By Sandi P. Beason
TUPELO – Ten years ago, the Rev. Mike Marcele took a leap of faith.
The tool and die maker was saved in 1987, and completed his master of divinity degree in1991. He moved to Tupelo, and began counseling people out of his home.
He quit his job, and in 1995, he and Sunday school teacher Robert Upchurch met with attorney Greg Pirkle to draw up the paperwork to start the nonprofit Hope Family Ministries.
Since then, more than 6,000 people have been to Hope Family Ministries for marriage, individual and family counseling.
“We had almost 1,100 people pray to receive Christ as we share the gospel with them,” he said. “Most people are having trouble working through something that has happened to them. They are angry, afraid and bitter. We believe the word of God has answers to every relationship problem. … God loves them, and gives them direction and wisdom.”
Hope Family Ministries does not receive grant funding to operate. Nearly 20 percent of its revenue comes from individuals who have gone through counseling, and 80 percent comes from churches, businesses and industries.
“A number of people have supported our ministry over time,” he said. “They understand that as God blesses them, he is doing that to help us.”
Marcele said Hope Family Ministries also relies on professionals like Pirkle, accountant Claire Sonnier and manager Fred Page to handle its reporting requirements and other operations.
On Oct. 8, 1999, it broke ground on a new building on Mattox Street, and the project was completed in July 2001. Land and furnishings for the facility were donated, but Hope Family Ministries is working to retire its building debt. That debt totaled $74,569 in May, down from $141,000 four years ago.
Carolyn Roye, a biblical counselor, said Hope Family Ministries is a safe place where people can come, and not be judged.
“I was called into ministry specifically with women in April 1996,” Roye said. “Women today lead very busy lives. Helping women understand that God will help them get their priorities in order and help them accomplish everything he wants them to do each day is part of my counseling time each week.”
Roye said she counsels women dealing with depression, anxiety, exhaustion, frustration, fear and broken or strained relationships.
“Finding out where women are in their relationship with the Lord and helping them grow even closer to their Lord is part of the mentoring process and a joy to be a part of each week,” she said.
Tamela West said she went to Hope Family Ministries last summer to receive “godly counsel.”
“I wanted the word,” she said. “I wanted somebody to speak the truth to me through the word. That's what I received from Carolyn. She is very wise in the word. Also, she didn't tell me, I think this is what you should do.' It was what God wants me to do.”
West said her sister-in-law told her about Hope Family Ministries, and she went knowing she needed a woman to talk to.
“I wanted somebody I knew that would pray with me, and give me hope and encouragement at that time,” she said. “I would recommend it to anyone, especially to people who are not Christian.
“Maybe they can go in there and offer them some hope. … They are always going to listen and understand and be compassionate and love anyway.”
Contact Sandi P. Beason at 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org