Building for the Kingdom – Mark Appel
By: Mark Appel
July 22, 2016
I love serving in community alongside my church family at Grace Bible Church in Houston. As a part of the parking team, I have a lot of fun with the other team members wearing orange vests, waving flags, and helping people find where to park. Through serving on this team I’ve made some amazing friends, one of these great friends is Burton Hanson, who has introduced me to an incredible ministry organization called The Imperfect Cross.
The Imperfect Cross is both a business venture and a ministry initiative, where people can buy crosses that are made out of railroad spikes. This is a beautiful picture of what God has done with our lives: Taking something that was old and beat up, going to be thrown out, and redeeming it to make something beautiful.
We love to sell crosses and tell people about Jesus.
Burton took this idea of a business and combined it with another passion that he had: Prison ministry. He created a way to offer jobs to men who recently released inmates who had been ministered to and brought to Christ through a local prison ministry. Suddenly these men find that they have the opportunity to start earning an income, telling people about the Gospel, and getting involved in a community of Christian men to connect with. Not only are we able to tell the Gospel to others, we are living it.
Since I’ve always been interested in the fundamentals of running a business and knowing costs, margins, and numbers, and I’d like to be more productive with the extra time I have in the off-season, I saw a need in this business and I asked if I could help. We’ve been able to make a website as well as find a more efficient way to make sales to progress this business. As a result, we’ve seen more and more people get excited about this and buy crosses. Around Christmas time we were really able to ramp up our sales, allowing us to provide more work opportunities to recently released inmates. It’s a way that we can invest in the prison ministry as well as invest in the business.
Part of the reason that Burton wanted to offer this chance to ex-convicts (and aren’t we all ex-convicts in Christ?) is because the skills they learn while in prison are oriented around this kind of work, making it something they can easily do with love and pride! It’s a way for them to be encouraged as well as encourage and point others to Christ. Each cross is made by someone who has seen and experienced a broken life that has been redeemed and made beautiful.
Since I’ve had the privilege to work alongside Burton, I see his life as one that has been completely changed by the work of Christ. The joy that he has in Christ is evident in all that he does and that has been a huge encouragement to me in my faith. He really helps me stay accountable in my own walk with Christ and is someone who I can grow closer to Christ with as we do Kingdom work together.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” —2 Corinthians 5:17
Mark Appel is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
View Mark’s Increase Profile here: http://theincreasebaseball.com/author/markappel/
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