A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting KY-MSC Missionary Hilton Duncan and three of the volunteers at Integrated Community Ministries (ICM) in McCreary County, Kentucky. Located in an area known as Rattlesnake Ridge and situated in the foothills of Appalachia, ICM is making a huge difference in the lives of families in a county that is one of the poorest in the United States.
Hilton’s wife Barbara, also a KY-MSC Missionary, is from the area and Hilton said, “I just married into the family and the area.” The ministry began in 1999 when Barbara’s grandmother was very sick and dying of cancer. Her grandmother had a large garden and did not want her garden “stuff” to go to waste. The community rallied around the family and took care of the garden for them that year.
When Barbara’s grandmother passed, the family decided to do fruit baskets for those that had helped them during her illness. A lady from the community called and said she had some clothes that she would like to donate and asked if they could distribute the clothes for her. One mother was able to get school clothes for her children that year thanks to this donation and asked if they would keep give out clothing. Barbara agreed.
The first Christmas Hilton and Barbara were planning a yard sale to raise money to purchase coats for fifty children. It “just so happened” that a lady named Lynn from Alpharetta, GA had stopped by and overheard their conversation. Lynn was a member of a large church just outside of Atlanta and asked if she could go back and share with her church about this need for coats in Appalachia. The church sponsored the event that year and provided coats and gifts for one hundred children.
Fast forward twenty-three years and ICM has expanded to serve three hundred fifty kids and families with clothing and so much more, not only at Christmas, but year-round. In addition to the thrift store, they offer a food assistance program that serves one hundred fifty plus families a month.
Through ICM’s after-school program students have access to a computer lab, get help with homework, life skills, and much, much more. Back-to-school events help to provide needed school supplies to the students.
Their Front Porch Ministry and Youth Ministry Programs introduce the families to Christ and minister to the spiritual needs of those they serve. Through Bible studies, youth ministry, and counseling services the families not only learn about Christ but are exposed to strong Christian examples. Visiting mission teams lead Vacation Bible Schools during the summer months that also teach the children about Jesus.
At Christmas mission teams partner with ICM to provide each child with new toys, clothing, the Christmas Backpacks, and other items. Families receive food to prepare a Christmas meal. For most, this is all they will receive for Christmas.
The list could go on and on as to how Hilton and Barbara Duncan are impacting the lives in their own community through Integrated Community Ministries. All assistance programs are offered free of charge to the families. Local volunteers, businesses, and mission teams come alongside ICM to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the families they serve. Oh, and in addition, Hilton is also pastor of Stearns First Baptist Church.
In February 2016, at the 50th Governor’s Prayer Breakfast where Guest Speaker Coach John Calipari emphasized actions over words, Hilton & Barbara were awarded the William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award for serving the needy in Eastern Kentucky.
Please pray for Hilton & Barbara and Integrated Community Ministries as they continue to serve. Pray especially for Barbara as she is having some health issues, and for Hilton as he also cares for his wife and as he serves the church.
To learn more about this ministry and how you can get involved check out their website at www.ky-icm.org. You will be blessed.