At Broken Shells Ministry in downtown Murphy, everyone is welcome. Volunteer Sandy Colley takes time to read the Old Testament book of Isaiah while taking a break between duties.

Special concert at ministry

    In one of the greatest stories of the Bible, God performs a miracle for Moses and the Jewish people by parting the Red Sea, allowing them to escape Egypt’s hard-hearted pharaoh, who wanted to keep them as slaves. While his story is still being written, Ray Noland understands what it’s like to feel like Moses.
    “God parts the Red Sea every time I walk in the building,” Noland said about Broken Shells Ministry, which on Dec. 17 officially moved into a 4,000-square-foot building at 115 Tennessee St. in downtown Murphy. “From the onset, we wanted from the onset to create a peaceful, safe place where people from any background can seek God and find truth.
    “As a teenager, I carried sacks out of this place when it was an old feed store. I never dreamed that 50 years later God would be doing what He’s doing. God took a vague vision, and look what He has done.”
    Noland and his lovely wife, Teresa, were inspired to start a nonprofit ministry outside of the typical church environment after meeting so many hurt and broken people across the area. There is no charge because they don’t want anyone to be able to say they can’t afford their help.
    No one at Broken Shells draws a salary, everyone’s a volunteer and all donations go directly to local ministry.
    “God is love, and He offers it unconditionally,” Noland said. “I need that because I blow it sometimes.”
    The Nolands and others at the ministry offer that same love to everyone who
walks through the door, gives them a call at 828-837-8777 or emails brokenshells7@gmail.com. You can read more – like the ongoing series of classes offered or how to receive counseling – on the website www.brokenshells.org.
    Broken Shells is giving back to the community in a big way this weekend. Armed Forces Day is Saturday, and the ministry is hosting a military appreciation breakfast for all veterans – active duty, disabled, discharged or retirees – from 8-9:30 a.m. All you have to do is show up.
    “It’s our little way of saying thank you,” said Noland, a U.S. Navy veteran.
    It gets better. At 7 p.m. Saturday, singer/songwriter John Waller will perform live in a free concert at Broken Shells, along with opening act Jason Fowler, as part of the Good News Tour sponsored by Hopegivers International. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. A love offering will be taken.
    If you don’t know Waller from his five faith-based CDs and hit single “While I’m Waiting,” you might recognize him from the movies. Waller provided music for the Christian films Courageous, Fireproof and War Room, which are popular among local churches. Instead of his usual fee, “He’s coming to town for just passing the hat because he loves little ministries like this,” Noland said.
    And it gets even better, at least for me. Waller plans on sitting in with the praise band at MountainView Church in Peachtree at 10 a.m. Sunday. As the band’s drummer, it’s exciting to get to play with someone whose music and love for God have been heard around the world. Everyone is heartily invited to both the Saturday night concert and Sunday morning service.
    While more special events are planned for the future, the ministry will always be about each individual broken shell.
    “People want peace and truth, not theology and denomination,” said Noland, one of the most encouraging and genuine people I’ve ever met. “We take them as they are. You don’t have to be fixed before you can come to Jesus. We minister the truth of Jesus the best we can.
    “This is not about Ray and Teresa, but God’s love being bestowed on people. We hope to meet people’s needs right where they are at.”
    Where you should be at Saturday is Broken Shells Ministry. Selah.
    David Brown is publisher of the Cherokee Scout. You can reach him by phone, 837-5122; fax, 837-5832; email, dbrown@cherokeescout.com; or message him on Twitter
@daviddBstroh.