Saturday, 07 April 2012 10:55

Inside Reality & Truth Ministries; Offering Help and Hope to the Homeless in Montgomery

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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It is not often that you come across someone who possesses contagious joy, fearlessness and pure love for others like LaDonna Brendle. Reality and Truth, the ministry she began in 2008, is quickly becoming a force for good among the homeless and poor in downtown Montgomery. The fuel that drives this force is prayer and a desire to serve people--no matter who they are. LaDonna has abandoned the status quo and exchanged it for a life lived in the spirit of Jesus through serving the least, last and lowest.


Six years ago, LaDonna was working as an accountant. Even though she enjoyed her job, she felt there was something more. “All I could think about was serving people,” she says. “I didn’t know what or when or how, but I knew God was speaking to me.”

Over time, LaDonna and her husband decided she would quit her job and home school their two children. During this time, she began to pray about what it was God was placing on her heart.

LaDonna soon found herself on a plane to Israel. While she was there, her eyes were open to the drugs, prostitution, hunger, abuse and other needs that run rampant in the Promised Land. When she returned she wondered if God was calling her to move to Israel, but God had something else in mind for her.

“I began to see God wanted me to take care of the needs in my own community first,” she explains. With new eyes, LaDonna began to see many of the same needs she encountered in Israel also existing in the lives of people in Montgomery, Alabama.

Before leaving for Israel, LaDonna had filed “Reality and Truth Minstries” with the state as a non-profit organization and had created a mission statement she felt God had given her. “I had no idea what I would be doing, but I knew I had to take a step of faith,” she says. Now that she was back home she knew exactly what that was--to go to those people who’s needs resembled the needs of those she had met so many miles away.

Reality and Truth first began by passing out Bibles and teaching Sunday “Street” School in a gas station parking lot. They also took their first team to Israel. One day, LaDonna was hit with a new reality. It was one that would prove to be pivotal for the future God has planned for Reality and Truth.

Daily Dinners
In 2011, LaDonna was taking one of the men “home” who came to a Bible study she was a part of leading. “When I dropped him off at the vacant building where he was staying, he asked if I could bring him some Ramen noodles for dinner. I said I would and asked if there was anywhere for people like him to eat dinner downtown. “No,” he said. “There’s nowhere to eat.”

With those words ringing in her heart, LaDonna prayed. As she did, she began to hear God speak to her heart. “He told me to take dinner to Overlook Park seven nights a week.” At first, LaDonna was hesitant to make such a huge commitment, but she trusted God would provide help. And he did. In December of 2010 the “Daily Dinners” began.

“We started with Ramen noodles and then friends began to drop off food that we put into dinner bags to hand out,” she explains. Soon, people offered to cook hot meals and God provided volunteers to help be in charge of different days. Having volunteers allowed LaDonna to experience the relational aspect, which she says she enjoys most.

During this time LaDonna began to see the biggest needs among the people she was serving was a need everyone has. “No matter who you are, people need to know they have a name and that they are loved for who they are and where they are, no matter what,” she says. “They need to know there is a Savior. That there is hope.”

Each night LaDonna prayed with those who came to be fed and spent time getting to know them. “Some nights there would only be two people there, and one night, no one came. But I knew I was supposed to keep doing this, so I did.”

A little over a year later, LaDonna is beginning to see the fruit of her obedience to stepping out in radical faith in God, and it’s making waves across the homeless and poor population in downtown.

One Church Mission Center
In December of 2011, Reality and Truth Ministries was able to rent a space at 515 South Court Street. The space serves as Phase 1 of One Church Mission Center until they can purchase a larger space downtown.

All that goes on at the center is a reflection of LaDonna’s desire to care for the “whole person”. From being fed dinner, to being fed the spiritual food of God’s word--all of it points people to Jesus. The verse that LaDonna felt God had given her for the ministry is Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor...

“This was Jesus’ mission and it is ours as well,” she says.

The center is open every day from 3-6 pm and serves a variety of people, but the majority are homeless men. Each night, different organizations or churches serve dinner for up to 100 people who walk through the doors. On Sunday nights, they hold Bible study along with dinner.

The center houses a small kitchen, rooms of clothes for men, women and children, Logos Café and a living room, as well as, an administrative office. The newest addition to the center are the showers and laundry facilities. A commodity that is lacking among the homeless community is now a reality for the many who have used the Alabama River as their “shower” and “washing machine” for so long.

The center has provided the ministry an opportunity to host a place for social workers to meet with the homeless. A representative from Family Promise comes once a week as well as a representative from Veterans Affairs to aid the homeless in getting back on their feet.

“It has been so amazing to see how God is preparing their hearts before they even walk through these doors to receive the love of Christ,” says LaDonna. She says she has begun to see people experience healing and reconciliation with people in their lives which ultimately leads to a restored relationship with their Creator. “It’s just beautiful,” she says.

While many are quick to label LaDonna as a “Mother Theresa” of Montgomery, she notes she is nothing special. “I’m just someone who has been changed and is being changed by God on a daily basis, and I want to help others see God wants to change their hearts and lives, too.”

Seeing With New Eyes
“Before I was saved I was focused on outward appearances,” explains LaDonna. “But once I gave my life to Jesus he opened my eyes. I looked at everyone differently. I saw everyone had needs and no one was perfect. It’s not about “having a heart” for any one kind of person, but seeing everyone with new eyes. When we think about conforming to his image and seeing things from his perspective, we see that everyone is who he wants no matter who they are.”

With her eyes open to the realities of God’s kingdom, LaDonna looks forward to what God will do among the people she is serving. Whether homeless, addicts, educated, uneducated, rich or poor, LaDonna has seen the importance of allowing people to be seen for being a child of God with purpose and potential.

If you or your church or group is interested in volunteering or learning more about how you can be involved, email LaDonna at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . “The mission of Reality and Truth is to serve and glorify God according to the work of Christ by promoting the one source of truth amidst everyday realities, through encouraging,teaching, loving and gifting others.”

Rachel Fisher loves learning what God is doing in the world and writing about it. Rachel and her husband, Chase, are members of Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Ministries. Photos by Will Frye Photography.

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