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A ministry with heart: One mans calling becomes every mans congregation
Members of the Heart Outreach Ministries give fellow members hugs during Sunday’s service at the Atlanta Highway church.

WS 32029

Heart Outreach Ministries Pastor Shan Montgomery talks about his calling.

Heart Outreach Ministries
Sunday services, 11 a.m., 6 p.m.; Wednesday Bible Study, 7 p.m.
Where: 177 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville
More info: 770-905-2738

What started as a simple Bible study five years ago by the Rev. Nathaniel "Shan" Montgomery and wife Jonsita Montgomery has blossomed into a thriving church and outreach program called Heart Outreach Ministries.

The church on Atlanta Highway in Gainesville opened its doors just seven months ago and is already making its mark.

"I don’t change my style of preaching because of the numbers of people ... I was just as faithful to the four people as I am to the people that have come here and have connected with this ministry," Shan Montgomery said. "It’s a little cutting edge for most people because we don’t go under a certain denomination, we don’t have a certain dress code or rule ... it does have a Pentecostal flair."

Montgomery’s congregation now boasts about 65 members and has been at the former Emmanuel Baptist Church building for several months. But, he said, it was a 10-year journey leading to this point.

"The Lord had been dealing with me about starting Heart Outreach Ministries, I was going through a divorce at the time, and I was struggling with my call and was at a point where I really wanted to give up," Montgomery said. "I was more concerned on how other people would look at it and know it was not a successful marriage and the Lord began to deal with me and share with me that man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at your heart."

After spending days alone in prayer Montgomery started seeing visions sent
from God.

"I just started seeing the visions becoming more and more clear and the Lord began to share with me that he was going to send people from the streets my way," he said.

And the streets are something Montgomery knows all too well.

"I got caught up in the street life, and in 1990 I was convicted of possession with intent to distribute," he said. "So a lot of guys and girls knew me because of being in the streets and doing certain things ... I stood out in so many ways but I didn’t want to accept my calling."

Eight years later, Montgomery accepted his calling and began his first congregation in Jefferson.

"It was supposed to be that we were only going to have prayer with a lady that was diagnosed with cancer, and the lady asked us if we would come and do Bible study," Montgomery said. "My wife did the first one with about four people ... the second one I did; there was about 15 people and we had over 65 people in a house, not a church building, coming for Bible study and so we ended up launching the service there.

"I’ve experienced the ups and downs of the ministry in that time frame but the Lord has been faithful to me even when I wasn’t faithful to him."

Jonsita, who directs the choir among many duties at the church, added that the journey to the church’s current building has been an exciting ride.

"At times like a roller coaster emotionally and physically," she said. "... It’s been a pleasant adjustment being in the church building that is able to accommodate us because it’s always been in smaller buildings. It feels good to be able to have the things that we need to minister — the kitchen, the pantry — so that’s a blessing."

The church offers two Sunday services, a Wednesday night Bible study, a men’s and women’s group, youth ministry and a food and clothing pantry for the community.

"It’s not enough just to go to church but you need to be empowered, not just spiritually but physically and mentally as well ... we want to reach the whole man not the spirit man," Shan Montgomery said.

Which is what led Adrian Thompson to the church.

"The first time I went, I joined," said Thompson, who also serves as the church’s armor bearer. "I felt the anointing in there, I felt my spirit needs were fed and I was fed the first time.

"When you are serving God and you are handling his word and you are walking in righteousness, doing what’s right and living what’s right, the ministry has no choice but to grow."