Youth invited to hang out at church café

Published 12:02 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

By Morgan Mizell

NATCHEZ — The “Hangout Café” at First Assembly of God Church on Liberty Road continues to serve the youth of the Miss-Lou as a safe place to socialize and hear God’s word.

Grant Westbrook, outreach pastor for the church, said the idea came about when he was interviewing for a position at the church nearly four years ago.

“The idea behind the café is giving the youth of the area a place to go, and something to do so they are not getting into trouble or walking the streets,” Westbrook said. “We offer basketball, touch football, video games, pool, ping pong, concessions and more.”

The café offers more than just a place to hang out. Westbrook includes a time of devotion called “The Moment.”

“We have about 45 minutes where we come together for a group activity and look at different biblical messages,” Westbrook said. “When we are done, they socialize some more and then they go home.”

Outlets such as the café and other outreach ministries such as Crosstown and the Tuesday Food Pantry are also a part of the church’s new mission – connecting the community to Christ.

“Assembly of God churches all over the country have seen numbers decline, and some have even had to close their doors,” Westbrook said. “The idea was to get out of our four walls and out into the community — not just be about ourselves.”

The outreach ministries have grown. Several people served by the different programs have made the decision to give their lives to the Christ.

“We had people showing up early for the Tuesday food pantry distribution, so we decided to add in a prayer and worship time and it has been going well,” Westbrook said. “The Café has had nights with more than forty.”

Westbrook shared a story about a young man who was walking by the church shortly after they began the café.

“This young man had a history of getting into trouble and had been in and out of the court system,” Westbrook said. “He saw the kids outside playing basketball and decided to join in with them. He later became a member of our church, got baptized and changed his life. Stories like this give me motivation to continue this outreach.”

Members of the church financially support the café, and the concession sales help it remain viable.

“We have volunteers from our church and others who help with the café,” Westbrook said. “If anyone is interested in helping us or even donating things like basketballs, footballs or video games, we will gladly accept them.”

The café is open from 7 p.m. through to 11 p.m. for youth ages 12 through 18 on Friday night year-round and on Saturday night during football season.

Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or seeking more information about the outreach ministries at First Assembly of God can contact Grant Westbrook by calling 601-442-3178 or emailing westbrookgrant@gmail.com.