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The transforming power of faith (religion)

Feeding the hungry: Those in need enjoy a hot lunch recently at Through the Grace of God Ministries. (Photos by Chanel Bingham)

Feeding the hungry: Those in need enjoy a hot lunch recently at Through the Grace of God Ministries. (Photos by Chanel Bingham)

By Chanel Bingham

I’m always amazed hearing how people’s faith led to the most incredible life transformations. There are so many beautiful stories of people in our community who placed their hopes and dreams in God’s hands and watched them flourish and grow into something far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Fourteen years ago, Ralph Bingham purchased a local building for his auction/store front business, and what happened next is a testament to the life-changing transformation that faith will bring about if you are willing to trust God with your hopes and dreams.

BINGHAM

BINGHAM

Over the course of the first few years of his business, Bingham began meeting several of the street people and homeless individuals living in the surrounding neighborhood. While it wasn’t initially his intention to provide for the less fortunate, it wasn’t long before he found himself serving meals every day to the needy in his area.

From there, he began holding weekly Bible studies, and within four short years, God had laid it on Ralph’s heart to establish a non-denominational, Christ-centered church in the location of his auction business and open his doors to all those who are under-resourced in our community.

“Seeing a need, the Spirit of God told me to build a church,” Bingham said about what has become Through the Grace of God Ministries. “Our doors are open to all folks. We are non-denominational and multi-racial. I like to say we are just a beggar helping another beggar along.”

Bingham said the main purpose of his ministry is to make a difference in people’s lives and help bring them to the cross.

In fulfilling that purpose, Ralph dedicates every day of his life to serving those in need. Through the Grace of God Ministries provides free meals every day from 11 a.m. to noon and supper on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5-6 p.m.

All are welcome: Through the Grace of God Ministries offers meals, worship services and much more at its located at 75 Eighth St. S. in Clanton.

All are welcome: Through the Grace of God Ministries offers meals, worship services and much more at its located at 75 Eighth St. S. in Clanton.

They also offer four worship services each week on Thursday and Friday night beginning at 6 p.m. and two on Sunday at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Also, Through the Grace of God Ministries offers several weekly Bible studies, with a special women’s Bible study held on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.

Through merchant donations, Ralph is able to provide free food assistance every Thursday during lunch in the giving of eggs, yogurt, milk, bread, fruits and vegetables, along with other food items. His ministry also provides clothing, furniture and personal hygiene items to anyone with a need.

Christmas is a special time at Through the Grace of God Ministries with the hosting of their Twelve Nights of Christmas. Bingham’s eyes light up as he explains the program.

Face of the ministry: Bro. Ralph Bingham founded Through the Grace of God Ministries.

Face of the ministry: Bro. Ralph Bingham founded Through the Grace of God Ministries.

“The Twelve Nights of Christmas starts on Dec. 13 at 6 p. m., and we have guest churches coming in each night to share a message,” he said. “We will not only give the gift of the Bread of Life, but every night, we will also give away gifts such as new toys, shoes, diapers, sacks of groceries, personal hygiene items and more. On Christmas Eve day at 11 a. m., Mulberry Baptist Church will come, and they always serve a tremendous feast of a meal. Everyone is invited.”

Ralph and the volunteers at Through the Grace of God Ministries are working hard to fulfill their mission and purpose of serving others, but they can’t do it alone. We have an opportunity as a community this holiday season and in the months to come to develop a habit of generosity through the donation of our time, prayers and money to this wonderful ministry.

Bingham said that first and foremost is the need for prayer. That is most important. They are also in need of volunteers who can help provide and cook meals. Canned food donations and pantry items are collected all year long, and financial donations are also very important in helping to support the work of this ministry.

Also, there is a big need for volunteers to answer the phones and be able to offer prayer to the person on the other end. This ministry is also looking for volunteers skilled in working with computers and to help with clerical work and letter writing.

Local volunteer Debi Gibson said Through the Grace of God Ministries has made a difference in her life.

“Three years ago, I came here for food assistance,” she said. “I had fallen away from God. and Bro. Ralph and his family were an inspiration to me. Watching his family overcome their own struggles while still caring for others changed my life. I’ve had struggles my entire life, and I still do, but it’s OK because I know now that God has me. I wanted to give back, so now I serve as a volunteer.”

Bingham said one of his greatest joys is to see people’s lives being transformed.

Care packages: Sacks of groceries will be handed out during the ministry’s annual Twelve Nights of Christmas program.

Care packages: Sacks of groceries will be handed out during the ministry’s annual Twelve Nights of Christmas program.

“It’s good to see people come here for the first time, and six months later their lives have been changed by learning about the Word of God. Just to see people get saved and to know the changes God makes in their life is good.”

Ralph encourages people who want to know more about this ministry to stop by for lunch.

“The best way to learn about this ministry is to come by and eat lunch and see what we do,” he said. “It won’t cost you a dime, and it will tell a lot better story than I ever could.”

To learn more about volunteering or to make a donation to Through the Grace of God Ministries, contact Bingham at (205) 755-8199 or just stop by for lunch! The facility is located at 75 Eighth St. S. in Clanton.

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17

Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at www.thepolishedcanvas.com or on Facebook at “The Polished Canvas.” Her column publishes each Thursday.