The ministry, which takes its name from Luke 2:52, has reached 1,100 teens and young adults since its founding in 2004, including the original 100 who packed into Cook's home the first three months of 252 Underground's existence.
(Coopersburg, PA)—Pastor Rob Cook has taken the popularized "What Would Jesus Do?" slogan and turned the multimillion dollar phrase into a personal call to action. And he hopes other Christians will do the same. (Photo via ANS)
"I never see people following through with What Would Jesus Do?," Cook says.
"It's a cop-out because knowledge without action is useless," says Cook, who is a pastor to teens and young adults unwelcome inside most churches because of their reputations.
Do What Jesus Did, on the other hand, is Cook's motivation for life and 252 Underground, an outreach to youth who have criminal records, hate the church scene, or are judged as troublemakers by pastors who've told Cook "don't bring them here."
"I felt like I had to go underground with these kids people had given up on" including some Christians who closed their church doors and withdrew financial support for the unconventional ministry in Lansdale,Pennsylvania, Cook says.
Instead of a traditional youth group that meets in a church, Cook leads a nomadic tribe of young adults who have met in his home, a large rented building and currently in a restaurant – all considered safe places by some of 252 Underground's 12- to 30-years-old followers who don't "do church" or, sadly, aren't allowed inside one because they smoke cigarettes or hold onto other vices.
The ministry, which takes its name from Luke 2:52, has reached 1,100 teens and young adults since its founding in 2004, including the original 100 who packed into Cook's home the first three months of 252 Underground's existence. The Bible verse states that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Three weeks into the ministry, one teenager showed up at Cook's front door on a Saturday night with two friends. Cook and his wife, Stephanie, immediately recognized the teenager whose face had been badly scarred by his mother's cigarettes.
He'd brought a friend whose father had committed suicide to Cook's home for help. Another teenager–hearing Cook talk about the love of Jesus Christ with his grieving friend–was the first of the three who all prayed to receive Him as Savior and Lord late that night. (Photo via ANS)
Rather than preach a sermon that asks WWJD?, Cook instead plays, eats and models DWJD with young adults who—by following His example—would rather perform a good deed than listen to messages that remind them of how bad they are in the minds of some.
Like the time 20 teenagers helped find and furnish a house for a family who's 250-year-old rented home burned to the ground. A video of the burning structure – recorded by Cook as flames engulfed it – was a DWJD call to action for 252 Underground.
With Cook leading them, the teens devoted their high school senior project to helping the homeless family transition from a hotel to a permanent residence equipped with new appliances and a laptop computer. Cook paid for the appliances out of his pocket.
A major retailer's store manager was so moved by Cook's generosity in providing the family a new refrigerator and range that he drastically reduced the prices on the items.
"It was extreme home makeover–God edition" that landed 252 Underground on the front page of a Pennsylvania newspaper, says Cook, an author, blogger and radio program guest.
Read more here.