Lou Ann Raughton meets people where they are in their life.
To let them know there are others who care. That there is hope. And she works to encourage them through this outreach.
She has done this since 2007 with The Community of Hope in Montgomery. As its director, and with volunteers, she reaches others through food, clothing, and household items – all while sharing the love of God.
Hope Community Ministries is an area of ministry that seeks to follow the Matthew 25:35-40 account of meeting physical needs in Jesus’ name:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“It’s a wonderful thing to do on a daily basis,” Raughton said. “It’s what Christ would want us to do – and to be able to share the hope that you have.”
The mission of The Community of Hope is to meet the physical needs of families from the River Region by fostering positive relationships through encouragement and prayer. The outcome builds trust and begins relationships that often lead to opportunities to share the gospel of Christ.
The desire of this ministry is for others to know there is H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Prepare for Eternity) for every situation they face – and that it’s found in a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior.
While the ministry does not provide financial assistance, it fulfills its mission through a Clothes Closet (including school uniforms), food pantry, housewares, furniture (by application), Backyard Bible Clubs, and block parties.
“These are blessings we can share with other people,” Raughton said. “We get to know the people because we pray with them. Every person who comes through our ministry, we pray with them.”
Items available at The Community of Hope are donated, and people served through the ministry come from varied backgrounds.
“They can get started (in a place to live) at no cost,” Raughton said. “We’ll get people from MACH (Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless), and they can choose frames to put on their wall. We’ve had people from First Choice, Friendship Mission, and The Sunshine Center.
“We help everybody that comes our way. We’ll do our best to do what we can to help you. People come from Hayneville, Prattville, and another from Tuskegee when he comes to see a doctor.
“We have homeless people that just come off the street. Other agencies refer us to families such as AIM – Aid for Inmate Mothers and the CARE project through Easter Seals. I feel like the things we have there are not ours. They’re God’s.”
The Community of Hope has been located on East South Boulevard since 2005. When Raughton arrived two years later, they were distributing a few bags of food each week. And occasionally, furniture. There were no clothes distributed or household items.
Over the past 15 years, the space – housed within a former Walmart building – has filled out.
A recently welcomed addition to the old Walmart building is The Life Church, led by pastor Johnny Mills.
“It’s good for me to be able to invite families that come to Hope to have a place to go to church on Sundays,” Raughton said. “Recently, about 40 attended. A few people have started coming through the ministry, but most people just knew of it being here.”
While there has been movement forward in the building, the Hope ministry experienced changes during Covid when some of the older volunteers didn’t return. But Raughton hangs on through her faith and through Scripture:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Asked what blessings she has received over the years, Raughton mentioned apartment ministry with those she had helped through The Community of Hope. She didn’t have an idea of how to do this, but found herself on Troy Highway ministering to families.
Years ago, one family had four children under the age of 9. And they quickly came into her heart and life.
“I didn’t know Spanish or anything, but love in any language is love,” she said. “I just got to know this family, and we began a tutoring ministry. It lasted until Covid.”
Still, she saw the three oldest graduate high school – and attended each ceremony. She has taken family photos alongside them and says it is a blessing to be part of their family.
“You get to know people as you minister to them,” she said. “People need encouragement. I’m blessed to be able to go to work. When my husband passed (in 2020), it was hard to come home in the evening when he was not here. So, I really enjoy being able to go to work.
“The Lord has provided,” she said. “He is faithful to provide all we have needed personally and through the ministry.”
For more information:
To receive help:
Food Pantry/Clothing/Furniture – Members of the River Region can meet with The Community of Hope and access resources to meet their needs on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Food distribution is limited to 50 bags on these specific Wednesdays, and the furniture is provided through an application process.
Drop off Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment only. Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m., and the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Sorting clothes, organizing donations, pickup/deliver furniture, bagging food, cleaning/hauling off trash, apartment ministry, and block parties.
Contact: Lou Ann Raughton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (334) 235-2634; 2403 E South Blvd.