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Teen mentoring and food distribution ministries work hand-in-hand at Slingshot Ministries for the benefit of everyone involved.
Slingshot Ministries, located at 3127 Huntsville Highway at the corner of West Lincoln Road, offers kids ages 12-18 a safe, supervised place to meet with friends in the café, while they eat food, play games, dance, listen to music, or strum a guitar, if they get the whim. The young people meet from 7 until 11 p.m. each Friday.
While teens socialize, they also have the opportunity to be mentored by caring adults, who offer a listening ear and guidance.
Kids must sign in when they arrive Fridays and provide parent contact information. They are not allowed to leave without their a parent’s permission.
“We get the chance to walk along with them and mentor them,” said Laura Self, organizational vice president. Her husband, Lonnie is president.
These days teens are susceptible to so many demands and temptations, she explained.
“We say, if we just reach one – it’s worth it,” Laura said of the ministry.
Teens also learn about serving others through the food ministry. They have become a big part of Slingshot’s food distribution program, Laura said. Second Harvest Food Bank makes the food available to the ministry for distribution on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Since April 2012, Slingshot has donated 43,000 pounds of food to local residents. Within the past nine months, 1,590 boxes of food have been distributed, serving a total of 5,048 people.
“In September, we gave out 195 boxes with a total of 563 people in 25 minutes,” said Pam Bennett, ministry partner and Friday night cook for the teens.
Core ministry members help with distribution, along with some of the teens who help carry boxes to vehicles. This makes the process a lot quicker, and also teaches the young people about serving.
“We are looking for community service projects … here we have one every month,” said Laura.
The ministry originated in 2005 at Taft First Baptist, with youth ministers Lonnie and Laura Self at its head. At that time, the program was geared toward sports.
In 2007, Slingshot became its own nonprofit organization. The ministry moved from Taft in 2009.
“We started at our home in November 2010,” Laura explained.
Jeff Bennett, former pastor of Taft First Baptist, and his wife, Pam, also help in the ministry and for a while, held Bible studies in their home. Jeff and Pam, along with Lonnie and Laura Self, Sherry Gordon and JoAnna Kimbrough, are all members of the Slingshot board.
All of the above, with the exception of JoAnna Kimbrough, are involved as the ministry’s core group. Others in the ministry are Jamie and Carl Thomas, Pat and Paul Weeks, Eli and Sherry Gorgan, BethAnna and Jayson Jones, Victoria and Josh McKerin, along with Nick Malone, Colyn Self, Bennett Self, Nicholas Self, Tucker Self and Hannah Self.
After much prayer, Slingshot found its new home in May 2011. The building was the former office of Direct TV. It took a lot of time and effort to make it a suitable place for the young people to gather.
“When we opened here, the purpose of the mission broadened,” said Laura, referring to the addition of the food ministry. “We’re now seeing God open doors.”
“We had to get out of the box to have this opportunity,” added Lonnie.
“Every time you give food, it’s all about being the hands and feet of Jesus,” Pam explained.
For additional information about the teen ministry or food distribution, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.