Every day I get an e-mail, it’s a devotional I signed up for in Iraq, shortly after I accepted Christ. This devotional has been steady in sending the right Scripture at the perfect time that clearly lays out God’s will. Today’s said, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.” And with that I fully believe it’s time to go. Before I get to where I am going, I really have to share with you where I have been.
If you don’t know, here is the quick recap. The town I live in is Ogden, Kansas. Over the last several years my heart has been stirred for Ogden. I think of it like the opening chapter in Ezra which says, “Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.” A stirred Spirit is the only way I can think of to explain it. All of our hearts are stirred for something, For some it’s sex trafficking, for some it’s the homeless…. There are lots of things our hearts get stirred for by God. My heart is stirred for Ogden.
It started simple, we got involved in a teenage game night at the community center. We played dodgeball with about ten teens. Over the years it has expanded to where it is now, a community wide movement. Ten teens turned to twenty… The twenty teens needed to bring their little siblings to be able to come… So it turned into 20 teens and 10 kids. Now it is much more than a game night; dinners with families of these kids, volunteering at community events, coaching, serving, and honestly falling in love with the people in Ogden.
I think the way God has stirred my heart is how He does it with all of His disciples. First I saw something I never noticed before, then I kept seeing it, then I was bothered by it, after being bothered enough by it I wanted to act, so I prayed, then… God called me to act. All of this took several years. The first thing I noticed was the great number of people in Ogden who have no desire to go to church, I noticed empty churches. Now to be clear, I am not a “you need to go to church” guy. I am a “You need to seek out Jesus for yourself” guy. But what I know is that when someone finds Jesus, they fall in love with Him, and when they love Jesus, they hang out with other people who do too (whether that is at a building or at a house). I mean it makes sense, we tend to congregate with like-minded people, do we not? Simply put, I noticed a separation between the churches in our town, and the people in our town. There was a gap.
After noticing the empty churches, I started to notice something else. People had plenty of questions about Jesus, and plenty of issues in their life they wanted to talk about. I am seeing that even people who don’t go to church, don’t mind asking questions and learning more about Jesus. So initially I thought Quinn and I were going to leave our church, and start a new one (to be completely honest). One that focused on not being so…. Churchy. But in the list I gave above, I went out of order. I saw something, was bothered by it, and wanted to act. And naturally I acted impulsively and almost made a big mistake, I almost went ahead without God’s approval.
Quinn and I stayed with our church, but the things I saw continued to bother me. I see lots of teens, kids, and adults who honestly need Jesus. I see many people where I was at several years ago before Christ. The only way I can describe it is that many people I know are not at peace. I have a peace now that I didn’t before, now I know that I am good with God… We cool. And out of that, a lot of stuff that used to matter just doesn’t anymore. Money, conflict with people, feeling like I deserve more… None of this really matters, and although I struggle with all of these things, in my heart I know they are not worth my time, energy, or stress. But God is. So the more I see people struggle with the things God brought me peace over, the more I want to act. So after staying with the church, I started praying. Then I went to Topeka and bumped into some guy on an art walk.
His name is Kevin, and he runs a non-profit café in Topeka. He saw what I did, an entire generation turned off by church. There are lots of people who simply don’t want anything to do with church, but are not that opposed to hearing about Jesus. So he opened the café so teens could be mentored without having to enter a church building until they decided they wanted to. As he talked everything that had been on my heart began to come together.
So, as I started out saying, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time for us to move forward, and here is what we are going to do. Quinn and I are going to start a non-profit café in Ogden. We are going to sell bubble tea, coffee, and food, and we are going to use all profits for community development and ministry startups. We are going to use the business as a hub, a place for kids and teens to go to instead of wandering the streets. If this thing gets successful enough we will use the money (and building) to start a teen center, GED classes, internships, school scholarships, and any of the endless ideas blazing through my head.
We are going to call the café, “The house” because of what I read through Matthew. In chapter 4 Jesus went home with Peter. That night this place became the location in town where everyone went to spend time with Jesus, “That evening at sundown they brought to Him all that were sick or oppressed by demons, and the whole city was gathered together at the door . . . And as Jesus reclined at table in the house behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.”
The people who went to the house were not people who went to the synagogue, or the church of Jesus’ time. It was like God had taken a highlighter to my bible. The house… The whole city… Tax collectors and sinners. The people that didn’t want to go be with the hypocrites didn’t mind going to the house to hang with Jesus. This is exactly what God has stirred my heart for, to bring the house to Ogden.
We are further along than you might think… We have 501(c)3 status, and We have $13,000 raised right now and if we had a building already setup for a café, we could buy equipment and open the doors tomorrow. But that is not the case. In fact the only thing that has stayed constant over the years is which building God wants us to go to. It’s big enough for everything, a café, a teen center, and even more if we want. But it needs significant re-model.
So here is my cheap plug, the property we are looking at is in rough shape. While we have enough for all the equipment to run a café, we need money to fix the property. So if you are still reading this, and you are feeling God put this vision on your heart, I am going to ask for your financial help to make it happen. Like I said, it is a 501(c)3 so all donations are tax deductible. So here is the info:
Make checks payable to “Barnabas Movement Inc.”
mail them to P.O. Box 9, Ogden KS, 66517.
Include your name and address, I know some people want to do this anonymously but as a Non-profit, we are going to get audited like a mad man. We need records on everything.
If you decide you want to give monthly donations (we need it initially) let us know and we will send you an ACH form for automated withdraws.
Here is the last thing, once this business becomes profitable we will cut all donations off. But starting this out we need help. We are donating our money to it, and we are not receiving any pay for it. As Jesus said, “You received without pay, give without pay.” Our goal isn’t personal profit, but Kingdom growth. We pray that through this new ministry, Ogden becomes this generations Capernaum. I place known for its faith. For what it’s worth, I believe with all of my heart this is from the Lord, and I believe with all my heart it’s going to be awesome.