In October, Kevin and Beth Allen and I traveled to Colorado for some database training and to meet with several local pastors and course leaders of Christianity Explored. Colorado Springs is home to one of the pioneer churches for CE in the States – Village Seven Presbyterian Church, which adopted the new ministry coming out of London in the early 2000s.
Now, almost twenty years later, the ministry of Christianity Explored has grown beyond their expectation, producing a family of believers who’ve met Christ, been discipled and are now leading others to Christ through Christianity Explored.
During our trip to Colorado, we were privileged to sit with part of this family and hear powerful stories of what God has done through Christianity Explored at Village Seven. We gathered in a large workshop, spread across couches and bar stools. The atmosphere was filled with laughter and emotion, as, due to COVID, the group hadn’t been together in person for nearly nine months. As I listened to their stories, I felt like a lucky bystander who’d stumbled upon a joyful family reunion.
“We call ourselves the Island of Misfit Toys,” Julie Johnson laughed. “We didn’t really fit anywhere else in church. But we needed a place to explore this faith, which for many of us, was brand new.”
Christianity Explored was pioneered in Village Seven mainly by Dave and Kathleen Hampton. Dave, a Louisiana native, began his journey with Christianity Explored when his pastor asked him if he’d be interested in a new evangelism ministry.
“So many people Kathleen and I were working with at the time were open to spiritual conversations and the Gospel. But they were not open to church. Especially a big Presbyterian church!” Dave said. “After I went through Christianity Explored the first time, the Spirit spoke to me. CE was where I needed to be and had a purpose I could buy into. It was a real down-to-earth place where I felt comfortable bringing people.”
And bring people he did. Nearly every person in the room, when asked how they came to Christ or got involved with CE, pointed to Dave and Kathleen.
One of the first people Dave and Kathleen invited to Christianity Explored were Schawn and Jill Hill. The couples met through Shawn’s brother, who connected Dave and Schawn for a business meeting.
Schawn recalled his first time meeting Dave. “About ten minutes before he arrived, my brother said, ‘Be on good behavior; he’s a Christian.’ Right away my blood pressure went through the roof.” Schawn, a Native American, had grown up very aware of the spiritual realm, but had been dismissed and hurt by Christians he’d interacted with in the past.
“So I came to the door in my muscle shirt and my hair all out (which was to my waist then),” Schawn explained. “I wasn’t going to let him in! So I stood in the doorway and said, ‘I hear you’re a Christian?’ And Dave immediately responded, ‘Well that depends on what you think a Christian is.’ I was impressed by that answer, and how quickly he gave it.”
Still skeptical, Schawn lobbed an unexpected question at Dave. “Have you ever heard of the Nephilim?” he asked, referring to an obscure group mentioned in Genesis 6 and part of some Native American folklore. Dave said that he had. Schawn looked at him surprised and Dave asked him if Schawn had a Bible.
“I said, ‘No!’ and Dave said he’d be right back,” Schawn recalled. “He took all of his business paraphernalia back to his car and came in with nothing but his Bible. And being in charge of a multi-million dollar construction company, I knew what that meant. I figured, Wow, this must be more important than the business meeting we were about to have. That made a huge impression on me.”
Dave and Kathleen invited the Hills to church that Sunday, and to everyone’s surprise, they came. Within a month, the couple was attending Christianity Explored.
Jill said that she felt overwhelmed her first week of Christianity Explored, but not by knowledge or what was being presented. “I was overwhelmed because two people (Dave and Kathleen) that I had only known for about a month, were seriously loving on me!” Jill said. “It had been twenty years of never having someone outside of our family doing that to us. It was so weird. Even growing up in church as a pastor’s daughter, I had never experienced that.”
A few weeks into the course after encountering the love of Jesus and his followers, Schawn and Jill professed faith in Christ.
“They were so excited by what they were learning,” Dave said, “that they immediately turned around and became course leaders for Christianity Explored.” Ultimately, both of Schawn and Jill’s daughters also came to faith in Jesus through CE. The family has been involved with CE at Village Seven ever since and have invited many more to meet Christ over the years.
The group continued to share stories and encouragement for three hours. I left overwhelmed and grateful to have witnessed the love, trust, and community built among this group of so-called “misfits.” What the Holy Spirit had done in and through this group was tangible: they truly were disciples in the business of making more disciples.
We look forward to returning to Colorado to professionally film many of the stories shared among this group. We hope the testimonies and “lessons learned” by those at Village Seven and other churches will inspire many to use Christianity Explored as a long-term evangelism ministry.
If you would like to give to help fund this filming project, you can do so through our online giving page. Under “where do you want your gift to go?” type in “filming projects.” We are continually humbled by and grateful for your support.