Our story began when our founder, James Barnett, made the choice to become homeless and live on the streets for two years.
I was born in 1985 into a middle-class religious family who took me to church 2-3 times a week. But from an early age, I had my concerns with the western church- one that found itself sitting comfortably in pews while people from all over the world sat uncomfortably in the margins. What's worse, I knew I was part of the problem. Knowing that the best critique of a bad thing is the practice of something better, at the age of twenty-four, I decided to sell everything I owned to live intentionally homeless. For the next two years I found myself living in cardboard boxes and eating out of dumpsters with those whom Jesus deems "the greatest" in God's Kingdom (Luke 9:4).
Though I wasn't looking to start a nonprofit, I created CYNY out of necessity when I saw that my homeless friends needed shoes and socks. When a pair of steel-toe boots helped my friend land a construction job and, consequently, housing, I realized the empowering qualities of clothing. Being that there were no nonprofit clothing brands at the time, I decided to meet the need. Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself was born.
All that I do as the Executive Director at CYNY is in response to an insanely loving God. The same God who flung from his fingertips the stars across the sky and then threw on skin to join us in the dirt. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Five years later, I now run CYNY full-time from Atlanta, GA where I live with my babe of a wife, Kristin, and wiener-dog, Paisley. I keep a steady speaking schedule (video snippet of my talk below) and would love the chance to meet you if you're looking to have a speaker for your event!
"James. The guy oozes love. As he’s speaking, you feel like a life long friend and are blessed just by the thought. He exudes love while challenging you (big time) to go deeper in what it means to follow Jesus." - Adam Weber / Lead Pastor of Embrace Church
"James Barnett is a dynamic speaker who is focused on the radical mission of Jesus Christ to the world. James knows and powerfully communicates that if the gospel isn’t good news for the poor, it isn’t the gospel (Isaiah 61)." - Mike Slaughter / Senior Pastor of Ginghamsburg Church