By MARILYN TINNIN
Herron Wilson of Delta Mission
When Herron Wilson was a little boy growing up in Caile, Mississippi, his mother made sure he was in church on Sundays. He was one of ten children in a single parent home, but he says he really did not know he was poor because everyone he knew was just as poor. Although his childhood ambition was to be a talk show host one day, he should have known he was going to be a preacher. His favorite pastime was slipping off to the bank of a nearby bayou and preaching his heart out to the Cypress trees!
He graduated from Tougaloo College and found a position as a news reporter at WABG TV in Greenwood. In 1991, he was assigned to cover the first night of an E.V. Hill Crusade at Mississippi Delta Community College. It was advertised as “interracial.” He was skeptical.
“I grew up in a segregated world. I couldn’t believe blacks and whites were going to be all together at this event,” he says.
He covered the first night for the station but went back the second night by choice. Reverend Hill’s message stirred his heart, and he ended up at the altar giving his life to Christ. It was really the first time he had ever heard that God desired a personal relationship with Herron Wilson. Nothing has been the same since.
While still working full time at the television station, he enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. He graduated in 1995 with a vision to impact his own neighborhood with a gospel-based outreach to the local children. Herron lived with his mother in Indianola’s South Gate, a low-income housing project.
His first effort was an independent Vacation Bible School that summer. He had permission to use a run-down community center in South Gate and expected about 30 or 40 local children to come. Instead, 100 showed up that first day. He describes that endeavor as “off the cuff” without enough materials but an abundance of love and solid Bible teaching for the participants. It was on-the-job training in children’s ministry that week! God blessed it with rave reviews from the children and their families. They asked for more.
“It drove home to me the fact that people really are thirsty for the Lord and thirsty for meaning in life,” Herron says.
By request, he started a weekly Saturday program with at least 80 children attending every week. He was still working weekdays and nights at WABG as well as pastoring two African American churches on alternate Sundays.
“Racial reconciliation” was a term that was taking hold across the Delta and word began to spread that there was this wonderful ministry down in South Gate that was really making a difference in peoples’ lives. Others in Indianola, including whites, began to volunteer and offer support. The once-a-week Bible Club turned into more.
“We saw that a lot of the kids who came needed clothes, so we started a clothes closet to help their parents. Then some of the kids needed adopting at Christmas; then, some of the parents wanted to be involved in a Bible class, too, so we started an adult training institute for clergy and lay people.”
As many in the white community became involved, the biracial board suggested that Delta Mission sponsor the annual community-wide Thanksgiving service. It is now a 20-year-old tradition that alternates locations between a black church and a white church each year. When the service meets at a black church, a white pastor preaches. When held at a white church, a black pastor brings the message.
A few years ago, the Sunflower County Baptist Association offered Delta Mission the use of the old Second Baptist Church when the congregation built a new church on the outskirts of Indianola. With the larger facility and the new location, Delta Mission’s outreach has continued to expand. There is a weekly program for seniors, a semiannual theological training seminar for area clergy, and a weekly men’s Bible study.
Herron says, “I made the Lord a promise when I started that I would pour everything I had into ministry for twenty years. Then twenty years came, and I told him I believe I’ll go a while longer. Ministry is exciting every day when you know that all God calls you to do is plant a seed, and perhaps water it some. He’ll bring the increase.
“You get to see lives transformed—you don’t see a hundred every day, but you see glimpses. When I run into students who have come through the program and they tell me what it meant to them and they are doing well—it just does something,” he says with tears in his eyes. “I just cry happy tears all year long!”
Delta Mission’s greatest needs are prayer, volunteers, and financial support. Contact Reverend Herron Wilson at 662.207.2667 or Delta Missions Ministry, PO Box 692, Indianola, MS 38751.