Two North Georgia Prison Ministers surprised with $6,000 wheelchairs to continue their work with inmates

Justine Lookenott

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0DgKdk_0g2Mze5p00
Tom Allenson and Kimberly Sanchez were both surprised with $6,000 wheelchairs on Sunday, May 29(Image by Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church)

(Forsyth County, GA) Kimberly Sanchez almost thought she was in trouble when Pastor Larry Martin called her to the front of the stage next to a big box at Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church in Canton on Sunday, May 29.

As the coordinator of Ye Visited Me Ministries (a prison ministry within the church), Sanchez had been struggling with mobility issues for a while.

She had recently resigned herself to the idea that she would have to run the ministry remotely and leave the physical work to the other volunteers, something that broke her heart.

Tom Allenson, who also struggles with mobility, is also involved in prison ministry and runs a halfway house in Cumming called Set Free After-Care Ministries. Together with Martin, the two came up with the plan to get Sanchez a new wheelchair and surprise her with it that Sunday.

Both Sanchez and Allenson already had wheelchairs, but the wheelchairs weighed hundreds of pounds and were not very transportable. It was almost impossible to bring the wheelchairs with them when they went to minister at the prisons.

But they were both in for a surprise that Sunday when they were each presented with a $6,600, 50 pound, foldable, FDA and FAA travel-approved electric wheelchair donated by Quick N Mobile.

“Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘I can go to Burruss [Correctional Training Center]!” Sanchez said. “So I was really excited. And of course, after that I started thinking ‘Oh, I can do this and now I can do that!’”

The wheelchairs gave Sanchez and Allenson the freedom to continue their life missions, ministering to the incarcerated.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3JHtEP_0g2Mze5p00
Pastor Larry Martin presents Kimberly Sanchez with a new wheelchair at Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church(Image by Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church)

Kimberly Sanchez

Sanchez was originally hesitant to get involved in prison ministry when her husband brought it up as something he was interested in (he had spent five years in prison himself). Sixteen years later, the prison ministry is a huge part of her life, and something she absolutely loves.

Ye Visited Me Ministries is involved in eight Georgia prisons, putting on sermons and worship services for the inmates. Art teams also provide music, dancing and drama ministries.

One of their biggest events, held a few times a year, is the Day of Freedom. Members of the church’s motorcycle ministry, Soldiers of the Cross, drive their motorcycles into the prison yard to help Ye Visited Me Ministries to put on a day-long service.

All of these events required constant moving around, a barrier that came to a head when Sanchez’s legs gave out while participating in the dance ministry.

“I had decided that I'm gonna ask the Lord what I can do on this end and it was kind of heartbreaking because, you get to know the ones [inmates] that do come to the services and the ones that are dedicated and trying to change and so they become more like my sons and daughters,” Sanchez said. “And then it was hard already not getting to see them for two years [because of the pandemic]. And then to be in this situation now and think you weren't gonna get to go back in, it was devastating really.”

Going into church that Sunday over Memorial Day weekend, Sanchez had already accepted that she would not be able to be nearly as involved in the ministry as she had been for the past 16 years. That broke her heart.

She said the new wheelchair is providing her with the ability to continue her work inside the prisons.

Some people ask her why she loves the ministry so much and why she would "waste her time" on the people who are locked up.

“Our answer to that would be, they are people, and any of us can make a bad mistake at any time and end up in prison and that doesn't make us any less of a human being,” Sanchez said. “It makes us somebody that made a bad choice. And anybody's choices can be turned around and they can go from a life of crime to a life of Christ and be very productive in society when they get out.”

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2V9gi0_0g2Mze5p00
Pastor Larry Martin presenting the wheelchair to Tom Allenson at Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church(Image by Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church)

Tom Allenson

Allenson is no stranger to the inner workings of the prison system. He spent 15 years in prison before being released in 1989. He received an official pardon in 2018.

Helping inmates escape the cycle of incarceration is his passion.

“I've also got a halfway house where I take them [former inmates] when they get out of prison, keep them a year, teach them how to live crime-free and also teach them how to change your life to a Godly way of living,” Allenson said. “So that's one part of it. But the other part is I go into jails up here in Forsyth County, Cumming, and I go into about 10 different prisons.”

Recently, maneuvering around the prisons had been getting harder, and Martin had noticed how interested Allenson had looked when they went to inspect the wheelchair before giving it to Sanchez. Martin had to make sure Allenson would have one as well.

Allenson's first thought when he was presented with the chair?

“Thank you, Lord!” Allenson said.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0S4i6l_0g2Mze5p00
Tom Allenson and Kimberly Sanchez are both heavily involved in prison ministries in North Georgia(Image by Souls Harbor Word of Faith Church)

After gifting Sanchez and Allenson the wheelchairs, Martin said a representative with Quick N Mobile told him how important it was that they all work together and that they would love to help anyone else having mobile issues to continue to do their ministry.

“I don't know how much the company understands this but they [Sanchez and Allenson] are fixing to go to prison [for ministry],” Martin said. “They're going to be rewarded for helping them do everything that they do, that's the way the kingdom of God works.”

More information on Ye Visited Me Ministries and Soldiers of the Cross can be found at soulsharborchurch.com.

More information on Set Free After-Care Ministries can be found at setfreeaftercare.org.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

Comments / 6

Published by

I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
393 followers

More from Justine Lookenott

Comments / 0