A new church has opened its doors in East Rockingham and the minister intends to make an impact in the community.
The red building at 469 Mill Road that used to be a tattoo and piercing parlor is now Jesus is Justice Mission Church. Pastor of the church Cynthia Bryant and her husband Bishop Harlan Bryant come from New York City, where they founded the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Organization in 1990, which stands for Justice, Unity, Strength To Improve Community Economics.
“This is one of the neediest areas of Rockingham,” said Pastor Bryant. “We’ve just come here to do what has to be done for the people. I feel that if you come here and see the needs of the people and turn your back, something is wrong with that picture.”
Bryant has been collecting things for the needy since 1990, like shoes and clothes and deodorant and shampoo and all the things many take for granted. She spends her time sorting the things, packing them and either hands them out at sites she has opened, or takes them to places to be shipped to other countries such as the Bahamas where she helps support an AIDS camp.
“My goal is to not see so many homeless people here. I believe they can help themselves if they are educated,” said Bryant. “I feed 3,200 people a month in New York City. I house the mentally disabled, the battered, addicts, former convicts and anyone who just needs a hand. It’s not hard to put things like this together for people. So when communities say, ‘We can’t do this,’ that’s not true. I’m not funded by the state or federal government. If I live good, you’re supposed to live good, too. I couldn’t do anything in my life without Jesus Christ — he gets all the credit.”
In New York, in North Carolina and in nine other different countries, Bryant has set up shelters, health facilities and missions where she and her volunteers care for many people. She said she doesn’t support people who look for handouts, but helps people who are trying to turn their life around.
At the new church in Rockingham, there is something scheduled each day for community members.
Mondays are service days, Tuesdays there is Bible Study, Wednesday is Men’s Night, Thursday is Prayer Night as well as free food and clothing being made available, Friday is 12-step recovery night, Saturday is Youth Day and Sundays are reserved for worship.
Bryant is accompanied by Travis Finlay, a music student and youth minister. He has seen Bryant work with people and said she has an affect on people.
“God uses her in a mighty way,” said Finlay. “I felt godliness from her, such peace.”
Finlay met Bryant through his mother who has a shipping company that ships goods to the Bahamas; a service Bryant needed. Finlay’s mother mentioned proudly that her son had just begun playing the piano.
“I only had three piano lessons before my teacher said she couldn’t do anything else for me,” said Finlay, who admits he has a gift, “from God.”
Finlay felt spiritually moved to play music for Bryant’s worship services, although he was attending another church and was only 13 years old. Finlay is now 18 years old, has produced four CDs and has been accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston.
A.J. Rangarajan of New York City was leading a different kind of life before he became a youth minister for Bryant. He said he was Gothic and involved with heavy partying, drinking and drugs. He ended up homeless after he destroyed the house he was renting. After spending some time on the streets, he felt moved to work with Bryant to help others as she had helped him. His main focus is children.
There are others that help locally with outreach, including Lucille Pressley, Cardella Moates and Minister Scott Jordan. The church is looking for volunteers and donated goods you no longer want.
For more information about the church, call 917-566-1961.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.