become more than just a dream. It is because of your giving that we have been able to welcome so many hurting people and to disciple so many more over the past 16 years. Thank you for investing in the dream that I had in October 2005 and thank you for your continued partnership. May God richly bless you.
In Christian Love,