Born in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, James McKinnie was brought to Marion, Indiana as a child to live with his grandmother. He grew up in and around Grant County, but as a teen succumbed to misdirection including using and dealing drugs and choosing to act in violence which resulted in bouncing around to different juvenile detention centers, then correctional facilities including prison. He became addicted to meth and heroin and eventually lost his home. In December of 2018, McKinnie checked himself in to the Grant County Rescue Mission in Marion, where he was not only given shelter and food, but fellowship and encouragement to begin an 8‑month Life Change program. McKinnie started to see the work of a higher force in others during the program. Then one day, the Lord spoke to him. McKinnie explained, “It hit me hard and changed my life forever when I heard God actually say, ‘James, this is real, and I love you.’ That moment held strong with me for two full days. I was so emotional from it.” McKinnie then began to live life through new eyes. Every word he said and every action he took would no longer be self-serving, but for his Lord. He began to develop a deep relationship with God. The staff and residents at the Mission began to see His work in McKinnie’s life. They offered him training in the remaining months of his Life Change program, then offered him a paid position in October, 2019. McKinnie not only graduated from the program, but now ministers to the men and educates them on the Life Change program while doing other tasks at the facility. “I want to see them gain a relationship with Jesus. There is a distinction between knowing scripture and actually applying it. It’s important to get to know and communicate with Him as you would your wife or significant other,” McKinnie explained.
Speaking of family, for the first time in about ten years, McKinnie shared a Thanksgiving with some family members around the same time as his graduation. He has also been participating in and helping out with community events such as the Fly In Cruise In, Turkey Day 5K, and the Color Me Pink Run for Cancer Services. “I’m just trying to show up and give back,” expressed McKinnie.
He expressed whole-hearted thanks to his Rescue Mission family. “Every person here has shown me unconditional love, patience and positivity, and has fought with me on the front lines during this process. They never gave up on me.”