The name, 3:11, comes from the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 3:11 - "For no one can lay any foundation other than that which is laid in Jesus Christ." While Christ has guided the work of 3:11 and has provided the foundation for this work, we do not proselytize to our young people. We engage youth in conversations around faith, affirming and accepting their perspectives and choices. We do not have any faith requirements as compliance for services and we do not require any religious activities.
3:11 Youth Housing began in 2012 with a dream, a team of dedicated youth, and a newly engaged couple. God took this dream and created a reality.
In January of 2012, Jonathan and Lauren VanKeulen were praying that God would clearly show them the path for their next steps. They had felt convicted for about 6 months that maybe Jon needed to quit his job and pursue opening a housing program, but it just didn’t seem realistic them. So they asked God to give them so much clarity they couldn’t argue.
A day after that prayer, God answered.
At youth group that night, one of the teens approached Lauren and Jon, explaining that he really needed to talk to them about something. He told them that God was telling him to start a housing program for youth in the city. After everything he’d been through and everything he saw his friends going through, he couldn’t ignore this huge problem. Jon and Lauren were blown away. They immediately started praying. As they talked and prayed, God was clear in His direction–Jon needed to quit his job and they needed to pursue this full time. Lauren and Jon realized that God was calling them to something bigger. Addressing the housing needs for youth in this city would give them an avenue to address the low graduation rates, generational poverty, and incidents of violence --leading the way towards life transformation.
Throughout this time, Jon and Lauren had many conversations and meetings that further confirmed this decision. When they obeyed, God said go. Since then, they have been blessed to work with a variety of organizations within Grand Rapids to provide needed services, job opportunities, and transportation. Many young people have committed to being a part of this program, paying a percentage of their income towards rent, investing in their future, and learning how to transition into self-sufficient adults. The dream of 3:11 is a reality and God is working in the lives of youth every single day.
3:11 Youth Housing has a vision for the future. A vision to see more lives transformed and more youth connected. 3:11 focuses on depth of impact and true growth. Our organization envisions a city where youth know they have a place, where their graduation day can be celebrated, and where they can move from dependency to interdependence through their time at 3:11 Youth Housing.