Point of Connection: How A Small Town Ministry Is Transforming Lives Despite City Official’s Efforts To Shut It Down

April 26, 2019
Point of Connection | First Liberty

I want to tell you the story of a small community in Joseph, Oregon.

I’ve traveled to Joseph a few times. It’s a remote community in the northwest; a charming town filled with brick buildings, surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks and lush green pastures.

But for all its natural beauty, there is a community of people in rural Joseph struggling to recover from drug and alcohol addictions, looking for an opportunity to get their life and families back. They long to put past mistakes behind and seek a clean start, a chance to become productive and involved members of their community.

But as they fight to rebuild their lives, many have found themselves homeless and alone.

In Joseph, winters are long and bitter – and potentially deadly for those who have no shelter.

Amidst this desperate need, a non-profit, faith-based organization, Point of Connection Ministries, has been more than willing to open its doors to provide support and a place to call home for those who have nowhere else to turn.

And beyond giving them a place to live, Point of Connection provides transformational assistance and help, including vital training on how to start life anew with a positive direction – all at no cost to the taxpayer.

Point of Connection, in fact, was founded with the support of county law enforcement, who understand the impact of the ministry in making their local community a safer and better place.

But this outstanding ministry is being held back from serving its community.

City officials shut down Point of Connection – and they’re making it practically impossible for the ministry to reopen its doors.

Point of Connection provides transformational assistance and help, including vital training on how to start life anew with a positive direction

To this day, its founders, Neal and Corrine Isley, are embroiled in a legal fight with the local zoning board to receive approval to continue providing services and support to their community.

They founded Point of Connection ministries motivated by their Christian faith to help those in need. For Neal and Corrine, serving their community is how they live out their faith.

It’s why they have devoted years and personal resources trying to get the ministry up and running again. But their compassion, benevolence and desire to serve their community have been repaid with opposition and rejection.

Honestly, I wish I could say that Point of Connection Ministries is the only one to experience this kind of opposition.

But the truth is that faith-based ministries across America are constantly met with antagonism and rejection at the local level. Below are several examples of religious organizations we’ve defended and how we continue to fight for groups that do outstanding work in their communities:

  • Winning for houses of worship in Texas, and securing federal relief so they could keep providing emergency assistance to areas affected by hurricanes.
  • Winning by stopping city officials from bulldozing two churches in Houston’s Fifth Ward, whose community outreach programs help people recover from addiction.
  • Winning for Agape Resource Center, a group that provides housing and counseling to women and their children, as well as at-risk, abandoned youth.
  • Winning for several crisis pregnancy centers that provide key services and information to vulnerable women.
  • Fighting for Light of the World Gospel Ministries, a growing church that’s trying to work with city officials to buy and revitalize several run-down buildings in their community.

Unfortunately, these incidents continue to occur despite the fact that federal law and the Constitution protect the rights of faith-based organizations, as well as the rights of those they serve:

  • The Fair Housing Act (1988) protects people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, as they generally have to live together in supportive group housing often offered by religious ministries.
  • The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (2000) protects faith-based recovery homes like Point of Connection Ministries, allowing them to meet the needs of their communities, especially for people recovering from addictions.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that group homes are protected by law and cannot be discriminated against just because they are religious.

First Liberty protects your right to live out your faith and to serve your community. Give now.

In local communities throughout our country, you and millions of Americans give real, tangible meaning to your faith by serving those around you. And you often do so through ministries and religious organizations that do critical and oftentimes life-saving work in your local communities – such as Point of Connection in Joseph, Oregon.

By winning victories at the local level for houses of worship and for faith-based organizations – like Point of Connection, we are empowering you to go serve your communities, because serving your neighbors, friends and the people in need around you is a key part of how you live out your faith.

These legal victories often happen thousands of miles away from the U.S. Supreme Court, but they are where we see some of the most meaningful and personal impact.

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