Ministry Spreads Hope in Unconventional Ways

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COLUMBIA - It's not a typical church service, but every Saturday morning those attending hear a message. Chosen Generation Ministries visits the Boone County Jail on Saturday mornings from 9-11 a.m. It alternates each week between a men's and a women's service. Katherine Wilson leads the women's services, and Bishop Lorenzo Lawson leads the men's.

Bishop Lawson and his wife Pastor Clemmie Lawson founded their ministry in 2000, after moving to Columbia from St. Louis. Bishop Lawson said he was content with life in St. Louis, and the church he attended, but God brought him back to Columbia. "There was, for lack of a better word, an urging for me to come back to Columbia... the place where I did a lot of wrong, made a lot of bad decisions," Bishop Lawson said. Bishop Lawson said he felt God telling him to return to Columbia to be an example of how God can change people's lives.

Chosen Generation Ministries is what Lawson called a "mission ministry." It focuses on spreading God's message to those who Lawson said traditional churches don't reach out to. "We get out, we don't do the traditional church in the building," Bishop Lawson said.

Saturday morning services at the jail are one example of that mission. Chosen Generation also started the ministry at Columbia Housing Authorities Blind Boone Community Center and holds services in Douglass Park. "We go and minister to folks that are what you'd called down-trotted... those that are in the jails, on drugs and alcohol, victims of poverty, single-parent mothers that are maybe on some type of government assistance. Those are primarily the people that we minister to," Bishop Lawson said.

Chosen Generation said it would also like to expand its ministry to reach those in prisons. "There are people that come back from the prisons, back into this community. And if we can help them receive the change - the Lord Jesus that is going to change them - before they come back, then they're coming back as part of the solution and not part of the problem," Bishop Lawson said.

But preaching to that kind of crowd doesn't produce very much revenue for the ministry. Bishop Lawson said God has worked to keep the ministry going. "This is not a job, it's my life. And it's something that I'm going to do for the rest of my life no matter what. I know that God is going to provide, but I do need the community - those that can, to help us," Bishop Lawson said.