LOCKHART – The official opening of a new mission center in Lockhart has proven successful, and those involved are already looking to the future.
In November 2011, Spencer Ledford and Mitch Sinclair bumped into each other at Wal-Mart, catching up and chatting about the latest events in each other’s lives. Both were involved in ministries which had then just ended, and both had visions for Union County.
Sinclair had a vision of a place in Union County for mission housing — accommodations for people who take on missions work in the area. Ledford had already formed Jubilee Fellowship Ministries with his wife, and they were concentrating on benevolence — food and clothing distribution.
So, Ledford and Sinclair meshed their two visions together.
Ledford said Sinclair mentioned that the old Hope Hospital in Lockhart was vacant, and he believed it would make a perfect missions center.
The idea was to create a facility which would focus on food, clothing, mission housing, adult education and after-school tutoring.
Both men met with Mayor Ailene Ashe and the Lockhart Town Council and by February, they had possession of the building.
“First, we had to sort of go into DEstruction mode before we could get into CONstruction mode,” Ledford said, as he explained how hospital-specific items had to be removed, windows were rebuilt and some of the sheet rock was replaced.
Large areas in the former hospital were completely transformed. What was once a delivery room became a dining hall; an old x-ray room became a food storage area; and the former nurses’ station is in the process of being made into a six-stall shower room. Bathrooms were completely remodeled, and toilets were donated by Ledford’s employer, Eastern Industrial Supply, which is headquartered in Greenville.
The rooms to be used for mission housing were stripped down and made into what Ledford called a blank slate. He said repairs were made, holes were patched and walls were painted a neutral color. The rooms were turned into blank slates for a purpose — to encourage others to sponsor the room by putting their own touches on them.
“We want each group to do a room that’s uniquely theirs,” Ledford said. “We want them to put their personalities into it.”
After the rooms are complete, plaques will be installed on the doors, displaying the group’s name as a show of appreciation from Jacob’s Well. One of the rooms — sponsored by First Baptist Church of Bluffton — is already finished. The group rewired the room, painted and completely furnished it with bunk beds, two additional single beds and a chair, as well as decorative lamps and linens.
Other groups that have already agreed to sponsor rooms include Tabernacle Baptist Church, Mon-Aetna Baptist Church and the Don Fowler Family. Ledford estimated that all rooms will be complete by February.
In September, one of the six ministries came to fruition at Jacob’s Well as it became a satellite campus of Union County Adult Education. Retired teacher Joanne McKinney began teaching a GED-prep class at the facility.
The two-hour classes run two days each week, and as of Tuesday morning, McKinney had conducted more than 40 hours of GED review.
She said there are four students who come consistently, while others are on and off. The students in class Tuesday morning studied math to prepare for a practice test in February and then the actual GED test in March.
Two other ministries — food and clothing distribution — came to fruition on Dec. 8, as the Jacob’s Well Missions Center became official by holding an open house for the citizens of Lockhart. Volunteers gave away hot dogs and drinks while showing people around the facility and helping those in need get the food and clothing they needed. Ledford said around 150 people attended the open house.
McKinney pointed out that records show that 56 food boxes were distributed at the event, and 35 families shopped for clothing in the Jacob’s Well clothes closet, which is located on the facility’s basement floor. All food and clothing items were acquired through donations from individuals and groups such as the Union County Senior Center and Hunters and Landowners of South Carolina for the Hungry.
Ledford said for the first year, the plan is to hold such distributions once a month and eventually progress to twice a month and then hopefully once a week.
Those involved say they are happy that four of the six proposed ministries are already in action, and once everything is in place, they will expand from there.
“If you spread yourself too thin in the beginning, then you’re not going to be very effective,” Ledford said.
McKinney mentioned that volunteers like Don Fowler have mentioned to people that if their car is there, then those in need may be served. McKinney said she served three people just last week while she was there teaching the GED prep class.
“It was kind of heart wrenching when a woman came in here, stood there and picked out some things; she just cried and cried,” McKinney said. “It’s not just food and clothes, but building a relationship between this ministry and the residents of this community.”
McKinney said excitement has been in the air since the idea for the mission center came about, but she was overwhelmed by the turnout for the open house.
“Now, after a year, a lot of physical labor has been put into this building,” she said. “I can’t even tell you how excited I am. Most folks who came in commented how glad they were to see something done with this building. It’s a fantastic facility.”
The next distribution event at Jacob’s Well will take place in January. Look in upcoming editions of The Union Daily Times and on www.uniondailytimes.com for updates regarding a date and time, as well as other information pertaining to activities at Jacob’s Well.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.