*UPDATE* We have received the initial funding for the mats and equipment!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, EVERYONE WHO DONATED!! Our first class at Project 658 will be Thursday, Jan. 28th from 6-8pm! I’ve also heard from my friends www.deusfight.com that they are interested in helping provide gis for the kids! So if you’re a grappler and want to support a company that does some amazing things around the world, go buy a Deus Fight Co. gi or shirt! And if you’re a BJJ instructor who’d like to come teach a guest class for these kids (or perhaps even start something like this in your own town!) I’d love to chat with you!
Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement! Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks and while our initial costs for this project have been met, the ongoing ministry of Disciple Dojo still relies largely on the support of our monthly donors to keep things going. If you’d like to get on board with this ministry, head over to our donor page and consider becoming a regular supporter!
Hi Dojo readers,
I wanted to share about our next major project and invite you to get on board if you want to see it flourish…
Last Thursday, I had the joy of leading a basic self-defense seminar for kids at Project 658 near uptown Charlotte. Project 658 is an organization that works with the international refugee community here in the Queen City in order to help them get established, assimilated into their new home country, and provide them with the basic necessities and skills needed to thrive here. They offer many outreach activities including a thrift store, ESL classes, afterschool programs, and even a culinary training center that helps people develop skills needed to work in, and eventually perhaps one day oversee their own restaurants. It’s an amazing ministry here in the city that is truly showing Gospel love in a tangible way to people who have been through absolute hell and ended up here in the safety of our community. Go check them out at www.project658.com !
If you’ve followed my social media lately, you realize I have a burdened heart for the refugee crisis and cross-cultural relations between American Christians and people from Middle East and/or Muslim backgrounds in particular. I’ve been thinking and praying about how Disciple Dojo could do something in these areas, and so a few weeks ago I reached out to the folks at 658 and asked if they’d be interested in offering a free martial arts program to their community members. We met to discuss some ideas and I was excited to share with them how I’ve seen martial arts, particularly Brazilian Jiujitsu (which is my current focus), build amazing community and friendships among people from vastly different walks of life–socio-economic, religious, racial, and cultural. I’ve also seen the confidence it instills in kids firsthand (I began my training when I was 8 years old, and it has had a lifelong impact).
So we decided to offer an initial basic self-defense seminar at 658’s facility to see what interest there may be for weekly or monthly classes.
It was a blast!
We had students from Afghanistan, Congo, Ivory Coast, and Southeast Asia in attendance. All of them had a great time and their smiles were infectious! I invited my awesome photographer friend from CharlotteONE, Sarah Newlon, to come capture the event. Take a look…
After the seminar, all the kids said that they would love it if I came back and taught them more. After talking with 658 staff, we’ve decided to start a weekly Thursday afternoon class in January, and are looking at potentially doing a monthly Women’s Self-Defense workshop the first Saturday of each month. It’s an amazing opportunity to provide a needed service to the community that is practical, fun, and combines two things Disciple Dojo is passionate about: equipping people’s bodies and expressing the love of God to people from all different backgrounds.
Dojo readers, this is where YOU come in!
In order to offer weekly BJJ classes to these kids and their families as an outreach of Disciple Dojo…we need funding. I don’t sell enough artwork, books, or DVDs currently to subsidize such an endeavor (though I would love for that to one day not be the case!). So I am looking for friends, supporters, and businesses that would be willing to partner with us in this.
Specifically, I need to raise enough money to provide the following:
- Safe mats! (~$2,500) – We need to procure at least 20’x30′ worth of portable, flexi-roll style mats that can be stored at 658 and rolled out each week to train on. I’m working with Leadership Martial Arts to get the best possible pricing for high-quality mats that the kids can safely practice on and that will last for a long time.
- Gis/uniforms/belts (~$50 per student) – I’ll be reaching out to some BJJ gi companies to see if they can provide official Disciple Dojo gis and belts at cost, and in the meantime I’ll be asking the BJJ community to donate used gis and white belts for the kids.
- Heavy bag/BOB target (~$200) – The kids LOVED practicing on the BOB target I borrowed for this event. I would like to get one that, along with the mats, can be stored at 658 for weekly use.
- Focus mitts/Thai pads (~$200) – A set of focus mitts or Thai pads to practice basic striking and blocking
- *Optional future expense* – Ongoing travel/guest teachers ($100 per month) – In addition to covering my weekly travel expenses to and from 658, which is about 35-55 mins from my house depending on traffic, I would like to be able to invite other area instructors to come teach the kids from time to time and cover their travel expenses as well. [Note: this is an operational expense that I hope to one day find a way to cover, but is not necessary in order to get the program started.]
This is an exciting prospect for any BJJ enthusiast, but it’s also a daunting challenge–especially for someone who’s expertise is in art, writing, speaking, and martial arts rather than fundraising, administration, and logistics! In addition to financial support, I am inviting all friends of Disciple Dojo to please lift this project up in prayer. More than simply teaching these kids and families how to protect and defend themselves from physical harm, I want to build GENUINE friendships among them and to be a bridge between them and the wider Charlotte community, particularly the BJJ commuity. I want to encourage others to reach out with a hand of friendship and love rather than a posture of fear and suspicion when it comes to refugees. I want to provide the kids with confidence and an outlet for their stress, pressures, and anxieties they face as they grow up in a new country surrounded by people who see them as a burden or threat to their way of life. Being a teenager is hard enough as it is!
Lastly, I want to honor the Heavenly Sensei, Jesus Himself. I want to follow in the footsteps of Him who called us to “go and do likewise” when we see a need. To bring to Him our paltry loaves and fishes, and see Him do the miraculous with our meager offering. Teaching BJJ to a handful of kids on a weekly basis seems inconsequential in the universal scheme of things and given the worldwide problems we are confronted with each day in the news. But I believe even such a small endeavor can have eternal ramifications, and even touching one family’s life with the love of Christ can change the world–or at the very least can change that family’s world.
If you would like to help this happen, please consider donating at the link below.
Additionally…if martial arts isn’t your thing, but you’d like to help the ministry of Disciple Dojo beyond just this particular project, I would ask that you consider becoming a monthly “Dojo Donor” at one of our belt rank levels. This ministry would not exist without the handful of faithful monthly donors who have supported us so far. But we definitely need more regular support that we can count on for ongoing expenses.
Thanks for your prayers and support, everyone! Have a wonderful Christmas and an even better New Year!
13623 Christian Tyler Ct.
Charlotte, NC 28278
**Unfortunately, due to our status as an L3C corporation (see below), donations by individuals are not tax-deductible**
Disciple Dojo is organized as a low-profit limited liability company (L3C) recognized by the State of North Carolina. In contrast to a traditional LLC small business, an L3C is a private business set up so that:
1. It significantly furthers the accomplishment of charitable or educational purpose and
would not have been formed except to further these purposes;
2. Income production or property appreciation is not a significant purpose; and
3. It does not seek to accomplish political or legislative purpose.
As a religious, artistic, teaching organization, Disciple Dojo fulfills these requirements. However, unlike with a traditional 501(c)3 charity, donations to Disciple Dojo are not tax-deductible under current IRS regulations.