Fords’ service to community directed by God

Published 10:22 am Friday, October 16, 2015

The Rev. Tommy Miller, executive director of Good Shepherd Community Center, describes Dr. Bob Ford as “an all-around good guy who gives of himself selflessly to help others. He has gone on missions, not just here but in the west and southwest, and Mexico, where he has gone on medical missions and set up clinics. Once, he washed dishes for five days, because that was what they needed.”

Ford, he said, has been a longtime volunteer physician at Good Shepherd.

“He will see anyone who comes. The men from River City Rescue Mission come here on Thursdays, and he is willing to see them here.”

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Ford also serves as doctor for the Warren County Jail.

He is, Miller said, very active in the community, working with Keystone Ministries and operating two homes to help men get back on their feet.

But Ford, a certified Methodist minister and pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church is very reluctant when it comes to discussing his community service work, calling his ministry a “joint effort” between him and his wife, Judy.

“God called us and brought us in,” he said. “It’s a joint ministry.”

A ministry that began, Judy Ford said, at Good Shepherd, where she volunteered as a nurse and worked with Ford.

“I guess about 20 years ago,” she said. “We met a homeless man and started realizing we had a homeless community in Warren County and that just started things.

“He needed daily care, and I was explaining to him what he needed to do. He opened my eyes and said, ‘I can’t do that. I sleep on a bench down by the river.’ That was when it was getting cold at night, and I was really getting concerned about him. I just told him to come to Good Shepherd every day and I would take care of his medical needs.

“He’s the one who opened our eyes to help not just the homeless, but the needy as well.”

Ford, his wife said, is a motivator who sees a need and wants to get involved instead of standing aside. He helped start Keystone Ministries’ soup kitchen on South Washington Street, and managed to get other churches to help with the program.

“Bob is very strong in getting many churches involved it’s not just the Methodist Church; it’s a community effort, feeding the needy and the homeless. I think we have 18 churches and prayer groups, and just families who serve one night a month.

“We feed a meal every night. God just brought different churches and people into our lives,” she said.

The two homes the Fords own on South Street came from a need to give men from the River City Rescue Mission a place to go after completing the program at the mission.

“They still needed a place to transition to help try to find jobs and have a place to stay,” Judy Ford said. “It’s like a home for them to stay at until they are able to get on their feet and find a job and move on.

“At South Street we provide housing, we provide medical attention, make sure they go to church and stay in Bible studies help them find a way to apply for a job or get some on disability.”

The program is overseen by Clarence Dunsmore who has an apartment upstairs in one of the homes, she said, adding people go to homes and help with Bible studies and the men are taken to Keystone in the evening for meals. Sundays, they go to church, with some going to Wesley United Methodist and others going to worship at Keystone Ministries.

Ford sometimes leads Sunday service at Keystone and has Bible study with the men at South Street on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Judy Ford added he is studying for the ministry at Millsaps College, holds a discipleship class, conducts Sunday worship services at Wesley, conducts a healing prayer service Sunday night and holds Bible study at Hawkins United Methodist Church on Sunday afternoons. He is also a healing prayer minister. She is also a prayer minister.

“We do none of this for recognition,” she said. “This is for the glory of God.

“He is an amazing guy, a lot of knowledge and understanding about the word and knows how to teach the word. I think God just took us to another level to minister spiritually as well as medically,” she said. “We’re all God’s creation. It doesn’t matter who you are, what color you are, or what your sin is. We’re not going to judge. We’re going to love as Christ loved.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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