A Christian couple in Liverpool whose hotel business was left crippled after they were arrested for criticising Islam, have told a US news channel of their exciting new plans to use the hotel to help the community.
Watch the Vogelenzangs talk about their new venture, the Bounty House TLC Centre
The finances of Bounty House hotel were left in ruins after Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were arrested last year because a Muslim woman complained that she was offended by comments made about Islam.
The couple’s legal defence was funded by The Christian Institute.
After a criminal trial lasting two days, the case against the Vogelenzangs was dismissed. But despite being declared innocent the hotel lost 80 per cent of its bookings.
“Our business was destroyed”, Sharon told American news channel CBN.
“We tried to keep it going, but in September this year we knew we had to call it a day and stop building up more and more debt”.
She added: “We’ve lost 10 years of livelihood and possibly 10 years of our future. We would’ve been happy to carry on providing the service for another 10 years. So it has been really devastating”.
But the couple told CBN of how they bounced back from their loss to start a new non-profit making business designed to provide a host of valuable services to their local community.
The Bounty House TLC Centre now provides a range of services including rehabilitation for former soldiers, arts and crafts lessons for the elderly, help and advice for families, and life skills courses.
“We really believe that we’re going to be able to benefit the community and create jobs for people in lots of different areas,” Sharon said.
“And now we’re starting with what we’ve got, what we can do by faith. We haven’t got any funding at all. We’re walking on water and the Lord is keeping us going week by week,” she continued.
Visitors to the centre say they are inspired by the Vogelenzangs turning around their personal challenges into something positive.
One visitor said: “It just shows you what kind of people they are to want to help the community”.
Another added: “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity they’re providing for people. As far as I know, there isn’t anything like this available in the area.”
The Vogelenzangs are also grateful for the opportunity to serve their community.
“We kept confessing last year that something good was going to come out of all of this and we didn’t realise how good it would be,” Sharon said.
She added: “When this whole thing takes off, it’s going to be tremendous. So many people are going to be blessed by it and so many needs are going to be met now.”