Pastor Darlene Smith-Atkins Pastors Randell & Darlene S. Atkins
Fear Not , I Am With You. I Will Hold You With My Righteous, Faithful , Right Hand . Isaiah 41:10
Having experienced miraculous healing several times in her life, Darlene Smith-Atkins now leads a ministry of hope
to the homeless, and the food insecure and under resourced children in Greenville, South Carolina.
God healed Darlene Smith-Atkins of fatal kidney disease at the age of 7. At 19, she survived a near-fatal car crash. At 31, she died on the operating table during bilateral breast cancer surgery, but God brought her back to life. Now, at 61, Darlene Smith-Atkins pastors a Sunday evening Street Church in Greenville, South Carolina, sharing a meal and a message of hope with people on the streets.
Born to a musically talented and ministry-driven family , Pastor Darlene accepted Jesus at age 5 and declared one day she would be an Assemblies of God pastor. Pastor Darlene Smith-Atkins attended Southeastern University, then later earned a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Theology from Holmes Bible College and a Master’s Degree in Biblical Theology from Luther Rice Seminary, and is an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God.
In 1980, Pastor Darlene married Rev. Randell Atkins. They traveled for nine years as Assemblies of God evangelists before becoming full-time pastors in 1988. Doctors diagnosed Pastor Darlene with breast cancer when her daughter was 3 years old.
“I was given a death sentence,” she says. “The enemy thought he would stop the power of the God who had called me and keep me from continuing to carry the gospel to the world.” Following seven major surgeries, massive chemotherapy, and a heart attack, Pastor Darlene says God miraculously healed her.
In 1991. Pastor Randell assumed the lead pastorate of CrossPoint Assembly, which Darlene attended as a child. They continue serving there together. “I love ministry inside the walls, but I had to go beyond to find the most desperate, the most hopeless, and reach out to them with the hope I know is possible,” Pastor Darlene says.
After witnessing poverty and homelessness in Greenville, especially among the children on the streets, Pastor Darlene ask her family to join her for street ministry. The first such service took place on Oct. 31, Halloween in 2009, with five children attending. Pastor Darlene and her team passed out candy, played music, and shared a short Bible story.
By Christmas, Pastor Darlene and her team ministered to around 300 people weekly. The church has met downtown every Sunday night for the past nine years, with crowds ranging from 80 to 400. Pastor Darlene says the gathering is like going to a traditional church service, with worship and a sermon — just no walls. After worship, a team of volunteers serves a meal from the ministry’s food truck, provides a take-home bag with extra food, and meets with attendees to suggest life resources such as shelters, housing, jobs, and rehabilitation services.
G. Ed Nelson, South Carolina District secretary-treasurer, says the ministry Smith-Atkins operates has changed the city. He encouraged her in the beginning. “She had no name recognition among the city leaders, and now today, she’s a common household name,” Nelson says. “She has turned what was once seen as suspicious — working with street people in Greenville — into a highly accepted activity.”
Not everyone who attends Street Church is homeless. Over the past nine years, hundreds have received Christ as Savior, and many have come back to share their testimonies and to volunteer. In 2019 , Street Church has partnered with SHARE Head Start Centers parents in upstate South Carolina. Every weekend, over 490 children receive weekend hope bags filled with nutritious food. Atkins says the financial provisions for the ministry come from individuals, local businesses, and national food brokers.
Pastor Darlene says she doesn’t plan on slowing down. “The heartbreaking reality for me is that there are still thousands of people existing in desperate life circumstances, still unreached, that must have the gospel brought into their lives. “
It has been a 10-Year vision and plan for Street Church Ministries - to expand ministry to the children in our city who are food insecure and food under resourced , through the provision of “Street Church Kids Kitchen” in a location “ within” and accessible to the neediest communities and children .
In our beautiful, thriving, food overwhelmed "Greenville" how can it be that there are children who are daily faced with hunger? In the 40 square mile radius of the White Horse Road corridor, in Greenville, there are approximately 80,000 people. 9 of every 10 children are living in under resourced and impoverished life circumstances. Indications from area schools show 93% of the school age children (not including infants -age 4) are food insecure.
“I don’t want these children’s hope to be in the streets, I want it to be in a Savior,” she says. “If we can reach the children, we can reach their families, so they together will be able to have the life-changing power of God in their lives.”
We must reach the children, and then we can reach their families, so they together will be able to have a life-changing power in their lives.” says Pastor Darlene.
The “envisioned” plans are for property, building and plans to accommodate Street Church Kids Kitchen, The Sunday Evening Street Church Ministry (outside on property ) and Offices. We believe with faith filled expectation and excitement it is time for the vision to become reality. Street Church Kids Kitchen will be a provisional , ministry center for children unlike any other agency or program in Greenville or in the nation (at this time) , alleviating Child Hunger and serving many other life needs. Street Church Kids Kitchen will serve an “evening meal” to “Children ” ages infant-15 ( accompanied by 1 adult –parent or guardian ) in a safe, secure, faith based, music filled atmosphere, with life need resource-referral available.
“Children will not have to stand in line and wait for food, but rather will be seated and served a nutritious meal. Street Church Kids Kitchen will be a place Where Every Child Will Have A Plate And Place At The Table. Without life sustaining food children cannot concentrate on learning or living, when they cannot even think beyond how not to be hungry and Street Church Ministries is committed to Reach Out With Hope for their Hunger and Hearts, assuring the children they will never again go to sleep hungry “says Pastor Darlene.
The new location for Street Church Ministries will enable the expansion of the weekly and weekend ministry to reach thousands more of our city’s children, families, and individuals, giving them opportunity to life changing hope forever.
We are believing with excitement an expectation that through the giving of financial support and volunteer time from our current partners, from business owners, businesses, corporations, civic groups, other ministries and new partners, the vision of Street Church Kids Kitchen is becoming reality.
Street Church, a 501c3 nonprofit and partner ministry of CrossPoint Assembly, now provides supplies for young, expectant mothers and birthday parties for homeless, sheltered, or in-need children through Dream Big Babies and Birthdays, directed by Pastor Darlene and Pastor Randell’s daughter, Doranden.
Pastor Randell, Doranden, and Doranden’s husband, Pastor Brent Powell, who is young adult pastor at CrossPoint,
all minister with Pastor Darlene weekly at Street Church. As well as Pastor Randell and Pastor Darlene’s three grandchildren: Drake, 10, Annalyn, 7, and Maverick, 1.
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