The Matthew 25 Center is a non-profit Christian ministry located in Pender County serving the needs families of those incarcerated in southeastern North Carolina. Born from a vision and named after scripture, Matthew 25:40, the dream was brought to life over a period of years by volunteers and donors across all denominations.
Young and old, skilled and unskilled willing men and women, mission groups, and prayer warriors from several states worked together to complete the construction. Local businesses, offering free or low-cost building supplies, were among many who believed that attempting to meet the needs of families affected by incarceration represents a real and worthy mission. Area foundations also supported the building construction.
The 7,000 plus square foot center, completed late in 2002 with no debt obligations, began offering limited lodging services and officially opened in May 2004. We were, thus, able to meet our initial goal of our ministry to the incarcerated. Currently our support includes area churches and their organizations, bi-annual fundraising events, and individuals. Private grants are applied for, as applicable, and used for specific project needs such as the playground that was dedicated in 2009. The center is also listed with the North Carolina State Employees Combined Campaign and three regions of the Federal Campaign including Wilmington, Jacksonville, and Fayetteville.
The center’s lodging facilities are open to families who must travel great distances to visit their loved ones in prison. The closest correctional facility, Pender Correctional Institution, is located in Burgaw, North Carolina but our hospitality ministry is not limited to this site. Individuals are invited to stay who also are visiting loved ones incarcerated at the New Hanover Correction Center, Bladen Correctional Center, the Duplin Correctional Center as well as jails in Pender, Onslow, New Hanover, Duplin, and Brunswick counties. We can accommodate individuals traveling great distances with special circumstances on a case by case basis. Since our inception in 2004, we have offered hospitality to individuals from 132 localities in North Carolina and from over 66 cities in 25 different states. We have also had guests from Canada, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Mexico.
The center’s administrative wing includes an office complex which is used by various prison ministries assisting families in need or evangelizing Christ’s message to residents of incarcerated facilities. This enables the Center to meet our second goal of outreach beyond our normal ministry of hospitality. These organizations include Kairos Inside (carrying the message of Christianity to inmates), Kairos Outside (working with women impacted by a loved one’s incarceration), Forgiven Ministries, Rock of Ages Ministry, One Day with God Camps (specific to children of inmates), and Families-in-Crisis.
In 2007 the center’s third planned service was realized. Associated with the North Carolina Mentoring Program, the center is used for mentors to meet with at-risk children for counseling sessions. Prior to the center’s involvement, the meetings were being held at multiple locations; parks, McDonalds, and the library. Now they can meet in private and enjoy snacks.
As a testament to how successful and needed this type of mission is to the families of the incarcerated in southeastern North Carolina, a new facility is currently being planned and supported by the community of Tabor City in response to the expansion of the Tabor Correctional Institution. This new facility appropriately will be called Matthew 25 Center at Tabor, Inc.