What a catch! Big Fish Ministries is all about community

Localized ministry is making a difference in South Baldwin County

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FOLEY – Pastor Isaac Stooksberry said he is watching miracles happen at Big Fish Ministries’ Christ-centered recover program.

He recalled the story of a man who entered the program just over a year ago. The man had been addicted to meth, had suicidal thoughts, and his family wouldn’t have anything to do with him.

Now, the same man has a good job, is a productive member of society, and has since reunited with his family. Stooksberry said the man has been more than cleaned, he has been transformed.

“That is what I see in this man's life," Stooksberry said. "God is still doing miracles today and to see one is the greatest pleasure that I have."

The transformations at Big Fish Ministries’ Pathway to Purpose Recovery Program are a ministry that Stooksberry has been part of for 13 years. It is a ministry he understands after forging his own battle with addiction.

"I just feel so blessed to be a part of the process of transformation,” he said. “God transformed my life about 15 years ago and delivered me from addiction and many other vices and I know if He did it for me He can do it for anyone."

Now, Stooksberry and Big Fish Ministries are using every resource possible to help the local community, specifically to provide long-term recovery programs and short-term emergency shelter.

For those battling addiction, there is a 12-18 month residential, Christ-centered program offering individual and group counseling through the pastoral staff. Liberty Church, also in Foley, purchased the 6-acre facility that currently houses the men’s programs.

"We teach our students how to overcome their past by developing a relationship with Jesus Christ and learning to follow His ways instead of the path that has been leading them to destruction," he said.

The ministry also offers literacy and GED classes to students through a partnership with the Literacy Counsel in Foley. Current programs are designed for adult males though future plans call for an expansion to help women in recovery as well.

"We have had about $40,000 pledged to the down payment of this 60,000-square foot property and we would need to raise another $40,000 for the complete down payment. After that we would need to raise funds to renovate the building," he said.

The renovated building would house the women's programs as well as provide more services to the community. Stooksberry said the organization would like to add more buildings for the men's programs as well.

"We want to have a shelter building with dedicated beds for the homeless and a transition home for the men that are graduating our program," he said.

He also said there are plans to add a shelter and transition house for both men and women.

"It is our vision to provide these services to our community," he said.

Currently the organization offers assistance to the homeless, but is very limited in what it can offer.

"We provide shelter to them when we have room in the house and we will provide them with food, clothing, and do our best to connect them with other organizations that can meet their needs," Stooksberry said.

Since opening its doors over 18 months ago, Big Fish Ministries has provided almost 6,000 individual nights of shelter and over 15,000 individual meals per year. Thanks to the generous support of the community, Big Fish Ministries has been able to provide shelter, meals, clothing, and personal hygiene items to those in need.

To expand the programs Big Fish Ministries needs financial assistance and partnerships.

"We have qualified individuals to lead these ministries once we have funds to purchase or build the properties we will need to house those in need," Stooksberry said.

Big Fish Ministries is raising money, partly through a newly opened thrift store.

"The money made at our thrift store is used to make a difference in your community. We use it to buy food, supplies, toiletries, curriculum, and anything else that our students and shelter residents may need. So, the dollars are used for anything from paying the salary of the pastor who does our counseling to buying a meal for a homeless person,” he said.

Another thing that Big Fish Ministries could use is volunteers.

"We love volunteers!" Stooksberry said.

Volunteer opportunities range from helping at the thrift store, mentoring, cooking, and even doing yard work.

Call or visit Big Fish Ministries and fill out a form if you would like to volunteer.

"We will always find some way that you can fit in," Stooksberry said.