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Monday, March 13, 2017

Big News

Thanks to those who took the time to pray when we sent out our email requesting prayer a short time ago. The prayer request was for an offer we were making on a local building to house all of our ministry endeavors. The offer was not accepted, which is fine as it seems that is a very clear-cut answer to prayer over that specific building at this time. As to the reason we made the offer, I want to go ahead and update you on some recent happenings and request your help.

Almost a year ago, our landlord raised rent unexpectedly. It pushed us to the brink of financial survival, since when it comes to financial earnings, none of our ministry endeavors pull in a lot of money. The Gamers Guild is primarily a safe hangout spot—while we do sell board and card games to pay rent, we only do that approximately ten hours a week, whereas we are open more than forty hours a week for people to hang out and play board games, card games, chat, be involved in one of our small group Bible Studies, or use the free store’s services. The free store itself, obviously, makes no money (everything there is free for people to take, trade for, or donate to—there are no financial incomes). Aikido of Northwest Kansas gives training scholarships to almost ten students who couldn’t afford to train otherwise, so it generally just breaks even with expenses. Through God’s providence, we made ends meet between the two that do bring in some money and that provide a rent-free shelter for the Free Store, which does not bring in money.

At the time, I began praying to figure out if we should stay or move, and I felt that moving was due to fear of future escalations in rent, and fear is not a good motivator for Christians in Kingdom ministry. We should move due to God’s direction or due to opportunities to love or serve more. During that time of discernment, the free store became increasingly heavily used. We restarted serving free meals to the community on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, more people in financial need were hearing about our existence and coming to obtain items that they needed, the Federal food distributions that we run through that place have increased from quarterly to once every other month, and several low-income and homeless individuals have started hanging out at The Gamers Guild just to socialize with others. Due to the increases in use (and people wanting to donate bigger things to the free store but us not having space to put them), it became obvious that the free store could best serve the Kingdom by having an expanded space and physical presence. That, I felt, was a good motivator to begin looking at other locations. It also seemed financially wise as our rent was high enough that we could be making an equivalent mortgage payment on a building, instead. Then, while we were still praying and asking God whether it would be wise to look to expand or move locations, our landlord further raised rent through an escalation clause in our contract. As of today, we are paying approximately six hundred dollars more per month than we were last year at this time, and we have been told to expect further escalations during our negotiations in April for our rental contract for the next year (which would begin the last day of May).

Between the need to expand to serve the Kingdom more and the drastic increase in rent, we are praying for God’s guidance and direction in this situation—it could be that we need to renegotiate for a lower rent, even though our landlord wants to charge us even more. It could be that we do need another location but just haven’t found the right one yet. It could also mean other things—ultimately, we are just praying for guidance and walking forward, seeking to serve the Kingdom daily.

At this time, there has really only been one thing I feel that I've heard in prayer (beyond being prodded to move forward with that building offer earlier). I do feel that I need to let the Christian community know what God is doing here and to ask for their help and involvement. Whether we move locations or stay, I do feel that this is an opportunity to further involve the body of believers in serving locally, which ultimately helps both local believers and those who we would seek to love and serve. If we move, local believers may be able to help through direct work on a new physical structure, financial donations, prayer, or involvement in our outreach ministries. If we stay, it may be just be through awareness and participation in the ministry with us, or somewhere down the road using connections to help us find a new place longer term. This is where you come in. Please being thinking and praying, and please feel free to ask questions on our behalf. Do you know someone who is looking to invest financially in a ministry or give time and talents? Do you know someone in Hays with property for sale or lease? Do you see a solution for us that we are unaware of, or maybe do you see a group we should work together with in one of our existing endeavors (use their ministry site for the free store, etc.)? In my humanity, I am looking for a space that would hold all three ministries—so probably at least 3500 square feet—but it could be that God wants to split them out into different locations, so nothing is out of bounds at this point. I’m just praying to see how God will provide directly and through His body of believers—you. Please join us in prayer and also in action with this. I thank you in advance for your help.

While I am asking, I would also ask if any of you has, or know of someone who has, a very rough, cheap vehicle that they would be willing to give to a local individual to use for in-town transit. Such a need has arisen in one of our ministries for a local family, and I figured I could put out the word and see how God might answer this while everyone is praying over the other issue, as well. If you hear anything on either front, please feel free to call or text me at 785-259-2539, or even to leave me an email.

In closing, I want to encourage you with a strange answer to prayer. You may remember how some time ago we expressed a need for Christian volunteers to hang out at The Gamers Guild and Common Grounds Coffee House to have conversations and play games with some of the people who hang out there. One of the local homeless men in Hays has taken to hanging out there due to frequent use of the free store, and he, himself, is a very evangelistic Christian man. In a show of God's answers through unexpected places, I find myself listening to him chat with local gamers and others about Christ and experiences he has had following Him. Just yesterday, while listening, it struck me that, while I haven't had much volunteer response through the newsletter, God had provided a person in His body of believers just the same. I don't know what will happen in these next few months, but I am confident that God's Kingdom ministry will go on in some form or other. Thank you for any help and for your prayers!