Rev. Dr. Ronnie A. Hampton
1956 – 2020
Destiny – Pride welcomes you back after our break in February due to my recent surgery. We hope that you were able to involve yourself in some activity during the month to celebrate Black History Month and learn more about our rich heritage.
Our Spotlight of the Month of March is Rev. Dr. Ronnie A. Hampton, who is the pastor of New Vision Community Church, located in the District of Columbia. Rev. Hampton has been involved in massive community outreach efforts here in the Washington Metropolitan area and in other states as well. He is presently involved in a “church planting project” effort through his nonprofit organization – Takin’ It To The Streets – which we will learn about in our discussion with him. (Click on photos to enlarge them)
Destiny – Pride: Good morning, Pastor Hampton.
Pastor Hampton: Good morning, Brother Rufus!
Destiny – Pride: Thank you for being our Spotlight for March 2013. We will share with our visitors exactly what “church planting” entails, but we also want to focus on the community outreach you are doing in the various neighborhoods. Before we get into any of that please tell us your birth origin – where and to whom you were born, and share with us some of the highlights of your youth.
Pastor Hampton: I was born in Monroe, Louisiana. I came from a nuclear family, which was a two-parent home. My father made furniture at a local furniture factory. My mother was a domestic at one time and then she got a call to go back to school. She went back to school and got an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) certificate. She then went back to college and got her RPN (Registered Practical Nurse) certifcate. She went to college for ten years – taking one course at a time. After ten years, she eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She was the oldest student, at 50 years old, and she graduated from Northeast Louisiana University with a degree in nursing.
There were five in my family. A sister passed away in 2010 in September. I have two sisters and one brother. Our family is one of love – greatly so. Everybody’s doing well in our family. I have probably the most distinct spiritual journey of anyone in my family. I attended Richwood High School where I graduated with honors. I got a choir scholarship to attend Northeast Louisiana University.
Destiny – Pride: Well, let me stop you there, because we’re going to get to that. You mentioned your parents earlier. What are their names?
Pastor Hampton: My father’s name is Eddie Hampton, Jr. and my mother’s name is Gloria Matthews Hampton. My mother passed away in ’98, so I have two sisters, one brother and my father that are still living.
Destiny – Pride: Are you married and/or are there any children?
Pastor Hampton: I’m married. This is my second marriage. On February the first we celebrated 20 years of marriage. My wife’s name is Elsie. We don’t have any children together. When we married, she had two children – one boy; one girl. Her son has since passed away; he passed away in ’98 as well, from an epileptic seizure at about 24-25 years old. Her daughter now has two children. They’re in Monroe, Louisiana as well.
Destiny – Pride: You had started speaking on this earlier. Are there any educational achievements you’d like to spotlight?
Pastor Hampton: My academic journey was somewhat broken up in many ways as I attended college after high school under a choir scholarship and I went to college for two years at Northeast Louisiana University. Now it’s called the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Even though I had the scholarship and even though I worked, it was a predominantly white university that had recently integrated around 1970 to ’71. I attended it in the fall of ’73.
It was expensive going to that school. I was living off campus and I was really, really glad to get away from home. I tell you, I just went to college my first semester and just acted the biggest fool known to man. Academics was NOT on the radar – at all! I chased skirts and parties and went on academic probation my very first semester. It was like the archaized “wild man” was let loose! I took every advantage of it.
It got expensive going to school, so I left school and I joined the military because they were talking about the GI bill at that time – how you could do three years, because it was peace time and Vietnam was over. That you could go in and serve and, after you serve, you can get out and utilize the GI bill towards your college education. Well, I was one of the ones that fell prey to that lie. When I went in, Vietnam was still going on. It wasn’t over officially until July ’75; I went in in June ’74. From the time I stepped off that bus at the reception station, I knew I had made a mistake, but I had to live with it at that time.
It was a massive adjustment for me. We had some trying times while I was in the military because I didn’t like it. I’m a country boy from Louisiana and my daddy had raised me where a handshake and your word were just as good as a signed contract. When I realized that I had been lied to and I had been deceived into joining the military, I just had a bad taste in my mouth, and every opportunity I had to get away, I got away – whether it was authorized or unauthorized. I would leave and not come back for awhile and I did it routinely.I ended up having my troubles there, but I was discharged with an honorable discharge. I also received the National Defense Service Medal while I was in there. That was the beginning of my spiritual journey.
I got married for the first time when I got out of the Army to my girlfriend at the time, who was going to the University of Texas at Austin. She quit school and we got married – didn’t have a clue about what life was all about. I was 21, 22 years old; she was about 20 years old. We just got married because we just felt the connection. We didn’t think about how we were going to take care of ourselves or anything like that. We winded up going to Dallas, which was her home, and living with her mom. It was not a good situation. I actually tried to get out of it by going to Louisiana and leaving her in Texas, where she found me. I felt committed that I had given my word. I had to go ahead and follow through with it. So we had a big wedding in Dallas, Texas, with people there that I didn’t even know. It was one of those big formal weddings.
I made it through that and stayed married for 13 years. After that, I started another journey as far as being addicted to cocaine, walking the streets and sometimes being homeless and struggling trying to fight the battles of addiction and feeling low self-esteem and the type of things that the devil allows to come into you when you’re vulnerable and you’re hurting and you feel like you’ve missed chances and hadn’t taken advantage of opportunities. All of a sudden, life is in front of you and now you’re feeling unprepared.
Destiny – Pride: Let me ask you this. What was that “trigger point” that made you switch tracks?
Pastor Hampton: For me, the trigger point was, number one, my military experience. It played a big part role into my thinking. You took someone that was in an academic environment and had been sheltered basically all of his life, and who had come under a strong family structure. Now you take him from that structure and you place him into another environment which is basically hostile. You’ve people there who are your superiors and who are calling you everything but your mother’s son, and trying to input into you that now you’re in a different type of society – a society that has to be protective of yourself and of your military buddies. That you’re trained to kill and you’re trained to be insensitive to other cultures or denominations: you’re a soldier and this is your culture. This is the way the structure is and you have to conform to that type of structure.
I had never smoked a joint before in my life until I joined the military. I never took a tab of acid until I joined the military. Even though they were choices, and choices that I made, they were choices that I made under the influence of, “if I did not do this, then how would my peer group look at me as far as being able to protect them in the heat of battle?” If I didn’t join them in these activities, would I have their backs? It was a “go along to get along” type of mentality. You’re still looking at someone that’s impressionable – at 19 years old; so it just kind of snowballed from that point on. And after that, getting married, which I really had absolutely no reason to get married whatsoever. I never should have because I needed to give myself time to even adjust from coming out of that [military] environment. And I didn’t.
So I went from one environment to another environment; and with limited education. Even though I had gone to college for two years and I considered myself reasonably intelligent, I kind of “faked” my way through a lot. The thing was that there was still some substance that was missing. It took me probably about maybe 20 years down the road to be able to see that I could actually change the course of my life by building a strong spiritual foundation under me.
Destiny – Pride: Okay. I’m probably going to have to modify this question here because I think you’ve talked on it: any educational achievements that you would like to spotlight. If we could just go through that chronological listing. There still are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but you were in college and dropped out. Help me and our visitors to understand that educational experience you had.
Pastor Hampton: Okay. I went to college. I dropped out and then I took college courses while I was in the military at Central Texas College. After that, when I got discharged, I went back to my alma mater – Northeast Louisiana University – for a couple of years, but by this time, life had somewhat settled in and I had a woman to take care of now. The GI bill was not what I thought it would be, so even with that and trying to work, and with the wife – and in being in a situation where I was married and really didn’t want to be – I was kind of rebellious against my marriage and I was conducting myself as if I wasn’t married.
Then I went to Dallas, took some courses for insurance adjusting and took some courses with security. But the substance came in 2002 when I got back on the educational track. Now bear in mind that I’m over 40 years old at this point. So we’ve gone from 19 years old to 40 before I realized that “you need to do this.” By this time my spiritual foundation was somewhat firm. I had some focus. I was on a different direction of resurrection.
I then went to school to take surgical technology at a vocational school – Career Technical College in Monroe, Louisiana. I graduated with an associate degree in surgical technology. After I got that degree, I went to Montana and I lived in Montana for close to 4 years working at a teaching hospital there where they were doing surgical techniques that were not even in the state of Louisiana at the time. I mean, they were on the cutting edge, so I was learning things about surgical technology and working in the operating room with some of the nation’s premier surgeons.
After that, I got a call to come back to Shreveport, Louisiana in 2006, where I started going to the seminary. I got my bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Baptist University – a very fine theological seminary in Louisiana. I also got my master’s degree in seminary from Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary. On January 27, [2013,] I received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Breakthrough Bible College and Theological Seminary – President Anthony Mays – for the work that we’ve been doing in Washington, DC.
Destiny – Pride: Of what faith is your ministry and how has it factored in your life’s decisions?
Pastor Hampton: I was born and raised a Baptist. I’m licensed and ordained in the Baptist Church. Now I’m a free Methodist pastor. Free Methodism started in this country on August 23, 1860 by a group that had left the Mother Church of the Methodist Episcopal Church because they were very verbal about Christians that called themselves “Christians” but still had slaves. They sold pews in the church and had created a status for themselves, but it was contrary to what these folks believed that they should have been doing, as far as being honorable Christians. They were very verbal about it and eventually the church kicked them out.
They went to a town called Pekin, New York, under the leadership of a man known as B.T. [Benjamin Titus] Roberts, who was an Anglican Priest, but he was in the Methodist Episcopal Church. There, they formed a church called the Free Methodist Church because they were abolitionists – they helped slaves be free to go to the north. They were very strong Christians, but they believed in the Methodist Christian philosophy and theology that John Wesley had established in the Methodist Church. So they kept the Methodist doctrine and just formed another extension of it called the Free Methodist Church and they built what we call “Annual Conferences” which is when the Methodists get together and they talk about the direction of the denomination – where it’s going to go and where we’re going to branch out. They were very strong evangelists and they put a little bit of every denomination into the Methodist denomination. You’ve got Pentecostal in there; Baptist in there; you’ve got Catholic in there; you’ve got some of everything that makes up the Methodist denomination. So that’s how this started and the pastors have to go through a somewhat rigid academic indoctrination process. They believe in being academically and theologically sound in their doctrines.
They are Protestant, which includes also Baptist, Methodists and Pentecostal. They all come under the Protestant umbrella. So there was no conflict of interest as I transitioned from the Baptist church to becoming Free Methodist because the doctrines are the same. There are only two ordinances of the Church, which is baptism and the holy communion, and we honor them. Anything else is basically stuff that people throw in.
Destiny – Pride: Name those who have been major influences in your life and helped you to be who you are today?
Pastor Hampton: The main influence in my life was my mother. My mother! As I told you, she went to college for 10 years. She said that she heard the voice of the Lord tell her that she needed to go back to school, so she went back and started attending college, taking one course a semester. When I was in college, a freshman in 1973, my mother was taking classes at the same college that I was in. My mother had congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, she was diabetic, but she was running around that college taking physical education courses right along with the rest of those kids. She was the last one to come in, everyday, but she took one course at a time over a 10-year period. She was persevering because people were telling her that she couldn’t do it – she was too old. Now bear this in mind: She was an LPN working at the hospital, working from 11 to 7, going to school in the daytime, and then taking care of her family also! So there were people telling her that she shouldn’t go to school. College was a young person’s thing – we’re talking about 1973-’74. But she kept on going.
My mother was the type of person that the more you tell her what she can’t do, the more she’s going to show you what she can do. She persevered; she kept going and I was watching her struggle. One day she had taken a test, and she was sitting at the kitchen table. She was crying and she said “I know I should have gotten an ‘A’. They should have given me an ‘A’.” Now bear in mind that we’re at a predominantly white college, and racism was somewhat prevalent then. She was crying, and she said “I know I should have gotten an ‘A’.” I went over to her, and I said, “Moma, let me tell you something. Even though you deserve an A, these people are not going to give you an A.” I said, “They gave you a ‘C,’ so you take that C and see your way out.” She later told me that she never forgot that – never! So she kept on going and that’s my influence today.
That’s my strongest influence – my mother. And my father also, because my father got paid every week. And every week he brought his check home and put it in my mother’s hand. She took care of the groceries and took care of the bills. My father wasn’t a highly educated man; he only finished the 9th grade, then he had to go into the cotton fields and work because there were 14 others up under him that needed to eat. So, being the oldest of 14, he had to go back into the cotton fields and work to provide for his family. But he was a wise man beyond his years. So those were my two strongest influences.
Destiny – Pride: Okay. We mentioned earlier that you were involved in a “church planting project” effort. Background material that we received from you indicates “No church; no building; no remnant of an existing congregation.” Please explain to our visitors what “church planting” is and what it entails.
Pastor Hampton: Okay. “Church planting” is a process of the Free Methodist Church that we use to go into certain communities or certain areas and provide a Free Methodist Church in those communities. Washington, DC is a portion of the Free Methodist Church that focuses on inner-city and urban ministry. Our goal is to have a Free Methodist Church in each of the four quadrants of Washington, DC in the inner city. It is a major focus of our denomination because our denomination is a global denomination. We have missionaries in Africa, San Salvador, Cuba, Haiti, even in some portions of China. All over the world we have missionaries and hospitals and churches and schools in these other countries. But there has not been a heavy focus within the United States. We know that there is an urban issue within the United States, so our denomination is focusing on the inner-city ministry.
I was sent here from Shreveport, Louisiana to Washington, DC. My target area was Ward 7, and I had to do a demographic study of the area and see all of the different -isms and schisms and what was going on in the city before I got here. I did not have a building to assume, which means I did not have a church that was just there waiting for me. I did not have a congregation or a remnant of a congregation. We have Free Methodist Churches all over the country, but in Washington, DC, we don’t have any. So there was not a building to occupy or there was not a building where a previous pastor had left – had left the congregation behind. That wasn’t there. What we had to do was go into this area and do it from the ground up. In doing so, our initial area was the Kenilworth/Parkside area over in Ward 7. That was our initial target area.
The way that happened was that Pastor Kenny Martin, who is the pastor of New Vision Fellowship Church here where my office is, is the host church. In every community, there is a host church or supporting churches that support the church plant. Understand that you have a pastor that’s coming in that’s attempting to create a church and he needs to be able to still provide for his family. He doesn’t have a congregation that’s supporting him, so he has to basically depend on the support of our brother and sister churches. New Vision Fellowship is the church that’s supporting us. Dr. John Shropshire is my partner in ministry, because when we go, we like to go “two-by-two,” as in the Bible. I started out by myself, and then John came along with me in November 2011. We’ve been partners in this ministry ever since. Now we’re over in the Benning Heights area, off of Minnesota Avenue and Anacostia Road – between Minnesota Avenue and East Capitol Street, ministering over in that area. We’ve started a weekly bible study class. Because of the nature of and the makeup of the community – we’re talking about predominantly poor people. People that are subject to teen pregnancy; domestic abuse violence; drug addiction; alcoholism; high gang violence; murders; high crime – we’re in those areas.
When you go into those areas and you start talking about planting a church, there are many layers that have to be peeled back before you can even get to a nucleus of ministry – for people to even listen to what you have to say. Our approach was to use my nonprofit agency, “Takin’ It To The Streets,” as a mechanism for church planting by providing like Jesus did. When Jesus went into a territory, he didn’t go in just preaching with nothing else to offer. As a matter of fact, he inverted the process and he went in taking care of tangible needs by feeding, by clothing, by providing shelter, by providing counseling and love and warmth, and by engaging the community. By showing the love that he had for community, the barriers began to come down, and he was able to work and minister to them. And they listened because you can listen to someone if your stomach’s not growling. That’s the basis of the church planting project – to go into the core of the inner-city, and create a church. Not just a church, but to create a community that doesn’t depend on themselves as a way of life but, by building strong spiritual foundations, to increase their faith to believe on a power higher than them that’s able to provide for their needs.
Destiny – Pride: There would probably be one question for point of clarity that I might ask. I know that you also are in Upper Room Baptist Church [Pastor Vincent Allen, Pastor], so would that be construed as “planting” in Upper Room?
Pastor Hampton: That’s part of the planting process because when you go into a community, you have to network with other community leaders; with those that have already been there; and those that have a mind to see the big picture of what a community church is all about. It’s not about one church; it’s about the community and the several churches involved. With my partnership with Pastor Vincent Allen, he’s opened up the doors of Upper Room Baptist Church, allowing us to have a point, or a base, to operate out of. That’s part of the networking and the partnership, and the beauty of the body of Christ coming together for a common cause. They see the need in the community. They see how this can help their ministry. I see how it can help my ministry. So we just combine our resources to make it work, and it’s a beautiful thing!
Destiny – Pride: Now tell us about New Vision Community Church and its origin.
Pastor Hampton: New Vision Community Church. Actually, I stepped into that name. I didn’t have anything to do with naming that church; it was already named when I came on board. That’s not to say it’s going to maintain that name, but we’ve bought into it now. So it’s probably etched in stone at this point. The name had already been selected for us: New Vision Community Church. But that was okay because I knew nothing about the church planting process as it was, so that was just one less thing that we had to worry about – coming up with the name.
But it’s all about taking a fresh approach to ministry into the inner city with people that are unchurched, or people that have been churched, but they left the church because they feel as though they’ve been judged by the church. You know church folk sometimes have a tendency of looking at people kind of funny if they don’t look like the way they think they should look, or act the way they think they should act, or even smell the way they think they should smell, or behave the way they think they should behave. They kind of ostracize themselves a little bit from that because they create an alienation sometimes between themselves and the community because they expect the community to come into the church and behave like they behave.
But we’re talking about “unchurched” people. We’re talking about people that are living on the street. We’re talking about people that maybe didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. We’re talking about people that are looking for clothing. We’re talking about single-parent homes where a mother has to work and babies are taking care of babies. We’re talking about all of these societal influences that cause negativity or negative behavior – habits which create negative responses inside of the family. So we go in with a holistic approach. We want to first take care of the needs. Once we take care of the needs, then we want to attack the spiritual foundation.
In Kenilworth, we found out that those kids over there didn’t even know how to pray. We would ask for volunteers to pray and they were ashamed because they didn’t know how. So I just went to them with a simple process, and said, “Look, if you want to pray, what do you tell somebody that does something nice for you?”, and they said “Thank you.” I said, “That’s all praying is; it’s just saying ‘thank you.’” I said, “But you’re saying ‘thanks’ to a God that’s providing these things for you. So what would you say to God as far as ‘thank you’?” Then they got to rattling off: “Well I thank you for my moma; and I thank you for my house; I thank you for my clothes . . .” I said, “That’s all you’ve got to do!” And then after that, we said, “Okay, who wants to pray?,” and hands started going up all over the place!
We have to meet folks at the level where they are and build them up from the level where they are. We can’t go in pointing fingers; we can’t go in questioning people’s salvation or people’s theology. We just have to go in with the love of Jesus! And the love takes care of itself.
Destiny – Pride: What is your vision and mission for this ministry?
Pastor Hampton: My vision for this ministry – and John and I have talked about this – is that we want a community to be able to come together; for churches to stop being territorial, saying “This is my area over here; that is your area over there. We want churches to be able to be integrated, cross-cultural, to be able to be accepting of different races and cultures and denominations, to be open to dialogue, but to mainly be like the old church used to be back in the 17/1800s – to be the center of the community where you come and lay your issues out and find a healthy perspective to be able to deal with these issues, instead of somebody saying “Well, you need to pray.” Well, yeah, I need to pray, but give me something I can hold on to. So we want to create some real-life ministry that deals with real-life problems, and we want to address the issues that are killing folk in society. We want to dispel some of the notions that you can do what you want to do and how you want to do it, and still expect yourself to be able to have a healthy spiritual life.
There are parameters and there are borders. If you allow God to not be inside of these borders, then you’ll know the borders that are there for you. You have to be able to release God, saying, “I’m not going to put Him in a box and say that He can only do this; or He’ll only do that; or He’ll only do this like this or that like that. Release Him from that bondage that you’ve placed Him in, so He can be the God of all understanding, and allow yourself to be able to be free in your worship, in your dialogue with Him, in your prayer with Him, and not try to restrict Him to say, “Well I have to stand up to do this; or I’ve go to sit down to do this; or I’ve got to rollover to do this.” To release yourself from all of those little things that keep you in spiritual bondage as a result of church tradition.
Destiny – Pride: I think you hit upon a part of this, but you might want to add something. Tell us about your outreach efforts. To whom are you extending yourself, and how are you doing it?
Pastor Hampton: Takin’ It To The Streets, Incorporated is a nonprofit organization that I chartered right here in Washington, DC. But you know, no organization is only “one” man; there are several people that are involved in this outreach that allow this thing to function. There are people that handle IT; there are people that handle administration. We have partners that give to us and share in our outreach by providing clothing and food donations. We have people who come together and work with our outreach ministries. What we want to do is we want to target those areas that are poor and that are needy by providing for them clothing and food and groceries and resource information to improve their daily living conditions by letting them know that this is being done because Jesus loves you. It’s only love.
I have found in my experience that when you go into the poor neighborhoods and you start giving, they’re always looking to see what’s the catch: “What do I have to do?” So we’re trying to break down those barriers to say that “Look, we’re doing this just because we love you.” These are folk that don’t really know what love is. Their definition of love is “Okay, if you love me, then I’ve got to do something. There’s something that’s expected or anticipated of me. You’re not just doing this to be doing it. I don’t know any other kind of love.” So we’re trying to introduce them to that type of “agape” love – that “God love” that is no respecter of persons; that there’s nothing that’s wanted of you except to just love me back. A lot of that is what “Takin’ It To The Streets” does. We take the love of Jesus to communities that are struggling, that are poor.
We just did a Hurricane Sandy outreach. We’ve never before extended ourselves to disasters that have happened within the country. But those were our neighbors – our brothers and sisters. So I took a team of about 10 of us up to New Jersey and we ministered to over 1,500 people up there. There were others that joined in with us. The Free Methodist Church partnered with us in this. Several local Washington, DC/Virginia/Maryland/Pennsylvania ministries partnered with us. The Rescue Mission over in Capital Heights partnered with us. We went up there and provided for those folks that, even a month later, were still having serious needs. They had not seen any government people. FEMA and the government things were either slow or were not happening, so we went in and took care of them as best as we could with what we could do.
So Takin’ It To the Streets just goes all over in the evangelistic attempt to try to meet tangible needs that opens up the door that creates spiritual relationships.
Destiny – Pride: You’ve also hit upon this somewhat, but what do you see as being the greatest needs of those to whom you minister?
Pastor Hampton: The greatest need I see is for people to understand that Jesus came just as we are. He came like a man. He was exposed to all of the things that we’re exposed to every single day: the frustrations; the issues of life; the ups, the downs; the treacheries and the lies. Everything that we are exposed to, he was exposed to. He knows how we feel when we’re hurt because he’s been hurt. What we do is we try to transfer that type of thinking onto people that normally don’t think spiritually. They usually speak in a way that has to deal with their problems in a physical way and they try to handle them in a physical way – the try to handle it “right now.”
That’s why we [urban communities] have some places like Signature Loans. You can go and get $200; just sign your signature and it takes you 5 years to pay it back. That’s why they have car title loans. Go get a loan against your car. Now you’re putting your car in a position where you can lose it because you need something to take care of you “right now.” We need to let people know that most of the circumstances that we need the help in are circumstances that we’ve brought on ourselves. If we can conduct ourselves in a responsible way by being good stewards over that which God provides to us, then He in turn will bless us with more. He’s not going to give us a million dollars if we can’t handle a million dollars. He’ only going to give us as much as we can handle. When He sees that we are faithful over a few things, then He’ll make us ruler over many things.
Some of the things that we try to impress upon people is that this gospel is not so rigid and not so meager to where you have to perform to a certain standard of legalism in your doctrine. God is someone that you have to personally relate to. Your relationship with Him is personal. You talk to Him the way you talk to Him, and you relate to Him the way you relate to Him because the bottom line is that He knows the issues of your heart; He knows your heart; He knows how you’re thinking; and He knows what your intentions are.
So how you communicate with Him is to just “talk” to Him. You don’t have to do these long dissertations: “Oh Heavenly Father, God, I love you so much, Lord. You’re the life, you’re the head of my life, and I just need you right now, Lord. Will you please come into my life right now, Lord . . .!” It doesn’t take all that. All you’ve got to do is tell Him, “Lord, I need you. Right now. Come into my life.” You’ve got to repent of your sins and the things that you know you’ve done wrong. And we all have. Everybody’s sinned. I’ve sinned; you’ve sinned; we all have sinned, but the catalyst to that is just to allow ourselves to be refreshed daily by saying “Lord, forgive me of my sins.” Whenever we ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins, then we’re made back righteous before Him. He doesn’t see that stuff anymore. We hold things inside of us and we continue to be guilty for things that God has already forgiven us for. We have problems forgiving ourselves. We just have to come into the knowledge of knowing that if God forgives us, we can forgive ourselves, and move on.
Destiny – Pride: You may have mentioned this earlier, but for those of us who do not know, what are the distinguishable differences between Baptists and Methodists?
Pastor Hampton: Philosophical differences/theological differences, there aren’t any between Baptists and Methodists. They’re pretty much the same. As a matter of fact it all came from the Anglican Church in the first place. For most denominations, somebody got mad at a church and left and formed their own thing. In Christian philosophy, you find that this happened with Martin Luther. You find that it happened with John Wesley. You find that it happened with John Calvin. With some of the people during the reformation period, you’ll find that this is what happened.
With Baptists and Methodists, it’s pretty much the same, except that some say that the Methodists baptize by sprinkling. In the Free Methodist Church, we have an option to sprinkle, to water baptize, or to submerge in water baptism. It’s still symbolic, either way it goes. You’re going in “old” and you’re coming up “new.” Sometimes people make issues out of a lot of things that really are not paramount to your entering into the gates of heaven.
Destiny – Pride: What would you say so far would be your greatest accomplishment?
Pastor Hampton: To tell you the truth, I believe my greatest accomplishment was being obedient when God told me to go out and use my testimony as a platform to deliver folk unto Him – to see the results of that. To see how it actually works when you have a $30,000 a year habit and most people have written you off, saying “He’s always going to be a drug addict. He’ll never change.” To see how God took that whole thing and transformed it all, and the very weapon that was used to try to destroy me, God took it, cleaned it up, polished it off, and used it for His glory. And to see people come unto Christ as a basis of that testimony is just one of the greatest feelings in the world. To know that you’ve been used because of a situation that was meant to kill you.
Destiny – Pride: What about your major disappointment?
Pastor Hampton: I think that my greatest disappointment is realizing that churches don’t see the big picture. Churches become territorial minded. I’ve invited churches to come and join us with our Takin’ It To The Streets efforts. We don’t cater to denomination. As a matter of fact, we never mention denominations when we have our outreaches. We have ministers there from all different denominations and religions and factions at our Takin’ It To The Streets outreach. But there are those churches that actually feel like they’re doing enough: “Well, we do this already,” or “We do it at a certain time of the year. We can’t join you guys.”
We would like to have more community involvement for churches to be able to see that it’s not inside of the church where things are happening. It’s the crack-addict that’s walking in front of those doors on Sunday morning or the alcoholic that’s headed to the liquor store, or the prostitute that’s going to make her money tricking down on the corner, or the one that’s walking past the church that’s going to break into somebody’s house who’s at church. These are the issues that are real. I believe that if people see the church coming together in solidarity, then it changes a person’s impression of what they think about the church. In my experience, people just really don’t have a health interpretation of church any more.
I ride down on the corner of Benning Road and East Capitol Street. You’ve got people hanging on the corners. On Minnesota Avenue and Benning, all up and down that strip over there are people just trying to hustle their way through. I went to the Union Station. The people at the Union Station are hustling and trying to make their way through. We’re just walking past these folks at Union Station. You’ve got panhandlers down there; hustlers down there. We would have people approach us that we’ve known from street outreach. I had a guy come to me and say, “Pastor, you had that outreach out there.” I said, “Yeah, what have you been doing since then? I haven’t seen you.” “Well, I’m just trying to make it,” he said. “I sure would like to have me a meal.” The Lord wants us to be kind, but he also wants us to be reasonable. We can’t be foolish with our giving. We got to be able to plant seed that’s going to reap fruit. If we just give foolishly without having any responsibility with it, then that’s all we’re going to be doing – giving foolishly.
But if we give and plant a seed that will help someone towards independence, then we’re bearing fruit. We can go back to Genesis: to be fruitful and multiply [Genesis 1:22; 1:28; 8:17, et al.]. You’re going to be fruitful and multiply Christians. A lot of people compare this to having babies. In a way you’re having babies because you’re taking someone that is a “babe” in Christ, building up their spiritual foundation and multiplying them so that they can tell somebody else, and that person can become strong in Christ. They’ll tell somebody else, and that person becomes strong in Christ.
So you’re being fruitful and you’re multiplying by planting a seed of independence into a person to let them know that if Jesus is the King and you are his heir, then that means that you are entitled to everything that he has. That means that everything that he has is yours as his heir. You will inherit this. So why are you walking around “poor” mouthing yourself or placing yourself in a position where you’re not providing for yourself? You’re looking for something to fall from the sky when you’ve got hands and feet and legs and you have activities of your body. You can find something gainful that you can use towards independence to where you won’t be looking for handouts.
Everybody needs a help up, but when you take that help up, you need to take it and then start building a foundation; start putting some dirt under your feet so that you can have a firm foundation.
Destiny – Pride: What hobbies or activities do you involve yourself in to relax?
Pastor Hampton: Traveling. I like to get away because what I do with outreach ministry is I do it all the time, all year long. Even when I take vacations, I still find myself at work for outreach ministry. If it’s in you, and you have a passion for it, that’s just what you’re going to do.
In my leisure time, I like to just be as lazy as I possibly can. Just don’t do anything. That’s relaxation for me. I love to drive. Day trips. I love listening to Smooth Jazz music. I love to take myself somewhere else. Even though I may be in my house, I still like to create an atmosphere like I’m somewhere else. So that’s kind of the way I spend my leisure time.
Destiny – Pride: What last thoughts or insights would you like to leave with our visitors, Pastor Hampton?
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Pastor Hampton: The last thoughts I would like to leave is that we all can participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ, whether you be a pastor or whether you be a layman. Whether you be a deacon/deaconess or whether you’re just someone walking down the street. We all can participate in this mission that Christ has given us all – the Great Commission – to go ye therefore and baptize all nations teaching them in the way of the gospel. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. And we find that wherever we go, there he’ll be with us always, even until the ends of the earth [Matthew 28:19].
The time is growing now, and now is the time to allow Jesus to become part of your life. So don’t look down on someone because they may have saggy pants; or they may be malnourished; or they may not have fresh clothing; or they may not be well-groomed; or they may not speak so fluently. Jesus loves them just as much as he loves us. He loves us all equally. So let’s just love one another, and show the love of Jesus to those that he considers the least of them.
In Isaiah 58, it says that if we do that, then when we call on him, He’ll say, “Here I am.” Our greatest goal is that when we call on God, He’ll say, “Here I am.” Thank you so much for sharing with us. Destiny – Pride, thank you for coming into our fellowship and for asking me very pertinent questions about the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Peace and blessings be unto you all.
Destiny – Pride: Pastor Hampton, thanks for allowing Destiny – Pride to talk with you about the work you are doing and the ministry you are bringing into our communities and into the lives of the individuals who are benefitting from your commitment to serve. We wish the best to you, your ministry and your outreach efforts at New Vision Community Church. May you continue to thrive as you work to bring wholeness to the people you serve. Thanks again.
Pastor Hampton: God bless you.
Pastor Hampton may be contacted at:
Pastor Hampton’s Email: email@example.com
Facebook: New Vision Community Church
Takin It To The Streets
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