Inspiring the Next Generation

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Imagine you have just moved to a new city, in hopes of starting a ministry among college students and impacting the next generation. You have to find some way of meeting people—what do you do?

You go to Chick-fil-A®.

At least that’s what Kareem Manuel and BJ Thompson did. They moved to Atlanta last summer to work with students in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities there—Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. These influential schools are within blocks of each other. “We didn’t know anybody, so we decided to go to Chick-fil-A and buy lunch for some students,” Kareem says.

“We met two young women from Spelman who are on fire for Jesus,” Kareem says. “They told us about a Bible study they’ve been going to on Tuesday nights, and so I went. There were 40 students there, eager to learn about Scripture. It was so encouraging.”

Kareem left the Bible study at 11:30 at night, exhausted. “I’m walking down the street and there were these three dudes just rapping on the street. I rap, so I stopped just to listen.

“One guy, Tristan, was rapping something to the effect of, ‘I asked God to forgive me of my sin; I know I’m the wickedest of men.’ When he finished, I asked him what he meant by that. He said, ‘I just know that I’m doing my own thing.’ So I asked him, ‘Are you a Christian, are you spiritual, are you searching, what would you call yourself?’

“He said he was a Christian, but he didn’t go to church. But his friend spoke up and said, ‘Right now, he’s not anything. But he is reading the Bible. He’s going to read it all the way through, and then he’s going to read the Koran, and then he’s going to read a Buddhist book.’

“So I said, ‘do you mind if I show you something?’” With that, Kareem opened his Bible to Acts 8 and read about Philip offering to help the Ethiopian eunuch understand what he was reading.

“I said, ‘I know this is weird, you don’t even know who I am, but I would love to read the Bible with you.’ So now we’re going through the book of Romans together,” shared Kareem.

BJ, his wife, Vanja, Kareem, and his wife, Ashley, left other jobs and ministries to join hands with the team in Atlanta. They saw a chance to make a lasting difference.

“The students in these schools become senators, doctors, and scientists,” Kareem says. “We have the chance to share the Gospel with them to help shape their worldview through the lens of Christ and the Gospel. That will produce dividends far beyond my lifetime and theirs.”

Kareem learned about The Navigators growing ministry in Atlanta through his friend, a Christian hip hop artist who has been involved with some of the Navigator ministries there.

Kareem flew to Atlanta to visit with Matt Letourneau, NavCity director of Atlanta. They met up at the Chick-fil-A.

“When I met with Matt, I caught the vision for Atlanta, for life-on-life ministry, for pouring into the next generation of disciplemakers,” Kareem says.

Matt also talked about racial reconciliation, describing how the team works together across cultural lines.

“When I heard what God was doing in Atlanta, I felt God leading me and my family to be part of this restorative, God-centered, God-focused work and mission.”

God is moving, and things are happening in Atlanta in the hearts of the next generation. Even at Chick-fil-A.

For more on the NavCity initiatives of Atlanta visit

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