Topeka man encouraging SNCO kids in school with mall tea shop, homework center

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– A Topeka man had a unique idea to help kids grow, by brewing tea.

Seven years ago, Kevin Christiansen had a vision.

“Could we launch a tea shop that we can use as a mentor center where kids were given the opportunity to be extraordinary?” Kevin said. “And were given job training.”

While visiting the mall, the youth pastor noticed kids walking around with canned tea. So he thought of ways he could reach those kids, helping them with school, life and anything they needed. Then in 2012, Café Barnabas and Barnabas Movement, Inc. was born, starting at the farmer’s market.

“That’s where the vision for Café Barnabas originally came from,” Kevin said. “Giving students a platform to be awesome.”

Then eventually moving to Westridge Mall to reach more kids. Even employing volunteer students from seventh grade to college.

But Kevin’s passion didn’t stop with the tea shop. Once he heard some kids weren’t doing what was needed in school he worked to change that.

“Students were coming in and were almost bragging about failing classes,” Kevin said. “‘Oh yeah I failed this one, I failed that one.’ We were deeply challenged by that because this is the next generation of extraordinary leaders.”

In April, Kevin began running another location in the mall called Verge, inside the old Finish Line. It’s a place where students get help with homework and meet with tutors. Bringing all of Kevin’s passions under one roof.

“He deeply loves students and tea,” said Grace Cole, who has worked with Kevin and Barnabas Student Ministries since she was 13. “He’s always looking to pick up a new hobby. He’s genuine and a hard worker. A really great guy.”

For Kevin, it’s all about making kids feel like they belong.

“There are kids that fall into that category that don’t believe extraordinary is possible for them,” Kevin said. “Extraordinary is who God created us to be.”

Now seven years later, Kevin is still brewing his vision to make kids better every day.

Café Barnabas and Verge are looking for more volunteers and tutors. If you would like to volunteer, click here.

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