After giving his life to Jesus, strip club owner Aaron Bekkela said he felt compelled to sell the property to a church. He approached Daryl R. Northrop, senior pastor of Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. Bekkela and Northrop had earlier established a friendship after Bekkela learned that one of the dancer’s mothers and her prayer group at the church had been praying for him for years. Upon divesting himself of interests in the strip club, Bekkela visited the church and met with Northrop to share of his exit from the industry and his commitment to the Lord.
Inspired by Bekkela’s desire to move away from the industry, PE News reported Northrop said he saw it as a great opportunity to plant a church in one of the most under served areas of town.
Bekkela invited Northrop and Timberline Executive Pastor Rob W. Cowles to tour the club one afternoon. When they entered a dressing room, Cowles was overcome with emotion upon seeing pictures of children of dancers on lockers. “It just broke me,” Cowles said. “Before I even knew what I was saying, I said ‘we really need to plant a church here and I need to lead it.’” With Northrop’s support, Cowles left his position and began preparing the new work, Genesis Project.
An anonymous donor purchased the building on behalf of the church. Genesis Project in Ogden, Utah, which has a mission similar to Timberline Church, contributed $5,000. Resurrection Fellowship in nearby Loveland, Colorado, also contributed $13,600. Resurrection Fellowship Senior Pastor Jonathan Wiggins said he sees the value of a church opening in the same locale as the former strip club. It becomes a statement of redemption. The 7,200-square-foot building is now home to a 200-seat worship centre. Services began in January with a dedication ceremony on February 8th. In keeping with a vision to minister to needy people, a coffee shop soon will open employing at risk youth to learn job skills. The coffee shop will serve as a venue for people to gather daily and to build relationships.
Once the commercial kitchen is remodelled, local chefs and restaurant managers will provide training in culinary and restaurant careers. A partnership with a local non-profit organization has
provided connections to hotels and restaurants willing to hire those who come through the classes. A mobile food cart will be used to feed the homeless. Cowles said: “We don’t create new beginnings; we know only Jesus can do that, but we create the space for that to happen…”
Source: PE News; Crossmap.com; Assist News Service
Bible Study: Psalm 49:1-15
PRAISE God that the Genesis Project is truly a redeemed space dedicated to God’s work.
PRAY that the community of Fort Collins will see what God is doing and that many who have no hope may turn to Christ in this place of worship and service.