Ministry Today commends a different group of kingdom-minded people or organizations each year in our MT21 issue. In 2014, when we launched MT21, we honored churches and ministries that were influencing the 21st-century church.
In 2015, we highlighted 21 congregations that were "culturally diverse on purpose." This year, however, we're taking a different approach and naming 21 businesses whose leaders are a witness for Christ in some way through their professional platforms. From cupcake makers to insurance agency owners to roofers, we have covered a wide range of businesses in this year's MT21 feature.
Today we are highlighting Historic Floors historicfloorsinc.com
Stephen Gamble has an amazing story to tell, and he does so in a thick New York accent, typical of the self-described "Long Island boy." It's the story of a "tough, self-willed" entrepreneur who, in his climb to success, lost everything along the way—his wife, family, business and pride.
Stephen and his wife, Katie, had three children when they headed into their stormy divorce in 1983.
"God had to break me," Gamble says. "I lost absolutely everything. I begged God to give me my family back. He was very faithful. I got saved through the divorce. Katie was not a believer. I came first, and she came three years later. We took the chance of swallowing our pride and reconciling our marriage, because we were in such a terrible way. And He promised to bless us, and my gosh, He has done more than that."
Stephen and Katie were remarried in 1986 and had three more children. Gamble started his business as a cabinetmaker and furniture finisher, then honed his craft and began developing fine wood finishes and remarkable Old World wood flooring. Today, he owns and operates Stephen Gamble Incorporated: Historic Floors and Finishes, a showroom in Greenwich, Connecticut, where designers and architects from New York come to choose finishes and floors for projects in high-end homes for some of the wealthiest people in the world. Gamble's product is manufactured at a plant in South Norwalk, Connecticut.
"We took a dare from the pulpit to believe that God wanted to do great things for us and through us," Gamble recalls.
He and Katie opened a registered 501(c)(3) called Heartbeat International Ministries (HIM) and asked God to bless it.
"And He's done that with friends and funds and connections," Gamble says. "You know the saying, 'A window would be opened in heaven and out would pour the blessing, more than one can contain.' And that's our life. The whole point is, how do you say thank you? So you're listening to how we say thank you."
Stephen and Katie say thank you through the many ministries under the umbrella of HIM. In some of the poorest countries in the world, HIM sponsors free medical clinics, feeding programs and orphanages, supplies clean drinking water and feeds the homeless on the streets of New York City. All six of their children have gone to the mission field with them.
After feeding the homeless out of their home for several years, the couple opened a commercial kitchen in the Bronx where 600 hot meals are prepared and delivered three nights a week to battered women and HIV shelters and to homeless people on the streets of New York.
"That's called Taste & See, and it's my most challenging ministry because there's no return on it here in this world," Gamble says. "Some people wouldn't do it because it doesn't involve education, a work program or teaching somebody something to help themselves. This is just a mission of mercy. That's all it is. But the gospel states, 'When I was hungry, when I was thirsty, when I was naked ... ' And these are very clear, simple signals the Lord has put forward. I think He means what He's saying. I don't think people can misunderstand these needs."
The Gambles recently moved to a 100-acre horse farm in Aiken, South Carolina, where they are converting and expanding a barn into a 20,000-square-foot flooring factory and handcrafted assembly line. Gamble is commuting each week to the showroom in Greenwich, where two of their six children work in the business. The Gambles' son David serves as vice president, and their daughter Laura is chief operating officer.
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