The North Carolina Visitor Center




Bethel Colony

God’s Answer to Addiction


Jesus came to set the captives free. (Luke 4:18)   Bethel Colony of Mercy was founded on that truth in 1948 in what had been the “old folks” home in Lenoir, NC.   Bethel is a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) non-profit teaching ministry based on the principles of the Bible which cover every aspect of life.  We have Bible classes 6 days a week plus worship services on Sunday mornings and Sunday and Thursday evenings.  You can find a complete overview of our program at


Bethel’s first students brought their own beds and slept in an open-bay dormitory.  Clothes were washed in a bathtub using a washboard.  Church was held in a living room and, Bethel’s founder, Jim Claffee, preached from the stairwell landing.  The Claffees lived in an upstairs apartment.


Bethel Colony has been debt-free since the property was paid off, praise the Lord!  I was told that when the first payment of $1000.00 came due there was no money.  Years later I met a woman who told me how the Lord woke her one night and told her to call her lawyer and have him send $1000.00 to Jim Claffee for that payment.


Another story was told to me by a man who, years ago, was cleaning out a warehouse that contained a commercial stove. He asked what to do with the stove and was told to call Bethel and see if they could use it. Jim Claffee was at that exact time praying for a stove as Bethel’s wood-burning cast-iron cookstove had just broken. We used that same commercial stove until about 15 years ago when it required pieces of metal under the ovens to keep from scorching the floor and barrel bolts to keep the oven doors closed.  The Lord then blessed Bethel with enough money to buy a new stove which we are using in our new kitchen.  That’s another story in itself.


I am told that within 6 months of opening Bethel had 56 men enrolled.  They made coffee and sandwiches in the evening and worked late to get the place in shape.  The Lord has done so many great things at Bethel.  24 years ago there were weeks we didn’t have $300 to take to Bethel’s treasurer and petty cash was around $500.00. 


Bethel had such a great start but somehow over the years things had begun slipping away.  Roofs needed replacing and there was not even a broken lawn mower on site; but God had a plan.  He has done so many great things at Bethel.


Only God knows how many men have come into the Kingdom as a result of coming to Bethel, how many marriages have been restored, how many parents have their sons back, children their fathers, wives their husbands.  The stories that could be told of God’s grace and provision would be much more than we can imagine.  Ephesians 3:20.


Thousands of men from all walks of life including pastors, teachers, deacons, and committed leaders have come to Bethel without hope and have gone home to prove out Romans 12: 1&2 - that God has a good and perfect acceptable will for each one.  There is no way we could know or tell all that God has done since 1948 and He is not finished.  There is much more to come!  God is faithful that promised.  To God be the glory; great things He has done!


Look us up at for current news and messages from our three pastors.  Bethel is truly a place of transformation.  God doesn’t make junk and He can and does take the broken and hopeless and transform them into something beautiful.


Come by and see Bethel for yourself and spend some time praying in our Chapel which was included in the book; Ten Best Places to Pray in NC.



Here’s just one testimony from a former Bethel student:


My life hasn’t been the same since God brought me to Bethel in 2001.  For the first time I was able to recognize God’s voice in my life!  I’ve never regretted making Jesus Lord of my life.  I would’ve missed out on His plan for my life if I hadn’t. My wife, our 5 sons and I now play gospel music together - Kinker Family Worship Team in Hernando, Florida and were used by God to help start a church.  These are exciting times for those who are seeking Him in spirit and truth. We look forward to worshipping with you all again in the near future.  Thanks for your sincere labor!             


Brian and Kim Kinker



Please pray for the men God brings to Bethel and for our dedicated staff.


Pastor Paul Ritchie, Executive Director