executive

Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club Transformed to Ozaukee Christian School in Trenton, Wisconsin [#SpearmintRhino #OzaukeeChristianSchool #TrentonWisconsin]

The site of a shuttered strip club in Wisconsin is being transformed into “a place of life and light and hope and joy” as it eventually becomes a Christian school, part of which will be opened later September 2019.

The former Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club, located in a strip mall in Trenton, Wisconsin roughly 40 miles north of Milwaukee, will soon open as the Ozaukee Christian School.

Officials purchased the strip mall in 2019 and plan to make what used to be a strip club into a place for education — in “a story only God could write.”

Ozaukee Christian School is thrilled to announce it is moving to a new building, taking over a former strip club in the Town of Trenton. We reached an agreement to purchase the property from California-based Spearmint Rhino and hope to occupy the building in time for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

The unusual building conversion is an answer to prayer that ends a years-long search for a building to call our own.

OCS — a non-denominational Christian school founded in 1990 — has leased several locations over the years. We’ve partnered with Portview Christian Church in Port Washington, Friedens Church in Port Washington, and most recently with St. John XXIII in Saukville for the last 19 years.

“We have felt God leading us to a building of our own that will allow us to grow, to expand our ability to work with special needs children and to reach more families in Washington County, all the while maintaining strong ties with our families in Ozaukee County,” said Kris Austin, OCS Administrator.
The property will allow us to do all this and more. We are purchasing a strip mall that includes the former Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club that we will renovate into classrooms, offices, a cafeteria and a multi-purpose room. This initial phase will allow us to serve 125 students, double our current enrollment. Future additions will include a gym with stage and locker rooms, and a new classroom wing, allowing growth up to 250 students.

“God has given the leadership of OCS a big vision for growth while providing us what we need for each step of this project,” said Dave Swartz, OCS Board President.
We are trusting God to provide the funds for this project, just as He cleared the way for us to buy this building. We have raised $425,000 so far and are seeking a total of $2.2 million to complete the purchase and initial renovation of the property.

How It Came to Be

After looking at over 80 different properties, several school leaders became independently aware the property in January 2017, and after visiting the site we felt it could be a great fit. We reached out to Spearmint but were initially told they weren’t interested in selling. In July 2017, however, the company reached out and offered to sell the building. We began meeting with architects and contractors to determine how this property could fit the school’s needs. After completing preliminary plans, we launched an initial fundraising drive in April 2018 to gain support for this project. In the meantime, we have done prayer walks at the property with staff, parents and alumni. Students regularly gathered to pray for the process along with a group of 140 “email prayer warriors” doing the same.

After months of phone conversations, emails and the abundant prayers of God’s people, we were blessed with a signed purchase offer. We have enjoyed getting to know Mr. Peter Garrell (attorney for Spearmint) and Ms. Joann Castillo (senior executive assistant) over these many months — and praying with them as well. It is a journey unlike anything we could have imagined. It is a story that only God could write.

Wisconsin Christian school to open at site of former strip club:
Fox News

CORRECTION: Couple, Lee and Lizanne Harris taking Church of England to court over Christian school assemblies at Burford Primary School, Burford, in Oxfordshire, UK [#ChurchOfEngland #ChristianSchool #BurfordPrimarySchool]

A couple are taking the Church of England to court over Christian school assemblies which they say are “indoctrinating” their children.

Lee and Lizanne Harris have been granted a judicial review in their challenge to the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust, which runs Burford Primary School, Burford, Oxfordshire, UK.

They said the school should provide an “inclusive” alternative.

The trust said the school had “acted entirely appropriately”.

According to Trust chief executive Anne Davey, “It has provided exactly what the law requires, which includes provision for children to be withdrawn if parents so request.”

The couple said they had asked the school to provide “a meaningful alternative of equal educational worth” after withdrawing their children from assemblies.

Oxfordshire parents’ court challenge over Christian assemblies:
BBC News

Parents launch court action over Christian school assemblies:
The Guardian

7 Christian families were forced to flee their village in Jharkhand state in India after facing intimidation, harassment and threats from a local fundamentalist group, Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM). 3 other families were forcefully converted to Hinduism.

Hindu Jagran Manch is affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the religious arm of the Rashtryia Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological arm of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party led by President Modi, which retained power in the recent elections of India. The displaced families, including one pregnant woman, from Masiya Mahuwatoli village, Gumla district, Jharkhand state, have sought refuge in neighboring villages.

On June 12, representatives of HJM made a list of Christian families in Masiya Mahuwatoli village, who were then instructed to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism. At the instigation of the HJM, a crowd of approximately 200 villagers became violent when the families refused to change their religion. Threats included excommunication, land confiscation, prohibition from using the village road, prevention from accessing communal water and exclusion from government rations.

Anima Munda, who is 9 months pregnant, managed to escape the intimidating and violent crowd. She walked 4 miles to get shelter in a neighboring village. On June 14, 2019 approximately 22 members of the HJM entered a Christian home and dragged a man and his widowed mother, Jugiya Munda, to the street. They were taken to the local temple to renounce their faith. When they refused, their Bibles were burnt and the perpetrators carried out a conversion ceremony. On the same evening, members of HJM attacked the home of a man named Mangra Munda. His home was damaged as a result of attempts by the perpetrators to get in. Mangra said they were going to kill him, but he was able to escape as it was dark.

There are approximately 47 Christians in the village and 37 have managed to escape. They have sought refuge in other villages and continue to live in fear and for the future of their livelihood. This incident affected 12 children who are not able to go to school. The families are concerned for their cattle and their agricultural crops.

Concerns also remain for some of their aging parents who remain alone in the village and who require assistance and care.

An attempt by the families to lodge a complaint June 17, 2019 was rejected at the Bharno town police station. Following this, an online First Information Report (FIR) was registered and a copy of the application has since been forwarded to the attention of the Deputy Superintendent of Police and the Superintendent of Police of Gumla district.

“CSW is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of the Christian families who have been forced to either convert or run for their lives. The freedom to choose a religion is a fundamental right afforded to every Indian citizen. We urge the local authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, to give full protection to these families, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that Christian families in Masiya Mahuwatoli village are able to live without fear and intimidation.”
– Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

INDIA | Christian Families Forcibly Displaced:
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) – Voice for the Voiceless

Until this week, Rebecca Sharibu had never set foot outside of her village in northern Nigeria. Helpless and heartbroken, she boarded a plane for the very first time and traveled 9,000 miles to the United States on a desperate mission to secure the freedom of her young daughter.

Leah Sharibu, 16, was kidnapped in February 2018 in a raid at her school by Boko Haram—a deadly Nigerian terror group with ties to ISIS. In all, the group abducted 110 girls.

One month later, the Nigerian government negotiated the release of every hostage with one exception: Leah, who was 14 years old at the time she was taken captive.

Boko Haram would not let her go unless she renounced her Christian faith and converted to Islam. Leah refused and was declared a “slave for life” by her captors.

“She chose faith over freedom when it would have been so easy to cave.”
– Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians, a grassroots group that raises awareness of worldwide Christian persecution.

Rebecca endured 6 long months without any word about the wellbeing of her daughter, unaware whether she was dead or alive. In August 2018, Boko Haram released a photo of Leah clad in a hijab along with a recording in which Leah can be heard pleading for her freedom.

“Immediately [when] I saw it, I just started crying and weeping. On a daily basis, I am pained. I weep. I don’t feel good, but I have no choice.”
– Rebecca recounting the first time she saw Leah’s photograph.

Rebecca is not alone.

Tears flow throughout the west African nation. About 2,000 Nigerians died last year in ongoing disputes portrayed by the media as a clash between farmers and herdsmen.

“We’re here to let the world know what’s happening, because they keep this narrative of herder-farmer conflict. It’s not that way at all.”
– Alheri Magaji, whose father was arrested and detained for 100 days. A village elder, he was removed from power during a Fulani militant raid.

Magaji equates what’s happening to a deadly religious campaign with the goal of eradicating Christians.

“A bill was just passed by the National House of Assembly saying that preachers are going to be regulated and their licenses renewed every year. We believe Kaduna State is a testing ground for what plans they have in Nigeria as a whole.”
– Alheri Magaji

Magaji and others like Mercy Maisamari represent a younger generation of Nigerian Christians unafraid to speak out, even though it comes with great risk to their own lives now that Fulani Muslims have run the local, state, and federal government apparatus.

Save the Persecuted Christians and the International Committee on Nigeria organized a delegation of Nigerians to travel to Washington, D.C. to share their stories with leaders at the White House and Capitol Hill.

“Someone has to say what is really happening. If God says it’s you, then you can’t run away from the responsibility of being the one to talk.”
– Mercy Maisamari, who was kidnapped by Fulani militants and held hostage for 10 days.

“This really is a jihad that is raging in Nigeria and we are ramping up to a genocide.”
– Dede Laugesen

Leah has celebrated 2 birthdays while in captivity. Her brave stand is encouraging others like Gloria Puldu, who runs the eponymous Leah Foundation – a group dedicated to secure freedom for Leah and other girls like her.

Puldu’s vocal advocacy in the U.S. has caught the attention of Nigerian officials, who visited the local office of the foundation and informed staff they would like question her when she returns.

“As a Christian I’m not afraid. I want to stand for my faith, on behalf of my people.”
– Gloria Puldu

Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council has chosen Leah Sharibu as the cause he will personally champion as the newly-elected chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Still, it is perhaps the biggest understatement to suggest the courage of Leah affects no one more than her own mother – who’s lifeless face reflects a pain no parent should ever bear.

“She did an amazing thing by refusing to renounce Christ, and I’m very proud of what she has done. I’m not sure if I was even in her position at 14 years old that I would have even done what she has done.”
– Rebecca Sharibu

Pain and prayer now fuel Rebecca’s passion, prompting the boldness to ask for help from any and all who will listen.

“I have come to plead with your government—to plead with Pres. Donald Trump. My son’s name is Donald. So Donald Trump I need him to help me have my daughter released. Leah needs to be home like the other girls who are back with their families.”
– Rebecca Sharibu

Christian Teen’s Contagious Courageous Stand, a ‘Hostage for Life’ for Refusing to Deny Jesus:
CBN News

Jace Taylor says he was struggling with being gay. Then, the Bellingham teenager in Washington State finally came out with the support of his family. But now, he says another kind of family turned their backs on him because of his sexuality.

“I was terminated based on my sexual orientation which was found out by social media.”
– Jace Taylor.

According to the 18-year-old, Jace Taylor, he was terminated after being hired by THE FIRS to be a Fir Creek camp counselor.

“At first I wanted to bawl my eyes out because all of my life I’ve wanted to work as a Fir Creek camp counselor and make an impact in their lives like they did when I was younger,”
– Jace Taylor

According to the teenager, the Christian non-profit organization had a big impact on his life growing up.

“They made me feel loved, they made me feel accepted especially by God and Christ.”
– Jace Taylor

Now he says he feels betrayed by the people who knew him well, including the manager who let him go on Tuesday.

“He had a really hard time saying it, I could tell he was struggling with it. He’s a really good family friend with us, he basically watched me grow up to this point.”
– Jace Taylor

The non-denominational Christian organization confirmed that it was the sexuality of Taylor that ended his employment opportunity.

According to its Executive Director Tom Beaumont, “When it became evident in the application process that [Taylor] did not personally align with our statements of faith (in particular, one regarding sexuality) we determined we could not use him in this role.”

For Taylor, the sadness has now turned into anger.

“I am still in shock, this whole thing seems unreal. This can happen, I hear stories about it all over the world; never thought it could happen to me.”
– Jace Taylor

Under state law, an employer cannot discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation. But according to legal experts, non-profit religious organizations are technically exempt from that law.

And legal experts also say similar cases have led to legal fights across the country.

Here is the full statement from Tom Beaumont:

“We are a faith-based organization whose mission is not only to love kids but to introduce them to a God who loves them as well. A God that we feel reveals Himself primarily in the Bible. This, then, is what we are all about. We seek to accomplish this mission through our programs within the context of approved Statements of Faith which are approved by our Board of Directors and in our organizational by-laws. They represent what we believe and who we are.

In order for us to carry our mission out we hire young leaders each summer and we call them summer staff. Some of them are counselors. It is critical that we hire people who are committed to our mission and to these statements of faith. These folks are extremely important to us, we care deeply for them and they are at the point of what we do.

Just recently we extended an invitation for a young man well known and loved at The Firs to serve as a counselor of children at Fircreek Day Camp. (He had previously been employed by us in a non-leadership role.) When it became evident in the application process that he did not personally align with our statements of faith (in particular, one regarding sexuality) we determined we could not use him in this role.

Our quandary was this. In order to be consistent to our beliefs and our mission we felt compelled to pass on someone we truly liked in filling this counselor role. I sincerely wish this was otherwise. I know this may be confusing and contrary to other’s beliefs. The leadership of The Firs will continue to seek the appropriate means to carry out our mission in the context of a changing world.”

Bellingham teen let go as camp counselor by Christian organization because he is gay:
Q13 Fox All Local