BY SHELLY BARSUHN
Scott Whitmore ’05 has taken the concept of cross-cultural openness into the community. “In order to bless,” Whitmore said, “you need to live with people. It can’t just be ‘ministry.’ To impact a community you can’t go to work there and leave. You have to live there and develop relationships.”
While a student and president of the student body, Whitmore remembered waking up to the realities of discrimination. He saw how differently his friends of color experienced daily life, even in the same context.
And during his junior year he traveled to a national conference about Christian multicultural community and leadership. Traveling on a bus with students of diverse ethnicities opened his eyes to “people who live differently than me simply because their skin color is different.”
After graduation—and deep soul-searching—Scott and his wife, Amy (Charles ’05), bought a home in North Minneapolis. “We didn’t move in with any plans to do nonprofit ministry,” he said. “I had thought of building relationships with adults.” But they immediately became acquainted with neighborhood children who asked them point-blank to start a Bible study just for kids.
From the onset, it was much more than Bible study. Each week, seven to ten kids came for dinner, help with homework, and tutoring. Word spread. The number of kids grew, as did the number of adult volunteers from local churches who brought food, served dinner, hung out with kids and helped clean up.
Antioch Ministries evolved into a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Amy and Scott still have full-time jobs (he in business and she in teaching) but continue to interact and serve in North Minneapolis. Whether shooting hoops, assisting with homework, being friends and mentors or helping kids experience what it means to become a follower of Jesus, there is a lot of one-on-one interaction.
The Whitmores continue to dream. Amy wonders what changes could occur if the Antioch ministry included 15 houses scattered throughout North Minneapolis, a reality they are currently seeking through prayer and outreach to churches and individual contributors. They want to cover the remaining 350 blocks in North Minneapolis. If Antioch can buy, renovate and staff each home, they anticipate contact with over 375 kids weekly.
“I really think that it’s going to happen,” said Scott, who envisions the Church coming alongside the ministry to make a difference in the lives of kids.
Scott and Amy are taking a step at a time, just going where God leads them. “The hard steps were the first ones,” Scott admitted, “saying ‘OK’ to God. Our security was knowing that we were where He wanted us.”
For more information, visit antiochnorth.com.