The purpose of the Coffeehouse is two-fold: to encourage and help strengthen young adults who have already made the commitment to serve Jesus Christ. The second is to positively impact the non-Christian kids without being a "church". We accomplish this with a loving atmosphere that has some boundaries, provide soft, cushy sofas and chairs to promote a comfortable and inviting space, interact with the youth and play music by Christian artists. Everyone who comes in the door is greeted and recognized for who they are - a child of God. All who come to the Coffeehouse will hear the message of Jesus Christ in various ways: discussion, Bible Study, books, concerts and music through KFEX radio, Our motto is: "Preach the Gospel every day; and, if necessary, use words."
The FireEscape Coffeehouse was founded by several high school and college age friends who desired a safe place to hang out with their friends, bring in Christian concerts and minister to kids their age. Established in 1998 in a warehouse in Chanute, KS, the Coffeehouse hosted teen events, concerts, the local college FCA and Bible studies in addition to being open on Friday and Saturday nights. The building was sold in 2000 and a decision was prayerfully made to move the ministry downtown on Main Street to reach more youth and be more easily accessible.
The FireEscape Coffeehouse became incorporated and applied for non-profit, tax-exempt status, which was granted in June 2000. Fundraising began to buy the buildings at 124 and 126 W. Main for $45,000 and begin a $45,000 renovation. The funds were raised in 6 weeks and the doors opened that October on the main room with national Christian band, Pillar, as the christening event. We had close to 300 people attend our Grand Opening. Renovations have continued which include a concert room complete with first class sound and lighting equipment and a large stage. We designed an upstairs apartment with four bedrooms, kitchen, bath, living and dining area to accommodate the bands we host. Our intention is to minister to these bands and give them a nice place to rest, home-cooked meals, do laundry and only have to walk downstairs to play their concert. Touring groups such as Rend Collective, Plumb, David Dunn and Disciple. Comedy acts and youth groups performing ministry in the area have also used our apartment. We have held over 500 concerts and events.
Another important addition to the ministry is our low power, 24-hour Christian rock music radio station, KFEX, FireEscape Radio, 93.1 fm. One of our youth volunteers did most of the designing and building of the radio room, which is in back of the concert hall with a window looking onto Main Street. We have been on the air since August 2004 and received our license from the FCC August 2005. We have DJ’s with shows airing throughout the day with underwriting from local businesses. As of March 2007, we are streaming on the internet – it can be accessed through our link on our website or download our phone app, KFEX. We have partnered with the City of Chanute to allow them to use the radio station as an Emergency Alert System. This will enable them to broadcast from our station in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Weekends at the Coffeehouse are busy. We can average 25-100 kids from all around Southeast Kansas on a regular, non-event night and up to 300 for concerts. We host game nights, open mic nights, Movie and Dinner nights, have held programs that taught life skills such as money management, how to conduct yourself in a job interview, how to apply for college, fill out FAFSA, Pell Grant, scholarship applications and basic living skills.
Our ministry is one of relationships. The kids who come to the FireEscape are foster kids, street kids, kids who have been in trouble with the authorities, good kids, Christian kids, college kids and those who have no where else to go. We minister to their hearts and love them as they are.
We have branched out into theatre productions: the Coffeehouse presented the play “It’s A Wonderful Life” in December 2009, live radio shows “A Christmas Carol” in December 2010 and 2015 and “Rick Lowell, Private Eye” in February 2012. We have collaborated with the Chanute Community Theatre and Neosho County Community College to present plays "Pirates of Penzance", "39 Steps", and "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
The FireEscape has also partnered with Kansas Food Bank to bring in the Mobile Food Pantry. We don't require any financial data from the people who come – we just meet their needs and fill their boxes and bags with good food 3-4 times a year.
FIREESCAPE COFFEEHOUSE VIDEO