By AUDRY ENNS
God tells us in the Bible that He can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. In 1997, after seven murders in an eight-block area, the leaders of Jackson’s West Park community invited leadership from across the city to help bring change to the area. Believing that God charges His people to be a catalyst for change, and through the power of prayer, the abandoned Rosedown Apartments were made available for converting into a place that would meet the needs of the community.
In 2001, Mission First opened the doors of its first campus on Roseneath Avenue. The first phase was converting the Rosedown Apartments. Soon after, the second phase of constructing a multipurpose building with a cafeteria, classrooms, offices and a full-size gymnasium was completed. From there, the ministries grew in number of staff, volunteers, patients and students as God met the needs both of Mission First as an organization and the individuals being served.
In 2016, Mission First merged with the Neighborhood Christian Center and Peyton’s House, a young men’s after-school program on Ash Street.
Another step forward was launching Mission First’s Early Learning Center for K3 in 2018. Since its opening, they have added a K4 and K5 class. This ministry provides affordable, biblically based education to families in the area. Mission First’s ELC is poised to meet a critical need for young children in such a way that they may create a ripple effect with wide-ranging impact on Mississippi communities. Most importantly, ELC students are given the greatest foundation anyone can give them by understanding that they are created in God’s image for His purpose.
The Ministries of the Lantern Clinic in Rankin County recently began a partnership with Mission First’s medical and dental clinic, which has expanded Mission First’s resources to meet the needs of patients without dental and medical insurance.
Patients have benefitted from the clinic’s diagnoses with the use of CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds. Graciously, the Lord has allowed Mission First to provide medical and dental care to approximately 3,000 patients per year.
Mission First’s Neighborhood Revitalization ministry is mobilizing hundreds of people in service projects throughout the year. This is done mainly through volunteer groups who work on projects to develop the community. These include construction, demolition and painting, widow ministries such as yard work and domestic projects, and street clean-up.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Mission First was able to add a new ministry last year: Peyton’s House Girls. This ministry is an extension of Peyton’s House Guys and offers middle-school girls the opportunity to receive help with homework, study God’s Word with one another, and participate in educational enrichment activities. All in all, Mission First’s after-school and summer programs offer educational enrichment for approximately 150 students annually. Many of these students have attended college and started their vocational training, with several entering the military and law enforcement.
Through Mission First’s partnership with the Mississippi College School of Law, their legal ministry has been an advocate for families navigating civil law matters and has served between 1,500 and 1,600 clients. Because of this ministry, families are being restored and children are being adopted into Christian homes.
Each one of Mission First’s ministries has touched the lives of many and shed God’s light when it was urgently needed. Mission First is thankful that God has allowed its ministries to grow over the past 20 years. God has worked through Mission First to help others in meeting needs, building relationships and experiencing faith!
Audry Enns is the Mission First communications director. She is a wife and mom living in Fondren who is passionate about her community, food, and the great outdoors.