By Susan LeDoux
When Len Morrell was young, church “was a place where people kept their coats on and left right away.” He knew Jesus in his head, not his heart, until he was born again at nineteen. “It felt like falling in love on steroids,” he said. So began his faith journey marked by trust and miracles that culminated in the Worship Warehouse at 19 Silver Street in Rochester.
When Morrell was nineteen and a science major in college, he planned to spend Christmas at home in Rochester, but had only half a tank of gas and $1.46. Before leaving, he attended a children’s Christmas celebration where the pastor asked for donations. That is when Morrell heard, “Give a dollar” in his mind.
This would not be the only time he would hear from God, which he described as “an idea that won’t go away.” As he watched the donation basket weave his way to his seat, “give a dollar” still echoed. That would leave him with 46 cents and a long walk home. When the basket reached him, he threw his last dollar into it.
He learned God was trustworthy when a friend asked if he could ride with him to Rochester and offered to pay his gas. Not only that, another friend called him while he was home with a strange message. It seemed Steve, also a Christ follower, felt compelled to give him money —and he did not know why.
God was preparing him to lay it all on the line years later. Now a successful engineer, Morrell received a phone call from an executive with Chrysler Corporation that resulted in an exclusive 3.5 million dollar contract to make all-wheel components for high-end trucks and automobiles. Morrell’s warehouse hummed with huge machines fulfilling a lucrative seven-year contract.
Then at 62, his life changed with the diagnosis of throat cancer. Morrell faced surgery and radiation. At the same time, his daughter was losing her battle with anorexia. Post-operative routine for his surgery included days in the hospital with a tube inserted into his stomach so food would bypass his throat while he healed. But his daughter was dying and he wanted no part of a lengthy hospital stay or an opiate fogged mind. He determined to swallow food, avoid opiates, and go home to his daughter. His medical team told him that would be excruciating (it was), but he told them he could do all things in Christ (he did).
He prayed, “Lord, if I and my daughter survive, I want to spend every minute of my days serving you. Show me how.”
God did heal them both and then told Morrell, “You need to tell people how much I’ve blessed you. Not just for you. You need to tell others because there are many voices in social media telling people how to think and what to value, and how to get ahead. Young people need to understand that I, the Lord God Almighty, by my power, by my will, if you submit to me, will lift you up.”
Submitting, Morrell thought he would hold a barbeque at the factory. Soon, the concept evolved to his giving a message, but that was not enough. He felt God wanted him to include music and more.
“I was like, ‘music?’ God, I can talk. I’ll spend money to turn this place around. I’ll finance the whole thing, food, everything. But where am I going to get music?”
Was God asking him to close down a company generating up to $50,000 a month in gross sales; to empty his warehouse? He prayed, “Is this a crazy idea, Lord, or is it from you? So I said, ‘God if this is really from you, I need a crystal clear sign, a miracle. Show me — especially about the music.’”
The next day, Morrell found a note from his neighbor tucked in his mailbox. It read, “I found the attached on the street… and thought it might be yours.” It was not, but attached to the note was the Light Blue-Christian Blues Band’s business card.
“I’m like, oh, now I have to close the business. Then I started negotiating with God. How about I just empty that building and I can run the business from here and not there? He said the Lord responded, “No, sell it all. Get rid of it all. You’re going to work for me.”
Now the warehouse stands empty, awaiting worshippers and seekers alike. Morrell hopes non-Christians, or those unwilling to enter a church, find the “Worship Warehouse” progressive and unique enough to overcome their reservations.
“Really, the objective is to lead people to Christ.”
On June 21st the Light Blue-Christian Blues Band (now the Warehouse signature band) played to an opening-night crowd of 220 people. They filled one large dimly lit room flooded in blue light, and overflowed into an adjoining space. While the band played, many listened or greeted each other. Morrrell mingled, welcoming everyone.
Jonae Harris, vocalist for the evening, sang, “There is Power in the Name of Jesus to Break Any Chain.” She is the talented daughter of Pastor John Harris of Provision Gospel Church, which was one of five churches printed on a handout that listed churches supporting the Worship Warehouse.
Morrell hopes to host four events each year that feature the Light Blue –Christian Blues Band, a vocalist, personal testimony, and an invitation to accept Christ. He will also bring the Worship Warehouse experience to any church for free. When not in use, the warehouse will be available for rent to churches and outreach organizations for less than commercial rental rates.
“My whole life has been a miracle,” he said. “The overall impetus behind the Worship Warehouse was to portray the message that God is real. Christ is real. He is available to all of us right here and now. He creates miracles in our lives.”
For more details, or to speak with Morrell, visit www.theworshipwarehouse.com or call 585-750-5856.