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The Bountiful House

by Anna Hood

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Thank you for the privilege of being a guest on your lovely blog. It is truly an honor!

Twelve years ago, God called me to give up my job and replace the comfortable security of a steady income with an adventure of faith. It didn't happen instantaneously, mainly because I struggled to take that step of absolute surrender and trust. However, I remember one day, the Spirit spoke so clearly to my heart, assuring me that if I surrendered everything, He would, in turn, be my everything. At that moment, I surrendered, and my life has never been the same.

In 2014, three years after this decision, God opened the door for me to start a nonprofit called The Bountiful House, and for the past nine years, I have worked with at-risk children in our community. The Bountiful House provides a safe, loving, and homelike environment where children are mentored and taught lessons on faith and essential life skills. What was your inspiration for starting The Bountiful House? After I graduated from high school, I got a job at our local library, where I met many of the kids I am still working with today. I passed out coloring sheets, played UNO, and assembled puzzles with the kids who came in after school. I became much more aware of the needs that exist in their lives. I observed a vicious cycle of drug abuse, poverty, and broken relationships. One conversation stands out in my mind. A ten-year-old boy came in regularly to use the library's computers and talk. Very casually, almost in passing, he told me, "I'm probably gonna end up in jail one day."

I was shocked. This was his expectation in life. I couldn't stop thinking about it...mainly because I realized that his prediction would likely come true. That's when my eyes were opened to see the need for a place like the Bountiful House where kids could come and learn about God, who loves them and has a purpose for their lives.

In case you're wondering...that boy did end up in jail. At seventeen, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. I don't have time to share his whole story, but God intervened in his life! He is now twenty-three years old, has been drug-free for over four years, and has a beautiful wife and two precious daughters. How has the ministry of The Bountiful House changed since it began? We started The Bountiful House in a storefront building on the town square. God provided a group of caring volunteers. We prayed diligently and invited seven children from the community to attend (intentionally keeping the number of children under twenty so that we could function as a large family). The kids came after school two days a week. We would have a family meal together, the kids would do assigned chores, a volunteer would share a devotion, we would help the kids with homework, and then we would do an activity together; this could be anything from playing hide-and-go-seek to cooking lessons. As the years went by, what began as meeting after school a couple of days a week soon expanded into much more; we celebrated the kids' birthdays, attended their school events, provided transportation to the store and doctor, ensured they had food and clothing, advocated for them in court, and hosted holiday gatherings. God continued to send children, and by our fifth year, we were busting at the seams. I prayed and, two days later, received a phone call asking if we would be interested in a piece of property located directly between our town's school campus and government housing. It included a 4,000-square-foot building and six acres of land. The property was donated to us at no cost, and we began a massive renovation turning it into what we now call The Bountiful "Place." What does a typical day at The Bountiful Place look like? We are currently in a season of transition. We have a broadening age range, as some of our original kids (who began coming when they were in elementary school) are now adults and have children of their own. Next month we will be hosting our Bountiful House families individually for dinner a couple of nights a week. Driving lessons are taking place every Tuesday, as we have several teenagers who need a driver's license. Thursdays are presently workdays. Some of our adult "kids" have been coming to help with yard work and getting our new location organized and ready for our next season of ministry. We are excited to see what God has in store! What is the most challenging part of what you do? We are engaged in spiritual warfare, and my job places me on the front lines. The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy—I see the effects of that every day. Violence, theft, murder, drugs, abuse, pornography, and homelessness are things that we deal with regularly. I've watched drug abuse destroy families and break homes apart. I've witnessed the pain in a child's eyes when a parent has abandoned them. I've tried to find the right words to say to a twenty-year-old who has just received a twenty-five-year prison sentence. Not every story is a success story, and even the successes are not without strife and struggle. Some days, like Nehemiah, I stop and grieve over the destruction. When I advocate for these precious souls, I am opposing the enemy, which takes a heavy physical and emotional toll. What is the most rewarding part of what you do? Being on the frontlines of a spiritual battle means seeing the devastation of Satan up close, but it also allows me the pleasure of watching the far more powerful and completely wonderful side of the fight.

I get to witness miracles, and I often feel what the disciples must have felt as they distributed the fish and loaves when Christ fed the five thousand. From the very beginning, God put it on my heart to simply trust Him for every need. We have never fundraised or asked for a single penny, and God has provided for EVERYTHING.

Over the past nine years, we've watched God provide money for our rent and utilities, groceries, clothes, new air units, doorknobs, property, craft supplies, dishes…the list is endless. Our building needed a new roof which would cost around $20,000.00, and we prayed and received a check in the mail for $28,000.00. To this day, we don't know how the doner heard about The Bountiful Place. Once, one of our boys needed school clothes, and someone donated bags full of clothes (some never worn) that were exactly his size. These are merely two examples of the hundreds I could give detailing God's provision.

I also get to witness God's heart in pursuing souls. There is no length to which He is unwilling to go. His pursuit of these kids has led me into public schools, courtrooms, jails, rehabs—even street curbs—and His loving persistence amazes me every single time. I wish I had the time and space to share how His love has touched souls, restored families, and changed lives. What would be your advice to a young woman wanting to take a step of faith and start some kind of outreach?

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God is so kind! He doesn't depend upon our skills, talents, or strengths; quite the opposite. (This is coming from someone who googled "How do you start a nonprofit?") God is simply looking for someone fully surrendered and dependent on Him, and the things He will accomplish through you will be better and grander by far than acting on your own plans and understanding ever could. Jeremiah 17:7 says, "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him." If He has put something on your heart to do, He will be faithful to complete it.

A Note from the Editors: We would like the thank Anna for taking the time to share her story and the work she is doing with The Bountiful House. We were truly blessed and inspired by the work God is doing through her. If you would like to support the work they are doing, you can click the following links to learn more about the organization.

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