Ministry works to bring hope, jobs by teaching life skills, work ethic

Ministry works to bring hope, jobs by teaching life skills, work ethic

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Six years ago, John Bowman found himself arresting the same guys over and over for the same thing.

He had worked for the Montgomery Police Department (MPD) for two decades, and that year — 2014 — he was given his own precinct.

“I was responsible for the crime there, and it was a revolving door of the same individuals,” Bowman said.

He wasn’t sure how to make it stop, but one day he ran into Michael Coleman, who founded Hope Inspired Ministries (HIM) in 2012.

HIM — a ministry that started in First Baptist Church, Montgomery, and expanded to the Birmingham area and Lowndes County — prepares low-skilled and chronically unemployed men and women to find and keep employment.

A changed life

Bowman tucked that information in his mind, and it resurfaced one day when he was at Montgomery Municipal Jail talking to some men getting ready to reenter society.

“One guy had been arrested 40 times,” he said. “I said, ‘Why don’t you try this program out?’”

Bowman didn’t think about that conversation again until Karen Boan from HIM called and said the man — Christopher — had shown up at HIM. She asked Bowman to be Christopher’s mentor.

“That’s how I got involved with the mentorship program,” Bowman said.

And it just snowballed from there. He became immersed in the program, which takes men and women through a nine-week course to prepare them to earn a living and become productive members of society. For six weeks, they learn marketable skills such as computer and finance, then for three weeks they work an unpaid internship for a local business.

It changed Christopher’s life. Bowman was able to help him see that every time he’d gotten arrested, he had been intoxicated. Bowman helped him get into a recovery program for chemical abuse, and through that and what Christopher learned at HIM, he secured a job at a local restaurant.

The ministry “plays an incremental part of changing lives, which in essence changes a city,” said Bowman, who recently retired as deputy chief of MPD and became executive director of HIM. “I saw this firsthand over the past six years in Montgomery while I worked at the police department. I used to tell people that the police department is just a cough syrup for a problem, but Hope Inspired Ministries is a cure.”

Neal Hughes, director of missions for Montgomery Baptist Association (MBA), said HIM has been a huge resource for the River Region.

“Not only have they been able to effect change in the urban culture of Montgomery, the team has partnered with the Montgomery Baptist Association to start a work in Lowndes County,” Hughes said, noting that HIM would be sharing a ministry building owned by MBA there. “Their relationship with local businesses and churches, as well as the city and county judicial systems in our area, has been tremendous. They have brought hope and jobs for many seeking souls willing to enter and complete the HIM program.”

More partners

Bowman said HIM is looking for more churches and individuals to partner with the ministry both in Montgomery, Birmingham and Lowndes County and in other parts of the state where they don’t have a presence yet.

For more information about how to get involved with HIM, contact Bowman at 334-649-4330 or