Austin Bonds escaped a life of drug and alcohol abuse and overcame great odds to wind up today as a one of the leaders working with needy people in New York city.
Austin graduated almost ten years ago—in 2001 as a youth ministry & recreation Management major. After a short stint in Arkansas where his wife, Darcy got a job but Austin wasn’t able to find a church or job fit and simply did odd jobs while looking. Finally he took a volunteer youth Pastor position. Before long Austin and Darcy moved back to Marion where he volunteered at College Church. His specialty was picking up the "non-church kids," ministering to them then taking them back home. He then worked with Fairmount Wesleyan for a couple of years where Jason Denniston now works.
Finally, six year after graduation his chance to do what he dreamed of came. Austin linked up with New York City Relief (http://www.nycr.org/ ) where he is the Director of Outreach. NYCR is an interdenominational para-church ministry that utilizes an old school Bus to bring the good news and resources to the areas in most need in the metro NYC area. They have a budget of about a million dollars a year and serve 10 locations a week. On these visits Austin’s busses serve soup, bread, and hot chocolate to over 2,000 people weekly. The food brings the people in but actually they serve a do9uble portion: food and life transformation. They are a bridge to other helping ministries and agencies—more than 600 others—from food pantries to Christian based drug rehab.
Austin gets to do what he dreamed of doing—mobilizing the church for God's social justice system. He personally leads the outreach at two different locations each week along with serving as part of the leadership team that makes decisions for the organization.
Though Austin’s ministry is non-denominational he stays connected to his home denomination, the Wesleyan Church and some day I expect he will take a church again or maybe work in one of the many justice and mercy programs Wesleyan churches are now launching. If he does it would be our win—he is a great guy and Darcy and their three kids are a wonderful family. (I’m not trying to steal you away from NYCR, Austin… well, not right away ;-) Austin is one of the growing number of IWU grads who have a heart for the needy—like Jesus.
I like it that Austin didn’t give up. He is a great model of someone who had a hard time finding his place on graduation, cobbling together work as a home inspector, volunteer youth worker, pert time youth worker, before landing work in the NYCR. He never gave up on his calling and I admire him for that. I’m proud of you Austin!
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)