Laying Down Our LivesWhat sometimes holds you back from laying down your life for others?
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The Ramp began as a seed, a burning desire within one woman, Karen Wheaton. In 1998 Karen followed the Holy Spirit's drawing and moved back to her hometown, Hamilton, Alabama. The plaguing apathy and ravishing sin that infected Hamilton's youth alarmed Karen, causing her to inherit God's resilient passion for them. Knowing nothing about the technique ofyouth ministry, she simply led prayer meetings with seven teenagers inthe back of a storefront church. As the real, tangible God displayed His love through salvation and deliverance, seven expanded to thirty.To accommodate the growing group, Karen moved the meetings to a larger storefront building and named it The Grace Place. At The Grace Place the commitment of those thirty only grew stronger as the teenagers met twice a week for services and engaged in seasonal times of early morning prayer. Karen would receive phone calls at 5:30am from youth asking her to unlock the building so they could pray before school. Lacking musicians, the group worshipped a capella and prayed listening to CDs. God answered the voices and the tears poured out to Him, and the meetings began to significantly impact the community of Hamilton. The Father birthed souls into the Kingdom. More people gravitated to The Grace Place, including musicians that had been prayed in by the core group. Eventually, The Grace Place could no longer contain what the Lord was doing. Karen decided to purchase an old, dilapidated, rat-infested grocery store called Big Star. In less than 40 days the abandoned building was transformed into the youth conference center known as the Ramp. Today, the Ramp hosts once a month gatherings with 1,100 plus in attendance. It remains a denominationally neutral ground, providing a place for all to come. The same Holy Spirit that arrested the hearts of those first seven teenagers governs the atmosphere, bringing freedom to those entangled in various bondages. With the weight of sin lifted from their shoulders, the attendees awaken to an existence dominated by prayer, fasting, and worship. The initial desire that fixated Karen continues to be fulfilled, as the Ramp assists in awakening a generation.