CLAY COUNTY, Florida. – We met again with Restoration Ministries church members this week at Fleming Island at US 17 and County Road 220. The church has been spotted intermittently for years at major intersections in our area to raise funds for its ministry.
This is an I-Team survey that News4JAX has been tracking since 2018.
The church told News4JAX that it plans to increase its begging in the area and said it is its ministry to help people get rid of drugs and alcohol.
Restoration Ministries had members scattered all over a Fleming Island intersection handing out flyers and asking for donations, so we asked where the money was going.
“Well, we struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. I was once on crack, and by the power of Jesus Christ he set me free. We are part of the restoration. The restoration is a non-profit organization, ”said Kelsey Malone.
This is not the first time this church has been affiliated with a ministry registered as 501c3 with the IRS in Oklahoma called Saved By Grace Restoration Ministries.
RELATED: I-TEAM: Oklahoma-based ministry begs illegally
Members who had gone out to collect money from cars, an unusual fundraising mechanism for a church, told us that they recovered from their addictions through this ministry.
“We’re out of Oklahoma City. We are setting up a ministry here in Jacksonville. What we’re going to do is get people off the streets — the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the homeless. This is our target. And where does the money go? The money is to keep our doors open,” Cheyenne Lee said.
When News4JAX last reported on this church, they were at the same crossroads in Caly County, at the time in violation of anti-begging ordinances. But since then, the laws have changed following a Supreme Court ruling that considers begging to be protected by the First Amendment.
We spoke to Pastor Shelby DaCasta who says he is trying to bring their church permanently to Jacksonville.
DaCasta says fundraising at the corner of intersections is not unusual for his church.
“The reason is that the Bible tells us to go on the highways and side roads. Get out and preach the gospel. That’s literally what we do, go on the highways and side roads. We do “Do our best to get people to repent. Distribute our literature. If they know anyone who deals with alcoholism, prostitution, gang violence, people getting out of prison,” a DeCasta said.
DeCasta also said the church is currently trying to find a building in Jacksonville to house its ministry.
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