Local church reopens FIJI house for students’ spiritual growth

Fiji House
Fiji House
Fiji House

By Lauren Tidmore

Drive by the old FIJI house on a Saturday night, and the lights are off without a fraternity yell to be heard. For Acts Church college pastor Omari Head and five Baylor students, the house at 808 Speight Ave. screams redemption and discipleship.

Under the direction of Head and Rosenberg senior Matt Reid, the house’s assistant director and six college-age men plan to spend at least one school year living in the house with the intention of growing in their faith as a collective. It is referred to as the discipleship house.

In addition, the men will work on healthy eating, maintaining a consistent exercise regimen and taking care of household responsibilities, such as cleaning, learning how to handle finances, learning how to cook and house repair work.

“They’ll learn what it means to be a man,” Head said.

He and Reid, with the aid of three other Acts leaders, held interviews at the end of November to determine who would be living in the house for the coming year. The applicants were asked a series of in-depth questions that varied from what they hoped to gain from the house to when they were last involved in underage drinking.

“It was pretty intense,” said San Antonio freshman Trevor Taylor, future resident of the discipleship house.

The applicants waited nearly a month to find out if they had been accepted.

Taylor said that waiting period was difficult because he had already been accepted for the position of community leader in his residence hall. He turned down the job offer, knowing the discipleship house was where he needed to be, even though he had no definite answer from Acts.

“My first time at Refuge [Acts’ college service], I knew Omari was going to be my mentor,” Taylor said.
Reid said he hopes to learn the ins and outs of being in a leadership role while in the house, but he also believes the coming year will bring growth to him and Head as well.

“We want to see how we can grow as men in the Kingdom,” Reid said.

The group also plans to have household retreats, dinners, focus topics to study and mission trips. But they also plan to host events for those not living in the house to attend, including barbecues, volleyball games on the house’s court, parties and house shows.

“We want it to be a fun house. It’ll be an open-door policy,” Head said.

Head said after attending a religious conference in Florida, he heard God questioning him about his living situation. Each day, after finishing work at Acts, he said he would drive to his home on the other side of Waco to get a break. Head said he felt his ministry shouldn’t end when he left the church.

“I heard the Lord say, ‘Why don’t you just let college students live with you?’” Head said.

He said he was hesitant at first, considering how much time and energy living with college students would require. However, he said he chose to listen to God’s calling anyway.

“I knew it would be life-giving,” Head said.

Head began looking for a house. Every day he drove around Ninth and 10th streets, knowing the house he was looking for would be in that area. It was in a meeting with University Rentals that Head was told the Speight “animal house,” which had been under lease by the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for more than a decade, was available.

“I described the house that I envisioned with space and everything, and they said, ‘Well, that’s this house,’” Head said.

Head told the University Rentals manager that day he wanted the house.

“It just seemed to happen,” Head said.

University Rentals said they are happy to have been able to work with Head in the leasing process.

“In about one week or two, we were talking about it, and then we had a house,” Reid said.

Already the group of men has begun fellowship through Monday meetings at the discipleship house to promote a true brotherhood.

“I’m kind of like the little brother,” Taylor said.

Weekend stays during which the men will pray over the house are also in the works. Move-in is set for June 1.

The discipleship house has two spots still available for this coming year. Head said those who are interested may contact him at Omari@actswaco.com.

“I’m excited to see what it will do in the community and at Baylor,” Head said.