In the early 1990s, Tim Shrout, a young missions-driven real estate developer, discovered a new government grant program incentivizing non-profits to purchase affordable apartment complexes from their for-profit owners. In exchange, these non-profits committed to keeping the properties affordable forever. It was a public-private partnership aimed at creating a sustainable business model that would also solve a looming national housing crisis.
Tim began dreaming of a non-profit housing company that would leverage this grant program to build a strategic new real estate portfolio. Not only could the new business help sustain affordable housing for people who need it, but these newly acquired assets could also generate cash flow that could then be dedicated to priority global missions initiatives.
This missional business concept excited Tim so much he nearly left his other endeavors to pursue it full-time. But ultimately, he decided to approach Dave Cooper, another missions-driven entrepreneur, with the idea. The two families were friends, had attended church together for some time, and were already working together on a few side projects. Over lunch one day, Tim floated the creative business model he was dreaming of and the concept ignited something supernatural in Dave as well. Together, Tim and Dave became the co-founders and legacy board members of Community Reinvestment Foundation, Inc. (or CRF). Dave tackled the day-to-day operations of this new nonprofit startup, and steadily built a substantial affordable housing portfolio that began positively impacting both the residents and missions work they always dreamed of supporting.
In early 2012, the CRF board began thinking about the future. They needed a leader who could navigate the business side of the organization but who also had a heart for the global missions roots of the company. Erik Cooper had a background in the business world, graduating from Indiana University’s Kelley School of business with a degree in accounting before taking a dozen-year “detour” into full-time vocational ministry. He came on board in the fall of 2012 with a two-pronged plan to lead the macro vision of CRF while simultaneously taking the reins of the organization’s missions strategy as well.
As ActioNow began to wind down in 2015, the CRF leadership began to pray and ask God to reveal the next season of this work and ministry. A new organization was conceived, a “sister organization” for CRF, taking up the missions mantle of the original founders as marketplace christians creating and leveraging resources for the expression and expansion of the Kingdom of God around the world.
As we prayed about what to call this new organization, we knew we needed a name with deep meaning. In C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia Aslan (the Christ-character) is killed and resurrected on The Stone Table in a beautiful allegory of the Gospel. It’s a daily reminder that our work is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His redeeming, resurrecting work for all creation.
The Stone Table continues to underwrite strategic global missions projects through the profits of CRF and a growing coalition of church and business partners, but God’s unfolding vision is demanding that we expand. We are called to raise up and equip the next generaton of Kingdom-minded entrepreneurs, encourage and mobilize more marketplace Christians, resource and support missionaries on the field in a business context, and champion and resource the global Church to the glory of God. That’s the Gospel-mission cast before us, and we are just getting started.
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