Beginnings. On Wings Like A Dove began as the heart response of a faithful mother of a teenaged prodigal. When her son became involved with drugs and later dealt with the consequences of both drug addiction and a time in prison, the prayer and counsel of spiritual mentors led Sandra Kearns to begin a small group ministry to other families of prodigals. On Wings Like A Dove (OWLAD) was organized, attaining 501(c)3 non-profit status in July, 2008.
A Growing Small Group Ministry. As that first small group found encouragement, health, and healing, several of them joined Sandra in a quiet outreach to others around them who were also hurting as they struggled in the prodigal experience. God multiplied their efforts in marvelous ways. Prayer groups began to meet. A monthly newsletter came to life in mailboxes across the city and then beyond. Groups met for prayer, encouragement, and Bible study. And, eventually, annual retreats began for moms of prodigals to spend time away in focused prayer and Bible study, intentional fellowship, and refreshing times of worship together. All of these outreaches continue, and they continue to grow.
Multiplied Care for Others. Ministry to parents led to ministry to their prodigals, particularly when prodigals became prisoners because of the consequences of their choices. Pen pal outreach to prodigals in prison spread to their cellmates, who saw the care and impact of the OWLAD pen pal mentors and requested similar connections in their own lives. In 2021, OWLAD received 1957 letters from inmates with 37 pen pals writing to 55 inmates.
Bibles – The Impact of The Word of God. Eight years ago, an inmate wrote asking if OWLAD could get him a Bible. The OWLAD board voted to grant the request, sensing that additional inquiries would follow. Word of mouth in the prison led quickly to more requests, and just as the pen pal ministry had grown, so did the ministry of placing Bibles in the hands of inmates. In 2021, OWLAD shipped Bibles to 1256 inmates in prisons across 15 states. OWLAD only ships quality study Bibles, emphasizing to the inmate the importance we place on the Word of God, and giving them a Bible they can be proud to study.
Fellowship and Discipleship. In addition to Bibles, OWLAD sponsors Bible Study Correspondence Courses with mentors communicating with inmates who study the Bible, chapter by chapter, one Book at a time. The mentor and inmate share written conversation about the inmate’s answers to Bible Study questions. Our mentors are always fresh and forward with the Gospel, seeking to share Jesus and salvation with the inmate friend. In 2021, 793 Bible Study Correspondence Courses were mailed out.
Transitional Living for Transformed Lives. One of the greatest needs of inmates returning to society is faith-based transitional housing. In 2022, OWLAD has begun a new initiative, On Wings of Hope. Our first On Wings of Hope Men’s House on Bon Air Ave is open with 4 residents, with a fifth joining us in October. Our first On Wings of Hope Women’s House on Pine Tree Rd is now open with 1 resident onboard who joined us in early September. Additional applications are currently under review for approval. Each home exists to provide transitional housing to ex-offenders at the time of their release from prison, as part of a 12-month closely managed faith-based program to enable qualified residential participants to gain life skills, employment opportunity, confidence, and a new sense of what it means to be a good citizen in a healthy community.
Community Outreach. Along with correspondence, Bibles, and housing, OWLAD is also very involved in community outreach in underserved areas of our city, providing clothing and food assistance, Treasure boxes for children, backpacks and school supplies for students, and financial assistance through the OWLAD Compassion Fund.