In 1955 Rev. R.G. Jones and some Christian businessmen founded the Shreveport Rescue Mission for the purpose of providing overnight shelter and a gospel service for men passing through Shreveport. The first Mission was located at 2016 Texas Ave. for five years. It quickly became a sign of hope and help, not only for transient men, but for local homeless, hungry and hurting citizens as well. As the homeless population grew, the Mission relocated in 1961 to a larger facility at 2033 Texas Avenue, providing additional beds and services to homeless men.
For several years, a superintendent and a secretary conducted the day-to-day operations of the Mission. Many of these leaders and their families lived on the premises and personally provided services to the residents. In 1988, Rev. R. Henry Martin became the Executive Director and a new era began for the Mission. The New Life Recovery Program was instituted in 1991, and the name was changed in 1992 to Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission to reflect an increased scope of services. A full-time cook was hired in 1993. As needs and services increased, staffing grew annually to handle more specialized areas - social services, operations, office management, and development.
Due to increased unemployment in North Louisiana, the need for homeless services also increased. The number of homeless in this area grew substantially over the past decade. In 2000, only 444 homeless were recorded in the Shreveport-Bossier area, while the number has been about 4,500 for the past several years.
Under Rev. Martin’s leadership, the Texas Ave. facility was remodeled and expanded, a thrift store was established to help finance the Mission’s work, a Christ-center recovery program was instituted, staffing grew from two employees to about 45, and a new 172-bed facility was built at 901 McNeil St. in Shreveport to address the growing need to also assist women and families with children. A medical and dental clinic was built at the new facility to provide free care to clients.
Rev. Martin’s wife, Claudia, joined him in serving SBRM in 2009, serving as the first director over the medical/dental clinic, as well as providing leadership over Women and Family Services. She established a Women’s Discipleship Training Program in 2010.
In 2011, rural property was acquired in the Greenwood area to house the Men’s Discipleship Training Program. These 22 acres have been named Zion Ridge.