By: Katie Sobiech
Just a few weeks ago a man stumbled into the Hope Café on South Street drunk, high on drugs, and ready to take his life. Noticing how distraught he was, Hank Richard, Chairman of the Board of Kingdom Builders and a volunteer at the Hope Cafe, poured him a cup of coffee and sat down to talk with him.
He described the man as being “destroyed and devastated.”
The conversation opened up for Richard to address “the wound”, which he says many men cover up in their hearts. This wound, when not dealt with, is what leads many men on a detour of trying to find healing through temporary highs such as drugs and alcohol.
After discussing this with the troubled man, Richard said that it “transformed him to a point of recommitment to Christ.”
He ended up going to a detox center and is now on the road to healing.
Richard sees men like this daily, and his goal is to bring hope to their hopeless situations by sharing the gospel and its transforming power.
Called to Pray
Beginning in 1997, Kingdom Builders was inspired by Promise Keepers. Being one of the original ambassadors for Promise Keepers in Akron, Richard explained that due to some organizational issues they were called to prayer. That is when he and about 10 other men started gathering to pray in his basement.
Realizing that the Promise Keepers field ministry program in Akron was falling apart, they felt called to form Kingdom Builders as they did not want to see a ministry of that sort die. Since its humble beginnings 14 years ago, they have not missed one Tuesday meeting.
After moving to several different locations over the years, they were recently given the former Croatian-American Club building on Grant Street.
“We know this building is a direct result of prayer,” Richard explained, “we were supposed to pray until something happened, and we did, and things happened.”
They are now in the process of renovating the building and encouraging churches to adopt-a-room to renovate as well. Their goal is to make it a place where men’s ministries across the city can come together.
What They Do
The sole purpose of this ministry is to reach out to men. In order to accomplish this, they have Bible studies and go to the streets – ministering to whomever they come across.
“I pray everyday that I have the chance to bring someone hope,” Richard said.
Then he described the new building’s potential as “unlimited”. As of right now they have Bible study groups that meet, but in the future they plan to offer transitional housing, training, classes, evaluation, employment, and social and spiritual development.
Spirit Led Bible Study
As for their Bible study, it isn’t your average Bible study. There isn’t any particular leader; instead, everyone shares and they learn from each other.
“It’s very neat in that it doesn’t have a theologian to straighten everybody out,” Richard explained, “men get tired of getting straightened out and stop coming.”
For this reason they began a process called ABC in which they allow each man to share what the Holy Spirit has taught him personally from the weekly scripture reading. Each week they are given a passage in the Bible and are required to read it three times prior to the meeting. They each create a title for the passage, the best verse that applies to them, and a challenge verse with a personal application.
“Every man sitting in that circle is more enhanced because he didn’t think about it the way another man thought about it,” Richard said.
This type of environment opens up the floor for the men to get deeper with one another. They find it a safe place. By the time a group of 12-20 men share, it broadens everyone’s outlook.
“There is the domino affect of falling on our face and seeking God’s face, and experiencing the blessing of salvation is an automatic thing that takes place,” Richard explained.
Addressing the Wound
This ministry comes across many hurting men that are caught up in addictions of all sorts. Their message to these men, plain and simple, is that Jesus is the only source of healing for a broken heart.
“We are in the middle of the hood, exactly where we need to be,” Richard said, “so we have the opportunity to address the wound that is producing the symptoms of gang violence, alcoholism, drugs, pornography, and anything a man can do to cover up the wound in his heart.”
Richard also educates men on generational curses and the father vacuum (absence of a father figure), which he believes plays a large part in who men grow up to be.
“God forecasted what would happen in Deuteronomy 5:9; that the sins of the father continue on down to the 3rd and 4th generations, and it’s a continuing domino cycle that has brought us to where we are right now. Men don’t even consider that,” he said.
He went on to explain that verse 10 in the same passage says that the blessing of the father visits unto the thousandth generation.
“What an awesome power that is that men have if we can get them to understand what the problem really is and that it’s not their fault,” he said.
How You Can Help
This ministry is in need of individuals and churches who can help renovate their very large building. The basement needs to be refurbished and the upstairs needs to be converted into a transitional housing unit. To complete this large task, they are asking that churches adopt-a-room to renovate. Once the rooms are ready, they will be looking for a counselor and trained mentors.
This is going to take a lot of teamwork and dedicated individuals, but the end results will be well worth it.
“God didn’t call men to walk alone,” Richard said.
If you would like to help this ministry please call Hank Richards at (330) 644-4514, or Jim Stetler at (330) 644-7040.