Bryan shares mission work

Jimmy Bryan spoke to the West Point Rotary Club about the mission work he has been a part of for 15 years. (Photo by Donna Summerall, DTL)
Staff Writer

Jimmy Bryan has been doing mission work in foreign countries and in the U.S. for 15 years.

He shared some of what he has been doing Thursday with the West Point Rotary Club.

"I've been a member here for about 50 years," Bryan said. "And most of the worst programs have been presented by members."

Bryan was in Mexico for eight years working with a mission group to provide help where it was needed.

"We doubled the size of the parsonage with a church," Bryan said. "So it went from two rooms to four. We helped start a Bible School, put a new roof on the building and put in terra cotta floors."

Bryan has done mission work in Russia and Honduras, and spent time on the Gulf Coast after the devastating Hurricane Katrina came through.

"I got good at tearing out sheet rock in houses while I was there," Bryan said. "I have really enjoyed the foreign mission trips I took part in."

Bryan has been part of the Emmaus Walk, where he became close to God. He sponsors others to be part of the experience.

"A friend of mine talked to me about being part of the prison ministry," Bryan said. "Not jail, we went to Parchmen. We had a very special visit where we were allowed to talk to some of the men on Death Row. We gave them small items, like toothpaste, soap, socks, underwear, that sort of thing."

He said there were parts of Death Row they were told to avoid because the prisoners were mentally unstable, and there was nothing they could do to help.

"They were locked up 23 hours a day, allowed outside for one hour, in shackles," Bryan said. "Some had been there for 25 years."

A lot of the problems at Parchman have been coming to light recently. Bryan said anything that has been reported, the reality is 10 times worse.

"We talked with a young man in solitary confinement, he had the most hopeless eyes I've ever seen," Bryan said."We talked through where the food tray was placed. There was water all over the floor. The young man was not being punished, this was the only place he was safe from the gangs."

Bryan has spent time with Luke Woodham, the Pearl High School shooter.

"He went into the prison system at 16, after killing two girls," Bryan said. "He is a repentant man now. He has gotten his GED, and a college degree while in prison. He helps other with acquiring a GED. He has become one of the best men I've ever known. But I know at one time, he was a monster."

Bryan said he's learned not to judge people, it's not his job.

"I've recently been involved with the Beautiful Feet Ministry in Ft. Worth, Texas," Bryan said. "They work with the homeless in the Ft. Worth area. We take them items so they will talk with us and try to convince them to come to the ministry building, They can have two hot meals there."

It has been a humbling experience, according to Bryan. He has never gone hungry, he always had a roof over his head, but to see so many people who don't, has made him want to help.

"Next we are going to Puerto Rico," Bryan said. "I've never been there except on a cruise ship. I'm looking forward to the next place God leads me."