The Backstory, Part 2

(continued, of course, from part 1)

In my third year of being with this group of very faithful people known as Christ Fellowship, I started to feel the need to isolate me and my family. I felt like disappearing into the woods never to be heard from again. The friend who had brought me to CF gave me some wise and pivotal counsel: “Since the church is about community and people, you need to ask God what this isolation feeling is about.” So I started talking to God about it, and He was kind enough to reply.

God showed me how all of my ideas and efforts were related: the family entertainment center; helping people; working for myself; feeling the need to isolate, and many others. He outlined the idea for a remote facility that would help single parents. People in the city would come to this facility to rest and connect with God in a way not possible in the city. Single parents (some of whom I’d met at the children’s home before they had kids) who needed a place to stay and work and get educated could run the place, with the help of nuclear families who would mentor them in the art of Family Fu. The main draw would be a family entertainment center inside of a man-made mountain, with a lazy river running around and through it.

Over the next three years, I would begin working out the details. Once again, my friend gave me wise counsel: “Now that you know the what, you need to know the when and where.” So I started seeking those pieces of information.

During this time, my parents lived in San Antonio. Being an Interstate Highway hater, I would take US 281 to travel down to see them. It ran through several small towns, one of which was Hamilton, TX. The town first caught my eye because they had the traditional town square and courthouse right on 281. For some reason I really liked the town, and it reminded me of a line from the movie Babe: “But Farmer Hogget knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored, for within them lie the seeds of destiny.” So I started looking for property in Hamilton.

With no money but lots of faith, I located a 65-acre ranch that was for sale because the owners were too old to take care of it. Upon visiting them, they told me all about Hamilton, how it was a dry county, how the churches worked together to help the poor, and how the grown children were moving back to start businesses because the town was such a nice place to live. Whether the facts of their story were completely correct or not was irrelevant. In my mind, this town had great potential.

On the way home from this exploratory meeting, I decided to go through Dublin, TX, and visit the Dr. Pepper plant there. We had been once before with some kids from the children’s home, but I wanted to go with just our family, and fewer responsibilities on my mind. When we got there we had time for Old Doc’s Soda Shop and one other place – the resale shop of Dwelling Place ministries and Christian Women’s Job Corp. This organization helps women get reeducated and pays for it by participating in the marketplace. They have a storefront in Dublin, and they lease square footage to antique dealers. I was impressed by the idea that there was already something in Dublin similar to what I wanted to do, so I went home and looked up Dublin, TX.

What I found was a city of 3800 people, and 31% of those people lived below the poverty line. Dublin is where the need was. I started searching for property in the Purves area south of Dublin, thinking that I could drive a “golden spike” between Dublin and Hamilton, hopefully drawing the helpful forces out of Hamilton to help. But as I searched, God told me to go where the need was, and help would come. So I concentrated on Dublin.

We now have a two-acre place that will be serving as an experiment in our business model. We have an RV shed that will be converted to a family getaway, big enough to house a modern (large!) family. We have plans for the activities the families will do when they visit us.

Once we flex our bed and breakfast muscles and learn the ropes, we hope to hire a single parent to come and run the place. Then, we can show the prototype to others, and start looking for a place to build the full facility, including the mountain and lazy river.

These are big plans, but God is much bigger. In fact, one of His hardest lessons for me was thinking bigger than my abilities, or even my life span. If it fits in my budget or within 50 years, it’s not big enough, according to Him. Once I learned that it was neither my money nor my effort that would finish this project, I could focus all of my energies on simply starting it. (We’ll see if I stick with the word “simply” a few years from now!)

One other thing I must mention: I really want this facility to stand on its own. We won’t be asking the government at any level for grants or loans. Private grants will be received with much thankfulness, but we will not go looking for them. My software business is funding the startup, and will cover whatever the bed and breakfast can’t on its own. But as we add facilities, activities, and options, I fully expect our participation in the marketplace(s) to be the main – and hopefully only – source of income.

For more information about Hope Canyon, check out http://www.hopecanyon.org .

-Brad Stanford
September 2009

Responses

  1. Wow. That’s quite a stunning and awesome story. Really touched me. Almost felt like it was written for me.


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