DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A Louisiana woman is on a mission to clean up crime infested communities.
For four years, Pastor Angel Nicholas worked in her hometown of Marrero to rid certain areas of drugs and prostitution, among other things. Part of her 15 member team is still there. Recently though, she was told Ascension Parish needed her help. Now she's settled in Donaldsonville, hoping her outreach efforts will be just as effective as they were in Marrero.
For more than a year, Nicholas says the person who asked her to come to Donaldsonville followed her outreach mission via Facebook. She posts often to Royal Kings and Royal Queens, her outreach ministry focused on redeveloping communities.
"He said 'Listen, I have a building. I have a place for you to stay free of charge, I just need you to come to Donaldsonville,'" Nicholas said.
Every day, she has one of her team members standing on the corner of Catalpa Street, handing out bible verses and asking those who pass by if they need prayer. Her team dresses in red shirts every day with the words "GO YE."
"Everybody knows the shirts and they want one," the pastor said.
But there's work to be done before a shirt is handed over.
"My mission is to do what God says. Go and help someone come out of drugs, come out of alcohol and come out of prostitution," said Nicholas.
Pastor Angel says she wants to push the "mojo demon" out of these communities.
The building she was given, just one example of the type of issues in the community. It has visible bullet holes in several places.
When she moved in four months ago, the team started cleaning up abandoned homes, piling up debris and offering free clothes. She says that's how they get people to come by. Once there, she prays with them and tells them life can be better.
In the mornings, she says, they also do bus stop church with the children, taking food for them to eat and pray over them before the bus comes. She says in her experience if they can get the children interested, often the parents follow.
"We've got to run the crackheads and crack addicts away from these homes and let them know there's a clean place you can go," said Nicholas. "Come on. There's somewhere for you to go, you're causing chaos in these communities."
Some do stay and help. Sometimes she says it's her going into the problem areas, pulling people away from the same problems that once had a hold on her.
Until 10 years ago, she too was an addict. Drugs, alcohol and prostitution, she said. Whatever it was, she did it. It wasn't until her third time being near death that she made a change, when she says God gave her a vision.
"He said I'm going to give you a chance. This chance I give you, I'm giving you a plan to go with it this time," said Nicholas.
A big part of whether her efforts are successful depends on the help she gets from those who live in the area. Which is why she counsels everyone who comes her way.
"You got a part to play in making the community better," she tells them. "Put the guns down, put the dope down. Let's get out here and make it better."
Those new team members will continue the work when it's time for her to move to the next community and continue on with the mission.
Right now, she's focused on Donaldsonville, but other pastors have already asked her to come to their communities next.
"They tell me you got to get to Plank Road, get to Baton Rouge," said Nicholas.
Which is where she's planning to take her mission in the coming years.