‘He is the hands and feet of Jesus’

Steena Hymes

April 28, 2014

Pastor Max Riley, founder of Fellowship Deliverance Ministries, was honored at a surprise birthday and wedding anniversary party held at New Community Church Friday night. The event also honored his 18 years of service to the ministry.

Fellowship Deliverance Ministries in a non-profit organization that takes in homeless men with addiction and mental illnesses and works to restore their lives.

Riley started the program in 1996 in Troup County after he battled his own drug addiction. Riley is originally from Bermuda but has been in Troup County for 20 years.

Riley said he found a crack-house full of men who just got out of prison and used to take them food. He said his heart was burdened by their situation so turned the crack-house into the first ministry building. Over the years, the group changed locations and eventually moved to 207 Mulberry Street, which was a slaughter house acquired by Callaway Foundation and given to the ministry.

In addition to building their faith and recovery, the men at the home are given help with detox, counseling, education, money management and resume building according to Riley.

“When people come in, they’re unstable we have to assess them and find out how we can possibly help them,” he said. “The first thing before we do anything is to get them stable.”

Family and friends and men who have been helped by Riley attended and shared what Riley meant to them.

Pastor Jerome Lester, Riley’s brother-in-law gave a message on how Riley modeled compassion.

“He could have left the streets and left all those people in the streets, but his compassion brought him back to the streets,” Lester said.

Riley’s daughter Nakesha Riley-Parker came from Florida to share how even during Riley’s dark days as a drug addict and dealer, he still always had a heart for helping others.

Other family members including his sister-in-law, son and other daughter also spoke at the night’s event.

Man after man came up to the microphone to tell Riley how he saved their lives.

“I remember back when I first came to LaGrange… I didn’t know if I was going to live or die and this man opened up his door to me and today I can say I am a different man,” Louis Anderson said.

David Paris said after five DUI’s, an attempted suicide, loss of marriage and two and a half years in prison, Riley gave him back his life.

He shared all the life moments he missed because of drug and alcohol and thanked Riley for giving all those moments back to him.

“To the guys of [Fellowship Deliverance Ministries], don’t give up on yourselves. I too at one time had one day, now I have eight years clean and sober,” he said.

The ministry’s youngest resident, Joshua Jeter, 18, also spoke about his struggle with drugs and recovery through the ministry.

“Every one of those guys act like a father to me, because I never had one,” Jeter said.

Fellowship Deliverance Ministries serves men from all over the state and even Alabama according to Chief of Staff John Person.

Currently, the home has 23 men living in it and they also have four safe houses which currently has 22 people all together.

Person said when men join the ministry all their legal, medical and financial worries are handed over to the staff so the men only have to focus on getting better.

Jessica David, co-founder of Emmaus Women Shelter said Riley was vital in getting Emmaus off the ground and have continually supported the women’s shelter in all their needs.

“He is the hands and feet of Jesus,” David said.