Bringing H.O.P.E. To Spartanburg
January 15, 2002
Over the past few years, we have seen and read numerous accounts of school shootings and children murdering their parents and each other. These images have dominated the headlines of nearly every media outlet in America. It seems there are so many children in America in the 21st century who have lost all hope for their future. In Spartanburg, though, there is an organization working to reverse that trend by working directly with children in the inner-city. It is aptly named H.O.P.E. Ministries.
H.O.P.E. (which stands for Helping Others Prepare for Eternity) Ministries was founded by a concerned school teacher in Spartanburg named Marc Zachary, affectionately known as “Zack.” Zack worked at the Mary H. Wright school in downtown Spartanburg for 8 years teaching second-grade and sixth-grade. He was also the director of the Boys and Girls Club in Spartanburg. He is currently the instructional facilitator at Chapman Elementary school in Spartanburg. Over the years, Zack has grown a sincere love for the children in his schools. He knows all of the children by name and really does care about each one of them. Through his signature smile and gentle guidance, the kids have been able to tell there is something special about Zack.
When Zack was the youth minister at a local church in Spartanburg in 1994-95, he began bringing some of the kids from his school to the church. The kids he brought were actively involved, singing in church musicals, participating in the youth group and going to youth camp in the summer. After seeing the positive impact his church was having on the lives of those kids, the vision for H.O.P.E. Ministries was beginning to spark in Zack’s heart. He wanted so desperately to see his church become even more active in bringing real hope to kids in the housing projects of Spartanburg.
The real inspiration for beginning H.O.P.E. Ministries was when Zack read a book called WHOSE CHILD IS THIS? by Bill Wilson. He began an inner-city ministry in one of the roughest areas of New York known as Bushwick. After raising enough funds for a building and several old school busses, Bill Wilson went into the local communities of Bushwick and brought the kids to have a Saturday morning “Sunday school” at his facility. Starting with about 50 children on that first Saturday morning, the ministry has now grown to nearly 20,000 children every week! The success of Bill Wilson’s ministry turned that spark in Zack's heart into a fire that has not been extinguished to this day.
Soon thereafter, Zack excitedly approached his church about starting a similar ministry in Spartanburg. With the church’s approval, but with only a limited budget, H.O.P.E. Ministries began as an outreach extension of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church. In July 2000, Zack and a small group of people from the church began H.O.P.E. Ministries at the Phyllis Goins apartment complex in Spartanburg. Zack and members of his church went to the housing project once a month with a full slate of activities for the kids to participate in, including playing games, doing crafts, telling Bible stories, singing and playing music, feeding them lunch and having prize giveaways. H.O.P.E. Ministries at Phyllis Goins quickly grew from around 10-15 children a week when it first began to an all-time high of 105 children in December 2001.
The immediate success at Phyllis Goins prompted H.O.P.E. Ministries to begin expanding into other housing projects in Spartanburg in 2001. Zack learned that Spartanburg has more government housing projects than any other city in the state of South Carolina! With so many opportunities to choose from, in August 2001, H.O.P.E. Ministries began going to Phyllis Goins twice a month and started two new once a month visits to the Quail Point and Northside apartment complexes. The rapid success of those additional areas in a little over four months propelled the ministry to begin at yet another housing project, Prince Hall, in February 2002. There were over 20 kids the first time H.O.P.E. came. The opportunities for even more growth are endless in 2002 and beyond!
The primary goal of H.O.P.E. Ministries is to influence the kids in a positive way to help them stay out of trouble, do better in school and give them hope for their future by sharing with them about Jesus Christ. Zack hopes that some of the older children who have been involved with H.O.P.E. Ministries from the beginning at Phyllis Goins will begin to take on some leadership roles in the years to come at Phyllis Goins and other apartment complexes. This would make the impact of H.O.P.E. Ministries come full circle. Also, H.O.P.E. Ministries would become even more effective as residents of the housing projects in one neighborhood begin ministering to their peers in other neighborhoods.
Zack has a bright outlook for the future of H.O.P.E. Ministries. He is quick to give God the credit for the successes he has already had. He still envisions H.O.P.E. Ministries growing in a few years into something close to what Bill Wilson is doing in the Bushwick section of New York. The main obstacles to accomplishing this are the limited resources he has to work with, including finding more people to help work with the children at all of these different apartment complexes and obtaining the necessary financial backing to expand the ministry even further.
Zack's dream is to bring all of the children involved in H.O.P.E. Ministries under one roof so he can have contact with all of the kids on a weekly basis. He is constantly searching all over Spartanburg for a building or a plot of land where a H.O.P.E. Ministries building could be developed. He would also like to get some busses for H.O.P.E. Ministries. Zack realizes that these things will happen when God allows them to. He is excited and anxious about what God is going to do next with H.O.P.E. Ministries.
If you or your business would be interested in helping Zack and H.O.P.E. Ministries with a financial gift, donating prizes to give away to the children or even working directly with the children on Saturday mornings, then click the comment button and let me know. Your contribution to H.O.P.E. Ministries will make a real difference in the lives of some children who are looking for real hope in this world. It may even prevent them from making tomorrow’s headlines!