CrossPurpose

Sparking a Poverty Abolitionist Movement

CrossPurpose

Upstream Impact

A Career Development Program Like None Other

Upstream Impact

Providence Bible Church

A Thriving Community in Northeast Denver

Providence Bible Church

Jason has a master's degree in theology and has worked as a pastor since 1996. He is an education activist and social entrepreneur with a burden for helping the poor, developing leadership, and world missions. Jason is the founder of Providence Bible Church, co-founder of Upstream Impact and CrossPurpose, and serves as Executive Director of Upstream Impact. He enjoys the mountains, leadership, reading, and being with his family. Jason and his wife Jen have four boys and live in the Whittier neighborhood of inner-city Denver.

 

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In 2014, software giant Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to acquire Mojang AB, the Swedish company that created the worldwide gaming sensation Minecraft. The deal made Markus Persson a billionaire, with a personal net worth of about $1.3 billion, according to Forbes. Persson promptly outbid Beyoncé and Jay-Z for a Beverly Hills megamansion—a $70 million home that’s been described as an “overwhelming sensory experience,” as the listing read, outfitted with insane amenities like M&M towers, vodka and tequila bars, a movie theater and 15 bathrooms, each equipped, we’re told, with toilets that cost $5,600 each.

I’ve recently been captivated by a CNBC series called The Profit, a reality show where Marcus Lemonis turns around failing small businesses. He starts by assessing the operation, making a partnership offer, taking absolute control of the turnaround, and executing the plan. For me, it’s a fascinating show to watch, not just as it relates to business, but as it relates to human behavior and psychology. I want to write about several lessons I have learned from watching over 20 episodes.

Profit Point 1: If your business is failing, get someone involved who is smarter than you to help you.

This is priority Numero Uno. After watching over twenty episodes, the profile of the owners share some characteristics. They are stressed out, unable to see the forest for the trees, trapped in a survival mindset, and pretty opinionated. When Marcus begins to assess the mess, the owners look at him like he has just slapped them. “Why are you selling jewelry in a hair salon?” “Why do you not have a system for inventory?” “Why don’t you know your margins?” “Why haven’t you let that person go?”

The story is told of a father of a wealthy family who took his son on a trip to the country to show his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.

Once a month, our African choir, newly named Echo Of Heaven, sings at our weekend service. Many of them come from East African refugee camps and are trying to make a go of it here in the US. When I listen, it’s a deeply spiritual experience for me. I can’t clap on their rhythm, keep up with their lyrics, or match their passion. It’s a metaphor for the mismatch of our faith. I’ve settled for a faith born out of the upper 5% – the globally rich. They’ve cultivated a faith at the opposite end. After 42 years in the American church, I have to say that what they have is more attractive than what I have. 165 years ago, David Livingston went to Africa as a missionary explorer. After that, streams of Protestant missionaries followed in his footsteps. But perhaps it’s time for the stream to flow in the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s time for Africa to come here and convert us.

Eight years ago, Juan Pena and I, our families, and a small team of people banded together to start a church and non-profit work in an urban neighborhood in Denver. Juan and I have become a tag team as we’ve worked together on urban education, poverty alleviation, and community development. We’ve become great friends and have seen each other in the best of times and worst of times.

Our wives would tell you that sometimes our biggest challenge is unplugging from the work. Our staff team has discovered that there’s an “on-call” nature to the work coupled with an endless amount of work to be done. Without creating intentional spaces for rest and relaxation, one can develop unhealthy patterns pretty quickly. One of the ways, we both relax or “chilax” as my sons call it, is through sports.

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