The history of our West side mission as told by Imogene…

Marty and I were in a season of transition in our lives. After being in the ministry for over 25 years we began to feel a restlessness and a divine discontent. Most of our 25 years were spent in serving at somewhat affluent, large churches or ministries. We saw a lot of fruit and were so grateful for all the opportunities that we were able to experience but we desperately wanted something more.

Our hearts cry was for God to send us to the darkest places where the need was the greatest so we could let the light of His glorious Gospel shine. As we prepared and waited upon the Lord, we thought the Lord may want us to go to the East side of San Antonio. That was a place where the fields were white to harvest, a place full of despair and hopelessness but most importantly a place full of children and youth with a need to know Jesus and His love. It met all the criteria: high crime, poverty, churches migrating away, and city acknowledgement that it was a trouble spot.However, the Lord had other plans. Before we had the chance to start our new adventure, Marty was asked to attend a prayer meeting with some pastors on the South side of San Antonio. While attending he shared with them our vision and plan to start a children’s ministry on the East side. After sharing his heart and spending some time with the pastors they asked if we would consider not going to the East side but bringing our compassion and experience with children to the West side. We told them we would prayerfully consider this even though our hearts were already knitted to the East side.

As we prayed  and researched we found that the poorest area of our city was on the West side. Gangs and violence were rampant, drugs were everywhere, only 1/2 of the students ever graduated high school, and the statistics went on and on. With this new information and the pleads of the pastors ringing in our hearts we decided to drive to the West side and see what God was saying to us. Marty and our oldest son Joshua went to spy out the land and as they drove into the the Lincoln Courts the street was closed off because a drug bust was going on. Police were every where, men in handcuffs stood to the side, animal control was there to handle the pit bulls and little children running around barefooted and in tattered clothes. It was a scene straight from the t.v. show COPS. With tears in their eyes and great excitement they turned to each other and said, “We’re home.” We asked God to send us to the poorest, roughest, most violent neighbor hood in San Antonio. Our prayer had been “let us bring your love and the message of your son Jesus to a hurting people. Send us where no one else wants to go.”

Through a friendship with another ministry, San Antonio Housing Authority allowed us to use one of the apartments right in the middle of the Lincoln Courts for our office. There we were in the mist of our children, spending our days and many times late into the night serving and loving our community.

This was the start of our mission to the West side. Three years, three communities and thousands of children later we press on to fulfill the Great Commission. We press on to reach more communities, more children, more youth, and to change the West side of our city for the Glory of God.

“You are not special to God because of your talents, you are special to God because of your obedience”

-Imogene Gaines