In what was a chance meeting with Todd Belcher over six years ago led Kathy Riggs to partner with New Hope in Christ and help launch a mobile church ministry in Statesboro.
As a favor for a friend to take pictures at an event six years ago, Kathy had the opportunity to meet Todd Belcher and hear his powerful testimony. She was so moved by his story that she knew she wanted everyone to hear his testimony.
Tod’s journey to the ministry
Todd grew up in Brooklet and was raised by his grandparents who loved him deeply, but didn’t provide the loving parental role he desired. He struggled as a child and teenager and was in and out of trouble most of his formative years.
Then at 18, he met Bridget, who he knew he wanted to be his wife. He was on probation and didn’t have a job. When her dad asked how he planned on supporting them as a family, he decided he would join the army.
He left Brooklet, went to basic training, and then to Iraq to fight. Todd experienced many horrors during his military service that haunted him for years. When he returned, now struggling with PTSD, he fell back into a destructive lifestyle. For years he struggled to get his life back on track, and nothing seemed to work until his wife got saved.
The change he saw in her was immediate and dramatic. He knew he wanted that for himself. A short while later, he too became saved, and the change was equally as dramatic for him.
He followed God’s call into the ministry full time. For the past five years, he had been led to work in a homeless ministry in the streets. He realized that it would be impossible to get these folks to travel to his church. He knew that he needed to bring the church to them.
Way to memorialize Gil Riggs
Todd began his street ministry with a small tent. The second Sunday, there was a storm and it nearly blew the tent down, but four attendees braved the storm to be at the service. He began praying for a better solution and came up with the idea of a mobile church.
Kathy Riggs’ late husband Gil Riggs had a heart for the ministry as well. He spent a lot of time on his motorcycle seeking the lost, often with his fellow motorcycle family, the CMA Riders. Kathy had been looking for a way to memorialize Gil, and when she learned of Todd’s vision and need, she felt this would be a perfect opportunity.
Kathy helped purchase and outfit a mobile chapel which can serve as a pop-up church. The mobile chapel is housed in an 8 1/2′ by 24′ trailer that can be pulled with a truck. It has air-conditioning and heat and can accomodate 30 inside the mobile church. In addition, there is overflow capacity outside.
The church can be seen around the community. Every Sunday morning, they set it up at The Lodge on Institute Street in Statesboro and hold services.
Memorial, dedication and commissioning service
On Saturday, August 20, 2022, a memorial, dedication, and commissioning service was held for the New Hope in Christ ministry mobile chapel at the Bulloch County Sheriff’s training center.
They began at Ogeechee Technical College with a group of motorcyclists, many of whom were personal friends of Gil.
Bulloch County Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Durden helped coordinate the motorcycle community with the support of Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown to participate in the dedication. They escorted the motorcyclists and the mobile church to the sheriff’s department training facility for the ceremony.
Before the escort arrived at the training facility, several musicians entertained the audience including:
- Ethel Lane
- Margaret Brown
- Gwen Pruitt
- DeWayne and Phyllis Morgan
- Rosemary Mosley
Gils past honorarium for saving a police officer
Having the ceremony in the sheriff’s training facility carried special meaning to Kathy and the Riggs family. In 1976, one night around midnight, Gil was heading home from his moonlighting job at the Weiss Theater. When he approached Turner street, he saw what he thought was a car broken down. It was in the middle of the road with the door open and nobody in it. Then he saw a police car with nobody in it. He got out of the car and saw a police officer struggling with an assailant.
He intervened and saved both of them that night. He saved the police officer from killing the assailant and the assailant from killing the police officer. When they had a ceremony honoring Gil, then Statesboro Police Chief Merle Clark told Gil that if he ever needed anything to reach out. He never did, so the family took them up on this commitment and worked with Sheriff Noel Brown to hold the ceremony at the Sheriff’s training facility.
New Hope in Christ
The Belcher family serves the ministry weekly. Todd, his wife Bridget, and sons Maddox, Ian, Elliott, Noah, and Canaan, work together to do whatever needs done in setting up for the ministry. And, many of the weekly members help with the setup as well.