In the bible, Philip was preaching a revival when God transported him to the desert where he taught a man on a chariot the Word of God, Art “Pap” Perkins and his wife Lori know what that feels like.
Art and Lori grew up in Wheelersburg, and not long after he graduated, received the call to preach. He went to bible college, and off the two went into ministry. They served in Texas, went to Virginia, and then they were in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We had it Made,” Perkins said.
That was when they had their Philip moment.
“I began to pray and ask God, ‘where do you want us to go next?’” Perkins said. “Honestly, the only think I could think of was my home area. I thought, what better way than to go back to my home community and spend the rest of my life in ministry there if that’s what God Wants.”
Perkins’ experience is much the same as many people in this area.
“I’ve lost relatives, friends to these streets, to the drugs, to junk,” Perkins said.
As the processing began and they looked for a place in which to minister the idea came to them, and thus was born The Cafe and the Church at Portsmouth located at 418 Chillicothe St., in Portsmouth.
“God called us to reach people, and as he called us to reach people, he called us to revive this area,” Perkins said. “So, as we’re reaching people, wanting to revive people, and reestablish, as we’re processing this, we started our new motorcycle ministry called The Priesthood Motorcycle Ministry. Our national chapter is out of Oklahoma. I’ve been a part of them for 7 1/2-8 years now.”
Perkins said, as they started the chapter at Portsmouth, the chapter began to pray, and got a vision of a cafe downtown.
“We thought, why not put something in to revive the area, not just people, because the area represents the people,”Perkins said. “I’ve always said, if you don’t love the area, you can’t the people, and if you love the people, you must love the area.”
They stepped out on faith and established The Cafe at Portsmouth.
“It’s a little bigger than we anticipated, so with that we planted a new church out of our vision called The Church at Portsmouth,” Perkins said. “Through The Church at Portsmouth, we opened up this cafe called The Cafe at Portsmouth.”
Perkins said their desire is to revitalize and old building to bring something to the area where people can enjoy coming downtown to eat and to enjoy a clean atmosphere and a different menu.
“It’s more of a fresh sandwich, a fresh pizza, awesome salads, chili, and everybody loves our dirty dog. It’s a tri-state favorite,” Perkins said. “We’re going to add to our menu. That’s because we’re Appalachia and we love hot dogs. We will have a full hot dog menu.”
Perkins said it is obvious to anyone who enters the restaurant that it is a Christian establishment.
“We’re unapologetic of our Christian faith. We don’t throw it down at anybody. We just set the atmosphere,” Perkins said. “The atmosphere is different. We have music. We have videos going. Friday nights we have live music and it’s all Christian based.”
Perkins said he wants people to be positive about the city and the future.
“There is hope here,” Perkins said. “We have to stop looking at the negativity and look at what God has blessed us with.”
Perkins said church services are held in the same building as the cafe.
“We want to purchase a couple more buildings down here,” Perkins said. “We want to open up, not just a worship center, but we also want to open up a youth center and a school ministry, so as we train up the youth, we want to be able to educate them in a school ministry, and then a counseling center that is deliverance based.”
Just as Philip was set to a single Ethiopian eunuch, Perkins had his own experience in his cafe.
“There was a young man the first week who came through the door and was asking for money. I told him, ‘I have money but I’m not going to give it to you,’” Perkins said. “‘What I do have to offer is prayer.’ So I prayed over him. He left. Within five minutes he came back and said, ‘can I just stay here until my ride picks me up?’ so we offered him a free cup of coffee, and in our conversation I just asked him – ‘you don’t look like you belong on the streets – what’s going on?”
The man told Perkins of his addiction to heroin.
“As I was speaking to him, I just felt an impression of the Holy Spirit, that he had an issue with his leg,” Perkins said. “I asked if his leg was bother him and he said yes. So I prayed over his leg for healing, and the Lord gave that to open the door, and through this open door I shared with him, ‘how would I know that your leg was hurting without God giving me that intuition? and the reason why is because he wants you to know that he still loves you, no matter the addiction, no matter the family members who have disowned you. It doesn’t matter, he still loves you.’”
Perkins said the man received Christ and then left. He said he had not heard from the man since the experience. However, his mother came in recently and asked if pap was the man who prayed with her son.
“She said, ‘right after you prayed with him, he called me, and said, the same thing that you told me of God’s love, this man told me about God’s love, so I believe it’ it’s a beautiful story,” Perkins.
It is evident that the Perkins are not finished by any means and, if you look into Art Perkins’ face, you will most likely come to the conclusion that God isn’t finished with him either.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.