It is not often in America that we get the chance to meet people who are the descendants of those who have been killed for their faith. However, it is my pleasure to tell you about a young, unusually wise and zealous pastor who is just that. Back in the ‘20s, his West Virginian great grandfather was given an ultimatum by armed country folk who didn’t want to hear the gospel: “Either shut down your church, or we’ll kill you.” He didn’t, and they did—the man was shot through his living room window and died in the arms of his young wife. He left behind five kids, and Great-grandma, who apparently was a tiny woman and a giant of a prayer warrior, passed on that zeal to her family.
Keith Adkins, the great grandson of the brave West Virginian, and his wife Amy, who hails from Double Springs, spent time as youth pastors in Florida. They felt strongly to come to our area to begin a work affiliated with Church of God (Cleveland, TN,) and began to minister in Madison and Athens right after they moved here 4 years ago. Their church is called “Vision of Hope 21st Century Church,” and it meets on Sunday afternoons at 1pm.
Getting into a church building itself was a miracle, and illustrates the answer to prayer that is the result of the Adkins’ heart to see the Body of Christ work together without competition, and to help each other out. They firmly believe that there is “enough of God to go around,” and would like to honor the folks who got them into their building.
The building, which is located at 26760 Newby Rd, (off of Hwy 72, heading south) is owned by Don Thomas of Don Thomas Construction, and his wife Camille, who is in real estate. Although the Thomases attend Calvary Assembly in Decatur, to put it simply in Keith’s words, “They invested in us.” They remodeled the steel building they were using for warehousing, made it possible for the Vision of Hope folks to move in, have agreed to push out walls as VOH grows, and even do it at their own expense. The top floor of the building is used by a business that prepares students to take standardized entrance exams.
The building is comfortable, but not extravagant, and can be used for a variety of purposes. There is a lot of camouflage used in the decor of the main sanctuary because it represents both the battle we are in, and the necessity of being intentional and patient while taking the Kingdom. “We see ourselves as a ‘missional’ church,” Keith said, and by that he means that church isn’t about the building, it’s about “living life with intention, and making everything sacred.”
“Making everything sacred” doesn’t mean living in a state of worldly compromise, it means to launch a “cultural invasion,” essentially to be “salt and light” in the culture. Keith and Amy believe that there are basically seven areas or “mountains of influence” in any culture. They are: religion, (i.e. the church,) family, arts and entertainment, media, government, business, and education. People who subscribe to the idea of “intentional cultural invasion” most often feel called to a few areas of emphasis that are sometimes looked upon as being outside of the church’s sphere of influence. For example, in recent years in North Alabama, several people have felt called by God to run for office. Whether or not they won was not the point, it was being faithful to do what they felt God had put on their heart.
One of the areas of ministry that has been the most successful over the last four years is what could best be described as “apartment complex ministry.” VOH gets permission from the apartment or property managers to have bible studies, fellowships, kids’ ministry projects, bringing church to the apartment first, rather than bring the apartment residents to church. That way they can minister to people who otherwise might not attend a church. “This has been especially fruitful at Eagle Point in Madison,” Keith said, and they are looking to bless Athens area apartment dwellers in the same way. “We want to ‘do life’ with these people together,” said Keith. It is also important to Vision of Hope to serve other ministries, an attitude that is often lacking when ministries feel like that they have to “compete for the sheep.”
Vision of Hope has the following set of goals as its foundation for their mission statement:
To know Jesus
To make Jesus known
To live a “counter-cultural” Kingdom life
To be a supernatural church
To be a church planting church
If this sounds like what you are searching for in a church family, then come to Vision of Hope 21st Century Church on Sunday afternoons and see if their mission matches yours.
Vision of Hope 21st Century Church
26760 Newby Rd Athens, AL 35613
Pastor Adkins’ cell: 256-590-5581
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner