Since 1998, Richard Headrick, founder of Hellfighters International, and his wife, Gina, have had a unique ministry called “the Bum Ministry.” Church pastors all across the United States invite Richard & Gina to come to their church dressed like dirty, smelly, homeless people, where they sleep outside the church on Saturday night and are there on Sunday morning when the church-goers arrive (No one but the pastor knows who Richard and Gina really are and why they are there). When the church service begins, Richard and Gina wander inside the church and look around for a seat often sitting on the floor where church members will notice them. At some point during the sermon, the pastor recognizes Richard who goes to the pulpit and preaches a message on Christian kindness and reveals the fact that they are there at the invitation of the pastor to check the hearts of the congregation toward those less fortunate. Many hearts have been changed as a result of this unique ministry and the plight of the homeless made known to hundreds of thousands of church members.
The Lord has used the Bum Ministry to wake up not only church members to do more, but also Richard and Gina to do more! As they experienced the instantaneous change in the attitudes of people that took place when they transformed themselves from Richard and Gina (the well-off, Christian business owners) to Rhino and Sunshine (the dirty, down-on-their-luck bums) their hearts literally ached for those who live on the streets out of necessity, not by choice. Little did Richard and Gina know that God was readying them for a new phase of their lives.
In 2005, regardless of what state they were in or what church denomination they were visiting, church members would share with Richard and Gina their burning desire to see some sort of shelter to assist those coming out of prison in their attempt to merge back into society or those who had lost their homes, families and jobs due to drugs and alcohol having no place to call home. It seemed really odd that every week, whether over a meal with a church member or during a brief conversation after a church service with someone they had never met before, the same subject kept coming up. Since Richard and Gina don’t believe in coincidence, they knew God was up to something. God was birthing a vision in their hearts to do something special and in a big way to help the homeless.
After much prayer and seeking the Lord on exactly what it was He wanted them to do, God gave Richard a vision for a ministry named "Mission At The Cross"—a homeless shelter with a huge, lighted cross standing next to the building. This cross would beckon the men in the community or those passing by who were homeless, down on their luck, or addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to come to the foot of the cross for help. The vision God gave to Richard was to build one hundred Mission At The Cross shelters all over America. Hellfighter members and other volunteers would man each Mission At The Cross and minister to the needy 24/7/365.
In 2007, the Lord provided the absolute perfect location for the very first Mission At the Cross, right beside Interstate 90 in Sturgis, South Dakota. The Sturgis Mission At The Cross is a beacon in the Sturgis community serving as a shelter for families whose homes have burned and as a storm shelter. The Sturgis Mission At The Cross also has a clothes closet, food pantry and numerous weekly Bible studies. The need is not great enough for the Mission to be open 24 hours a day; however, emergency numbers are posted on the door for anyone who comes to the cross with a need. The majestic, 60-foot, white cross standing in the parking lot can be seen by motorists traveling in both directions on Interstate 90. Richard, Gina and volunteers remodeled the former mechanic shop giving it a full kitchen, two full bathrooms with showers, laundry room, seven sleeping rooms and plenty of space for ministering, dining and fellowshipping. There is an area to sell Christian t-shirts and souvenirs to help provide operational funds for the Mission. The Sturgis Bike Rally is the largest bike rally in America and Mission At The Cross-Sturgis is open 24 hours a day during this event. Hurting people see the cross and come to us for help. The Mission At The Cross provides delicious food for the hungry, lemonade and water for the thirsty, clothes for the scantily-clad, shelter for the homeless and abandoned, caring hearts and nursing skills for the drunk and abused, and Jesus for those who don’t yet know Him! The cops sweep the streets every morning around 2:00 a.m. and bring us the people they pick up. Most of the time, it’s people who have had too much to drink and have passed out, or it’s women who have gotten separated and lost from the rest of their group and have nowhere to go and no way to get there. We also get a lot of calls from people who need help—sometimes from women who have been beat up or abandoned by the guy they came to the rally with. You name it; we encounter it during the rally.
At the same time that Richard and Gina were renovating the Mission At The Cross building in South Dakota in 2007, they started on a second Mission At The Cross in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. The future mission was a three-story, 18,000 square foot monstrosity, being used as a storage warehouse that had been ready for a demolition ball since Hurricane Katrina took off its roof in August of 2005. To say the least, the building was in rough shape and on the verge of being condemned by city inspectors. Immediately, God began to provide in ways that still amaze us. He sent laborers from near and far with the exact skill sets that were needed on the very day they arrived. This happened on many occasions. God provided a wonderfully talented man who is a fellow believer to be the construction boss and God provided beautiful wood, tile, fixtures, appliances, furniture…everything! Right on time and just when it was needed.
On December 27, 2008, after two years of nonstop work, we had a dedication service in the Mission At The Cross chapel. It is beautiful! The bottom floor of the Mission has a chapel, kitchen, five sleeping rooms, a bunk room, bathrooms, laundry room, and two offices. The second floor is a second hand store to provide clothing for our men who don’t have any clothes when they arrive and furniture for those who need it and also to provide income to help support the Mission. The third floor has ten efficiency apartments for long-term Mission guys who have made progress in their journey toward self-sufficiency and have a job, but aren’t quite ready to be totally out on their own just yet. Since the night of the dedication, the Mission at the Cross-Laurel has been open every day and every night to help hurting people. Everyone who walks through the door hears the Good News that no matter who they are, where they’ve been or what they’ve done, Jesus loves them and has a plan for their lives. We’re there for men who need help getting over the hump—drugs and alcohol, no job, no place to live, fresh out of jail and fresh out of hope. The newly opened "Hellfighters Motorcycle Shop", located next door to Mission At The Cross, sells previously owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles,parts and accessories, rider gear and equipment, and a full service department with all proceeds used to fund operations at Mission At The Cross. In addition, we have a motorcycle repair shop located at the Hellfighters Motorcycle Shop where our Mission guys are taught repair skills. Many local and out-of-state motorcycle riders bring their bikes to the shop for repair with the proceeds from repair services used to also fund operations at Mission At The Cross. The motorcycle shop & rebuild shop were both built by the guys at the Mission under the direction of a godly, volunteer, retired contractor.
In 2011 the Hellfighter unit in Batesville, Arkansas established a small Mission At The Cross where they serve meals, operate a food pantry and clothes closet, teach a monthly Bible study and provide a safe place for youth (and adults) to come and enjoy billiards, video games and wholesome fellowship in a drug and alcohol-free environment on the weekends. The ministry operates solely on donations by volunteers. There are no paid employees. The ministry of the Mission is so needed and in such demand that they needed more space to operate their existing operations and expand into more areas of ministry. In the new location, Mission At The Cross in Batesville will continue to serve free meals daily to those in need, expand their clothes closet into a Thrift Store and continue to provide canned foods free of charge to those who need it. However, the larger building will allow them to meet a much greater need in the community. They will now be able to provide accommodations to those who have no place to stay, or to those who are battling with difficult issues such as drug and/or alcohol addictions. Like the original building in Laurel, the building in Batesville, Arkansas needs a lot of work and that work is now underway. But, we know that with the help of volunteers and through donated materials, we can transform the building into a beautiful and functional facility that the City of Batesville and its residents can be very proud of. The plan is to have sleeping rooms for the homeless men, living quarters for the host family, Steve and Jamie Blakely and their children, a thrift store and a motorcycle repair and sales shop to generate the income needed to cover the monthly operational expenses of the ministry. The mission of Mission at the Cross-Batesville is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and in so doing, care for the hurting 24/7/365.
In 2012, we are very happy to say that, in addition to Sturgis, South Dakota and Laurel, Mississippi, the Lord blessed us with Mission At The Cross facilities either currently operating or undergoing renovations in Batesville, Arkansas; Richmond, Indiana; Belmont, North Carolina and Chipley, Florida with plans to start facilities in San Bernardino, California; and Taft, California.The need for additional Mission At The Cross facilities to serve homeless, hopeless and helpless men and men of addiction is incredible. We get calls from across the country every day from mothers and fathers wanting help for their sons, from wives wanting help for their husbands and from other family members wanting to get help for one of their male family members. This mission field is ready for the harvest, but we need laborers and resources in order to take in these men and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each and every one of them. Lives can be saved, families restored, men trained to re-enter the work force and men brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We just need your prayers and your help to allow us to continue to provide and expand this incredible Christian ministry.
The daily schedule for our Mission guys is very structured. The days are filled with a variety of activities that build character, labor skills and leadership qualities. In Laurel, the Mission guys provide a variety of community services as a way of giving back. For example, the men built a porch for a widow and a handicap ramp for an elderly person. They move boxes and furniture, mow lawns, clean out sheds and so much more in order to "give back" to the community that supports them. If a person going through a hard time has the “want to” to get back on their feet, get a job, kick their bad habits, restore their marriage, rebuild their home, get their kids back, or whatever their godly desire is, we have the “want to” to help them do it! Each day at Mission At The Cross begins and ends with Bible Study and prayer. During the day, the men who live at the Mission continue to work on the renovations; many of them learn a new trade while they’re with us that will help them in the future. The blessings continue to be poured out on this special place. The miracles that have taken place already in the lives of men at this little Mission have made it all worthwhile. Mothers have gotten their sons back---their sons that Satan had stolen through drugs. Wives have gotten their husbands back, children have gotten their daddies back and relationships have been restored because Jesus is part of them now. Over 600 men have come through Mission At The Cross in Laurel, Mississippi alone and every day with the help of God we are changing lives and changing hearts.