A Miracle In The Making In Tin City: Wallace Christian Academy

(Previously published in The Duplin Times)

A miracle is in the making in the Tin City area of Wallace. In January 2021, Pastor Chris Jarman of Poston Baptist Church spoke to some of his church members about his vision to start a Christian school in the Wallace area. Together they visited several schools in eastern North Carolina and presented their findings to the church body. The church voted and found 100% approval to move forward with the project. By March, they had formed a committee where each person contributed the best of their expertise in the areas of construction, planning, and implementation. A three-phase plan was born to build a K-12 school. During Phase One, the school will open enrollment for K-2. In Phase Two, enrollment will extend for 3-5. In Phase Three, enrollment will begin for 6-12. By the end of the third phase, a fully functioning private Christian K-12 school will be built on 17 acres of farmland once donated to the church.

Everything you see (behind the church) that was soybeans, belongs to Poston. We decided it needed to grow children for God on this property–not just keep growing soybeans and stuff.

Assistant Principal Charles Blanchard

Right now, Phase One is enrolling for K-2 classes to begin on August 23, 2022. Phase Two with classes for grades 3-5 is expected to be ready to enroll in Fall 2023.  “Our goal is for the children we have in second grade this fall to be able to go into third grade with us the following year,” said Headmaster Steve Le Roux. “We will keep operating like that until the final building can be completed.” 

Headmaster Steve Le Roux with influential director and Assistant Principal, Charles Blanchard

Building for Phase One began last year. The church gutted its existing structure down to the floor joists and rebuilt it as a school. The church sanctuary remained intact throughout the rebuild and will serve as a weekly chapel for the school. The men of the church gave their time and talent to facilitate the rebuild and are still busy finalizing the details of the property today. Construction for Phase Two will begin later this month. “A building has been ordered and will arrive on May 17th (to begin Phase Two),” Mr. Blanchard said. “It will be a shell building that we will frame in and build up for grades 3-5. It will take us till after Christmas to get it finished.”

Charles Blanchard, a member of Poston Baptist Church, has been key in the direction and build of Wallace Christian Academy. Retired from over 40 years of service teaching and administering schools in the Duplin County Public School System, he knew exactly what steps would need to be taken to get the school running and accredited with the North Carolina Christian School Association. He will continue to serve the school in a voluntary position as Assistant Principal. “He has a wealth of knowledge,” said Mr. Le Roux. “He will be an ongoing asset for us.”

Mr. Le Roux also serves as the pastor of Rose Hill Baptist Church (which helped assist and house the Rose Hill UMC church after its fire four years ago). He is excited about the role he will play leading the school. “What Poston has already been able to accomplish in one year has been amazing,” said Mr. Le Roux. Not only did they plan for every detail of the project, but the church also raised $250,000 to fully fund Phase One. As the school grows, the buildings will continue to serve a dual purpose for the church as meeting spaces for church ministries. The final Phase Three building will also serve as a Family Life Center for the church. 

Several families have already taken the step of faith to commit to the school. We are prayerfully interviewing teachers and hope they really have the heart to see this as a mission field the way that we do.” 

Headmaster Steve Le Roux

Mr. Le Roux’s heart for ministry has been a passion throughout his life. He was born in South Africa with a skull injury that was supposed to cause him blindness and a life of pain. Corrective surgery and prayer brought him complete healing. In 2003, Duplin County Schools began recruiting teachers from England. They interviewed and hired Mr. Le Roux. “Those first few years, I was miserable and wanted to go back home. I would come and park behind that dumpster over there,” Mr. Le Roux said, pointing to a nearby convenience store. “I looked out at the field and just thought and talked to God. I had no idea I was looking at the place that would become a school I now get to headmaster.”

Mr. Le Roux’s teaching experience provided the background to know that small class size and the personal touch of reading in a circle matters. That’s why you will see circle tables in each classroom in addition to the individual student desks. The school plans to cap individual class sizes to 18 students. “We don’t plan to turn anyone away,” Mr. Le Roux said, “but we want to also keep the classes manageable.”

Starting with Abeka curriculum, Wallace Christian Academy will provide a thorough education in core subject areas, extra-curriculars, and Biblical training.

We are a Christian school, and we are going to teach a Biblical worldview. Founded on Ephesians 6:10-11, we want to empower our students to know what they believe and be able to defend it in our modern culture.

Headmaster Steve Le Roux

Efforts to teach using the latest technology were important enough to the school to budget for it. “Students will have books as well as IPads to begin their learning process,” Mr. Le Roux said. “Older students will have laptops. We also plan to have fast WiFi and smart TVs in each classroom that teachers can use for instructional purposes.” Technology extends beyond the classroom to the parents as well. Parents will be able to monitor grades and progress online using GradeLink. 

Tuition is competitively priced at $4500 a year per student and it decreases per child for families with multiple students enrolled. “We also have the Opportunity Scholarship for families within certain income brackets that want private school education but think they can’t afford it,” Mr. Le Roux said. The scholarship can cover the whole cost of tuition for approved applicants. 

On April 9th, parents and future students of Wallace Christian Academy had the opportunity to visit the campus for an Open House event. Everyone was excited for classes to start in the fall. 

Enrollment is still open for students to join the 2022-2023 school year. For more information, check out their website at https://www.wallacechristianacademy.com/ or come pick up an application at 4121 S. Highway 11 in Wallace.

The State of Education and How Tutoring to the Top is Making a Difference in Wayne and Duplin County, NC

Recently, a local high-school story went viral when it showed old equipment, broken floors, and rats in the school. That story was further detailed with descriptions of fighting and complete lack of control or respect in the classrooms. Teachers are overwhelmed and physically assaulted in classrooms. Administrators are overwhelmed. Students are ruling the room in anarchy and chaos. It’s not just this one school, nor is it all gang-related activity. This is the state of norm with kids in many schools today.

How can we expect teachers to control a room where they are scared and fear for their lives?

How can we expect proper authority to be established when state budgets are constantly seeing cuts to funding instead of increases?

More and more parents are tired of trusting the broken public education system. As a result, more and more families are pulling their kids out and into private schools. More and more new schools are appearing as well.

But what do you do if you can’t afford to send your kid to private school, nor do you have the time to stay home and homeschool them? How do we tackle the learning gaps when our kids come home with mountains of homework and frustration over all the things they don’t understand?

The best we can do is become active advocates for the care and education of our children. Whenever possible, that should include tutoring to help students overcome the deficiency they are experiencing.

(The following story was originally published in The Duplin Times.)

According to the US Census Bureau, 33-34% of people living in poverty in Wayne and Duplin counties are 18 years old or younger. Research suggests that constant changes, stress at home, and unequal access to learning resources contribute to lags in learning in the classroom. For things to get better, there has to be a concentrated effort inside education to recognize and assist where there is need. Tutor To The Top, part of the non-profit mission of Rones Chapel Area Community Center, is a free K-12 tutoring program that can help. 

Tutor To The Top has been serving southern Wayne and northern Duplin counties since 2016. They offer tutoring with credentialed, experienced tutors to anyone that needs it–regardless of socioeconomic status. Tutoring sessions are by appointment only and one hour a week per child. Appointments are available after school between 4 and 7pm at partnering locations. Sessions are currently offered at the Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive and Rones Chapel Area Community Center in northern Duplin county. 

Recently, the program opened a partnership with the fitness and wellness center, Dream Works, in Warsaw. Brian Dicicco, the facility director, said they were excited to provide the space for Tutor To The Top because “we operate on a faith-based set of values and want to be able to offer services to the community–not just be a fitness and wellness business”. In addition to low-cost memberships, Dream Works offers rentable spaces and has partnered with other community outreach events such as the Toys 4 Tots Drive with the Salvation Army in December 2021.   

Since COVID and remote learning, 20% more families saw the value in tutoring services and enrolled their children in Tutor To The Top in 2021. The increased demand just makes funding more challenging. Families are encouraged to donate to help cover the cost of tutoring, but they are not turned away if they are unable to pay. Neither are tutors lessened in their pay for the services they provide. What keeps the program alive is individuals and sponsors willing to donate funds to the program. Connie Wells, CEO of the Rones Chapel Area Community Center, said “generosity can come from the most unexpected places. Sometimes parents struggling to put food on the table are the biggest donors to the program because they see the value in investing in their children’s education.” 

Parents with children in the Tutor To The Top program through 2021 had glowing things to say about the program. “In their feedback forms,” Connie Wells said, “they told us that in 2021 one student’s math grades went from 13% to 91% in three months, another student made the honor roll in the first semester, and many more found that tutoring helped bridge the gap for their child’s remote COVID-related learning. Almost all parents recognized their kids have an increased self-awareness from tutoring that empowered them to be better advocates for themselves in classrooms as well.” 

What everyone agreed on–parents, students, and tutors–was that they want more time together. Tutors have invested in growing character–not just better grades–in their clients. Connie Wells said this is because “we are interested in growing professionals not just helping kids pass tests.”

To contact the organization to sponsor Tutor To The Top or to enroll a child in tutoring services, email RCACC@earthlink.net, call (919) 658-0476 and leave a message, or go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RCACC.NC/  

Stranger Danger: The Human Trafficking Threat in North Carolina and Beyond

When we were kids, many of us were taught to see strangers as potentially dangerous. This was especially true for unknown adults talking to children. But does stranger danger end when you are kids, or is it just beginning? In this article, we talk to Wallace Police Chief, James Crayton, Cry Freedom Missions CEO, Beverly Weeks, and COO, Jonathan Chavous, to learn about claims that human trafficking is increasing in Duplin County, how to recognize it, and how to act against it.

On December 16, 2021, a story circulated Facebook claimed that a woman was targeted at the Walmart in Wallace for an attempted abduction by human traffickers. Though the woman never filed a police report on the incident, it started conversations of concern that there may be a rise in human trafficking in Duplin County. Beverly Weeks, CEO of Cry Freedom Missions, stated that “most cases go unreported because the victims don’t even realize they are victims.” Furthermore, she said, “I would argue that poverty, drugs, pornography, social media, Covid leaving kids unsupervised and releasing inmates into the population, our close proximity to military bases, major highways, and coastal waterways have all increased cases of human trafficking in North Carolina—and in this area.”

What is Human Trafficking?

US law defines trafficking as when a person 18 or older is enticed to have sex for money because of force, fraud, or coercion. For persons below the age of 18, any act where the person is induced to perform sexually or in other forms of forced labor including involuntary service, peonage, debt bondage, and slavery is considered human trafficking.

Human traffickers make an estimated $150 billion in profits from the manipulation and bondage of others. In the United States, North Carolina ranks consistently in the top 10 for states with high trafficking cases. Though the government has increased its efforts to fight this problem, real change ultimately lies with the public becoming aware of their tactics and proactively acting. 

The Stranger You Know

According to Cry Freedom Missions, a ministry helping trafficking victims walk out healing and restoration in our area, most stranger danger starts in your home on your devices. Both male and female traffickers stalk their prey online through social media and gaming systems. They look for insecurity and weakness posted freely online, and they build a profile of how to get to you. They reach out as a friend request or message from a stranger complimenting you on your beauty or niceness. They entice you with promises of love, acceptance, and opportunity better than what you currently live in. They build trust with you and convince you that they want the best for you. Victims can be any age or gender, but the targeted age for most human traffickers now is 11-14 years old.

Force, Fraud, or Coercion

Human trafficking happens by one of three ways: force, fraud, or coercion. Force is when someone is abducted physically such as kidnapping, rape, or following someone in their vehicle. Force is the one you hear about the most, but it actually happens the least. That is because most traffickers prefer to work from the shadows where they are less likely to be seen or caught.  

Most trafficking cases come in the form of fraud or coercion.

Fraud is when a lie is used to convince someone that they must give themselves willingly to avoid some other greater trouble. This tactic is often used on immigrants who are unaware of our legal system. For example, a trafficker can claim to be able to save the person from deportation in exchange for their service in free labor or the sex trade.

Coercion is when the person is threatened harm if they do not perform the service. The threat can be mental harm such as the threat of exposing nude images of them to friends and family. It can also be physical harm such as getting them hooked on drugs and threatening to remove the drugs if they don’t perform the service. Because of this method of control, it has been suggested that many of the people facing criminal charges in court right now may actually be victims of human trafficking.

Take Action

If you are a parent, check your child’s devices, online activity, and gaming systems. Know the strangers they are welcoming into your home and what they are saying to them. Conversations online are everywhere from comments on YouTube to forums buried inside apps like Roblox. Shine a light on every area of communication in your household, and verify they are who they say they are. Screen conversations and get to know the online strangers in your home; it is important to know what is influencing your children.

Not everyone online is a predator, but you need to be proactively screening them as if they were. Don’t be public with your whereabouts or personal details, and don’t publish all your feelings where everyone can see them. Set boundaries for the interactions you have online. Some people delete new friend requests and only talk online to people they know in real life. Others screen new connections through mutual friends and video chat to confirm they are who they say they are. Wallace Police Chief James Crayton suggests that you also follow local law enforcement on social media. Many scams are reported through social media to help keep the public aware, cautious, and protected.  

Safety in Public

When you are in a public place, it is still possible to be a victim of human trafficking by force. The best way to combat this tactic is to be vigilantly aware of your surroundings. Parents, it is a good idea to always check on where your kids are and who they are with.

When you are in public, you are most vulnerable when you are in transition from a building to a car or by yourself in a public place. During these moments, it is especially important to think defensively and not be distracted by devices and other things. Take note if someone is loitering near your vehicle, making you feel threatened, or looking suspicious in some other way. Avoid dark, lonely alleys and taking the attacker home with you when you feel you are being chased. Know your surroundings well enough that you always have an escape plan if something goes wrong. Wallace Police Chief James Crayton says that if you feel like you are being watched or followed, go to the police or sheriff’s department–don’t go home.

How To Help

If you see something that looks suspicious, report it to the local law enforcement. Your action can help stop the effectiveness of trafficking circles in your area. If you or someone you know is being trafficked and needs help to get out, connect with Cry Freedom Missions at 919-988-9262.

The 4 Day Movement: A Non-Profit Serving People in Crisis

Pastor DJ Coles and his wife, Ruth, have been givers and servers in ministry for as long as I can remember. Chaplain, youth pastor, recording artist, public speaker, mentor, father, husband, and a friend are just a few of the hats that Pastor DJ has worn. In 2013, Ruth began to pray that they would find something that used all their gifts. God answered that prayer audibly on June 4, 2013, at 4:00 in the morning:


I’ll do more in four days than normally happens in four years by My hand.

Message from God to Pastor DJ Coles

The Roadmap of Matthew 25

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Matthew 25:35-36, 40 NIV

God got really specific with what He wanted The 4 Day Movement to look like. He set up a structure for service that would strategically position The 4 Day Movement to serve the underserved populations in Wayne and surrounding counties in North Carolina. It would be a structure based on Matthew 25 that spread the good news of hope and Jesus Christ to the North, East, West, and South. It would be a ministry that sought neither glory nor fame; a ministry that served in the shadows with many people not even knowing their name.

In the early years of The 4 Day Movement, it was just Pastor DJ and his wife, Ruth. Before they had the means to do much, the Coles were “hope dealers” by themselves. They connected people in need with resources to the best of their ability. Over time, God added volunteers to the team as well as funding to expand their efforts. 

Focused on sheltering and feeding, The 4 Day Movement strives to see that no child goes hungry, no house sees a deficit in food, and short-term housing options are available for the homeless, displaced, and/or single-parent families in Wayne County and surrounding areas in North Carolina.

Pastor DJ Coles

Today, The 4 Day Movement is  moving towards the creation of its own affordable housing community with wrap-around services to assist and empower their clients within a structured environment. These efforts fall into four categories called the pillars of 4 Day.


The 4 Pillars of 4 Day

We were told to spread the Good News to the North, East, West, and the South. Wherever we get an “assignment”, we step in, plant a seed of hope, and God does the rest. He brings prosperity and provision to the people we serve, 4 Day itself, and all those who volunteer with 4 Day.

Pastor DJ Coles recalling the 2013 vision from the Lord

Assisting in Crisis and Emergency (Project A.C.E.)

The biggest pillar of need seen on a daily basis is the one where people are in a crisis and need help. This is the area that helps single-parent families and individuals find temporary shelter and food when their resources are limited or unsafe.

The phones ring off the hook for this need, but The 4 Day Movement uses discernment and a team assessment approach to determine which cases fit the scope of its mission. Requests for assistance must go through an intake process to screen out those aiming to misuse resources versus those with a legitimate need.

Serving and Assisting Veterans and Elderly (Project S.A.V.E.)

This pillar involves reinvesting value in the aged community as well as those who have served our country. This is the area that helped a veteran evicted from his three-bedroom home after missing just one payment. It is also the pillar that gives Food with Favor Boxes to the vulnerable elderly  populations within the community.  When we are all safely on the other side of Covid-19, one of the operations in this area is to go into the homes of the elderly and build relationships between the young and the old.

E4: Employment, Education, Enrichment, & Empowerment

Education and employability are key components of everything that The 4 Day Movement does to help people get back on their feet and become successful members of society. This is the area that helped pay an adult’s college tuition and books as well as sent six students on a school trip to a ballet.

Education is an important value to The 4 Day Movement and will be a requirement going into 2022. However, it can be a source of pain to the clients because many of them have repressed dreams that require education. The clients have lived in survival mode for so long that they have forgotten how to dream. With the help of The 4 Day Movement, the client pictured here went from being homeless living on the streets to graduating with his G.E.D., becoming gainfully employed, and having an apartment of his own.

Caring and Loving Every Adolescent and Teen in Sports (Project C.L.E.A.T.S.)

This pillar involves adopting a team or individual and paying for their gear to play in sports. This is the area that saw a child in tattered clothing show up to tryouts, got him new clothes and gear, and saw him become that team’s starting pitcher. It is also the area that took on feeding 12-15 players on a bus trip where no one had the money to buy food following a game.


4 Day Heroes: Volunteer and Paid Staff

Some 4 Day Heroes are here for a reason, some are here for a season, and some are here for a lifetime. We thank God for all of them.

Pastor DJ Coles
2021 4 Day Hero Team

It is no secret that The 4 Day Movement couldn’t be where it is today (or where it is headed) without volunteers. While some of those volunteers have moved into paid staff positions over time, most started as unpaid volunteers and were happy to do so. 

Volunteers and businesses that partner with The 4 Day Movement to accomplish the vision are known as 4 Day Heroes. A great example of this relationship is the partnership between The 4 Day Movement and Cornerstone Church. Pastor Ryan Rasmussen and the church have welcomed 4 Day to house its food pantry as well as staging for events and many of its meetings at the church. They are a truly giving congregation with a heart for the military and for the needy. 

From providing 1100 Thanksgiving hot meals to the second and third shift active-duty airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to providing weekly Food With Favor Boxes into the community, The 4 Day Movement can’t do what it does without the help of business partners, prayer warriors, financial investors, and volunteers.

The Heroes of 4 Day are a tribe of their own. They come to serve because they want to give back to people who are struggling in areas they have personal experience with as well. The sacrifice of their time and resources is an investment, not a burden. They find joy in the fellowship they have with each other and in the service they are able to provide to the 4 Day clients. Most of the Heroes serve because it is something God led them to do, and, when they obey that direction, God has provided for their personal needs as well–even supernaturally.


The Burden and the Need

Leading a non-profit is a navigation of faith, funds, and communication. You have to be a good communicator because you are asking people to come in for a portion of what they could make in the for-profit sector. I believe what we are doing is more rewarding; you can have hundreds and thousands of dollars and still feel empty at the end of the day. Dollar amount aside, at 4 Day we feel very full like we have done something that meant something. You can’t put a dollar amount on that.

Pastor DJ Coles

Moving into 2022, The 4 Day Movement has several initiates in play to expand its role and influence in the community beyond Goldsboro, NC. It is also actively working to remove barriers to education for its clients.

In 2022, they are set to partner with a non-profit tutoring organization to provide K-12 tutoring to all the clients that need it.

It also will begin a partnership with Wayne Community College to bring classes to its clients and provide pathways into the college for further education.


We Need You!


Please consider helping The 4 Day Movement in one of the following ways:


Contribute financially to The 4 Day Movement online by PayPal or send a financial gift to: Attn:  4 Day Movement, Inc., 2822 Cashwell Dr., Box #146, Goldsboro, NC 27534 

Tax deductible receipts are available.

Go shopping with 4 Day through Amazon Smile.

Volunteer with 4 Day by mentioning this article and requesting an application via email to: 4daymovement@gmail.com

Pray for 4 Day. We know prayer softens hearts and opens doors, and many areas where The 4 Day Movement will stretch will require God’s providence and movement on their behalf.

Women’s Rights: The Forgotten Fight in Afghanistan

Note: The following article impacts those still in hiding in Afghanistan. To protect them, all names and locations have been purposefully omitted from this publication unless already previously published by one of the articles linked herein.

On August 24, I broke over a year of silence to tell you the story of the Afghan refugees. It was a story that left a lasting impact on me and created bonds with people still fighting injustice today around the world. Following news that the Taliban closed education indefinitely for women, I knew we needed to revisit Afghanistan. What I found was a story that left me in awe of the amazing strength of women. It is a story that has me hopeful we can still see positive change in the world, but it is also a story that needs your help to make a difference.

In Afghanistan, women make up roughly half of the population, and it is for women that we went into war in Afghanistan in the first place. According to this article from Human Rights Watch, an image of Afghan women in flowing blue burqas helped sell the war, but we lost sight of that humanitarian purpose over time. Just before leaving the country in 2021, funds for women’s rights in Afghanistan had been cut to roughly one-fifth of what they were in 2010. Mahbouba Seraj, a longtime women’s rights activist in Afghanistan, says “shame on you” to the whole world for that because these funds were actively saving lives in Afghanistan.

But are American taxpayers really responsible for peace in the Middle East?

Providing aid for foreign countries has been a topic of debate over the years, but we generally believe it creates goodwill and diplomatic relations with other countries. According to this 2019 article, foreign aid has been a bipartisan policy in effect for over 75 years in America. Most Americans believe we give away around 25% of the federal budget to foreign aid. When polled, most of us consistently feel our foreign aid should be about 10%.

How shocking, then, is it to learn that what we actually give is less than 1% of our federal budget?

Since 2001, the United States spent over $787 million to promote gender equality in Afghanistan. During our 20 year occupation, great strides were made legally. A constitution was adopted that claimed women were equal to men. Additionally, the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law provided legal protection for women and girls against domestic violence.  These laws were not perfect nor were they easy to get enforced by the predominantly male government, but their mere existence was progress. All that progress for women’s rights was halted when the Taliban returned to power this year.

Still, an entire generation of Afghan women have grown up believing the dark days of the Taliban were in the past with their mothers and grandmothers–not in the future for them. They refuse to sit and take this regression silently.

Not all Afghans caved into fearful submission to the Taliban. On the contrary, many are standing up in bold protest for the cause of human rights. These activists are being met with beatings, sticks, whips, tear gas, and gunfire. An example of that is the cover image of this story. Nevertheless, they fight on. One I know about is busy going into rural areas and educating women on their options for legal aid and entrepreneurship despite the fact that a close family member was assassinated by the Taliban. Another is committed to getting the truth out through media even though it has cost him personal threats that made him leave his home and go into hiding.

Afghan women who have stood up for gender equality, democracy, and human rights clearly face imminent risks.

In this context, the U.S. government and its NATO allies have a responsibility to ensure that Afghan gender equality activists, women journalists, and judges are considered a priority group for evacuation, emergency visas, and relocation support, and to mobilize humanitarian aid for refugees and those who are internally displaced.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 18, 2021 article

A Heart for Their Homeland

Most of the Afghan people left behind love their country and have great pride in where they come from. Here is what one of my activist sources had to say about being an Afghan and wanting to leave:

Afghans are patriots just like you. They never want to leave their homeland, but when your homeland is in the hands of an oppressive and terrible regime with no hope of it changing anytime soon, the only dim light that exists is to leave for a while.

(Under the Taliban), you can’t breathe. All rights and concessions are taken from you, and you feel like you are in a prison. Despair and frustration become your friend. You become afraid to even think about the future. You are (functionally) dead though you are still alive…The only hope that remains is a dream in itself: the hope to emigrate elsewhere for a while.

The people who came to us with lessons of freedom, democracy, and human rights want to forget us and leave us alone right when our country is slowly moving towards freedom.

Extremism grows by choking out education and every form of advancement until our country itself becomes a terror effecting other countries and nations. Forgetting Afghanistan is not the solution. We need help to push back against further setbacks.

An Afghan Human Rights Activist

The Dark Days of the Taliban Return

In the 1990s when the Taliban was at its peak in Afghanistan, you couldn’t be a woman in public without a male “guardian” and that public exposure was always limited and purposeful (for shopping, etc.). Modern Afghan women are beginning to see a return to those days. Stories of persecution are leaking out.

For example, one woman was a college professor with a Ph.D. When the Taliban took over, the university sent her home and told her she would be on “unpaid leave until further notice”. A highly educated single woman living alone, she found herself in danger with the Taliban because it is frowned upon for a woman to live alone. She has to find creative ways to provide for herself and hide the fact that she is living alone. 

Another woman was tricked into meeting a boy from a prominent family. When she met him, he raped her and got her pregnant. Though she was a victim, she was shunned by her family, prosecuted for having sex outside of marriage, and forced to give up her baby for adoption. When she tried to get justice against her attacker, he was able to pay off the legal system and avoid charges completely. She was only 17.

Summary and Call to Action

It’s hard to imagine living in a world so hostile to freedom. For those born after 2000 in Afghanistan, the baby America they were building was ripped away from them and a foreign culture was forced on them. Despite their touts of being a new, progressive party, the Taliban has not changed. They are still the same dictatorship that ruled by fear and bullying in the 1990s. The difference now is that they are bullying people who know better. Is it any wonder why so many Afghans try to flee? Would you not do likewise if it were your life, your family, being threatened?

For every Afghan brought to safety since the US withdrawal in September 2021, there are considerably more left behind still begging for a way out. The planes are still moving, but the documentation necessary to get on one is harder and harder to come by these days. Even border countries are closing to assistance because of their fear of Taliban retaliation. What options are left but protest?

We take this risk and protest to show the Taliban that we are not women of 1990 to be scared of whipping and forcing us to wear hijabs or forced marriage.

Taliban should win people’s minds and hearts through talks, not through the whip, beatings and extremism.

Hoda Khamosh, protest organizer, in an interview with CBS News

For lasting change to happen in Afghanistan, it has to start from within. If enough people stand up to the tyranny of the Taliban, maybe the tide will change, but that doesn’t remove the fact that they still need help from outside their country.

For those protesting on the streets today in Afghanistan, it’s not about getting attention, it’s about survival. Silence and compliance are no longer options.

So how can we help this fight?

1. Acknowledge that the fight exists.  US media whitewashes what happens in Afghanistan like it is some unavoidable casualty. Our fear fills in the gaps and makes up lies about the people coming here as refugees. These people are not terrorists or freeloaders. They just want an opportunity to work, make their own way, and live in peace. They don’t want a handout or special accommodations. If all we have for them is a tent in the woods, they will be grateful. It is our freedom they want, not our stuff.

2. Be vocal. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and strangers about what is happening, and educate them on the truth you have just read here today. Call your government representatives and urge them to take action. If you aren’t sure what to say, consider sharing this letter sent by over 100 non-profit organizations to US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. Better still, sign the letter being compiled to President Biden right now. Public opinion matters and, yes, one voice really CAN change the world. Share on your social media accounts. Share in person. Share everywhere and in every way you can.

3. Get connected and serve. There are plenty of organizations still working to get Afghans to safety. Whether it is the logistics of moving them or resources to house them in safe countries, we need help in every area of the mission. Two missions actively working to help on both fronts are Operation Recovery and Task Force Pineapple. Another organization helping those at risk right now is the Human First Coalition.

To Those In Need of Assistance

Immigration options that work take time. If you are reading this and need assistance, reach out to Operation Recovery and the Human First Coalition. Be prepared to be patient, persistent, and cautious; if you get anxious and stop being vigilant about safety, you can jeopardize both yourself and the mission.

To Those In America With Freedom

If you are reading this from a place of safety–especially in America–be grateful. Realize people around the world are actively fighting to have what you get every day for free. Be thankful for the freedom others bought for you, and pray for the freedom and peace of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. 


In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it…

The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Church Ministry is a Partnership Not Competition: The Story of Pastor Andrew Price and The Bridge, Mount Olive, NC

I grew up under the ministry of Pastor Ferrell Hardison at Whitley Church (now The Bridge) in Princeton, NC. He raised us to see church ministry like we are all part of the same team. Jesus is the name on the front of the jersey; our church name is on the back. What matters is the name on the front of that jersey. I’ll partner with any church that let’s us work with them (to serve our community) because it is about advancing the Gospel not one church over another.

Andrew Price, Pastor of The Bridge Church, Mount Olive, NC

The Man

Andrew Price is a small town, country preacher with deep roots and agricultural heritage in the community he serves today, but he will be the first one to tell you how surprised he was to end up the pastor of a church in his hometown. Introduced to the Bridge Church (then Whitley Pentecostal Holiness Church) as a teenager with his mother, Andrew has been a part of The Bridge Church NC for many years.

When God called him into the ministry, it began as a job at Falcon Children’s Home and Family Services, an outreach of the Pentecostal Holiness Church serving at-risk children and families. There were many challenges to the work, but the highlight of that time was the fact that Andrew met and married his wife, Nicole, there. Nicole and Andrew both credit their time in service at Falcon Children’s Home for setting important foundational lessons to the ministries they would go on to lead later.

Purchasing a home in Mount Olive, Andrew and Nicole laugh when they recall the early years of their marriage. They say they “really were living on love back then; we didn’t have much.” Nevertheless, God put a seed of hope in their hearts that they could do something for God in the town of Mount Olive, NC.

Andrew took a position as the Children’s Pastor for The Bridge Church in Princeton, NC, and Nicole took a job teaching music in Wayne County then (later) Johnston County Public Schools. It made more sense for them to move closer to their jobs, so they rented out their Mount Olive house and made the move. This could have been a moment to feel defeated because they were leaving Mount Olive, but they didn’t. They knew God was in the move and would not disappoint them in the journey regardless of where the road ended.

Pastor Ferrell Hardison, then Senior Pastor of The Bridge Church NC, became a mentor and friend to Andrew and Nicole. He knew their heart for Mount Olive, but, at that time, that was not part of the vision for The Bridge. The Bridge Church was one church with two locations, Princeton and Goldsboro, and it was very intentional about how any further locations would happen. When the next location was attempted, it wasn’t Mount Olive, it was Smithfield. Pastor Ferrell asked Andrew to take the point on that launch because he knew he had a pastor’s heart. Andrew accepted and learned a lot during his time in Smithfield that would help him later as well.

Family photo of Pastor Andrew with wife, Nicole, and sons Mason and Landon.

Going to Smithfield was short-lived and seemed in the opposite direction of where they wanted to be, but it would not be the only time the Prices were left to question God’s plan. In 2013, the hurt hit close to home with the loss of their first son, Anthony Jordan Price. They still remember and celebrate Jordan every year with family trips to his grave. Jordan was just 40 weeks old when he died, yet he was a part of this world from the moment of conception.

It is hard to come through such devastating personal loss and see beauty on the other side of it, but Jordan is now a big brother to three brothers who have learned to value life more acutely because he existed. No life, no matter how short it is lived, is without value.

The Ministry Structure

Looking from the outside in, it is easy to misjudge The Bridge Church NC. Are they competition to other churches–even in their own denomination? Are they spreading the Gospel or just another rock-star contemporary church with a feel-good message? To all these questions and more, I point you to the Bible. 1 Corinthians 3 teaches us that denominations are not the point; we are all co-workers in God’s service. In John 17, Jesus himself prayed for a spirit of unity not division amongst Christians. As Pastor Ferrell explained it, we are like members of a football team, and when we go out on the field (in ministry in the community) it is as a team united with other churches, not in competition against them. The Bridge Church NC expands into locations the Lord directs its leadership to go, and it reaches people that haven’t been able to be reached any other way. Whenever possible, they work with other churches and organizations to make a bigger impact in the community through acts of volunteer service and giving to the needy.

As a whole, The Bridge Church NC is one church with, now, four locations. In addition to ministry outreaches in Kentucky and Belize, The Bridge Church is located in Princeton, Goldsboro, Mount Olive, and Smithfield. Though the sermon points are generally the same every service across all four locations, the personalities, strengths, and stories of each pastor as well as the locations themselves make each location different.

Since its growth into a multi-site church under the leadership of Pastor Ferrell Hardison, The Bridge Church NC has fostered a sense of volunteerism and community engagement unparalleled in many churches today. Moving forward under the leadership of Pastor Jim Wall, the church is strategically building a legacy to pass on to future generations. Members of The Bridge NC give of their time, talent, and treasure because they want to partner with the vision of the church and with its outreach to the community. They are excited to serve and see Jesus at work in their hometowns, and they volunteer as an act of stewardship and obedience to Christ.

The Bridge Mount Olive Story

When The Bridge decided to go to Mount Olive in 2016, Pastor Ferrell, Andrew, and Nicole rejoiced that things had come back around full circle to answer this desire of their hearts.

The first location was a very humble beginning in a rented auditorium at the University of Mount Olive (UMO). It was the beginning of a beautiful partnership with the college that continues today, but it was not an easy place to serve. Every Sunday was a pop-up that had to be set up and torn down by a small group of volunteers starting around 6:00 AM every morning. When Covid happened, UMO had to press pause on its partnerships with outside organizations–and that included The Bridge Church.

Having to find a new place to meet felt like a punch of defeat. How could they come so far just to be shut down now? With two weeks left at the college and no place to go thereafter, Andrew felt God say in his spirit: “we’re not done”. He made the need for a location known to the people of The Bridge Mount Olive and asked everyone to pray and put out feelers in the community.

From those prayers and conversations came the opportunity to rent the Dudley Christian Disciples of Christ Church’s fellowship hall on Sundays. In less than a year of partnership together, Dudley Christian reevaluated the lease agreement and opened up more opportunities for The Bridge Church Mount Olive to access the property and grow in its ministry. The primarily older congregation at Dudley Christian said they were blessed by the sound of the children everywhere.

We feel like neighbors, but we want to feel like family.

Leadership of Dudley Christian Disciples of Christ Church

The desire to grow together as a family led the two churches to have their first combined service on November 7, 2021. They look forward to more growth and collaboration in the future.

The Bridge is not just a place I go, it is a people with whom my family can pursue Christ.

Ronnie Wise, Congregational Life Director

Where They Are Headed

The Bridge Church Mount Olive has an exciting future ahead of them. Celebrating 5 years in the community in October 2021, they plan to be here for many more years to come. Over the next months and years, they plan to invest strategically in growing their ministries to kids and students as well as outreaches into the community and UMO.

For more information about The Bridge Church Mount Olive, check out their Instagram, Facebook, and website. You are also welcome to join them for Sunday morning services at 10:00 AM here.

The Boatman and the Humanitarian Crisis to Save Afghan Refugees

Updated: September 12, 2021

(The Lord your God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 NIV

Introducing the Digital Dunkirk Boatman

Recently, I met a traveler known as the Boatman (identity reserved to protect the mission) who was in active military service. When I met him, I was immediately impressed with his sense of poise and charisma. He was confident but not cocky. He was bold and secure with boundaries to protect his values. He kept his actions and intent pure. He was highly skilled: the kind of man who could read a room and know exactly how best to serve it. It was impressive how intuitive, wise, giving, and kind he was to strangers much less people he knew and loved. We sat over dinner conversing under the stars on a warm summer night in Florida.

When the Afghan refugee crisis 2021 happened, and I heard he was directly involved; I knew I wanted to help. This is more than his story; it is the story of the thousands of service men and women and innocent civilians that are or will be publicly executed if we don’t take action NOW.

The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Since the War on Terror began under the Bush Administration in September 2001, American troops have occupied the Middle East in effort to stop terrorist acts and create a hostile environment for them in the areas where they were breeding. (For more on this history, check out this detailed article by Cato Institute.) 

This year, the Biden Administration determined that it was going to pull all US troops and support out of Afghanistan by 9-11-21. They thought they had enough steady support to keep Kabul as a safe port of entry, but they did not. As soon as the troops were gone, the Taliban reentered and took control of Kabul. When Kabul fell, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and the Taliban took over the government. According to this article from CNBC, the Taliban regime will allow foreign (US and UK) citizens to leave freely through August 31, 2021, but all Afghan nationals will be stopped at the gates. Furthermore, they say they will not allow any evacuations past the 31st, and any attempt to do so will face severe “consequences”. 

The Taliban wants to shift the narrative that US evacuation is a gift to Afghanistan. An article published by Aljazeera yesterday claims that the Taliban today is a powerful leadership that can negotiate with the skill of western leaders, but they were denied their rightful reign of power by US occupation. They want us to believe all of Afghanistan is excited to see the “new Taliban” come into power. If that were truly the case, why are there so many refugees stuffing themselves into cargo planes or strapping themselves onto the landing gear and risking falling from the sky versus staying behind in the “new Taliban”? 

Afghan citizens want to leave the country because they know they will be killed if they stay. This is especially true if they offered any support to US troops during their occupation. You can hear some of their stories first-hand in this article from the New York Times

With boots on the ground, here is what Boatman shared with me:

(Anyone left behind will) sadly have to stay and fight and hope they can defend their families from the atrocities the Taliban will unleash when we leave. Worst case scenario, the internet will be shut down, and they will begin murdering the innocent. These (people) are my family. I know their names, faces, and birthdays, and I will memorialize every one of them that doesn’t make it home because they are still my family. My children and grandchildren will know their names; they will not be stricken from the Earth like refuse. There are thousands of people like me living this nightmare right now as are the 6,000 service members having to bear witness to this human suffering because of the orders dictated to them by their Commander-in-Chief. We are already psychological casualties of this obscenity, but everyone can still stop this if they will email and call (their government representatives) until this is corrected.

How to Help Afghan Refugees

Because of the immediate need to get these people to safety, a grassroots effort is organizing to provide aid. Here are the top three ways you can help save Afghan Refugees today!

  1. Contact your representatives to urge the Biden Administration to protect Afghan allies.
  2. Volunteer your time, talent, and resources to organizations like Society76 to help those in need including refugee centers. As these families come out, they are needing housing for groups as large as 15-24 family members.
  3. Contribute financially to GoFundMe’s like Helping Afghans in Crisis and Flyaway that are helping to pay for transportation and housing to get refugees to safety.

How the Evacuation Efforts Continue Post Cutoff

In a recent conversation with The Boatman, I was updated on what happened with the evacuation process and, specifically, the cutoff period of the 31st. Here is what he shared.

Though the cutoff to leave Afghanistan was on August 31, 2021, the majority of US planes left on the 30th. Twenty-four hours were left on the clock, and the American government did nothing to help the crisis during that time.

Entire groups of people were denied exit because of paperwork. Families we promised citizenship in exchange for helping us were trying to leave with their families (parents, siblings, and children). If anyone in that group didn’t have a passport with a VISA stamp already on it or other acceptable documentation, they were denied asylum or exit from Afghanistan. In most cases, the people denied were children of our allies. The impossible choice was this: leave your children and come with us or stay and defend yourselves because we can’t help you here.

Press releases from the White House will never tell the truth on this, but these are the words from boots on the ground that had to carry out the orders.

At the time of this writing, US citizens are still able to evacuate with proper documentation, but it is much harder for Afghan allies. Neighboring countries are now refusing to help because of fear of Taliban retaliation. Nevertheless, we have not given up our effort to get every trapped Afghan ally to safety.

Afghan refugees stuck in Afghanistan now are living as slaves did along the underground railroad. Generosity of strangers and the protection of God is all they have right now.

When and if they get out, the next biggest need is housing. Afghan families are large and do life together. They will need housing near each other that can accommodate 15-25 people. Whether this is a temporary situation of people opening a room in their homes or a more permanent solution of offering places to rent, the refugees are prepared to be respectful and responsible tenants in their new host countries.

Another need they have is learning the English language. While many local community colleges offer this service for free in the United States, refugees may not be able to transport themselves to the location and/or may be afraid of how others perceive them.

If this cause moves your heart, prayerfully consider how you can be a help to these people. No one person can solve ever problem that exists here, but if you do what God leads you to do without fear, you bless yourself and others in the process. Being the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world is a blessing and a calling we all have to fulfill.