Zach Speegle has never been the type to sit around and wait for change to happen.
Speegle adorned his business cards and website with 1 Corinthians 4:20: “The Kingdom of God is not Talk … but Power,” it says. As the site explains, Speegle’s nonprofit Bold as a Lion Ministries “is a mission-minded organization whose goal is to plant ministries and raise leaders that go and make disciples of all Nations” — the words “go” and “make” are bolded.
At Bold as a Lion Ministries, action is the answer.
On Tuesday morning Speegle sat inside The Barracks Men’s Discipleship & Recovery House in Coleman, explaining the history and mission of Bold as a Lion. The house is a tangible example of the organization’s philosophy — a few months ago, it was gutted and bare.
Now there are insulated walls, couches, living spaces and a new ceiling in the house. It’s not particularly luxurious, but it slowly and surely is becoming a home.
“I really had a heart for the people I was seeing on the street,” Speegle said. “A lot of them were involved with drugs and things like that. So one day I was praying and God said, ‘I want you to build The Barracks.’ I said, ‘I don’t know anything about drugs. I never did drugs.’ And He told me, ‘It’s not your testimony that’s going to save people, Zach. It’s going to be the Word of God.’”
Speegle said he’d known since high school that he wanted to serve God, and he graduated from Howard Payne University with a Bible degree. But he said for some reason, God didn’t call him to a traditional church role. He worked at various jobs around Brownwood — pizza store manager, telecommunications — before he felt led to begin missions and ministry work full time.
Speegle didn’t have a house or nonprofit status when he decided to launch into his new ministry. But a local man agreed to let him temporarily use a vacant house, and The Barracks was born in March 2016. Though The Barracks was twice made to relocate, and money was tight, Speegle said last-minute offers and donations kept the ministry alive.
Speegle is prone to fits of spontaneous laughter when describing the ways he said God has provided again and again. Once, he said, a man handed him a check for nearly all the $850 fee he needed to attain tax-exempt nonprofit status. Another time, a local Christian organization offered him and his boarders a free place to stay for five months when he was about to have to move.
He used to charge a move-in fee for The Barracks recruits. But when God told him to drop the fee, Speegle said, He found new ways to provide.
Today Speegle, along with Barracks CEO James Whetstone, helps oversee operations at the new Barracks location in Coleman, where the ministry moved a few months ago. A house manager, Gilbert Velez, and two recruits study the Bible, help fix up the house, and sell plaques and salsa to fundraise.
Barracks recruits have a full schedule. They wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. for quiet time and Bible study, work during the mornings and afternoons and do nightly readings before a 10 p.m. lights out. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night they attend services at Brownwood’s Victory Life Church, and they’re rewarded with a movie night each Saturday evening.
Speegle said his program is designed to be completed in about nine months, and it’s not easy. For an addict who’s hit rock bottom, though, Speegle said The Barracks provides an opportunity for a Bible-based recovery.
“If you haven’t hit rock bottom, then you’ll leave after a few days,” he said. “I’m not saying you have to lose everything, but in your heart you have to give it all up. Jesus said, ‘He who seeks to lose his life will gain it, and he who seeks to gain his life will lose it.’”
“It really boils down to being completely sold out for Christ,” said house manager Velez. Velez said he’s known Speegle for about eight years, and enjoys the opportunity to serve with him.
“I partnered with Zach for one reason: his heart is for the broken,” Velez said. A self-described product of a “broken home,” Velez said he never struggled with addiction but did grapple with hopelessness earlier in life. He said he wants to help others achieve peace and fulfillment in Jesus.
“I tell the guys in the program, I want to be there with you. I want to walk with you in your pain. I want to walk with you in the trenches,” Velez said.
In addition to The Barracks, Bold as a Lion Ministries also offers an extensive catalogue of online sermons and testimonies via YouTube, performs street ministry and fundraises for international missions. Speegle said he’ll be visiting India and Indonesia on a mission trip later this year.
Right now, Speegle said, Bold as a Lion is in the middle of Project 500, which aims to find 500 sponsors who will donate at least $20 a month to the ministry. Bold as a Lion also accepts donations of clothing, food, toiletries and other essentials, and offers volunteer and internship positions for interested locals.
For more information about Bold as a Lion Ministries or The Barracks, the organization can be reached at www.boldasalionministries.com or 325-430-5000.