Donny Johnston says that about two and a half years ago God gave him a new vision for how to help the people around him.
“The Lord just took me out of the pastorate and gave me a vision for local missions,” he said. “He gave me a burden for hurting people here in our area, in our communities.”
So with that burden driving him Johnston began to work alongside Chris Guinn, associational mission strategist for Sand Mountain Baptist Association, to do whatever he could to meet needs in the area.
“After a few months of doing that I began to tell some folks about what was going on, and we had a church that stepped up and donated us some property,” Johnston said.
For two years he and other volunteers worked out of the back of a 53-foot semi-truck trailer that Grider Trucking in Section had loaned them, using it as a makeshift care center. As people came in Johnston always tried to work with the church closest to the person to help get their needs met and connect them with a local body of believers.
“The Lord has just blessed us in a lot of ways,” he said. “Being in this ministry, we’ve been able to help families with food, wheelchair ramps, home repairs and transportation back and forth to doctors.”
And in November their presence got an even bigger boost. The Helping Hands Outlet Store and Mission Center opened in its brand-new building at 86 Gin Road in Dutton. Not only that — they’re already expanding. With donated materials they’ve started building an additional storage space.
“Several of our churches in the Sand Mountain Baptist Association have partnerships with us, and we couldn’t have done it without them,” Johnston said. “We’re looking forward to being able to help meet the needs of more people.”
Along the way Johnston said he has seen people renew their faith or make decisions to follow Jesus. He’s also seen the homeless get a roof over their heads — two men have been given campers to live in and gotten help in securing jobs.
“I love seeing people’s lives changed,” he said. “The Lord is using it, the Lord is working with it and He gets the glory from it. It’s just been a blessing.”
Guinn said Johnston’s work has been making an impact for quite a while now.
“Donny is a servant, and he’s the guy that I always call first if I know of a need,” Guinn said. “A lot of our churches have been supporting him, and it’s been a really positive thing for us and our area. He’s been doing a lot.”
For more information, call Sand Mountain Association at 256-451-3750.