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David Grams | How to Reach a Neighborhood for Jesus in North Minneapolis

David Grams is only twenty-two years old but he has already planted Valiant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today he shares his strategy for impacting a neighborhood in North Minneapolis that is stricken with crime and poverty. In the midst of riots, a rapid increase in violent crime and homicides, and calls for defunding the police, David Grams’ church is making a real difference in the lives of real people.

Key Quote from David Grams: God doesn’t change the world with converts, He changes it with disciples.

Website: https://valiantmi.com


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Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
David Grams is only 22 years old, but he’s already planted Valiant church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today. He shares his strategy for impacting a neighborhood in North Minneapolis that is stricken with crime and poverty in the midst of riots or rapid increase in violent crime and homicides and calls for defunding the police. David Graham’s church is making a real difference in the lives of real

Evangelism Podcast Host (00:32):
People. Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be welcome to the evangelism podcast with Dr. Daniel King, where Daniel interviews, full-time evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and normal everyday Christians to discover how they share their faith, their powerful testimonies and amazing stories that will inspire you to reach people with the good news. And now here’s your host, missionary and evangelist Daniel King.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:10):
Welcome to the evangelism podcast. I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. And today I have a very special guest pastor David Graham’s from million Annapolis, Minnesota. He pastors the Valiant church here, pastor David. Thanks so much for being on the

Pastor David Grams (01:28):
Podcast. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:30):
Now, one of the very unique things about you and your ministry is that you’re, you’re very young. How old are you now? 22 years old right now, 22 years old. And you’ve already written some books. Tell me about how many books have you written? I’ve written four books. Wow. And you’ve started a church here in Minneapolis. How old were you when you started the church?

Pastor David Grams (01:53):
I was at the ripe young age of 20. When we started Valley in church, my dad would call me a young whippersnapper

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:59):
Young whipper snapper. And so God put it on your heart to start a church, kind of walk me through that process. Why did you start your own church and, and what prompted you to do that at age? That a lot of young people are still trying to figure out what they want to do in life?

Pastor David Grams (02:16):
Yeah, so it all started at around 10 years old. That was when my parents first started telling me that I was called to ministry. Cause my mother had known actually from the time I was in the womb that I’d be in ministry and I wanted to reject that call. I had no interest in it. And then by the age of 16, I finally yielded to the Lord. I had just recently made a personal decision to surrender my life to Jesus. And I had a number of different experiences in prayer where the Lord just kind of seized me and got me on the right track and shook me up a little bit. So I decided I was going to start a church at some point in my life. I didn’t know it was going to happen that soon. And so then at about 18 or 19, I had some experiences later, which made it clear to me that I was supposed to start church in the near future.

Pastor David Grams (03:00):
And originally I had assumed I would be, you know, either hired at someone else’s church or maybe I’d be closer to 30, 40 years old before I’d even think about starting a church of my own. And the main reason it became clear as B was because I just kind of developed a God-given dissatisfaction with what I believe to be a timidity and complacency in the body of Christ in the United States. And there’s a lot of local communities and churches that have kind of caught wind of that revelation and are making necessary changes. And I felt like the Lord wanted to make me a part of that movement in the body of Christ in America to kind of wake up to the call and the body of Christ to really answer the great commission, to obey it with fire and with passion. And so I decided that I needed to start a church and a court, the way that the Lord communicated it to me was that I was to do so before my 21st birthday.

Pastor David Grams (03:52):
So at the time I was 20 and it was July of, I believe it was 2018 and I was walking out of the parking lot at my home church. And the Lord spoke to me in a way that was so, so clear. One of the few times in my life where I knew it was God, it was almost audible. And he said, you need to start a church before your 21st birthday. And he said, the reason why is because in the book of Deuteronomy, it says that you reach the age of war as a young man, when you’re 20 years old. And as soon as you turn 20, you go to war and you don’t wait any longer. And so he said, if you wait any longer, I’m going to have to get somebody else basically, you know? And so he made it very clear.

Pastor David Grams (04:29):
You need to start a church before you’re 21. Cause you’re, you’re at the age of war now, you know? And, and so I said yes to the Lord and I had no idea how to start a church. I had never looked into it. I had delayed any study really into that, that particular topic. But I told my parents, we had kind of a vision meeting and a interest interest meeting. And then we started in February of 2019, which was two months before my 21st birthday. So I feel like I made it in the Nick of time, you know? And and, and we were all ready. I didn’t completely expect to be, but everything just kind of settled in and fell into place. And it was exactly what the Lord wanted me to do when we feel right about it. We know we’re being led by the spirit and where we need to be. So that’s the story.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:10):
And so you have spent a lot of time studying God’s word, spending time with God getting a message for people, and then you actually started a podcast and that started attracting attention. Tell me some of, of what God has been speaking to you about the time that we’re in.

Pastor David Grams (05:31):
Yeah. So when I was first really thinking about this, I was probably 15, 16 years old. And I, like I mentioned, I had spent a lot of time in prayer in my prayer closet personally, it was just being out in the woods. I loved being outside. And so I would pray. And the Lord from the time, you know, as alert as early as I can remember, the Lord had inspired me and actually woken me up to a relationship with God through the story of King David. And so, like I mentioned, as early as I can, I was so interested in the story of David and Goliath and I, and I read through first and second Samuel many, many times. And that was actually the first thing I ever studied in the Bible. I had brushed through scripture before, but first and second Samuel was really what did it for me is what inspired me.

Pastor David Grams (06:10):
And so the Lord used that scripture, specifically that story of David and Goliath to show me the stage that the body of Christ is in around the world right now. And he told me that through the story of David and Goliath, that just as King Saul was not equipped to face Goliath or encourage or inspire the army because of his timidity and lack of obedience, God had to raise up somebody else. And he showed me that King salt represents kind of a fading or falling away a floundering generation or paradigm of Christianity that’s ineffective. And he said that he’s restoring the church back to what he called the rock from which we were hewn or the, the, the kind of origins of, of, of the church being the acts of the apostles and what the church was like. Then he said, he’s restoring us back to that.

Pastor David Grams (06:53):
And that, that represents the, the rising of David to, to take the throne in other words, to take kind of the forefront of ministry. And he said that one of the things it says about David in first, Samuel is that as Saul grew weaker and weaker, David grew stronger and stronger. And it also says about King David, that though Saul has slain his thousands, David, his 10 thousands. And it talks about David having an effectiveness because of the spirit of God that caused him to get more attention than King Saul. And the reason why it was because it says that David was the one seen going out to battle and coming back and saw was just stuck in the palace. And so the church, the body of Christ right now is, especially in America, is kind of in a condition where it’s stagnant, it’s complacent and the work’s not being not getting done.

Pastor David Grams (07:41):
We’re focusing on the palace, the buildings, the infrastructure, making things look, kingly, making things look more Regal. And instead when David showed up on the scene, it says that people loved David because he was the one going out and coming in. He was the one going, getting work done and returning with the spoil. And so the spoils, the souls, right? It’s the people coming into the kingdom. And it’s the people who are not just making disciples or not just becoming disciples, but making disciples themselves. And so he said that this is about inspiring this generation to return to our roots of the acts of the apostles and to start realizing every single one of us are called to be ministers. Every single one of us are called to be evangelists in a sense, and that we’re all knowing that we’re soul winners and that we understand that that’s the purpose of our life and our existence, and that we’re called to walk like Jesus and represent him.

Pastor David Grams (08:29):
And he said specifically with David, it was about inspiring courage and others. It was about removing that barrier, the giant of fear, and cause often by ignorance and, and religious to see and, and division and, and schism in the body of Christ and putting all those things aside and putting those we’re stepping into what we’ve always been called to. And so that’s how the Lord originally communicated the calling for Valiant church to me. And then when we started the church, that was the foot we shared off on. And so I used that story of David and Goliath, and I referenced it frequently to our congregation here to make sure that we’re staying reminded of that original story or, or illustration that catalyzed the move of God in this.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (09:11):
Amen. Well, God used David at a very young age to kill Goliath. And I believe God will use you to slay many spiritual giants here in Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis is a very diverse city. There’s people here from many different parts of the world. You’ve got a lot of people from Somalia, a lot of Hispanic people. You’ve got a lot of people from Asia and the eyes of the entire world really we’re focused on Minneapolis recently when George Floyd was killed here. And so there were riots and it looked like there was a lot of, of need here in Minneapolis. And so you have been placed here by God, in such a unique capacity to, to, to speak into people’s lives during a time where there is a lot of need for, for, for, for help from God. And one of the things I really like about your church is you’re focusing on North Minneapolis. And there’s, there’s a lot of need in some of the areas in North Minneapolis. Kind of tell me about that and what you’re doing in North Minneapolis.

Pastor David Grams (10:27):
Absolutely. So, yeah, with the killing of George Floyd, it caused a lot of unrest in Minneapolis, started in South because that’s where the incident took place. Some of it’s spread to North Minneapolis and there were a few riots, there was a couple of buildings that were broken into some of them were burned very severely. And so we knew immediately after having been now settled in North Minneapolis, my wife and I recently moved in there. We stopped doubting the fact that God wanted us to be there specifically because there were so many events that unfolded that just totally woke us up to the reality that we’re called to be in this area. And so it’s caused us to realize with the interactions we’ve had with other people that, that the mainly the residents of North Minneapolis are hungry for community. And for all of, they may not say so directly, they’re hungry for people to help them feel like they belong to really, to someone which we know that someone is Jesus and there’s that together with natural needs that people have.

Pastor David Grams (11:28):
There’s a lot of poverty in North Minneapolis. People are hungry for food. A lot of people are even asking for water bottles of water. There is a most of the violent crimes in North money or in Minneapolis Metro take place in North. And so there’s street corners that sometimes we do evangelism on and, and people will come up to us and we’ve had several times people come up to us and tell us to get off the corner. You know, they’re saying, you guys shouldn’t hang out down here. You know, because there’s a lot of, a lot of crime and stuff and there’s gambling outside the gas station and all kinds of crazy things. And, and so I’ve just grown to just really grow fond of the people there and to realize that they’re family to us. And so that realization of the need that’s in North Minneapolis had awakened us to our call to be family, to them, to love them.

Pastor David Grams (12:19):
And so that caused a series of events in a domino effect, if you will. Well, that brought us to the opportunity to make a house in North Minneapolis and a particular street available for what we are not calling, calling a ministry house. You could sort of say that it’s kind of a household community center. And so a few members of our church were so generous and, Oh, I’ll be the obeyed, the leading of the Holy spirit. And they purchased this home and essentially donated it to family and church for usage. And so now we’re using this place as a location for blocks parties, open houses, and we serve neighbors in North Minneapolis by giving them food. We serve meals to them. We also give away winter wear in the colder months in Minnesota, we have discipleship groups, Bible studies, worship nights, all kinds of things.

Pastor David Grams (13:09):
And we’re working on developing it because it’s fairly new. And it’s allowed us to establish ourselves in the neighborhood as a place of refuge and a place of just familial care for the people in the neighborhood. And people are starting to kind of catch wind of this are starting to know why we’re there and just that we’re there in general. And so we’ve had, we’ve had a lot of great responsiveness from, from people in the neighborhood, appreciating what we’re doing. And we know that God is using us to bring redemption to North Minneapolis and not just in getting people to say a prayer of salvation, but really about actually removing violence from the city to the best of our ability, which we know is going to be in the, in the power of the Holy spirit. And we’re there to yes, to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to set captives free deliverance, restoring families, marriages, and we want to actually see the city rebuilt.

Pastor David Grams (14:03):
And it’s actually inspired by a passage in Isaiah 61, one where Jesus quotes in, in Luke about the spirit of the Lord upon him. And there’s one passage in that where Jesus says that the captives that he sets free actually will go and rebuild ruins and restore ruined cities. And so he told us through that passage that we are in this neighborhood to set captives free, to see that the body of Christ built in this community from the inside out and turning those people who are saved into Rebuilders of this ruined city, which is really what North Minneapolis is. And neighbors are realizing this, that, that, that we care about them, that we love them. And there’s a, an amazing responsiveness because we’re not there for religious purposes, but we’re there for restoration, which is really what the heart of the gospel is. And so that’s, that’s what we’ve been doing primarily in mania. I think

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (14:58):
This is so beautiful, what you’re doing evangelistically to identify a neighborhood where there’s great need, where there’s high crime in the area. There’s a lot of poverty there and you didn’t just go there for a one day outreach or a one-week mission strip, but you and your wife actually moved into the neighborhood so that you can live there as a redemptive presence to be able to, to minister on a regular basis to the people there. And then now you’ve, you’ve also have a ministry house where you’re starting to, to reach out to the neighborhood and you’re, you’re, you’re reaching out to people. And so today in church here, as I was preaching, there was a young man that you had picked up and brought here. His name is Robert, how old is Robert? He’s 11 years old, 11 years old. And during my message today, I grabbed him and used him in some of my illustrations. And I was just so impressed with young Robert, because he was just shouting the verses out and saying, amen, and, and getting people excited about Jesus. Tell me some about how you met Robert’s family and kind of what God is doing in his life.

Pastor David Grams (16:19):
Yep. So Robert and his family is kind of an example of really what our heart is for the neighborhood. And it began because we went door to door with food, and we were working with another church that was kind of a drop-off site for food, for churches all over the place. And so we drew drew on them. We’re able to get boxes of meals, prepared meals. And so we brought some meals to this random house on Logan Avenue, which in North Minneapolis is it’s actually Lowery and Logan Avenue. And that particular corner has the most violent crimes in the area. And so there’s cop cars all the time. There’s always sirens, gunshots, most nights we can hear gunshots. And so on this particular street, we decided to walk down and just knock on doors and give food to people. And so we stopped at this one house and mom came out her name Shaniqua.

Pastor David Grams (17:07):
And we asked her if she needed food. She said she didn’t need food at the time. But she said that she would let us pray for her. Cause we wanted to pray for people as well. And so we were prayed for her, just really basic prayer of just the love and the peace of God. And she was touched enough that she said she specifically wanted us to come back again just to pray for her. And so she was very, very touched by that. So he came back the next week and, and prayed for her again. And then we asked if we could bring some chicken Alfredo to her house and eat with her. We kind of invite her, invited ourselves over for dinner. And so she said yes to that. And which was unusual because she, she made it clear to us that the people in this neighborhood don’t generally trust each other. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of unrest, a lot of cynicism going on, but the Lord us an open door. And so we w

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (17:51):
So you took, you cook some chicken Alfredo and took it over there and had a meal with them.

Pastor David Grams (17:57):
Yup. Yup. So my wife and I cook the chicken off chicken Alfredo, and we talked to her and her children and Robert was one of them. He’s the oldest one, 11, and w his mom allowed us to come and pick him up every week to bring them to church. And so we now have an established relationship with her where there’s trust being built in relationship and community. And so we’re able to, to reach that family. And Robert is one, who’s been one of the most responsive and that particular household. And so we’ve been able to do a lot with him.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:24):
I noticed this morning, one of his cousins, a young lady also came with him to church. And, and I think that’s so beautiful. And, and, and seeing how responsive Robert was this morning. If I want to step into the shoes of our profit for a minute, I just say, God is calling Robert to be a preacher. And to, I think that through his life many lives will be changed in the years to come. And you guys are, are having a a tremendous part in, in making that happen. Tell me some of the future plans for you. You have for, for Valiant church. It’s still a relatively new church, but you have a very healthy congregation people of, of many different ages and backgrounds in the congregation. What do you see God doing in the future?

Pastor David Grams (19:15):
Absolutely. So one of the things I think sets Valiant church apart from what is the way that church has generally done, typically done the United States is that we’re not about the kind of growth that is generally expected. We’re not necessarily looking for numbers in a congregation to attend on Sunday mornings. What we’re focusing on. And this is the way that the Lord called us is to make our community a value in church, both in new hope, where we’re meeting it. And in the North Minneapolis community, a model to the body of Christ in the United States for reaching their neighborhoods in a real organic, authentic way. And so the Lord is calling us to focus on providing the body of Christ with training, material, videos, lifestyle, examples of what it means for the average everyday, everyday believer to reach the person beginning with the person across the street from them. And so there’s a lot, there’s been a lot of talk when it comes to the message of evangelism around sending people overseas. And although that is so, so important, and we stand with that wholeheartedly, we genuinely believe that if the Lord wants us to reach the world and ultimately save the planet, we’ve got to start with the people who live on our block, you know? And so the Lord has had us really

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (20:37):
Jerusalem then Judea, then some area then to the uttermost ends of the earth. Yeah. And I’ve heard it said that the light that shines farthest shines brightest near at home. So I think you’re, you’re exactly, we need to reach it America. And in many ways, America is just as much of a mission field as any of the places that I go. I mean, percentage wise, there are a huge percentage of people right here in America that need Jesus

Pastor David Grams (21:05):
Huge. Yeah. Especially in Minneapolis, because the demographic is very diverse. It’s the most culturally diverse city in the United States, Minneapolis. And so we’ve got people from all over the world. Many of them have never heard the gospel. I mean, I was a bite squad driver for awhile delivering food. And I talked to a few guys at restaurants, or I go to pick up food. And there’s a young man. I talked to once who worked at an Indian restaurant, knew a little bit of English enough to understand me. He had never heard the name of Jesus before. He, all he said was that he had seen crosses on the top of churches and things like that, but never heard the gospel. And so there’s lots of people in Minneapolis who need the gospel. And I think that the Lord has established the United States as kind of a hub where missionaries evangelists are trained and then sent out into the uttermost parts of the earth. And so for that reason, the calling on the United States has compelled us to then reach those people that live here, knowing that there’s a call on them to, to, to go out into all nations. So that’s what we’re about.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:00):
Well, I’m so impressed with what you’re doing, especially at such a young age. I’m very honored to be invited to speak here at the church this morning. And I believe that God has amazing things in store for Valiant church. So pastor David, thank you so much for being a guest on the evangelism podcast.

Pastor David Grams (22:19):
Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:21):
Thanks so much for listening to the evangelism podcast. Could you do me a favor, go to Apple iTunes, find the evangelism podcast and leave us a review. Your review will help other people who are excited about evangelism. Find the evangelism podcast. Thank you. And God bless you for more information about how to share your faith or to financially support our worldwide evangelistic outreaches. Visit King ministries.com. Again, that’s King ministries.com.


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