Faith Future is a unique initiative launched by a new believer listening to and obeying God – to connect with his community, change lives and share faith.
Last Wednesday evening (Dec 12) over 150 people ate at Faith Future – and church planter Peter Hobbs had the opportunity to share the story with over 100 unchurched people, saying, ‘It was faith that started this project, faith that will sustain it, and faith that will complete it.’ He went on to share the Christmas story and how Jesus came to our world to give hope, second chances and new life – and how as followers of Jesus ‘we seek to do the same and that’s why this project commenced!’
At the end of the evening restaurant owner Peter Kenny presented achievement awards to each of the six secondary school students who had run the restaurant and prepared the meals for the evening. Bellarine Secondary College principal Alison Murphy praised the owners, the Salvation Army and church planter Peter Hobbs for their commitment to ‘giving these students a hope and a future’. She said, ‘We are indebted to you for the sacrifice and investment you have made into these students and the school community’s lives’.
Following tragedy in his family Peter Kenny, owner and director of Bellarine Estate, was talking with church planter Peter Hobbs. He wasn’t interested in church but had been brought up a Catholic, and Hobbs asked him, ‘What has God been saying to you through this experience?’ A few weeks later he answered that question, ‘God is telling me I need to help you guys’.
Peter Hobbs could have responded, ‘Excellent. I have 100 things you can do, let’s pick one and let’s go’. But he didn’t. He asked, ‘What is God telling you to do?’ Peter Kenny wasn’t sure, but a short time later, at a community development meeting organized by Peter Hobbs, he said, ‘God is telling me to open my restaurant on Wednesdays to train students in the area how to run a restaurant’.
His vision was to give young people hope for the future, get them working in the local hospitality industry, lower the levels of unemployment in the area, and boost the regional economy. Peter Hobbs says his mouth dropped open as he responded, “OK. Awesome!’ He hadn’t had this on his ‘to do’ list! As a joke, Peter Kenny first suggested the restaurant be named Hell’s Kitchen – but the name he wanted was Faith Future. He said, ‘People can come to Faith, where they will be showing faith in the kids’ abilities to prepare good food (and not poison them). And, the kids will need faith in themselves.’
Within a few weeks Kenny had enlisted the support of all his restaurant staff, met with the local Bellarine Secondary College principal and staff (who loved the idea), and interviewed students, selecting those who most needed the opportunity. Salvos Connect, in the nearby city of Geelong, lent a bus to take students to and from the school and restaurant for training.
Over the past eight weeks the students have been equipped and empowered to run the restaurant – including promotions, the website, as well as running the ‘front and back’ of the house. They have been transformed from timid and insecure young people to confident, potential future restaurant owners. One girl has been given an apprenticeship at Bellarine Estate and two are looking to get apprenticeships in other area restaurants. Others are doing casual work and will be working over the summer in the hospitality industry. Beginning with Peter Kenny’s ‘small mustard seed of faith’ – and obedience to God, a team of potential chefs is emerging.
Their lives are not only improving but they are also experiencing the kingdom of God through Jesus’ intentional followers. One student has started reading the Seven Signs of John, and after completing the first said, ‘I didn’t really understand why Jesus turned water into wine, but after reading the story I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders’.
‘Is our aim to get them to church?’ asks planter Peter Hobbs. ‘No, ten thousand times, no,’ he responds. ‘Our aim is for the disciples to be the church – and, as they take the great commission seriously they will make disciples also. A messianic community is developing at the Bellarine Estate’. Next Monday evening Faith Future will receive a community service award from the Bellarine Secondary College.
Check out pictures and follow the story at The Salvation Army Bellarine Peninsula.