Meeting Needs, Loving People

Church plant is building 'tiny' houses, providing food in area ravaged by drugs, poverty

By Chip Hutcheson

Published: September 1, 2020

STRUNK, KY — A church plant in southeastern Kentucky is making great strides to meet the housing needs of people recovering from addiction and other life struggles. Meeting those needs is giving an eastern Kentucky church opportunities to share the gospel and provide hope in what many consider to be hopeless situations.

The Light Community is a project of Crossroads Community Baptist Church, a 10-year-old church plant that typically will have 40-50 people attending its worship services. Scores of volunteers and mission teams have helped the church in its goal to provide 15 "tiny houses" in this Appalachian community just a few miles from the Tennessee state line — an area ravaged by poverty and drug addiction.

Pastor Grant Hasty said he and his wife, Gina, have seen God's favor often in this ministry effort that is one of many benefited by the Eliza Broadus Offering.

Hasty said God "shows up all the time." The majority of funding needed to buy the 13-acre tract three years ago as well as begin construction came from mission teams across the country and others donating money. "We see that God continues to provide," Hasty said.

After purchasing the property, the first major chore was clearing the ground — a significant task considering that the property had been untouched in the previous two years. As of early August, the first five houses were nearing completion — awaiting some interior and plumbing work. Once finished, applications will be accepted for people wanting to occupy the houses.

The houses are permanent structures ranging from 240 square feet to 540 square feet. Three different house plans are being used. Occupants will be responsible for utilities and will have farm responsibilities and will work in other areas such as The Lord's Café, a free restaurant that is another ministry of the church.

Crossroads will follow the discipleship model of Celebrate Recovery and will have a mental health therapist who will counsel with tenants. While not every resident may require drug counseling, Hasty notes that the three H's of Celebrate Recovery — hurts, hang-ups and habits — will be commonalities of residents.

Hasty said the concept of providing permanent housing came to him and his wife when a number of individuals came to them voicing a concern over the housing crisis in the community. "A shelter wouldn't address the long- term needs, so we researched and ran across Community First Village in Austin, Tex." he said.

The Hastys went to Austin to see how it functioned in its effort to address chronic homelessness. There they met the founder, Alan Graham, and "picked his brain," said Hasty. "We wanted to see how that could be adapted to Kentucky."

Crossroads Church embraced the idea. Most of those in the church have been impacted by addictive behavior in some way — either personally or with an immediate family member. "Everybody in the church sees the need," Hasty said.

"Mission groups and teams are in our DNA," Hasty noted. "We refer to our situation as being fluid," he added. "One of the first mission teams here taught us that in the right way. We get excited when we hear a new idea."

Prior to his time at Crossroads, Hasty pastored another church in the county. He and his family thought they would move away, but "people in the area kept coming to us and said they were praying for us. It kept coming back to us that God was not releasing us from this county. And it's been an adventure ever since."

Part of that adventure involves The Lord's Café, started in June 2011 in an old restaurant where the church meets for worship and Bible study.

It provides free hot meals three days a week. Prior to the pandemic, volunteers would take food orders and pray with about 300 people getting a meal.

The coronavirus interrupted that routine, prompting a move to drive-in service only.

The church also has a grocery giveaway every Thursday, giving away food to 300-400 people.

Crossroads' ministries of meeting food and housing needs in the community is intended to increase opportunities to share the gospel, leading residents to experience God as the ultimate healer and provider.

Help from mission teams is still needed. Teams are needed to complete trails, prayer gardens, garden boxes, coops and barns.