New Direction Ministries (a 501c3) was founded in 1996 by Bridget and David Walls with the mission of restoring youth and families. Bridget, a licensed professional counselor, and David, a stock broker with Smith Barney, experienced several years of a wilderness journey with their family as two of their three children entered into full blown rebellion as teenagers. Along that route they met many other weary parents who were investing great amounts of time and money toward treatment for their families.
In the majority of these cases, parents were finding very little was bringing about effectual, long lasting change in their families. It was during that time they received a calling from God to “go and find a place set apart” for the restoration of youth and families. In January of 1996 they each resigned their positions and stepped out on faith to open New Direction, the first step of which was to offer Christian counseling for individuals and families with the policy of no one being turned away due to inability to pay.
In 1997 a 120 acre mountain top farm in Madison County NC was purchased by New Direction to become New Direction Farm, a residential school for teenage boys experiencing difficulties such as failure in school, depression, oppositional defiance, ADDHD, etc. The first step was to build a home on the property the only access in being a cow path. The only dwelling was a shack which had been occupied by a hermit for 20 years. Individuals and churches rolled up sleeves and dug deep into pockets to begin the process of turning fallow land into a thriving community complete with a boys’ home, school, carpentry shop, craft shop, and lodge for retreats. In 1998, Joel Williams, a retired marine, joined Bridget and Dave to officially open New Direction Farm with boys moving onto the property in March.
In 2000 another adjacent piece of property, 240 acres with a 140 year old farmhouse, was leased to New Direction to be used as a residential girls’ school. For 8 years girls were integrated into the work of New Direction Farm. The average size of population was 8 girls/8 boys. In 2009 the decision was made to finish up with the last group of girls to focus totally on working with the young men. This work has continued until May of 2014, at which point time was seized to step back to hear from God what future plans should be for New Direction. Over these past years over 300 teenagers lived on New Direction Farm for an average of 2 years. It was operated as a boarding school, with teens spending weekends at home with their families.
Those who placed their children on the farm agreed to be willing to do the family work as well. Parents would meet for family counseling on Friday afternoons or Sunday evenings. The challenge for the entire family was to begin taking new steps within the household. In the majority of cases the teenager has been the identified patient, has been medicated with psychotropic medications for behavior while the root of the problem is left unaddressed. It is only through strengthening the family unit that change will occur. Through the rigorous lifestyle of community with expectations of responsibility placed on the teens whether it be in the area of relationships, school work, farm work, etc we have found the children stabilize and begin to live life with purpose and meaning. This being the technological generation, we have found that as connected as this group believes themselves to be, they are more estranged from their families and less connected to living in the realm of reality than ever before.
85% of the teenagers lived in single mother households. The majority were unable to pay. Whatever the Lord calls His people into, He will equip for as we as provide all that is needed. This was found to be true all of those years on the farm. Government money was not accepted. Individuals and churches financially provided for the work.
In 2014 work became more directed toward the city of Asheville with a heavy concentration on encompassing work with single mothers and their children. A counseling office was opened offering Christ-centered professional counseling with the policy of no one being turned away due to inability to pay. In 2015 a home was purchased near the office, which serves as a ministry home used for restorative retreats for women.
In 2015 the name Mustard Seed Project was officially licensed. This work is specific to single mothers who are motivated to break free of old besetting spiritual, relational, and financial cycles. Professional counseling, financial budgeting, legal representation for child custody, and supplementation of income are all provided for the women who are accepted to be participants in the project. It is a relational ministry, walking with the women and their children as we are led by the Lord.