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Ministries Making a Difference

FREE International, First Responders 1st, MENA Collective, RBI Austin

F.R.E.E. International, an Assemblies of God-affiliated ministry founded in 2007, coordinated a BIG Search throughout the Super Bowl weekend to help communities across the country find missing local children. The nonprofit focuses on educating law enforcement and local communities to recognize and fight human trafficking. The FBI reported more than 420,000 missing children in 2019, according to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The NCMEC estimates that 1 in 6 of the runaway cases its teams assisted with were likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

First Responders 1st has provided 12 meals to first responders in the Greater Charlotte area in 2021 whose families are impacted by COVID. FR1 is a local North Carolina nonprofit that provides emotional and spiritual chaplaincy services to first responders. One 2018 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation reported that “first responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.” FR1 was started in 2018 when Concord, N.C.-based Chaplain Lonnie Clouse—also a volunteer chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team—found that his local police department had no functioning chaplaincy program. 

MENA Collective, an ACTS360 ministry that works with ministry partners in the Middle East and North Africa, is coordinating grants and training to Christian Pakistani business owners shut down by COVID-19. The nonprofit is also developing training for Pakistani entrepreneurs looking to expand into digital sectors in an effort to support biblically-minded businesses and self-sustaining churches. 

RBI Austin, a Christian nonprofit affiliated with the Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year making sports accessible to low-income kids ages 4-18. RBI Austin started in 2011 with 118 kids, and in 2019 had grown to more than 1,400 participating kids. The program also focuses on character development and discipleship. Though COVID-19 presented logistical challenges, the nonprofit reported 1,295 kids served in 2020, plus 93 kids in discipleship relationships and 142 families helped by their benevolence program. 

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Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.

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