Local Church Practices What They Preach to Better the Community

A look inside the "Isaiah 58" project

(WJTV) — Three weeks ago, we brought you the story of Marshall Thomas. He’s a nationally recognized, award winning mixed martial arts fighter who is living in south Jackson.
“I had him upside down and then my stuff started falling out of his pocket. As his mom is saying ‘I know he wouldn’t do this. He wouldn’t.’ My stuff was falling right out,” Marshall Thomas said.
His home was broken into twice. Investigators believe a group of children living in that neighborhood were responsible. We met Thomas after catching the children in his house the second time.
The MMA fighter forced the children in his house. He told us that he wanted the situation to become a lesson in consequences. that was plan was interrupted when a neighbor called the police, and the children’s angry parents got involved.
“It was thousands of dollars worth of stuff that they took from my house. I wasn’t going to do anything to harm them, but at the same time this could have been something where they were going to learn, I could have taught them and let them understand that this isn’t the way you want to do it. You can be successful; you can have a six figure job without doing this. I wanted to let them know I am intentionally here and they will see that it’s because i love them,” Thomson said.
Thompson is living on Winfield Drive because of a program through new horizon church called Isaiah 58. It’s a program that intentionally places young professionals in struggling neighborhoods. The idea is that their lives will serve as a light to the community and that their actions and influence will then work together for the good of those around them.
Ronnie Crudup, Jr. is one of the program creators.
“As believers, we talk about being lights in the community. It’s easy to be a light in other places, but in the darkest areas, that’s where the light shines brightest,” Crudup said.
Isaiah 58 and 12 says “your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.”
“We call them urban missionaries. With my father, Bishop Ronnie Crudup and a few of us got together and said let’s think about Isaiah 58. The scripture that talks about rebuilding and restoring a community,” Crudup said.
The program started about three years ago, when a woman donated four homes. From there, someone else donated two more. Right now, the church has placed young professionals in 14 houses in south Jackson.
“It’s easy to go to Madison, or Clinton, or North Jackson, but it’s a little bit more of a mental tough challenge coming to a tougher area,” Crudup said.
Iasia Collins took that challenge, though she admits she was nervous at first.
“I will tell you the truth. At first when we moved over here, on the news you hear everything about Jackson. Nothing about Madison, or Clinton. Every once and a while sporadically,” Collins said. “When we moved, I had all these thoughts. Like oh I’m going to get shot, somebody is going to break in our house.”
Thankfully that has been far from the case. Collins says it has been a completely peaceful experience and the true joy has come from impacting the people around her.
“I don’t think of it as a big deal, but the more people talk to me about it, they say our family presents hope for them and their families. I realize it is a really big deal,” Collins said.
Titus Brayboy is another participant who says the program has been a great experience.
“It actually feels good. To be able to say, as a young black male who has a couple degrees under his belt and who is working, to see these young men and women and let them know that they can do more than what they think they can do,” Brayboy said.
Anyone living in the homes has to meet certain criteria. They also have to agree to be involved with the community and witness to the people around them.
Just being able to reach and to mentor and impact the lives of young people. particularly young people headed down the wrong direction. I feel that through my presence here, some things are changing. Some lives are being impacted,” Pastor Hugh Davis said.
Crudup says they have received positive feedback from the community.
“We’ve had the folks that are there say ‘hey i really appreciate what you guys are doing. What New Horizon church is doing.’ We have had calls from a lot of people who say they appreciate us trying to get good people in the community because that’s what we need,” Crudup said. “We want somebody who wants to be a leader for this city and try to make a huge impact.”
Organizers say they have a long list of people who want to participate, but they need more properties. They take abandoned homes and restore them to livable conditions. If you’re willing to donate to the cause, you can find more information on their website by Clicking Here

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