WAXAHACHIE — It has been almost six years since Dr. Bobby Haney and several others were challenged to begin a Bible study that would meet in a more comfortable setting for people who were intimidated or dissatisfied by a traditional church setting. More specifically, the adult class he was leading at First Baptist Church in Waxahachie wanted to offer to host a group of ladies who were or had been involved in the Ellis Christian Women’s Job Corps.

“It was a revelation to me to learn the needs of so many of our neighbors here in Waxahachie. I thought we were going to offer an off-campus Bible study, but apparently, God had other plans,” said Dr. Bobby Haney of 1Twenty2 Ministries. “We now have a small food pantry and clothing bank to help our friends who are struggling with financial problems and other types of poverty. And we are learning how to not just give a handout but how to help folks come out of their struggles. We are helping not just spiritually with fellowship and Bible teaching but also helping materially where we can.”

Pretty soon after the challenge was issued, the group called A Gathering of Friends began to meet each Sunday morning in the break room at his dental office. Even as they began, it was evident that there was much more in store.

“I was raised in and was ‘used to’ a traditional church with Sunday school and then a large worship service. I knew my way around that type of setting – it was comfortable – but for a long time before we started this group, I had experienced a mild dissatisfaction with the status quo. So this was also an opportunity for me and others to try something less traditional and offer ourselves to others.”

After this group met for a few months the decision was made to form a non-profit ministry so that other needs could be met more equitably. This was the beginning of 1Twenty2 Ministries, Inc.

“We had friends in our group who were struggling financially for various reasons and we wanted to help them out," he explained. "The non-profit status lets us receive contributions from other friends who want to help and make it a tax-deductible gift.”

1Twenty2 Ministries now has a small food pantry where they share with members of their group who struggle financially. They also offer toiletries and a few items of clothing such as socks, underwear, and t-shirts.

“We have recently partnered with the Waxahachie Police Department so that the patrol officers have access to the pantry and they can help people with food and toiletries when they encounter them from time to time," Haney said. "These men and women are on the front lines and see the folks who live on the ‘edges’ of our economic system. They deal with them and the problems caused by material poverty every day. So we wanted to give them the opportunity to show that they also care and understand as well as keeping the peace in our community.”

The ministry has recently added a shower facility, thanks to a donation from the Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief organization, to help people we know who do not have access to this necessity. They also have a washer and dryer to help these same folks with their laundry.

Haney stated that he is excited about the next “phase” of the ministry.

“We are launching what we hope to become the main focus of our efforts to address material poverty. We are offering relief help but what most people really need is what we are calling ‘empowerment,’" the former dentist said. "Most of the people we help can provide for themselves if they are given the proper help and tools to do so. We are, starting March 18th, offering a training program for mentors, we are calling them Ally Mentors, to meet regularly with an Ally Participant, and see if we can help them get the resources they need to move the poverty needle. We have been offering relationship help in their spiritual lives, now we want to offer help in their relationship to themselves and to the rest of creation. In fact, we have recently adopted a new motto – ‘Helping Out, Helping Up.’

“In the next few months, we will begin classes to help people learn how to deal with money and another to teach ‘soft’ job skills. A lot of things that we middle-class people learned at home and just take for granted are not learned in all homes. These courses will help our neighbors who struggle with things we think are routine.”

The first Ally Mentor training was held Saturday, March 18th. For those who missed the event but are interested in the next one, contact Haney at bobby@1Twenty2.com.

“I also want to invite everyone to come to our Open House. We have two opportunities to meet everyone. First will be on Thursday, March 30th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. If you can’t come then, we will repeat the event on Saturday, April 1st from 10 a.m. to noon. We are hoping many people will come and see what we’re doing and then be a part of it. Our vision is to actually live out the Good News of the gospel and help others, those who have been hindered culturally and circumstantially, to discover and develop this same abundant life as Jesus called it.”

For more information, check out 1Twenty2 Ministries, Inc. on their website, www.1Twenty2.com or Facebook at 1Twenty2. 1Twenty2 Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.