GodFire Apparel, founded by Justin Newman, began as a way to reach kids in the skating and BMX scene. Now it’s positioned to help a Grace Brethren congregation in one of the neediest areas of the country.
Newman grew up in the skating and BMX (bicycle motocross) arena. “It’s a community of kids, a tight-knit community, and there’s a very good chance they’re not going to church.” There’s also a very good chance, Newman continued, that they know nothing about church. The Christian image is foreign to them.
Kids, Newman observed, often channel their identity into what they wear. It made sense to him and his friends, then, to design and manufacture apparel that might inspire a nonbeliever to ask questions about Christ.
“[Godfire offers] a more seeker-friendly approach,” said Newman. “So at face-value, it’s just a clothes company. If you dig a little deeper, you might find a video about one of our athletes, and they might share a story about their life, about what God’s doing in their life, how he’s affected or changed them. It’s got layers to it.”
Those layers effectively transform Godfire Apparel from a seemingly innocent clothing company into a powerful form of Christian ministry. Godfire Apparel isn’t just a clothing brand. It’s an identity.
The line targets kids who may not necessarily be headed to church or know much about Christianity. At the same time, they’re trying to give Christians the opportunity to hear about ministries for which they may suddenly feel called to work. Furthermore, Godfire plans to donate a portion of profits to Christian ministries across the world. Godfire Apparel wants to reset people’s mindset on what being a Christian looks like—one t-shirt, one video, and one donation at a time.
Godfire’s first donation is going to The Happy Church, a Grace Brethren church in Jackson, Ky. (Mike Tabor, lead pastor). Newman first experienced The Happy Church’s ministries while helping with Project 52, a food-delivery ministry.
“As soon as I saw what The Happy Church was doing with the kids down there, it immediately clicked,” said Newman.
Godfire Apparel assigns donation values to specific merchandise on their website. The profits from those sales go directly to The Happy Church and several other ministries and charities. “When I go [to Jackson],” said Newman, “my face hurts because I’ll be smiling so much.
Mike Tabor, pastor of The Happy Church, spoke glowingly of Newman’s apparel initiative: “Justin wants to help people,” said Tabor. “His whole life screams it.” — by Marisa Vogel
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.