Archie Leis, of Norwalk, donated the building that used to belong to his father to the 510(c)(3) non-profit organization that is over Metal for Moms, which Josh Roeder started. A 2002 Monroeville High School graduate, he and other Eagles alumni and friends sell scrap metal and use the money to help those in need.
“We are getting the building donated to us and we are starting a non-profit gym to help generate money for the less fortunate and we want to sponsor Special Olympics athletes. That’s the base of it, but we also want to help spread the good word of Jesus Christ to people too in an unorthodox method,” Roeder said.
“The gym part is gonna be called Grindstone Gym,” he added. “We just want to help people out. We want to do Bible studies … and linking up with rehabs and have accountability classes and just try to help as many people as we can.”
Since Foot Soldier Ministry had a vision for using the building and Leis wanted to get rid of it, he said he was willing to donate it to the ministry.
“I’m for everything that can be done in a good way and the man upstairs looks after all of us and I want to coincide with whatever happens there,” Leis added. “The reason I am doing it is because I believe he (Roeder) will take good care of it.”
Foot Soldier Ministry is housed in the former Howard Leis Furniture building, 13 S. Main St., Monroeville.
“He (Roeder) rather convinced me this is going to be a good project for them. And very honestly, it’s good for me and it’s good for them. I used to own all these buildings here in Monroeville. This is the last one I own in the downtown area,” Archie Leis said.
“My father bought this building back in the ’40s. This was a bank, which is the reason that vault is there. My dad started here as a jeweler back in the ’40s. I’ve told the stories many times over about how we got robbed out of this building in 1948, when my dad had the jewelry store.”
Roeder has shared with Leis his hopes for the ministry to receive donations.
“I’ve even told him I would give him some assistance,” said Leis, who is “100 percent behind” Roeder’s vision as long as the building is being properly maintained and used. “If it starts to go — pardon my expression — to hell in a hand basket, I’m going to start being on the defensive side.”
Leis said he really likes what Metal for Moms does, since the group helps people in need.
“They’re not doing it for their benefit; they are doing it for someone else’s benefit,” he added.
“The Foot Solider Ministry, from what I understand, can be very beneficial because there are a lot of young people running around today (who) need something to do other than getting in trouble. And I think this is something they’re going to work on, to provide an area for these young people … should they want to come and do something that is beneficial, other than playing with their (electronic) devices.”
Foot Soldier Ministry held an open house Saturday, which featured Sam Childers, better known as the “Machine Gun Preacher.” Childers has been working and living in Africa for the last 23 years in a ministry that has included drilling wells and building schools.
“I went into Sudan, Africa 23 years ago and got in the middle of a civil war. I was there on a mission trip. We got in a village that was raided and everyone (who) was with me ran. People starting running and hiding and everything, but I didn’t run; I chose to pick up a gun and started saving people. It was all done by warlords,” Childers said.
Roeder sees the building as not just a ministry tool, but also a safe haven.
“It might be a gym at first, but (it’s) definitely for the youth to come in here,” he said. “Most people struggle with something and especially us guys, it’s hard to talk about stuff. My heart is for helping people figure stuff out, using the good book to straighten some things out.”
Childers said he likes that Roeder’s ministry is helping people who often can’t help themselves and “single moms who are struggling” so they “can move on with life.”
“It’s kinda hard to be a low-income, hard-working person because you can’t get no extra help. So sometimes people need a little extra boost just to get past that low-income (level),” Childers added. “He (Roeder) had some really good ideas of what he wanted to do. He then told me wanted to do something inside of his community.”
Roeder shared how meeting Childers at FaithFest several years ago inspired him.
“I was telling him about all the stuff we wanted to do and he was like, ‘You need to get a building.’ … That was not in the running at all (at first),” Roeder said.
“I had this idea for a non-profit gym for a long time. Actually I was driving to work and I saw this building was for sale … I eventually called and talked to Archie and told him what we wanted to do and he just eventually wanted to donate it.”
When Roeder gave Childers an update about the building, the Machine Gun Preacher told him he wanted to be one of the first people to speak there.
“So as he’s coming through, he’s stopping in, so it’s really cool how God lines things up and just links people together,” Roeder said. “And that’s what we want to do. It’s not just about us; it’s about a community project — having something happening in Monroeville — and bringing people together and doing some good.”
Childers was asked about the importance of Foot Soldier Ministry.
“I think what makes it so important is it’s a community ministry and it’s about helping people in the community,” Childers said. “The church is supposed to be doing that. … It’s not a bad thing, but churches have turned into a ministry that is all about helping the church — and not so much individuals in the community.
“I think here inside the (local) community, people need to look into what Josh is doing and I think people need to get behind it,” he added. “He’s trying to create a ministry that can change the community and help the community.”
Roeder is humble about how the Metal for Moms ministry inspires others. He said it’s about using what he has been taught in his life.
“Doing something in my hometown is awesome,” Roeder added.