I walked into the cafe recently to a young man sitting on stools talking to a volunteers. His demeanor seeped disappointment and frustration.
Last semester, an alarming number of students came through the cafe who had failed one or all of their classes. Here’s the hard reality, How can we teach students to study God’s word if they can’t read it. Cafe Barnabas was designed as a connection platform between the local church and the youth community. My focus has been relational ministry. However, the cafe is an incredible data collection tool as well. Educational disparity has prompted a new ministry initiative, for details please check out our community development page. One of the challenges the 501 public school district is confronting is truancy. Currently, they are seeking data about why students are skipping class. We have designed a relational system to collect that data.
As we have started talking to students about skipping class, blaring community barriers and spiritual darkness has become an unfortunately surprise outcome. I feel God has lead us to stumble about an incredible opportunity to share the gospel with students stuck in a cycle of hopelessness. Christ came to provide hope, freedom, salvation. For some, this is an easy concept to understand. For many student living in poverty, the idea of Christ providing hope seems like a pipe dreams, an impossibility undercut by social barriers not easily addressed.
Returning to our student, I overheard the backside of the conversation. The student said “I have to work, I live on my own. I can’t graduation from high school because I have to pay my bills” As our volunteer started to speak the hope of the gospel into his life, he became agitated. Right before he left, he said “That’s impossible, you just don’t understand.” This isn’t a happy ever after story. We still see the student consistently, but he has build hard walls to any conversation about the gospel, his future, hope in Christ.
Please pray for our volunteers and missionaries. Please pray for wisdom as we design and launch new concepts aimed and reducing or eliminating societal barriers and are linked with barriers to the gospel. Every day we meet students desperate for Christ who are resistant to hope.
I’m humbled by everyone who supports us. You allow me to be a missionary daily confronted with students I’d expect to meet in Europe or other spiritually dark nations. The work is hard and sometime discouraging. Our team holds tightly to this verse:
In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Thank you for allowing us to be the light in the darkness. It is my plead to everyday diligent work to allow students to not be defined by their current position in life but to overcome darkness through HOPE in Christ.
Please pray about grabbing a flashlight by coming alongside Barnabas Student Ministries to reach student. We would love to share with you current opportunity to do so. Shoot me an e-mail if you would like to learn more about loving students in the Topeka community for the Gospel.