Tag Archives: Birmingham

Did You Know: Drug Poisoning in Alabama

A very common but devastating outcome of significant drug use is drug poisoning (the scientific name for a drug overdose). Sometimes a drug overdose can cause death but other times it causes a state of unconsciousness that the user may come out of.

This detailed map on drug poisoning mortality shows the rates in which people in the United States have experienced drug overdose deaths based on race, geographic location, and age through 2002-2014. [Full map found at http://blogs.cdc.gov/nchs-data-visualization/drug-poisoning-mortality/]

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Did you know that in 2002, the state of Alabama experienced one of the lowest amounts of calculated deaths, which was about 5 per 100,000 people? In 2014, less than 15 years later, that number rose to an average 15 deaths per 100,000 residents. Jefferson County was found to have one of the highest death rates in our state. We have been able to see this statistic first hand over the past few years.

What we have realized is that the city of Birmingham is seeing a drastic shift in drug usage and location. Typically, people would assume to find drugs in inner city Birmingham, but in recent years we have consistently worked with addicts from Over the Mountain areas such as Mountain Brook, Homewood, Hoover, Pelham and Vestavia. Now, the drug scene is more spread out than ever throughout our city and we cannot ignore this fact. We’ve seen that drug use is not always based off of where you grow up or how you grow up- it’s because all people are broken and in search of healing; some of our pursuits of healing just manifest themselves in more outwardly destructive ways.

Over the next few weeks we will further dig into the demographics behind drug use in our city and how it has affected the men and women we’re working with.


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Day 4: What A Sunday


Yesterday at our weekly downtown meal, we were blown away by God’s goodness in bringing many people from all over the city to help serve. There were people of all different ages helping in whatever ways they could. We had families with young children to high schoolers and college students. This is such a great reminder for us that we are not in this alone and that there are so many people that God has given a heart for the broken, poor and needy in Birmingham. Jesus makes known that his church, the body of Christ, is made up of people with all  different kinds of spiritual gifts. Yesterday was a beautiful picture of Christ loving on and caring for a group of folks who get very little love

Urban Purpose has been extremely blessed with partnerships and support by many different people. We are always looking for new ways to bring more people into what God is doing in the lives of the homeless people we see on a weekly basis.  If you know of any churches, clubs, businesses, organizations, sports teams or anyone other groups who might be interested in volunteering, please send them our direction!


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Youth in Action

We have spent the past three days with some incredible youth students and parents from Shades Mountain Baptist Church. These students gave up a few of their much needed Spring Break in order to come serve alongside Urban Purpose and multiple other ministries in our city. They spent their time loving on people throughout the city, laboring in some very rough environments and learning from people have experienced many different things that these students have not come in contact with.


Over these three days the students did things like work on a garden at Christian Service Mission to produce crops for low income areas, serve food downtown in order to build relationships with the homeless, learn from police officers and a former heroine addict, began the process of renovating an old nursing home into a rehabilitation center, learned about mental illness from a licensed counselor and even more!

This weekend was jam-packed with new experiences and the students got a chance to view this city with a different perspective on how we can serve. We pray that the students walked away from this weekend with a new love for God and how He wants to use them within our city and in peoples’ lives everywhere.

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The Facts

Although Birmingham is labeled the Most Bible-Minded City in America (http://cities.barna.org/2015-bible-minded-cities/) the fact is that drug use is still something we face on a daily basis. Surprisingly enough, many times it’s going on in our own neighborhoods. This past weekend an article was written in the Vestavia Voice about the rising of heroin death rates in 2014.

“The heroin-related death rate for Jefferson  County more than doubled in 2014. According to Deputy Coroner Bill Yates of the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, there were 129 confirmed heroin deaths last year, compared to 58 in 2013. Across the county, the number of deaths from heroin overdose has been rising each year since 2010, when there were 12 deaths. The growth between 2013 and 2014 was the largest single increase since that time. Yates said Vestavia Hills had seven confirmed heroin deaths this year, and the city neighbors other highly impacted areas. Within the city limits of Birmingham, 55 heroin related deaths occurred in 2014. Homewood and Hoover had between six and 10 fatalities.” (vestaviavoice.com)

This is an ongoing issue that boils down to one thing: sin. Please be in prayer for the people in our city that are struggling with this sort of addiction. We also ask that you pray for us; that the Lord gives us wisdom as we deal with addiction issues such as this on a daily basis.

The good news is that people are beginning to recognize that this is something that is right underneath our noses. Now the goal is to learn how to walk beside someone as they deal with an addiction issue while loving them and ultimately pointing them to Jesus.

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Never Alone: Wilkes’ Story

We wanted to share another “Never Alone” story with you. Wilkes became part of our lives in the fall of 2013 and it’s been amazing to see what all God has done in his life this past year.

My name is Wilkes, and this is how Urban Purpose has stood beside me during probably the hardest trial I’ve encountered in life. I grew up in the city of Jackson, Tennessee. I was your average kid who played sports, was involved in church, and made good grades in school. College was a turning point in my life. I had everything paid for through academic and athletic scholarships. One would think I’d have been content with the way things were going, but along with new freedoms and new scenery came new friends. I began to associate with the wrong crowd and started putting myself in situations that molded my way of thinking and my behaviors. Slowly, I started to experiment with “recreational” drugs. To me they were harmless, but as time passed I began using harder drugs. Due to certain circumstances I lost my scholarships to the university I attended and moved back home, taking my drug habits with me. Over the next 7 to 8 years my addiction got worse. I tried several different short term rehabs in Tennessee but was still not ready to change. As a last ditch effort I came to Alabama to try and change my life in a year long program, and it was here that I met Mark Jenkins and Jim McFarland from Urban Purpose. When I started this program they came and spoke with me about the services that Urban Purpose offers. They continued to visit with me as I got further along in the program. About four months into it, I made some bad choices and was kicked out of this program. Seeing as I had already exhausted my options with my parents if something like this happened, I called Mark and they came directly to me to help me figure out what I was going to do. They made no judgments about the choice I made that resulted in me getting kicked out; they were there only to help me with a plan of action. Urban Purpose took me to another recovery mission here in Birmingham to wait out 30 days before I could re-enter the same year long program. They met with me a couple of times to discuss the terms of their sponsorship back into this program. Eventually I was able to get back into it with their help. I’ve been here for almost a year now and have turned my life around by the grace of God and with the assistance of Urban Purpose and those affiliated with them. Since I’ve been back in this program, Urban Purpose began to help me make plans for what I would do when I got out. They set me up with an interview, and I was able to get the job at an electrical company where I have the opportunity to start a career. I’ve also gotten a vehicle which is a major help to someone like me coming out of this program with nothing. I came to Alabama scared and on my own, but with Urban Purpose I am never alone.

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Run with Purpose

Check out the video below featuring long time supporters Rick Burgess and Ryan Brown preparing for the 5K!

Have you been looking for different ways to support Urban Purpose in their efforts to reach people with the gospel in the city of Birmingham? Well here it is- Shades Mountain Baptist Church is now providing you with the perfect opportunity. On September 27th at 8 a.m. come join Shades in their efforts to raise money and awareness at their 2nd Annual Urban Purpose 5K and Kids Mess Fest! This is an event that is fun for the whole family to come out and participate in. So what are you waiting for? Register today!

We would like to thank the whole Shades Mountain family for their continued support and encouragement as the Lord uses Urban Purpose in the lives of those in Birmingham to bring them into the Kingdom.

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B’ham Mission Trip Recap

A group of students from Shades Mountain Baptist Church invested part of their spring break to come and work with us on a mission trip right here in their own city. We were so blessed to spend time with these students, college leaders and adults and were grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside them.

We want to share some pictures and let you hear from the students and leaders themselves on what they experienced and learned…


Sat Work Project 3

Students working in the community garden at Greater Shiloh.

Prayer Walk Sat

“God showed me that it doesn’t matter where you are, there are always people who need to hear about Him. He opened me up to a more bold and fearless world that I hope to live in for the rest of my life.”

-John Orr

Sat Meal 9

“Part of what I learned came as we talked with those who have found themselves homeless, and in listening to them praise God for what He’s done in their lives.  I was reminded that God’s blessings are not material, but eternal. He says blessed is the man who is poor in spirit, and to pity the rich man-for the poor in spirit seek the Lord with a fervor and understanding that is unique to knowing your absolute need of Christ. I pray that I seek Him this way as well, knowing the Truth of Him and not trusting in fleeting things that pass as quickly as the wind. It is hard to put into words everything I’ve taken from this weekend, but as God and I talk and work through it all, He continues to remind me of the Truth found in these words; “…for the joy of The Lord is my strength..” and it’s to those I have learned to hold fast and hope to convey to others in every opportunity.”

-Rachel Steed

Sun Meal 5

“God used this trip to continue to show me how resistant to change I can be in my own life. It is really easy for me to look at a homeless guy and think how simple (though not necessarily easy) it would be for him to turn his life around by just turning away from alcohol or asking for help getting a job. God has been showing me that in my own life there are equally simple (and arguably easier) changes that I need to make that would make me closer to Him that I am equally resistant to make. Though it is easy for me to prescribe change for other people, I need it just as much as they do, even though I won’t admit it.”

-Christopher Orr 

Sat Meal

“My favorite part of the trip was the time we spent at The Foundry. I had a good experience sharing my story with the guy I was working with and I also got to hear his. It was a cool experience and it showed me how simple and harmless it is to start a conversation about Christ and my relationship with Him.”

-John Orr 

Foundry 5

We spent Monday morning working at the Foundry’s thrift store sorting items and building relationships with the residents.

Foundry 9

“It was good to see the hearts of other people that I know very well in our meetings. People opened up and shared their hearts in a more personal setting that I have not seen much of. The personal and group growth I saw and experienced on this trip was what was most meaningful and eye opening to me.”

-John Orr

Mental Health Seminar

Students discussing mental issues, drug abuse and depression in a seminar on mental health issues, led by licensed counselor and Urban Purpose partner, Gwen Crumpton.

” I simply want to remind people of how impactful a commitment to this ministry can be on your life. God is clearly at work in this city and in this ministry, and a simple two hour commitment each Sunday, or in some other capacity with the ministry, can allow God to work through you in reaching this city for the Gospel. ”

-James Orr

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