Brashinger: Frankfort couple open storefront ministry
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com November 27, 2013 1:04PM
Kathleen and Jim Littleton in their storefront nonprofit ministry, The Family Hearth, in Frankfort. | Ginger Brashinger ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 2, 2014 6:12AM
Frankfort residents Jim and Kathleen Littleton have taken a cue from Pope Francis and are taking their faith “to the streets.”
The couple recently opened The Family Hearth, a nonprofit ministry for “forming faithful families” in a storefront at 32 W. Nebraska St., Frankfort.
“Kathleen has always been interested in having a shop like this, and we’ve been interested in having a storefront for our ministry work for many years,” Jim Littleton said.
But because it was always “cost-prohibitive” to do so, he said, it was a dream deferred.
And cost was not the only problem the Littletons faced. While raising their family of 14 children over the last 28 years in Frankfort, the couple overcame some challenging situations, none more serious than the most recent.
In 2009, Jim was diagnosed with Stage 4 leukemia. He was unable to work regularly at his business, Littleton Claims Service, because of the illness. In 2011, he underwent a stem cell transplant in an attempt to save his life.
During his illness, the couple lost their home, and Jim struggled to support the family. During that time, he chronicled his experiences in a book, “Healed through Cancer and Other Adversities,” not knowing if he would even finish it, he said.
When his health began to improve, Jim resumed full-time work at his business and returned to his ministry. When Kathleen again expressed a desire to have a storefront ministry to share their spiritual guidance and life-coaching skills, Jim suggested that they move his claims business from Oak Forest and combine the two into one space.
“We want to support Frankfort, which is our hometown,” Kathleen said. “We love Frankfort and the whole atmosphere of a small-town setting. Why not offer our ministry here?”
The second property they were shown seemed perfect for the couple as well as providential. Jim said the move-in day was Nov. 1, All Saints Day in the Catholic Church, and also the second anniversary of the day he was declared cancer free.
“We see God’s hand in this,” he said.
Kathleen said The Family Hearth, which is at the front of the building with the claims service behind it, will showcase retail products that honor home, faith and family life. She said the choices are made to offer a “little more inspiration and Christian flavor” than the typical gift item or home décor piece might have.
The Littletons will offer much more than inspirational merchandise. Their free programs and life-coaching skills, for which they have been trained and have practiced for more than 15 years, are the centerpiece of their ministry.
“We have that credential behind us, but I think more important when it comes to spiritual guidance is the life experience and the spiritual life of the individual,” Jim said.
“We believe that many persons are broken and hurting, and we’re here to assure them that they are each incredibly loved by God and that He has a magnificent and loving plan for their lives and for each of them.”
Christian cancer support, Scripture reflection for young adults and adults, women’s book study and women’s prayer are some of the couple’s established or planned groups.
Both Jim and Kathleen will be available for spiritual guidance and life coaching by appointment. All sessions are free with the exception of the price of materials, and donations will be accepted for personal appointments.
“This ministry is open to people of any faith, any philosophy,” Jim said. “We come from a Catholic Christian viewpoint in all we do, but not to the exclusion of others. All are welcome here.”
Kathleen said The Family Hearth will have an open door policy to bring in people “for a cup of coffee and to chat” in the Christian family atmosphere of their store.
“Our groups … are aimed at being of service to others who are trying to live their lives in a very difficult culture in our society,” she said. “We want to give (mothers and fathers) the tools they need to be strong families and to handle themselves in all kinds of crises that come their way. We just want to serve.”
For more information, visit www.formingfaithfulfamilies.com or call (708) 334-1988.