BY JEREMY WALDEN
FOR THE OBSERVER
In the heart of Opelika, Alabama, where once stood the Hardaway Housing Projects, a remarkable transformation took root 27 years ago. What emerged from humble beginnings has blossomed into a beacon of hope and change for hundreds of children throughout the years from the toughest corners of Opelika and Auburn. As Life-Savers Ministries gears up to celebrate its anniversary on Oct. 12, it’s a momentous occasion to reflect on its incredible journey.
Life-Savers Ministries was born out of a dire need — a need to reach out to the vulnerable members of society. It’s a need that called for action. The ministry said that it firmly believes in the responsibility to uplift these young lives, providing them with the time, attention, respect and commitment they so rightfully deserve, guided by the principles of faith.
The ministry’s origin story harks back to 1996 when it was founded amidst the Hardaway Housing Projects. In those early days, Life-Savers Ministries occupied nothing more than an open corner of a vacant lot, sheltered by a couple of big blue tarps. Simple poster boards displayed songs and scripture memory verses for the week. Little did anyone know that this seedling of hope would one day flourish into what it is today.
The ministry’s founders, James and Karen Anderegg, articulated its guiding prayer beautifully: “God, do this in such a way, people can look past any human ability and say; surely God has done this thing.”
The ministry began by recognizing an urgent need and heeding the call to address it. The founders said that they understood that to begin a ministry, one must first comprehend the ‘why,’ and then, God would reveal the ‘how.’
In a neighborhood where traditional methods of outreach failed, Life-Savers Ministries charted a unique path. Its approach was simple, yet profound — it picked up the trash, over and over again. The commitment was fierce, and its persistence baffled the residents, both young and old. The children were the first to inquire, followed by the adults. Thus, Life-Savers Ministries was born.
Fast forward to the present, Life-Savers Ministries stands as a testament to the power of God’s faithfulness and God’s people. Today, it continues the long-standing tradition of offering Saturday Sunday School — a dynamic and fun-filled time of worship for children that connects them to Jesus and teaches them how the Bible applies to their lives at their facility located at 1901 Waverly Parkway.
Additionally, Life-Savers Mission Thrift Store in Auburn serves as a strategic way to serve local families with discount clothes, furniture, household goods and more, all made possible by the generosity of the community. All proceeds from the store fund, not only Life-Savers Ministries but other local ministries that help the community’s most vulnerable.
As the 27th anniversary draws near, Life-Savers Ministries stands as a testament to the power of compassion, dedication and faith. It has not only been used by God to transform the lives of countless young individuals but also had a generational impact. Now, the Anderegg’s own children are part of the staff that serves some children whose parents were served at the beginning of the ministry.
“A special thanks to the countless number of individuals and groups that have supported and volunteered over the years,” the ministry said. “The whole story reminds us all that the simplest acts of kindness motivated by the love of God can indeed be used to change the world. On Oct. 12, let the community thank God and celebrate this extraordinary journey of love, hope and transformation that is Life-Savers Ministries.”