Ministering to Homeless Women with Children, Widows, and At-Risk Inner City Youth in Chattanooga, Tennessee USA

Historical Sketch

The Shepherd’s Arms Rescue Mission was founded October 15, 1995 as a result of much prayer, and an overwhelming concern for the homeless population of Chattanooga’s Inner City. Jim and Mary Ann Sanders stepped out in faith and joined the Lord in the work He was doing among homeless women and children, widows, and at-risk inner city youth.  The founding Scripture given by the Holy Spirit was Proverbs 24:11 which says, “Rescue those being led away to death, hold back those staggering toward slaughter”. Prior to founding Shepherd’s Arms Ministry Jim and Mary Ann Sanders ministered to homeless men in Chattanooga, and through this outreach realized the need for a Christ-centered mission shelter for homeless women and children.

The Sanders spoke in fifty churches sharing the vision during the first two years and wrote twenty grant proposals and then the Lord provided the funding to purchase the initial building and furnishings. The City Church of Chattanooga was the home church of the Sanders and was the first church to partner with them in fulfilling the Lord’s vision. The ministry was launched debt-free and has remained so during the past twenty years. No government funds were received in an attempt to avoid compromising the Biblical principles set forth in the organization’s mission statement.

Shepherd’s Arms was formed as a transitional housing shelter for homeless women with children where dignity and self-worth are restored according to Biblical principles. Residents may reside for four to six months. During their stay they receive clothing, shelter, meals, weekly allowances to budget, Christian Counseling, Biblical Self-Worth Education, Scriptural Boundaries Courses, G.E.D. classes, Crown Financial Ministry Courses, Lord Heal My Hurts – Precept Ministries Course, Sunday chapel services, and morning and evening devotions. Evangelism is the heart of every activity at Shepherd’s Arms.

In the year 2000 an out-reach to widows and at-risk inner city youth was started. The widows receive a monthly food box, luncheon, and Bible Study. Home visits are conducted twice a month. At-risk inner city youth are served by an after school Bible Study coupled with an evening meal. Summer Youth Enrichment Day Camp provides positive activities such as the study of fine arts, Bible study, arts and crafts, educational field trips, and etiquette lessons. This year Shepherd’s Arms celebrated twenty years of Christmas Adoption for needy families.

The ministry broke ground on a 12,000 sq. ft. dormitory addition in 2012 and has completed Phase One inclusive of the shell and all exterior work. Phase Two is in process and needs to be completed when 100% of the funding is secured to complete the interior finishes. The estimated cost for completion of Phase Two of this project is $900,000. The ministry already has $1,100,000 invested in Phase One. This project remains debt-free in accordance with the guidelines given by the Lord at inception. Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no man anything except to love one another”. When this 12,000 sq. ft. dormitory is completed it will provide thirty two additional beds for homeless women with children. The ministry is aiming at opening the dormitory by 2015.

Additional plans for the ministry include opening a free-clinic for women in 2015 on property acquired in 2013 and geographically located in front of the main campus. The clinic will offer women a choice for life during crisis pregnancy and provide Biblical counseling. A community garden is planned for the ministry on four lots purchased in 2014 and geographically located in the rear of the existing campus. The garden will be a place where inner city youth can participate and learn gardening skills.

For the current statistics of ministry the Lord has accomplished through this ministry to date, please click on:
What The Lord Has Done

One of the major concerns of Shepherd’s Arms during the past twenty years has been and remains to prevent further erosion of the family system as presented in the Bible and to fulfill the Great Commission.