Touch Heaven International Ministries will be located its headquarters in the former Old North Baptist Church on North Broad Street in about a month. The ministry, presently based in Miami, Fla., has seen a lot of success around the globe as its members reach out to help the poor.
THIM has 14 churches established in Kenya, Uganda, Barundi, India, Haiti and the United States. According to its founder, Pastor Frank Amedia, THIM partners with more than 800 other churches to help bring food and supplies to people in need around the globe from its headquarters.
"We've sent 1.2 million pounds of supplies and hospital equipment and provided over a million meals for children," Amedia said.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Sam Torres operates a state-of-the-art sound and video system at Touch Heaven Ministries in the former Old North Church on North Broad Street.
In 1999, Amedia and his wife Lorilee were living in the Canfield area and saw the former Old North Church go on the market. He said at the time there were some businesses looking at turning it into a funeral home.
"God spoke to us and said we were to preserve the building for God," he said.
The church was purchased and for a few years it was leased to Kingdom Nation church, which stayed around for several years before moving on.
"The building fell into disrepair, the ceiling was leaking and it needed maintenance."
In October of 2011, Amedia was returning to the states from Turkey where he was ministering to Iranians. As his airplane was crossing the Atlantic, Amedia said he started making a to-do list and at the bottom of that list was the Canfield church.
"At 2 in the morning, over the ocean, I looked out the window and immediately got the message to repair the fallen temple," Amedia said. "When I arrived home, my wife asked if we were supposed to have a church in Canfield."
Shortly after we assembled a team, came to Canfield, rolled up our sleeves and went to work.
The hole in the roof was repaired and the church was cleaned up. In June of 2012 it officially opened with two-thirds of the restorations completed.
During the work, Amedia said they researched the history of the church. He said one room near the west end of the church was actually the original church that began in the early days of the Western Reserve. He said it was located several miles north from the present site and was moved when the turnpike went in. The plans are to preserve that section as a prayer room.
Also repaired was the church bell, which now is rung for the services at the church.
"You could say we have the new glory combined with the old glory," Amedia said.
Since opening the church has continued to see growth. Amedia said there are three services each week and he and others in THIM have begun a young adults class and an addiction program for those wanting to kick any addiction from anything including cigarettes, drugs, and sex.
While things are hopping in Canfield, THIM is also continuing its work around the globe. Amedia said he travels roughly one out of six weeks to one of the THIM centers around the globe. Most recent was a trip to Lahore, Pakistan, where he spoke to a crowd of two million.
"I was supposed to make that trip on Sept. 17, but after the death of our diplomats, I was told that there was a hit on me and if I came I would be killed," Amedia said.
While Amedia had a chance to rest from his Lahore trip, he is already looking at one of THIM's big projects. The ministry just purchased 150 acres in Kenya where there is already a church and school. The plan is to drill a well for water and begin farming so the people can grow their own food.
"We have partnered with the Israeli people to help with their technology," Amedia said. "They know how to grow good crops in the dessert, they are experts in tough conditions."
THIM is also working to feed 75 Kenyan orphans. By committing $25 a month under the church's adoption program, an orphan child is clothed, sent to school and given two meals a day. Over half of the orphans have been adopted under the program and the remaining ones are posted on a special bulletin board at the church.
"Hopefully we can adopt all of them," Lorilee said.
For the future, Amedia said the plan is to move the THIM headquarters from Florida to Canfield. The plan includes building a television studio in the church that can connect via computer to all corners of the globe.