About six years ago, Jesus began to move in our family’s heart to ‘sell everything, follow Him’ and to ‘go forth and make disciples.’ What began as a small prayer meeting in our suburban living room has since grown by God’s grace into an outreach and discipleship ministry in North Minneapolis known as the 8:10 Project.
As we sold our suburban dream home, we were given keys to weathered duplex in North Minneapolis. God spoke to our heart to “establish a house of worship, prayer, and discipleship,” and Jesus has provided everything we’ve needed for the journey. From relationships, to materials, to advice; Jesus provided everything we needed just when we needed it. I haven’t done well at keeping you up to date this past month (sorry), so I’ll do my best below to update you on what God has been up to in our lives and our neighborhood.
If you decide to stop reading here, we just want to say again ‘Thank You!’ Your prayers and support mean more to us than you could imagine. What a blessing to serve a Mighty God along side all of you!
Go: and make Disciples
An important part of the disciple making process is found in the ‘going.’ This isn’t always fun and consistently makes me uncomfortable, but we do our best to stay faithful to at least weekly outreach in our neighborhood.
On outreach this month, Zeke was one of the guys that I was wishing would pass me by. He wasn’t smiley or very engaging as we were passing out hot chocolate and cookies, but he kept listening to what I had to say so I kept talking.
After several minutes, he admitted that he would like to get right with God but was unsure of how to do so. We talked through the Gospel and he received the book of John and prayer. A couple days later, I met Zeke at his home for follow up, and I was reminded of how completely blessed I am in every way.
Zeke had no working lights in his living room, but I could see several holes knocked into different walls. Some of the bigger holes were covered with blankets so you couldn’t see into the bedroom that he, his girlfriend and 2 kids share. While sitting and doing Bible study I noticed at least 3 other house mates coming in and out, some with struggles more apparent than others.
One of my greatest concerns is making sure the Gospel of surrender is clear. Did Jesus die to give us a better home, better relationships, a good job, and a car? Does following Jesus with our entire life guarantee us better material possessions and health? I felt impressed to read through Luke 12 with him:
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
“What is the Kingdom of Heaven promised? What do these verses mean to you?,” I asked. Zeke’s answer was spot on and insightful: “I think it means that the stuff in this world will go away so you can’t trust in it.” We talked about how God’s peace won’t look like the world’s peace. Jesus is pleased to give us the Kingdom, but His Kingdom looks different than ours. The world can’t give you God’s peace, and the world can’t take it away.
Please pray for Zeke. There are so many obstacles to growing in the faith. It is a hard and narrow road, and only a few truly find it. Please pray for grace to keep meeting with each other and that the Holy Spirit would bring peace and joy to his heart and mind.
Frederick Douglas once said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I believe this is true. Another scripture that has become very important to us is Malachi 4. It speaks of turning the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the children to the fathers. I personally believe that the coming revival will begin in our urban youth.
Miah and I feel strongly about investing in the lives of our youth, and as a result one of our closest partners has become Antioch Ministries. Antioch coordinates weekly meetings with neighborhood youth, equipping and empowering them to become the leaders of tomorrow.
We’ve been volunteering with them for a little over 3 years now, and we are blessed with amazing relationships and fruit. We meet weekly with an average of about 15 neighborhood youth for meals, bible study, and games. Also, because we live in the neighborhood (and because Majestic Masonry donated a basketball court), we have become the neighborhood hangout.
For example, here’s our past few days in a nutshell:
- Day 1: take a neighborhood boy to swimming lessons. Return home to 8 kids chilling. They hang out and help us prep dinner, pray with us, eat then go home.
- Day 2: a young woman’s 17th birthday. She comes over for cake. 2 neighborhood teen boys knock to tell us about school and summer plans. They come in for cake too because, well…it’s cake.
- Day 3: a nicer day. I get home to about 5 kids playing basketball. Miah gets home from school and we sit out and chat with them until it’s too dark to play. Conversations of all sorts are taking place and our hearts are happy.
- Day 4: a teen mom is hanging out with her new baby and family. She comes over for hugs and let us hold the baby.
- Day 5: 6 kids on the porch looking for food. We don’t have any, Miah’s doing homework, and I’m tired so we hand out a few nuts and push them back out the door (not really push, just gently nudge;)
As you can see, presence in the community provides us opportunities that simply wouldn’t exist otherwise. This month, we will begin collaborating with Antioch even more through the 8:10 project house. Tuesday afternoons we will start a simple after school program for kids in this neighborhood to come and get snacks, tutoring, and simple fellowship. I’m still looking for a couple more volunteers for this, so if you’re interested in developing new relationships along with me, please reach out!
Tuesday evenings we will be a satellite host for a men’s BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). I’m hoping that this will be a time to connect the generations and have some young men develop relationships with spiritual fathers in the neighborhood. Will you pray in to this please? This is more than just learning the Bible (which is transformational and life giving), but also about developing networks of support and accountability. I believe these type of relationships are key to community transformation.
Also will you pray for our new residents moving in to the discipleship program? Residents commit to a lifestyle of learning through fasting, outreach, prayer, study, and serving the community. This is really our first batch of residents, so we will be learning from each other quite a bit!
We are hoping to fix and modify the garage this Spring. This will provide us a larger worship and prayer space on the property, as well as support neighborhood youth arts programs (dance, art, ect). If you would like to sow in to this project financially, prayerfully, or skillfully; please let me know!
Miah is finishing up her last semester at Northwestern before student teaching next Fall. She’s had a lot of obstacles to over come as a non traditional student as well as a lot of extended family issues. She is being stretched in many ways, so please keep her lifted up in prayer as you think of her.
Hannah qualified for the regional tournament in swimming and placed 12th in her bracket for the breast stroke. Guine and Sam are working hard in school and basketball. Joshua will be finishing up his sophomore year at North Central next month as well.
Thank you all again so much for your prayers and encouragement. They mean more than you realize!