ALBERTVILLE, Minn. — As the sun comes up over St. Michael-Albertville High School, hundreds of students gather in the parking lot waiting for the lights to come on at the brand-new barn across the street.
When the switch is flipped, they make a mad dash across the street, and get in line for Breakfast Club, a breakfast buffet and Bible study held every other Thursday morning before school.
They are greeted by 54 smiling volunteers who serve up hash browns and donuts, tea and hugs. After filling their bellies, it’s time to fill souls with a message by pastor Jake Vanada.
Jake and his wife Christy started Breakfast Club in their home in 2014 with their two children and a handful of their high school friends. Their kids graduated, but Breakfast Club kept growing. There were about 200 kids back when we first visited and shared their story in 2019, but by the end of the year it was clear, the club had outgrown the clubhouse.
As Jake was biking through the countryside that summer, he prayed about what to do next.
“I thought the Lord just said, 'You should do Breakfast Club in a barn,'” he said, “and we thought it was an existing barn, but that didn't work."
Unable to find someone who wanted to loan their barn out to hundreds of teenagers every other week, the Vanadas starting looking for a place to build one.
They learned a man named Clay Montgomery owned a lot of land in St. Michael. Jake picked up the phone and called him. He explained the mission of Breakfast Club and asked Montgomery if he would be willing to donate some land. He did not expect a call back.
But the next day, Montgomery not only called him back, but he told Jake he owned several acres of land directly across the street from the high school and the Breakfast Club could have all of it.
After that, the Vanadas say, other donations started pouring in. Local business owners donated the electrical work, the plumbing and HVAC and all the site work.
“In the year of contagious,” Christy said, “I would say this has been built on contagious generosity.'"
People throughout the community saw the impact Breakfast Club was having on kids and they wanted to be a part of it.
In under a year, a 6,300-square-foot barn, worth $2.1 million was built — without ever organizing a fundraising campaign or taking on one dollar of debt.
"All that is just the backdrop of this story in our community of a beautiful building that God built so kids can hear about the Lord and hear they are loved,” Jake said. “To hear they matter...and I don't know a teenager on earth that doesn't need to hear that message."
When the barn first opened, the Vadanas worried it would be too big. They needn’t have.
"We were full the second time we met this year,” Christy said. “We opened it and they filled it just like that."
In fact, by the last Breakfast Club of the year, it appeared the barn was not big enough.
That leaves the Vanadas, once again, wondering what’s next.
“We don't know,” Christy said. “But we didn't know what we were going to do when we had 12 kids. It was just create space and trust."
Jake agreed, saying it’s in God’s hands.
“He will find it. He will do it. He's on the hook for that. We're on the hook just to be faithful. Just keep doing what I told you to do. And really, that's true for all of us in whatever community you find yourself in.”
To the St. Michael community, he said, thank you and stay tuned.
“I don't think God's done with this story."
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