Bethel Pentecostal plans facility to house children of imprisoned women

PATTERSON, La. — Construction of the Adullam Household of Faith dormitory in Patterson is under way and workers are hoping to have a concrete slab up by Christmas, said the Rev. Marty Harden of Bethel Pentecostal Church.

The Adullam Household of Faith, which will house the children of imprisoned women, will be on Bethel Pentecostal’s campus. All of the underground work (sewage, water, drainage), except for the electrical work is already done, and the electrical should be finished within the next week, Harden said.

“We’ve roughly spent probably $700,000 (on infrastructure for the house including storage and office buildings) and we’ve probably only had to borrow about $400,000, so there’s been about $300,000 in donations from individuals, churches, other ministries, local civic clubs. We’re going to need like donations to finish this next part (dormitory),” Harden said. The church was advised to build its infrastructure, which includes storage buildings and offices, before beginning work on the actual dormitory for children, Harden said.

Church members do the labor so they are able to keep costs down, Harden said.

After construction is completed on the first dormitory, Adullam is eventually looking to expand constructing more facilities on the church’s property. “Our intent is to help them (Adullam) get this first phase done. And then, from there on, we’re not going to borrow no more money. We’ll have to build as we have the funds to build,” Harden said.

The house will take in children from prisoners at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.

One of the major concerns is getting the mothers of the children to trust that their children will be in good hands, Harden said. “We’ve got to have some kind of credibility with the ladies. They don’t know who we are from Adam, so we’ve got to trust the Lord to work in those areas as well.”

The first dormitory will consist of a “great room” in the middle, a nursery, a section for toddlers, a section for girls and a section for boys, Harden said.

“We going to set an age of probably 2 or 3 (for the first dorm), and probably not accept anybody above that age unless there’s a family situation where there’s siblings involved,” Harden explained. “We’re going to let the age of the children grow as that first class grows.”

Matt and Kelly Williamson of Patterson and members of Bethel Pentecostal will be the administrators of the Adullam Household of Faith. They will live in the dormitory in an upstairs apartment with their two children, and running the home will be a full-time commitment, Matt Williamson said. They felt called to serve in a children’s home, Williamson said. His wife, Kelly, approached Harden about the calling she felt about six months before the Williamsons even knew of the plans to build the home, he said.

A couple months later Harden called them into his office and made the offer for them to be directors of the home, so they prayed and talked about it and accepted the offer, Matt Williamson said.

Kelly Williamson has taught third and fourth graders for the past five or six years. Matt Williamson has taught children’s tennis lessons, worked at a camp for 9 and 10-year-old boys and both of them have taught Sunday school at the church, so working with children is a natural thing for them to do, he said.

“We’ve both been affiliated with the church for some years now,” he said. “I’ve been in training for full-time ministry myself for a couple years, so it wasn’t anything that was out of the ordinary.”

The Williamsons will be the “parents” for the home, he said. “Part of the reason we’re going to be living in the home is because we’re a mother and father figure. Each home (the church builds in the future) will probably have its own set of parents. We’ll ultimately be over the entire ministry.”

Starting with infants and toddlers is purposeful, Harden said. “We want to have a home that will influence the children rather than have a place that’s influenced by the outside culture,” Harden said, adding that starting with older children, who may have already had troubling experiences, could negatively affect the culture of the home.

With a few exceptions most of the children at the home will be living there for an extended period of time, Williamson said. “More than likely we’re looking at kids that are going to come and stay a couple years, but ultimately we want to be able to put that child back with the mother.”

One of the goals of the home is to change the culture in many of the families with incarcerated parents, Harden said. “The department of corrections tells me that we’re going into the fourth and fifth generations of families that are actually in the penal system. We’ve got to start at a younger age to change that culture, so this (Adullam Household of Faith) is an option to help do that,” Harden said.

Adullam will also look to eventually provide some kind of ministry for the mothers when they are released to make sure the children are going back to a positive situation, Williamson said.

The name Adullam refers to a cave that King David went to when he was running from King Saul. Many of the people who were at the cave were considered societal outcasts, Harden said. “The term household of faith is from a scripture in the new testament that says, paraphrasing, we want to do good especially to those who are of the household of faith,” he said.

The church has been sending volunteers to the Adullam House in Wetumpka, Ala., for about 10 years, Harden said.

The first dormitory being built to house infants and toddlers will be about 8,000 square feet and will be able to accommodate up to 30 children, but the dormitory will house probably 10 children starting out, Harden said.

The dormitory may be finished as early as the summer, Harden said. “We hope that we can make a presentation at (Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women) in the spring, and possibly take in children in the summer, but if not, next fall, September for sure. We’re looking at six months (to finish construction on the dormitory) for sure,” Harden said.

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