Woman’s miracle work spotlighted

Published: December 19, 2005 | 3054th good news item since 2003

Ella Richardson’s efforts for the homeless in Rockford will be broadcast on TV in January

The Rev. Ella Richardson delivers powerful sermons to homeless people who gather each week in Rockford for fellowship and hot meals. Come January, her words will reach a grander audience.

Richardson and her outreach organization, Arms of Hope Street Ministries, will be televised on “Breakthrough,” a Christian program led by Pastor Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church. The Ohio-based church has grown to more than 12,000 members, and Parsley’s sermons are broadcast on television stations worldwide.

World Harvest Church sent director/editor Eric Caldwell and videographer James Wright to Rockford over the weekend to film Richardson at the weekly homeless dinner she helps organize at Second Congregational Church. Caldwell and Wright alternated using a hand-held video camera and a microphone, filming songs and testimonials and trying to capture Richardson’s energy and compassion.

Richardson turned to World Harvest Church more than a decade ago when she began suffering from severe heart problems. Doctors told her she needed a heart transplant, but Richardson said through faith and support from her family and friends, she became healed.

She remembers watching a “Breakthrough” broadcast and feeling compelled to travel to Ohio, where she would eventually interact with World Harvest Church leaders.

“Only 10 percent of my heart is working, but I’m giving it 150 percent,” Richardson said, between hugs from friends and dinner attendees.

Caldwell said Richardson was the original focus of the “Breakthrough” broadcast because of her dedication and persistence in ministry, even during her health crisis. But just a few hours into filming, Caldwell said he was impressed by the overall environment.

People sang and raised their hands to upbeat praise music and offered stories about their own experiences. When she took the stage, Richardson ushered people, some who were brought to tears, onstage for hugs and prayers. She assured them they would have food and people to welcome them that evening.

“She’s really the definition of a miracle,” Caldwell said. “She’s been a faithful partner of the Rev. Parsley, and she’s such a good story. People are not only here for the food, they’re here for the hope.”

Rockford resident Pamela Darden stopped by Sunday to offer well-wishings to Richardson, whom she met through her mother, Alfredia Pounds. Pounds passed away in June but had worked closely with Richardson in ministry.

“Mom did a lot for the community, and I thank God for Sister Richardson, that she has continued this work,” Darden said. “It’s always something my mom was passionate about doing, giving back to the community. I’m here in support of Sister Richardson, to let her know I appreciate what she’s doing.”

Caldwell said the “Breakthrough” broadcast will air sometime in January. In the meantime, Richardson said Sunday’s dinner would be the last one at Second Congregational Church. She’s looking for a new church to host worship sessions and the weekly meals people have come to appreciate.

Richardson hopes to find a temporary location by the end of the week.

Published in Volunteer
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