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A Week in the Life

By | Homeless Youth, incubation, Non-profit | No Comments

One of the questions we get most frequently is, ‘What do you do everyday?’ We aren’t open yet, so this is a good question. Each week looks different right now with a few consistent activities. We wish that all of you could come see the cool things that God is up to in Denver, but we know that isn’t possible for everyone. So, we wanted to convey as much as we can about what we do.

Flickr image by russelljsmith

Right now we are perpetually looking for ways to share our story. We are making connections with people to spread our network by meeting with different churches, businesses and individuals in Denver so that we can share what is going on with Purple Door Coffee. We’ve been comparing this a lot to Mark 4. We’re spreading as much seed as possible and only some of it will grow, but God will grow it!

Mondays and Tuesdays are filled with miscellaneous things–meetings with people that are interested in Purple Door–churches, businessmen, other urban ministries and anyone else you can think of– efforts to share our story on the internet (like this blog), sending out thank you letters, sending tax receipts, updating databases, helping out with Belay’s other faith ventures, making calls, sending out updates, organizing smaller fundraisers, and so much more. These are the days that look different each week. Mondays and Tuesday are also days that we intentionally learn from Jim Reiner and the Belay team about job training ministries and running a non-profit. Learning happens throughout the week, but on Monday and Tuesdays we typically get to spend more time with Jim and share vision and goals for Purple Door.

Wednesdays are a fun day for us. We get to sit in a conference room with all the  Bud’s Warehouse employees and share about how our weeks are going, what goals we are working towards, and update everyone on our own spiritual journeys. It is a beautiful time of community and encouragement.

Thursdays are also a lot of fun–but challenging as well. The morning and early afternoon are filled with similar things as Monday. We also check in with some of the Bud’s Warehouse employees that we journey with as goal coaches. This happens at other times throughout the week as well. The late afternoon and early evening are times spent with Dry Bones. We attend bowling with Dry Bones.

Each week Dry Bones rents a bus to take our friends bowling. We bowl and have a good time. It is a place of belonging and safety. This time is used to simply build relationships with our friends from the streets and the volunteers that work with Dry Bones, as well as lavish love on everyone present. We then go to the meal that is served after bowling and continue the conversations that took place at the bowling alley as well as start new ones. This is a joy as well as a challenge.

Sometimes the conversations are light hearted and fun, and at other times they are dark and sad. This is valuable relational time that helps us remain connected and in tune with the culture that is present on the streets. This is vital as we dream about and plan the training components of Purple Door. If we were disconnected from the culture of the people we are striving to work with, we would not be able to help them as effectively as possible. Our consistent presence on the streets also communicates our love and concern for our friends, and helps us establish ourselves in the culture on the streets.

Fridays are also a very enjoyable day. Friday morning is started with Bible study with the Bud’s warehouse employees. I (Mark) have been blessed to lead these studies for the last month and a half. “Lead” is maybe a bit misleading. Each week I bring a passage to the group and give a little context. After that the discussion begins. I chime in as a participant in the discussion, and we all journey through scripture as a community.

It is challenging and beautiful. I have been presented with a new angle on a passage I have read a hundred times on more than one occasion already. The diversity of backgrounds and the different lives that have been lived in that room provide a component to the study of scripture that I have not encountered in a traditional church setting. It is a huge blessing to journey through scripture with this group of people.  After the Bible Study we again just work on what is before us–emails, sharing our story, checking in with Bud’s employees, meetings, etc.

In the early afternoon in the summer months we head over to Dry Bones’ picnics. We spend time in the park with our friends from the streets and just continue to grow the relationships there. This is a relaxed atmosphere that allows us to connect and have meaningful conversation. Again, this is a valuable time for us as we seek to stay in tune with the culture on the streets.

As much as we love what we’re doing now, we are ready to open the doors of Purple Door! We are ready to provide employment, job training and life skills training to the street kids in Denver that want to exit street life.  Please consider donating today as we currently have a $30,000 matching donation! Click here to donate and help us open Purple Door Coffee so that we can provide employment to our friends that are working to rebuild their lives from homelessness.

Big News for Purple Door!

By | collaborative ministry, incubation, Non-profit, Street Life | No Comments

Your donations are now worth double!

We are so excited and blessed to announce that our sister ministry, Dry Bones Denver has arranged generous donors who will match funds up to $30,000!

$30,000 matching donation!

Every dollar up to $30,000 will be matched by a donation set up through Dry Bones. With our current amount raised at just under $20,000 this donation, if fully matched, will put us to nearly two-thirds of the way to opening our doors!

Now is the time to give!

We have set a deadline to have all $30,000 matched by August 15th! With this match, your donation carries so much more weight. Please donate to give our friends on the streets a chance at a life away from the streets!

Follow our blogwebsiteFacebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the progress of this matching campaign!

We Are Blessed

By | incubation, Non-profit | No Comments

Lately I have been struck in a more pronounced way than usual by the blessing of being a part of what God is up to in the world. We are doing something that we believe is close to the heart of God, and the fact that He has allowed us to join Him in the journey is a huge blessing.

Flickr image by LeWEB12

But God has done us one better (per usual). He has helped support us along the way and has continued to open doors so that we can open this shop. We believe God will continue to open these doors.

As we have been working to open this shop we have been placed in an environment that allows us to learn about job training ministries, as well as spend time staying connected to the population we will serve. We could not have come up with this on our own. Because of these blessings we are able to start shaping the culture and community that we are trying to create before we open our shop. This is also a huge blessing that we could not have thought up on our own.

The way it is all coming together in a relatively organic way is helpful as we journey deeper and deeper into this project. It’s a fine line of making it about us and our desires, and making it truly God’s ministry. God’s evident work in this project has allowed us to discern that much more readily.

Someone said to me unprompted a couple of weeks ago, “It’s really clear that God is in this project.” That is the highest compliment we could hear. It means that we are not making it about us, and that God is blessing the effort that we putting in, and will continue to put in. Comments like that provide the affirmation needed to keep going.

The fact that we have an audience at all is a huge blessing and incredibly humbling. People actually read this blog! Thank you for that! The fact that people are willing to use their resources for this project is even more incredible. Thank you so much!

We ask that you join what God is up to. If this is something that grabs your heart, or that you believe in please join us. You can join us by connecting us with your community. We really want to tell our story as much as we can to new people, so please let us know if you have a group or individual that would be interested in hearing about us. We need funding right now, so if you have a desire to contribute to our effort please do so here. We can talk with people outside of Denver about who we are via phone and Skype. Please tell the Purple Door story as much and as often as you can, and we believe God will continue to open the doors to provide for Purple Door.

There’s A Huge Need

By | incubation, Non-profit | No Comments

We’ve stated several times that there is a “huge need” for employment for our friends on the streets. But what does that really mean?

Flickr image by Waponi

Just today I had two conversations at a picnic with Dry Bones. One of our friends on the streets asked what I do, and I told him that I am in the process of opening a coffee shop, and as we talked more he asked about what it was all about. I told him our vision and mission, and he kind of froze and was clearly thinking. He then asked, “Could I work there?” I told him, “It’s tough to say. You could apply and interview like everyone else, but I can’t promise you a job. We’re not open yet, and we’ll have a lot of applicants.” He understood, and said, “That makes sense. Everyone out here is looking for a job.”

Another conversation was with a girl that is off the streets now. She already knew about Purple Door and she asked about it. I gave her an update and she said that she wished she had something like Purple Door when she was trying to get off the streets. She talked about how she needed support when she was first working–and still needs support. She’s also currently unemployed, and looking for work.

Our friends need not only employment, but supportive employment. They need grace, challenge, responsibility, love, accountability, trust, expectations. Those are hard things to mix, but growth and change are not easy–so that’s to be expected.

Madison and I also had a meeting with a state employee. She works for the office of Homeless Youth Services. This is an under-resourced agency and the employee we met with was wonderful. She has to work with Non-profits and NGOs to get her job done. She said to us that we are the first employment project specifically for this demographic that she knows of. We are aware of some others that are also in the process of launching; but her familiarity with the population, the issue, and the vacancy of job training for this population speaks volumes. It’s her job to connect with organizations and efforts like ours, but there aren’t many (any) to connect with.

There is a need that is being recognized by everyone that has connection with this population. So when we say there is a “huge need”, please know that what we are doing is addressing only a portion of the need on the streets. The sooner we are able to launch, the sooner we will begin equipping our friends to permanently exit street life. Hopefully we will grow and grow so we can employ more and more people and enact serious change in the culture on the streets.

Join us in the journey. Our primary need for launching is funding right now. Please head to our website to donate if you are able.

We also need and desire your prayers. Please pray for our friends on the streets that are searching for a way out. Pray for the funding to come in. Pray for decisions Madison and I make for Purple Door Coffee. Pray for decisions of our friends on the streets. Please, cover this entire effort in prayer.

If you are interested in helping, but don’t have the financial means to donate, feel free to contact us. We would love to brainstorm and dream about ways to work together.

Passion For The Kingdom

By | incubation, Non-profit | No Comments

This past week I got to share Purple Door’s story with over 600 people at Soul Quest in York, Nebraska. Soul Quest is a High School and Middle School camp at York College that draws people and churches from all over the country. This was a great opportunity to spread awareness about Purple Door, and we were thankful to be a part.

While at Soul Quest I got to teach a class. I spoke about living into your passions and gifts and turning everything in your life over to God. I encouraged the students to use what they have for the Kingdom–whatever that might be. Some of the passions that the students stated were: music, art, basketball, football, volleyball, reading, relationships, cooking, singing, dancing, learning, teaching, writing, poetry, and many others. I asked if they thought if those were useful to the Kingdom. Most sat in silence, others chimed in with a yes, but couldn’t really back up why they said yes. Some even said no.

At that point I was able to share our vision for Purple Door Coffee. I shared that I am passionate about ministry among Street Kids, and I am passionate about coffee. Showing the students that if a passion for coffee could be used for the Kingdom, then so could their passions– whatever they might be.

I encouraged them to live into those passions with a lens for the Kingdom. I encouraged them to not reduce Christianity to a formula or a strict set of rules and times that are used to approach God, but instead view Christianity as a life with Christ that will take you on a journey that you can’t predict–but it is a beautiful journey.

I also encouraged them to do it now. You don’t have to wait to start living a life intentionally oriented towards the Kingdom.

As we continue on this journey with Purple Door we will continue to live into our passions, and allow God to lead. Where we’ll end up is still to be determined, but we’re excited for the beautiful journey.

We hope that you are able to live into your passions with a lens for the Kingdom.

In the end what is most important is that you use what you have–whatever that might be–for the Kingdom. If you have a passion for painting find ways to paint for the Kingdom. If you have a passion for hosting events, host events for the Kingdom. If you have a passion for writing, write for the Kingdom. Whatever your passion is, turn it over to the Kingdom, and God will bless that. Remember that there is no formula for how to do this. If you have a heart that is surrendering to the Way of God moment by moment, you will make an impact when you live into the passions that God has placed inside you.

Some of you may have a passion or gift that could benefit Purple Door, and we would love to talk to you about that possibility. Some of you may have a heart for some other hurt in the world–live into that!

We hope that our time at Soul Quest spurred people on to live passionately for the Kingdom, and to live lives that are about living into the gifts and passions God has placed in each of us.

Thank you for all your support for Purple Door so far in this journey!

We Can’t Do This On Our Own

By | incubation, Non-profit | No Comments

Any time you attempt to change the way things are you will face opposition. Not meaning that people will disagree with what you are trying to attempt (though at times they will), but more that it will be difficult; you will hit road blocks, and sometimes you will even doubt why you are doing what you’re doing.

Flickr image by kk

Days when these thoughts of doubt are prevalent, days when feeling defeated is predominant, days when questioning your motives, directions and decisions is ever present–these are the days that God usually shows up. God delivers when we need it.

God has come along side us several times when we are confused, discouraged, disheartened, and feeling beat. Usually it is in something small–a conversation with a friend on the streets, a success of an employee at Bud’s Warehouse, a donation from an unexpected place. God knows our needs, and tends to show up when he would be the only explanation for the blessing or the change.

He also knows that it is best for us to have a struggle, to work towards this goal, and to realize that we are not doing this on our own. We think that we would want God to just hand over everything that we need to start this coffee shop so we can get moving on the project, but if I had to run a non-profit coffee shop as a job training ministry today, it would definitely be a crash course. As we are raising funds, spending time on the streets, and learning about job training ministries, we are being shaped. We are being changed, We are being challenged.

Somedays we are uncomfortable with a struggle as we move forward in this process, and we have truly been struck by the beauty and growth found in the discomfort. We are wading into waters that on our own we would be completely insufficient to handle. The dependence upon God that is necessary for us to succeed is challenging and beautiful. It is shaping us and growing us. It is moving us to learn, to love, to be loved, to dream and to work hard.

Today I am struck by how beautiful it is to admit my limitations, and lean into the Creator of the Universe. Who better to lean into, learn from, and place our trust in?

Hobbies and Passions

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There are somethings that people that are close to me know that I love: baseball; music (especially live); hiking; coffee. These are some of the most pronounced of my hobbies and interests. These things are fun and I really enjoy them.

Flickr image by Rafael Amado Deras

Many people that know me well also see my passion for ministry to and among the margins–to people on the edges of our society. During my internship with Dry Bones Denver my passion became more specific to the homeless teens and young adults that are prevalent here in Denver. This is a population that has captured my heart since my first interaction with them.

I have now been in Denver for just shy of 5 months, and each day I think about how blessed I am. I have been moved into a job that allows me to live into a passion for ministry with Street Kids here in Denver. I also get to work in the world of coffee. Non-coffee lovers probably don’t get how awesome this is, but for someone who loves coffee, this is a dream come true.

God is pretty awesome how He takes our interests, hobbies, and joys that are seemingly disconnected from the Kingdom and allows us to combine them with an area of need in our world in a way that becomes a clear demonstration of the Kingdom of God and what He is up to in the world. We at Purple Door Coffee are so blessed to be a part of this journey, and we love how many of you have shown support and are now sharing in our vision. We pray that God continues to be present and more people catch the vision each and every day.

In my process of leaving Dallas to come work with PDC one of my co-workers said to me, “If there is anyone that can use coffee to make a difference in the lives of the homeless, it’s you.” This was affirming. And really it was a calling to live into who God has created me to be. I have always enjoyed coffee, and in the past few years have developed a joy from coffee. I have a passion for street kids, which does not make much sense for a guy coming from North Dakota where the homeless population was minimal when I lived there–but that passion is a part of me. A combination of these two elements of who I am provides for a way to bring the Kingdom to the here and now. It’s who I am, and I can’t really see myself doing much else at this stage of life.

What are your interests and passions?
How can they be used for the Kingdom?
What creative ways can you be active about bringing the Kingdom about by using who you are?

Job Training

By | Homeless Youth, incubation, Street Life | No Comments

Madison and I continue to attend Dry Bones events and build relationships on the streets. Over the last few weeks many of our friends are getting job interviews, but so few are actually getting jobs. It makes me see the need even more clearly for Purple Door. We hope to teach our friends interviewing skills, job skills, give them a job history, give them positive references, and be a source of encouragement for them to help them keep going.

Job training ministries are interesting places to work. There is certainly never a dull day. I have the opportunity to lead the Bible Study at Bud’s Warehouse on Friday mornings. Lead is a relative term. Really, I pick the passage we read and we go from there. We’ve been bouncing around the Sermon on the Mount lately. It’s amazing how scripture speaks and moves in our lives.

Flickr image by DaveBleasdale

I learn more than I teach in this setting. It is awesome and challenging when I see aspects of faith that are stronger than my own in that room on Friday mornings. I am excited to see that take place at Purple Door Coffee–to be challenged by our employees while simultaneously challenging; to grow together as we walk our personal paths.

Purple Door will be a place of community, a place of love, a place of respect, a place of challenge, a place of growth, a place where Christ is evident. Our prayer is that Purple Door will be a place where God is glorified and all people are changed.

Generational Impact

By | Homeless Youth, incubation | No Comments

Generational impact. It’s a bit of an abstract concept. So frequently we think only of what is in front of us. We think of immediate needs and the needs of a single life. Seldom do we think of how choices made now impact our descendants–the next generation. This is true of all people in all places. Generational impact is real, but difficult to wrap our minds around.

Flickr image by edanley

Generational poverty is a widely studied and researched concept. It is a cycle that is vicious and difficult to break. Most of our friends on the streets were not born into wealth and affluence. Most were born into situations that mimic theirs today, and research shows that without marked changes in their own lives, their children will enter a similar situation.

Changes that are made today (positive and negative), affect those who come afterwards.

I’m reminded of the Biblical story of Abraham. Abraham was told by God to get up and move to go to a land that God would show him. I don’t know about you, but when I move, I like to know where I am going. Abraham just left. He took his family–his whole life–and moved. Had he not done this, the narrative of the nation of Israel would not have begun through him. An entire nation was established because of the change made by Abraham. He made the change based on a promise for the future, the promise of becoming a great nation. Not a promise of riches or immediate power, but a much more nebulous and futuristic promise.

Many of our friends have experienced a lot of negative changes in their lives–many of which have been decisions made for them. When a pattern of changes being negative develops, it is difficult to make the necessary changes to improve one’s situation.

We hope that we can provide the support needed for our friends to make the brave decision to change. Change in a way that improves their situation for themselves and for the future.

It’s important that our employees realize that the changes they are making as they work to improve their situation now will impact the rest of their own lives, but it will also impact the lives of their children and grandchildren. Their changes will change the trajectory of their future and their family’s future.

This generational impact is very important to us at Purple Door because it is about working towards the repair of a broken system. God is restoring all things to himself by using His people, and we are blessed to be a part of that restoration in this specific area.

It also helps us remember that one life changed by God through Purple Door Coffee is not a solitary life, but a life that is connected to many lives. That changed life will have a ripple effect to others.

Abraham got up and moved. He changed his life, but never saw the full fruits of that change. We at Purple Door must remember that we will never see the full fruits of the changes that are started in the lives of those connected to us, but it is still worth it. And our employees may not see the full fruits of their change either, but we pray they find conviction and courage knowing that they are impacting their family generations from now by making positive changes now.