Can you help me?
One night in Coos Bay, Oregon I stood alone in my martial arts class. It was a cool fall evening, brisk misty air blew in the windows. The day had been a blank. No students, no visitors, no nothing. I felt foolish and I asked myself, "Did I mess up coming here? Should I have stayed in Memphis? Is this what God really wanted me to do?"
As I placed my hand on the switch to turn off the lights and leave, the door opened. A man built like a bowling ball walked in and leered at me. It was one of the most cruel smiles I had ever seen. Have you ever seen those mob movies from the 1970's, that was this guy: mid 50's, barrell chested, clean shaven, big thick engineer glasses, the leather bomber jacket, the irish slope hat, a white t-shirt over checkered slacks. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. He took in the surroundings, stared at the bible and cross at the front of the class. "What kind of dojo has a bible?" he asked.
"Hi." I looked over at the bible. Then back at him. He moved over to me, in a very unfriendly way.
"I saw your sign for Aikido lessons. Im curious. But... I dont really care for the religious stuff."
"Really? What do you want?"
"You alone?" he asked. Now he was right next to me, so close I could smell the old spice. Was I going to get hurt? Was he going to rob me?
I shifted from him. "I'm alone."
"Good, I got a problem." He looked at the bible, then back at me. "I need to talk to someone."
"Okay Im listening."
"Before I came here my wife shot at me three times. I got arrested. The cops let me leave but I can't go home. I dropped meth earlier and I am still messed up- you know what I mean?"
His weird smile, the way he was talking. Manic. It frightened me. "Look fella I ain't got any money."
"I don't want your d### money. I just need to talk to someone." He reached out and grabbed my shoulder and it was like a visegrip. This did not make me feel safe. "I see your bible there. I see you teach martial arts. I can tell you will talk with me. So let's talk."
Unsure what was about to happen, I listened to a stranger pour out his heart to me. He talked about his addictions, his violence, how he made his money, how he was a hellish monster to his family. All his friends gone. The more he talked, the more I realized he needed prayer and he needed a friend.
That day he joined our program. He became a Christian and he earned his black belt in under two years (a first for any of my students.) He got clean, got off drugs, gave up porn and womanizing. He reunited with his estranged wife and is still a friend to this day.
We are here to help people who really are different. They have good hearts, but they struggle to fit in to our world. They lack focus and direction. Many struggle with addictions. Most of them are just star shaped blocks trying to fit in square holes and they need help.
We take in privately arranged foster kids thru churches. Kids that need short term care, or a long term situation where traditional methods do not work.
We take in young families who struggle to survive and do not have the life skills to make it on their own. They need help coping with life and with raising their kids, so that they may grow into better, stronger, and stable parents.
Next we take in non violent young adults who are mature enough in the recovery program to benefit from our structured environment.
Lastly we take in young adults who desire to master on of our vocations: carpentry, bible school, culinary skills, art, computers, etc. and become either missionaries, teachers, preachers, or just good carpenters. This can be not just a educational experience, but for this group it is a chance for them to have hands on mission and ministry experience with real world job skills.