Like many single-industry towns across the nation, Trumann, Arkansas, was once a prosperous destination. But when industry demands shifted and the local plant shut down, poverty and unemployment began to soar. As hope for recovery diminished and generational poverty set in, Trumann went from being a place of opportunity to a place of addiction, poverty, and crime.
Shane Fore grew up in this environment of hopelessness. He and his wife, April, both know what it means to be addicts, to serve time in jail, and to have no future. But God had different plans for them. He pulled them out of their addictions, saved their marriage, and redirected their lives toward service to Him. Over time, the Lord used connections with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention to ignite in Shane a passion to plant a church. When asked by the church planting team where he wanted to go, Trumann was the darkest place Shane could think of, so that’s where he knew he had to plant a church.
Shane and April moved to Trumann and began working to get a church plant started in their home, but they faced obstacles to their plans. In desperation, Shane cried out to God to take over, and God answered that prayer by also answering the prayers of Maple Grove Baptist Church. Pastor Jim Duffel had seen the need for ministry in Shane’s neighborhood, and Maple Grove even had a newly renovated building available as an extension campus. What they needed was someone equipped for ministry to that community. God responded by bringing the Fores and Maple Grove together, forging a new ministry partnership.
Six months after getting the church plant off the ground, they began a ministry on Sunday evenings focused specifically on ministry to addicts. Although staffed by the same people involved in the original church, this ministry has had a separate focus from the beginning.
The Sunday evening crowd is full of addicts who are encouraged to show up as they are—even high or drunk. They are loved on, the Gospel is shared with them, and relationships are built. Immediate change doesn’t always happen, but those whose lives have been marked by the trap of addiction find themselves wrapped in love and prayer support each time they slip, fall, and strive to get back up again. And as they surrender to the love of Christ, they begin to go beyond attending Celebrate Recovery and find themselves folded into the discipling arms of the original church plant.
In addition to the addiction recovery ministry, the Fores and their church family have begun to serve with the local homeless shelter. This once hub of criminal activity is now becoming a place with a vision and a purpose. Church members have helped get the facility cleaned up and safe for meeting immediate needs while also preparing for more long-term reconstruction.
For Shane and April Fore, church planting has been about more than just starting a church. It has been about igniting light in a very dark place. Because of that passion, combined with the support of Arkansas Baptists through the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering, hope is returning to the hopeless of Trumann, Arkansas.