‘From Widow to Winner’ – the Jackson, Miss. efforts
By Gail H. M. Brown
The scripture teaches in Habakkuk 2:2-3 (ESV) – “… Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
That vision surely came in its appointed time for Jackson native, then-California resident Paula R. Bass. The vision was God’s. The tablet is the Bible, and in this case more specifically, in her husband Darryl Bass’s (now deceased) personal Bible. He had highlighted multiple scriptures relating to taking care of the widows and orphans.
She would later become the runner and she has been running with the vision, now mission, ever since. However, Bass was not aware of her husband’s scriptural highlighting until after he suddenly passed away in 1986. “When my husband died, in his Bible, he had all these phenomenal scriptures highlighted and underlined, and I am thinking: why did he highlight all these scriptures; did he know he was leaving us?” she shared recently in an interview with The Mississippi Link.
Bass is quick to credit that it was her husband whom God used to lead her to true salvation in Christ Jesus. After accepting the Lord as his personal Savior and after constantly studying the word of God, he challenged her with a question in 1976 about her own relationship with the Lord. It made her angry at first because she grew up in Jackson in the church and had been baptized since 12. She thought she was fine. Then she realized that “he made a very strong point about knowing the difference in Jesus and actually knowing the man Christ Jesus.”
That was in 1976. August 12, 1977, I received Christ as my Savior. It took almost a year for him to pray for me, talk to me, encourage me, support me and stand by me. He kept saying I don’t want you to be lost,” she said.
Her husband’s unexpected death was such a traumatic time for her and her four children; a teenage son and three young daughters. She held steadfast to her faith and believes that God allowed it to be the catalyst which would propel her, through her grieving process into His purpose for her life.
Ordained as a minister of the Gospel in 1999 by her pastor Bishop Edward A. Smith of Zoe Christian Fellowship (ZCF) in Whittier, Calif., the Tougaloo College graduate has more than 30 years of experience in mission and ministry work, nationally and internationally. She served 10 years as the Missions director with Antioch Missions International at ZCF. Her love for mission has led her and her colleagues to travel to multiple countries in Africa, South America, Central America, etc. preaching, teaching and building relationships with leaders; as well as mobilizing and training hundreds of men and women, teens and children to go to other nations around the world.
Seeking God’s continual direction for her life after earning her Master of Divinity with a concentration in missiology from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., she was directed to start a nonprofit for widows and orphans. In 2010, she became founder and director of From Widow to Winner Projects International.
“From Genesis to Revelation, we can see where God has a heart toward the widows and orphans,” she said. According to her bio, From Widow to Winner Projects International serves “as an instrument of support to orphans, more specifically to youth aging out of the foster care system and widows, the unchurched and anyone who has lost their way spiritually.
The defining scripture that leads the vision of From Widow To Winner Projects is Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
God’s journey for this Baby Boomer who grew up on Everett Street, attended St. Marks Episcopal Elementary School, Holy Ghost High School, Tougaloo College, married her childhood sweetheart, moved to California, became a social worker for the government Veterans Administration, raised a family, was a stay at home mom for a while, accepted true salvation, and became a missionary, ordained minister, life coach/counselor, inspirational speaker, church planter, teacher, and special projects director which has brought her back home to Jackson at the beckon call of her mother.
Yet, God is not through with her. Her passion for mission is now focused on the widows and youth of the City of Jackson. God has blessed her with new office space for her nonprofit organization: 1611 Bailey Ave.
She said it is alarming at how many youth are out of foster care with nowhere to go but to a life of crime and homelessness. That is why private funding entities, individuals, community volunteers (particularly widows), are needed to help carry out her mission for the Youth Emancipation Success Stories (Y.E.S.S.) Project – “Yes to Success.”
Other projects will include a Widow’s Wellness Initiative – “You Are Stronger than You Think,” and Saturday Celebration – “No Child Left Unloved.”
“I feel like Nehemiah. God has called me back for such a time as this,” she said. “I want to build housing for emancipated youth to have a safe and secure place to live and be successful.”
Bass is excited that God has recently gifted her organization with the ‘land,’ through a kind and generous donor, near the home where she grew up. “The most difficult thing when anyone wants to build is to find the land; God has given the land already for the safe housing for these youth,” she said with great excitement.
Bass said there is so much to be done, but she is praying for God to also send the financing for the structure and all phases of her organization. Bass, a woman on a mission has come home and will use what God gives her to help move Jackson forward.
Asked whatever happened to her husband’s highlighted Bible, she sadly responded that somebody broke in the trunk of her car and stole her briefcase with the Bible inside. However, she prays that whoever hands it landed in; that God will use it again to save and set the captive free.
For more information about how you can help the now Jackson-based From Widow to Winner Projects, call Bass at (757) 667-0056 and visit the website: www.fromwidowtowinner.com.