Hope 4 Mitchell County
By Brian Barrier
Often, people are looking for someone or something to give them hope. If they can’t find it in a person or thing, many will begin to have a feeling of hopelessness. We can see the very real effects of that in our communities today. People turn to abusive relationships, drugs, alcohol, and many other destructive behaviors looking for hope.
If you Google the word hope, the first definition you get is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” My study Bible gives this definition, “confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment.” I think everyone reading this has experienced hope and many have even felt hopelessness at some point in their life.
Does the Bible have anything to say about hope? Of course, it does! In fact, depending on the translation you read and the source for research, the word hope appears at least 130 times in the Bible! Most often, hope is synonymous with salvation and its many blessings, past, present and future as found in God’s Word.
So, the real question is, how do we, who have our hope in salvation through Jesus, lead others to Him? There is a local non-profit organization in Mitchell County called “Hope 4 Mitchell County” that is leading the way in doing just that!
According to one of the founders, Dr. Rocky Branch, Hope 4 Mitchell County is a non-profit organization that seeks to serve the needs of children, families, and individuals in Mitchell County. It’s non-denominational. The faith-based approach seeks to impact this area through outreach projects, community events, free counseling and various other projects.
The organization was founded by Dr. Rocky and his bride of 39 years, Janice Branch. Both grew up here and wanted to give back to the county in a positive way”. Dr. Branch is also the Senior Pastor at Spruce Pine First Baptist Church. Rocky said that H.O.P.E. stands for Help Others by Preaching and Evangelism.
The idea was really born when at the young age of only 16 Rocky found himself in a bad time and bad situation in his life and reached out to a local pastor by phone at 1:00 A.M. That pastor told Rocky that it was late, and he was too tired to talk to him at the time. He suggested Rocky call back in the morning. Just a few years later, Rocky surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and knew that people should have access to someone to talk to any time, day or night.
Hope 4 Mitchell County currently has three main programs to reach the community. They operate a 24-Hour substance abuse and/or crisis hotline. The telephone number is (828) 520-1010. Dr. Branch said they have as many as 20 trained counselors if needed. He personally staffs the line most of the time if he is available.
Another program inside the organization is called Hope 4 Mitchell County Martial Arts Academy. To encourage and reach new members and those who may be struggling in their life, Rocky only charges $1 per lesson. His intent is not to have people leave other academies or teachers, but to encourage the underprivileged or those needing spiritual help to come join them. Through the discipline of martial arts and teaching of God’s Word from the Bible, Rocky has been able to reach many in the community.
The last and largest program in Hope 4 Mitchell County is the annual Easter egg hunt. Dr. Branch said that 8,000 to 10,000 eggs are hidden at the local “Riverside Park” and serve an estimated 500 kids from Mitchell and surrounding counties during this event!
After spending about an hour talking with Rocky about Hope 4 Mitchell County, one thing is completely clear; he is passionate about bringing the community together, sharing and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and working with other churches and organizations to make that happen. “We are the body of Christ,” said Dr. Branch when referencing the Christian community. He went on to say, “We should be working together and not worrying about what church people attend.”
As Rocky and I were talking, I couldn’t help but think about what my own pastor has been teaching about reaching and loving those in need with the Gospel. That is exactly what Rocky is doing in Mitchell and surrounding counties. Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this, all people will know that you are My disciples if you have a love for one another.”
To learn more about Hope 4 Mitchell County the non-crisis number is (828) 765-9411. They are located at 125 Tappan Street in Spruce Pine, NC. You can also visit https://hope4mitchellcounty.blogspot.com/ or find them on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/hope4mitchellcounty/ for more information. You can also catch Pastor Rocky most every morning on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rocky.branch.9 where he records short video devotions that are inspirational and challenging.