For more information on Life Restoration Ministries, or to get involved, call 760-0301 or e-mail liferestoration@ sunflower.com.
Nicole Rials thinks too many people compartmentalize God out of their lives.
"So often, people fragment their lives," Rials says. "They allow God to be part of it, but not all of it. The message we want to send is God wants to be part of all your life."
That's why she started Life Restoration Ministries, a nondenominational Christian organization that aims to make God a focus in people's lives through offering practical classes and services.
Rials, a social worker at the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, started some of the ministry informally two years ago. Now, she's trying to get more people involved and offer more services.
"This is a vision I had in my heart," she says. "I feel and believe a person's relationship with God, and with Jesus Christ, should serve as a foundation for their life."
One of Life Restoration Ministries' biggest events so far was "Girl Talk," a forum on women's health, safety and relationships held in April.
Other plans include:
¢ Tutoring for children and teens.
¢ Book clubs.
¢ A group for survivors of abusive relationships.
¢ Hospital visitations.
¢ Groups for dealing with loss and grief.
¢ Spiritual counseling.
Another element that already has started is Teens for Christ, an organization that has been going for several years and became part of Life Restoration Ministries when it organized.
Among other things, the group performs Christian plays.
Pam Brown's 14-year-old daughter, Morgan, is among those involved in Teens for Christ. They also attended the "Girl Talk" classes in the spring.
"I think it's important to have a good, solid base for going out and dealing with peer pressure," Pam Brown says. "There are different things that can influence teens these days, so much more than when I was a teen growing up in a smaller community. It's nice to get good information - healthy information - that they can tuck in the back of their minds."
Shkiyya Bland, Rials' niece who serves as both education coordinator and treasurer for Life Restoration Ministries, is excited about tutoring programs for teens and for job skills seminars for adults.
"I think more so in the area of teaching and job skills, you can refer to your faith in addition to preparing yourself with knowledge," Bland says. "Like test anxiety, or anxiety before (job) interviews, is where faith comes in."
She's heard enough from parents to think there's a need for these sort of programs.
"I know definitely for junior high and high school students, parents have mentioned they need extra help studying," Bland says. "And for youth in general, they need a focus on education in addition to making quick money."
For Rials, 35, Life Restoration Ministries is a way to deal with people's problems holistically. Often, she says, she can't talk much about faith in a social work setting.
"It's a respected boundary, and one I respect in professional settings," she says. "This is a way to combine my professional skills with my spiritual beliefs."
She and other leaders currently are applying for federal nonprofit organization status. They're also seeking volunteers to lead programs. Volunteers will go through a screening process before they're accepted.
Rials says she's confident the program will catch on.
"I expect it to grow, No. 1, because this is what God has given me," she says. "I have faith in him to go whatever direction he decides. No. 2, I see a need for it. People need to have their practical needs met and talk about their life circumstances, and learn how to build on their relationship with Jesus Christ as a support for them."