A home for the homeless
Demetrius Scott was living in a Pikeville homeless shelter last July when he finally let go and gave God control of his life.
For several years up to that point, things weren’t going so well for Scott. He was divorced. He lived apart from his children whom he adored. When he lost his job, Scott made a move to Kentucky looking forward to starting over and being closer to the kids. That’s when he tragically went astray.
“It fell apart in 2013. That’s when I turned to selling drugs,” said Scott, thinking trafficking was a way to sup-port his family.
Dealing heroin and cocaine meant money and lots of it. He admitted trying the merchandise a few times, but said the real attraction was always having plenty of cash in his pockets. “I was addicted to a lifestyle,” Scott said.
Few who knew Scott before would have guessed him to become a criminal. He grew up in church and accepted Christ at an early age. He graduated from high school and was accepted to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. When he was injured at practice on the football field, Scott turned his focus toward earning degrees in biology and psychology.
Still, Scott was busted for selling drugs in Ashland, Kentucky, after managing to evade the law for two years. He was facing up to 40 years in prison and ended up serving a fraction of the maximum sentence. After a stint in the Boyd County jail, he served the latter part of his sentence incarcerated at the Pike County Detention Center.
“That’s where I met Demetrius; in jail wearing orange,” said David Hammond, pastor of Faith Baptist Church of Myra. “I knew there was something special about this guy.”
Every Thursday morning, Hammond and some men from the church go to the detention center and minister to about 50 inmates. When some of those inmates are released and end up at the homeless shelter in Pikeville, Faith Baptist is there too.
Members of Faith Baptist minister to their community throughout the week at the women’s prison, the low-in-come housing development and the assisted living com-plex. On Sunday mornings, a 15-passenger van waits at the bus stop in front of the West-Care Perry Cline Emergency Shelter to transport homeless men to church.
“We just love them, and a lot of them have been baptized at our church,” Hammond said about men at the shelter.
“You know it’s one thing to throw a Bible at them and tell them to read it, but it’s another thing to feed them, to love them, to put your arm around them, build them up and tell them there’s hope,” the pastor said.
Jason Brown also heard about that hope, and on a rainy Sunday morning in March he stood in front of Faith Baptist’s congregation to announce he was 18 months clean. He then talked about his spiritual journey beginning with sitting in jail facing 20 years for a third drug trafficking charge.
“I had just fought with the guards. I had mace all over me. And I told God, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to die in prison,'” said Brown. “It was like he spoke to me. He said, ‘I’ve got something better for you.'”
Grace from God came in the form of court ordered drug addiction therapy. Brown went through all three treatment phases with Addiction Recovery Care, which can last up to 13 months.
“Jason was one that was absolutely rock bottom,” Hammond said, “but he gave his heart and life to Jesus and God has raised him up.”
These days Brown works as the chaplain of the ARC facility in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and regularly shares his testimony with people who are struggling with addiction.
For five months after meeting Hammond, Scott said the church came to minister to him and the inmates. After his release on June 5, 2018, the church came to the homeless shelter and brought Scott to Faith Baptist. He rededicated his life to the Lord the next month.
“They were bringing church to the jail to try to reach the people that people tend to forget about,” Scott said. “I’ve never been to such a welcoming congregation. The Holy Spirit is all through this church.”
When Hammond told church members that Scott needed a job, they offered opportunities for yard work and other manual labor. When Hammond told the church that Scott needed a vehicle to get back and forth to work, one member added to the donations in a big way and purchased a 2008 GMC Envoy.
“It’s a great thing that people who haven’t known me for that long are willing to accept me knowing my past, and willing to call me their son,” Scott said, “That’s really special.”
Scott now works as an ARC case manager and is in talks with his superiors about becoming a certified drug ad-diction counselor. He is also helping the church with its mission to reach people with the gospel by sharing his testimony at the homeless shelter and helping with Bible study at the assisted living center.
“We’re seeing lives totally changed one by one,” Hammond said.
But that wasn’t always the case. When he started the church 28 years ago there were only a dozen members. “We didn’t catch the fire ’till about five years ago when we just got tired of sitting inside the walls and waiting on people to come to church,” Hammond said. “We decided to go outside the walls and reach people that other people are not reaching. The home-less. The drug addicts. The forgotten people.”
The pastor said despite being located about 20 minutes out-side Pikeville in the unincorporated community of Myra, more than 250 members officially make up Faith Baptist. And there are others coming, too, said Hammond.
“When a church is on fire, people hear about it,” he said. “And all they are wanting is to be loved and showed there’s hope in Jesus.”