Posted: Jan 03 2016

Disciple Dojo –

Deus is partnering with JM Smith and wanted to share about his next major project and invite people to get on board to see it flourish…

Last Thursday, JM had the joy of leading a basic self-defense seminar for kids at Project 658 near uptown Charlotte. Project 658 is an organization that works with the international refugee community in the Queen City in order to help them get established, assimilated into their new home country, and provide them with the basic necessities and skills needed to thrive here. They offer many outreach activities including a thrift store, ESL classes, afterschool programs, and even a culinary training center that helps people develop skills needed to work in, and eventually perhaps one day oversee their own restaurants. It’s an amazing ministry in the city that is truly showing Gospel love in a tangible way to people who have been through absolute hell and ended up here in the safety of our community. Go check them out at !

If you’ve followed JM's social media lately, you realize he has a burdened heart for the refugee crisis and cross-cultural relations between American Christians and people from Middle East. He's been thinking and praying about how Disciple Dojo could do something in these areas, and so a few weeks ago he reached out to the folks at 658 and asked if they’d be interested in offering a free martial arts program to their community members. They met to discuss some ideas and JM was excited to share with them how he's seen martial arts, particularly Brazilian Jiujitsu (which is his current focus), build amazing community and friendships among people from vastly different walks of life–socio-economic, religious, racial, and cultural. He's also seen the confidence it instills in kids firsthand (he began my training when he was 8 years old, and it has had a lifelong impact).

So they decided to offer an initial basic self-defense seminar at 658’s facility to see what interest there may be for weekly or monthly classes.

It was a blast!

They had students from Afghanistan, Congo, Ivory Coast, and Southeast Asia in attendance. All of them had a great time and their smiles were infectious! I invited my awesome photographer friend from CharlotteONE, Sarah Newlon, to come capture the event. Take a look…

In order to offer weekly BJJ classes to these kids and their families as an outreach of Disciple Dojo…JM needs funding. He doesn’t sell enough artwork, books, or DVDs currently to subsidize such an endeavor (though he would love for that to one day not be the case!). So he's looking for friends, supporters, and businesses that would be willing to partner with him in this. Deus is working with JM.

Specifically, JM needs to raise enough money to provide the following:

  • Safe mats! (~$2,500) – need to procure at least 20’x30′ worth of portable, flexi-roll style mats that can be stored at 658 and rolled out each week to train on. He's working with Leadership Martial Arts to get the best possible pricing for high-quality mats that the kids can safely practice on and that will last for a long time.
  • Heavy bag/BOB target (~$200) – The kids LOVED practicing on the BOB target he borrowed for this event. He would like to get one that, along with the mats, can be stored at 658 for weekly use.
  • Focus mitts/Thai pads (~$200) – A set of focus mitts or Thai pads to practice basic striking and blocking
  • *Optional future expense* – Ongoing travel/guest teachers ($100 per month) – In addition to covering my weekly travel expenses to and from 658, which is about 35-55 mins from his house depending on traffic, He would like to be able to invite other area instructors to come teach the kids from time to time and cover their travel expenses as well.

This is an exciting prospect for any BJJ enthusiast, but it’s also a daunting challenge–especially for someone who’s expertise is in art, writing, speaking, and martial arts rather than fundraising, administration, and logistics! In addition to financial support, he is inviting all friends of Disciple Dojo to please lift this project up in prayer. More than simply teaching these kids and families how to protect and defend themselves from physical harm, he wants to build GENUINE friendships among them and to be a bridge between them and the wider Charlotte community, particularly the BJJ commuity. JM wants to encourage others to reach out with a hand of friendship and love rather than a posture of fear and suspicion when it comes to refugees. He wants to provide the kids with confidence and an outlet for their stress, pressures, and anxieties they face as they grow up in a new country surrounded by people who see them as a burden or threat to their way of life. Being a teenager is hard enough as it is!

Lastly, he wants to honor the Heavenly Sensei, Jesus Himself. JM follows in the footsteps of Him who called us to “go and do likewise” when we see a need. Although small, JM knows that even such a small endeavor can have eternal ramifications, and even touching one family’s life with the love of Christ can change the world–or at the very least can change that family’s world.

If you would like to help this happen, please consider donating at the link below.

Also, for any donation of $20 or more he will send a signed 8.5×11″ print of any of my #ArtOfTheDojo portraits or designs (which you can see HERE, HERE, HERE or HERE). Just be sure to note which you’d like in the donation note on paypal or message me via the contact page link on the right hand side of your screen).


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