Wednesday, February 10, 2016

North Street Station in Hannibal, Missouri

Tom and Huck statue with fishing sign in Hannibal
Next to the statue of Tom and Huck in Hannibal, Missouri, there is a building devoted to a different kind of fishing than the boys pursued. The building was formerly a gas station but now is dedicated to the work of fishers of men.

front window of North Street Station in Hannibal
Five years ago, Steve Youngblood believed God was calling him to buy this property along the Mississippi. It didn't make sense to him. He'd been a church planter since 1983, and this building didn't seem to be church material. But it was coffee house material.

North Street Station interior
Now, tourists often wander into the shop for a cup of coffee. They might see a book on the shelf that interests them (a collection that now includes a Bill the Warthog kids' mystery). And they might get into a conversation with one of the volunteers that work in the shop. Steve said the place has been a great location for one-on-one evangelism, one-on-one discipleship, and -- perhaps most importantly -- one-on-one friendship.

gas station photos at North Street Station
North Street Station has become a resource for churches throughout Hannibal, providing a location for prayer meetings, Bible studies, and worship meetings. On Saturday night people from a number of local churches gather for worship. On Monday night, the motorcyclists of Iron Horse Church gather for worship. On Saturday mornings, musicians gather for Selah, a jam session.

North Street Station stage
Steve says 400,000 tourists walk the streets of Hannibal during a typical year; some stop by North Street. Tourist musicians are often attracted to Selah. Steve told me about a fellow from Omaha who heard the music and went back to his motel for his guitar. The guy played "Proud Mary," which was cool, but they asked him if he knew any gospel. He did. After playing a few songs, he broke down a bit. Years ago he had quit the church because he was hurt. When he returned to Omaha he sent a letter to the station saying that afternoon had brought him back to Jesus.

Dean walking away from Tom and Huck statue in Hannibal
Steven, one of the baristas, visits a different Hannibal church every week and posts about it on Facebook. Then, he puts an ad for the church in the shop. It was kind of nice to find such a kindred spirit in Mark Twain's hometown.

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