Today, Downtown Ministries is a thriving ministry located in a beautiful, recognizable space right on Main Street. However, the organization has had its share of challenges over the years, particularly in relation to the two different structures which it has called home. Yet God has richly provided throughout the ministry’s history, especially in the process of acquiring locations.
Finding a Place to Get Started
After founders Marty Johnson, Skip Seibel, and Bob Good put together a team to support the Mustard Seed Jam House, they needed a place to put it. They looked at a large number of potential options; Bob remembers a great building on Canal Street which had a nice big space and a fantastic bar. However, the team knew that the ministry’s location would be a key part of whether it was able to effectively serve the town, so Marty felt it was important for the ministry to be on Main Street.
Marty said, “finding a place to get it all started, that was a challenge…But [it] fell in our lap eventually.” Bob described the situation’s resolution by saying, "God put the building there for us.” DTM’s first location was in the basement of The Bible Gift Shoppe on Main Street, a few blocks from where it is now. The owner, Kathy Turcic, was a local church member and friend of the DTM founders; she and her husband allowed the team to use the space, though it required some remodeling to be serviceable.
During the renovation process, the team ran into an issue: the fire marshal told them that a sprinkler system needed to be installed. The estimated cost for that installation was several thousand dollars, which was way beyond the ministry’s minimal budget. Yet God again provided. Mike Godinich, a friend of the DTM founders who enjoyed attending auctions, happened to have sprinklers in his basement which were exactly the kind required. Getting them installed cost only a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand!
Seeking A New Space
The Jam House ministry served young people for ten years. As time wore on, the board also started having conversations about how DTM could grow. They quickly realized that in order for growth to occur, a new, larger building would be required. Though they didn’t have money to purchase one, the DTM team began to pray and look around town; Marty was particularly interested in the biggest and nicest building they found. Its asking price was $160,000, which the ministry certainly didn’t have, but the board came up with a plan to offer part of that price and a tax write off. Their first surprise was when the building’s owner accepted the offer.
The next step became to acquire the S100,000 they had offered. Marty talked with some banks, who said that DTM would need to come up with a $30,000 down payment. He remembers, “We were all just kinda stumped at that.”
A Gracious Gift
Within a short period of time, God did something amazing. A friend of one of DTM’s board members sold his company and felt burdened to donate some of the money. He called the board member and asked if DTM would be able to accept a $30,000 donation without it causing problems for their tax-exempt status; he had no idea that the amount he offered was exactly the amount needed for the new building’s down payment.
Marty said, “That was the first big door that opened and that's kinda how we fly. If the door's gonna go open, you gotta run through it. If it's gonna close, just back off [because] you're looking in the wrong door."
Patience and Provision in Renovations
Remodeling that building into Fresh Grounds Coffeehouse, DTM’s current space, took three and a half years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Watching the slow progress, the Greenville community began to doubt whether the work would get finished. But Marty observed that “never once did we stop because we had no money…God just seemingly provided for us day after day. It really showed us that God is in this." Now the town is proud of Fresh Grounds and appreciates that the DTM team brought it to Greenville.
God Continues to Provide
Though God provided buildings for DTM in incredible ways, this is only a fraction of his provision to the ministry overall. Bob said, "It's just been all about what God's done, it's not really at all what we've done." He also described how “[e]very single need that was there was met by the local churches that came through with things...It's just phenomenal. I can't think of another ministry that I've been involved with that has found that kind of multi-faceted blessings that comes through God and through his people."