Written by: Nancy O'Leary
A couple of weeks ago, I had an unchurched workman who came to my home to do some much needed repairs and, after a just few days of my listening to his story and some basic conversation, he is now choosing to be baptized and will start his instruction in a couple of weeks. Basically, evangelism, for me, begins with listening. In my home, I was basically God’s ear and I was listening and speaking words of hope and truth.
At the café, we promote listening as the philosophy of evangelism and this is where we usually start at the cafe. People are carrying a lot of pain and loneliness in today’s world and they often don’t feel like they are being heard. Often, people are angry about many things and just to be heard brings a sense that someone understands their struggle and that what they feel and say has importance and valued -not only to you but to God.
The second thing I do is to lead with the love of Christ and acts of kindness. The good news of Christ also is to be lived through our words and acts of love which speaks volumes to a world which is longing for meaning and hope. I recently heard an author explain that telling the story of God needs to begin with creation, in the garden, where a beautiful God has made a beautiful world so that we can enjoy it and each other. By leading with the love of Christ and the beauty that God has created for all of us can transform each and every person with whom we come into contact. The two things that people today need the most is to know that they are being heard, that they are loved by God, and that they have a place in this beautiful world which God has created and that they
Written by: Herb Bailey
A lot goes into planning a fundraiser. From caterers to speakers to who to invite and even the design, many hands go into seeing a fundraiser successful. We have plenty of people to thank, from Nancy Cochran and her team of fundraisers, to our own team, headed up by Helen Yi. It was an amazing time and we got to highlight Aliquippa’s own fire chief, Dave Foringer, who works behind the scenes often to bring change about in our community. The Mayor Dwan Walker offered prayer and a quick testimony about the café and its ministry. The guest list was full of dignitaries, friends and partners in ministry and every word that I heard about their experience was humbling to me.
Our team of volunteers and staff gave testimony to their experience of dignity (our theme was Delivering Dignity) and the sounds of glory to God echoed through the basement of Crestmont Alliance Church. We are so grateful for their partnership and for them hosting our banquet. Singing praises, Andrenna, Kyah and Angel, with accompanying on the cajon by yours truly, had voices joining together to worship God.
With a call to not only give one time, but for a continual partnership, we saw over five thousand dollars given that night with many new people coming on to support the delivering of dignity to our community. If you wanted to give and missed the opportunity, or you have friends that are looking to support the work of a ministry that loves well its community, please don’t hesitate to partner with us, both financially as well as physically coming over.
The divide is only as wide as our fear allows it to be. May the Lord perfect His love in us all. May the Lord give you opportunity to deliver dignity within your sphere of influence and may He expand your reach.
Blessings to you!
Written by: Scott Colburn
On a beautiful fall afternoon I got to do something I don't do often enough: walk down the street outside our cafe to do neighborhood evangelism. My priest, Fr. Scott, drove over from Ambridge to go with me. We were handing out bookmarks advertising the healing prayer night at the Cafe the next Saturday.
We walked up to a nearby highrise apartment building where a few people are always sitting outside or going in and out. Lots of our cafe friends live there. I felt I was hosting Fr. Scott on “my turf” and I wanted him to meet some people he could talk to. We talked with an old fellow who was walking by, and then I went to talk with a morose looking lady who had a long list of woes, but she also turned out to have a mutual friend with me, a Salvation Army lady who had just moved out of town to work at a mission in Maryland with some of my other friends. So she went from stranger to pal in a second and I prayed with her. We talked with a few more folks walking in and out, then went back to the main street. We blessed folks at the bus stop, passed by the cafe where I introduced one of our regulars to my priest, and went up the street. We went to another apartment building with lots of people always sitting outside, and Fr. Scott got in a long, hilarious conversation with a man sitting out with his friends. I prayed with some more folks and then joined Fr. Scott and Mr. George to pray with them. By then we'd been out on the street a whole hour, and it was nothing as awkward or hard to talk with people as I had feared.
Church or cafe, when we work in an “inside” ministry it sometimes becomes easier to wait in there for people to come to us. But most of the people are out living their lives and don't know to or don't feel comfortable coming in to hear about the Gospel. I know there are some street corner preachers in our area, some of them with megaphones, and I admire their courage. I also know that it's hard to listen to people when you're speaking into a megaphone to passing traffic. I like our ministry of listening, giving people space, and praying with them. It was sweet to go do ministry with Fr. Scott, in a week that saw the tenth anniversary of my going to his church and the 11th anniversary of my coming to the cafe. After all those years, I'm not a great evangelist, but I use the gifts I have and The Holy Spirit is the one who calls people, anyway.
Written by: Maggie Dannenmueller
As a staff member at Uncommon Grounds and a candidate for the Church Army
USA, I have experienced much love and grace and I have experienced how to give love and grace.
The reason I came to Beaver County was because I was seeking treatment for heroin addiction. I had nothing, I had nobody. I didn’t even know my own identity and I certainly didn’t have any dignity. I had absolutely nothing. I did not have any dignity. None for myself and none to give anyone else.
While I was here seeking treatment, I started volunteering at the Café and eventually got hired as an employee. That was 2 years ago and everything has changed. Because of my time spent at the cafe and with the people in this town, I have found my Identity. I have an identity today as a child of God. I have a home, a family, and a future. I came out to Beaver County with nothing and I was given nothing but grace, love, dignity, and support by my café family. Because of that, I was able to change my story and have a shot at a real life.
Today I am someone who can show others support because I was shown the same support when I was at my lowest.
Written by: Lilikae Shepherd
The staff and volunteers here are awesome. They make sure that you know who Christ is. I truly love it here. The people here do not judge you in a negative way.
They are always there for you and they make sure they can help meet your needs. They always try their best to help you get to where you need to be. Uncommon Grounds Cafe is a safe place for Christ, Coffee, Culture and so much more.
There are multiple times when I have come into the Cafe not in the best mood or having a rough day. I may not remember specifically what happened that day, or why I was feeling down, but I can remember the love I felt. I can remember feeling safe and heard.
Ms. Angel and Ms. Andrenna are two people that have consistently been there for me from the beginning. I always know I can count on them to listen to me and to speak truth and love into my life. I may not remember what happened, but I will always remember the safety I felt because of these two amazing ladies.
Written by: Marla Duncan
As of October 1, the countdown to my son's 14th birthday is approaching and I must say we have an amazing testimony. This is my first time telling this story publicly. My oldest sons name is Kishawn Thornton he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder and PDD. For years, he was a non-verbal and didn't talk. When he was born, he had so many complications he were in and out of Children's Hospital time and time again, but one day when he was 1 month old, my life changed because not only was I a young mother, but it was also my first time being a parent.
I took him to the hospital because he was becoming very sick and very fragile and he didn't want to eat and he wouldn't feed off mommy nor would he take the bottle. So I took him to E.R and the doctor checked him out gave him some antibiotics and said it might be the flu and sent him home. From that day on, he got even more sick so I took him back and he was a lot sicker than the day before. After 2 days of being at Armstrong Community Hospital, he was life flighted to Children's Hospital where they still couldn't find a diagnosis. His kidneys started to fail, his breathing started to get funny, and his heart started to have a different beat to it so they put him in ICU.
I couldn't see him for hours when they first brought him in, but finally when I got to see him, my heart was torn into pieces because he no longer looked like my baby and I just didn't know what to do for him. I cried and I cried and I just prayed for clarity in my situation because I just didn't understand. I did everything right as a mother I didn't do anything to put my child in danger during my pregnancy. Doctors tested me for everything that they could possibly test me for which made me so upset because a lot of the tests that wer taken that day I had already tested for while I was pregnant: HIV, sickle-cell Etc.
As I sat in there and looked around and saw parents crying over their babies and their children that got shot, some were diagnosed with cancer some got burned and all I could do was cry because I didn't want to lose my child. As they called parents to the office, the doctor's and social workers were telling them that they had to make arrangements for their children and I witnessed parents come out broken, torn, and hurt and the more I saw that the more I begged God to please save my child, but sadly I was one of the last parents that got called to get notified that I needed to make arrangements because my baby wasn't going to make it.
I did not take no for an answer. I went back to him and I whispered to him and I whispered to him some more and I let him know "Kishawn you fight baby you just keep fighting because Mommy is not going to give up on you. You keep fighting baby because you have a purpose." I called my pastor and we prayed nonstop and 2 hours later my son opened his eyes. He started blinking and looking around. Two days later, they were able to take him out of ICU and put him on the floor because everything just turned for the better. And for some reason every couple of years it was the same thing. He would get sick from everything he ate and drank. He really didn't have any more of those really sick episodes after 2009 which opened up another opportunity to be able to work a lot more on his mental health.
Since he was three, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and he always needed a (TSS) wraparound for school. He always needed to wrap around for home to get him where he needed to be and countless trips to Children's. But me and Kishawn never gave up. And as of now, it still takes hard work But I always take advantage of the services and resources that are available to me and him. And today I'm in tears. He is extremely smart, his grades are phenomenal. He is an awesome reader, he is no longer in any autistic support classrooms, and he is just the most respectful kid you'll ever meet. And we always get through it together. There is always bumps in the road, but we as a family will get through it all. Kishawn will be 14 years old Thursday October 25, 2018 and I thank you God for him every single day. And I will always fight for him. . . But God.
Written by: Malkyah Bailey
Hello! I'm Kyah. The last couple of weeks have been a stressful mess. It felt that every step closer to the love of God I got, the farther I'd fall back. However, the last week has been amazing. I was given the opportunity to invite a friend of mine into a loving relationship with Christ. It has been an amazing experience. I invited him to Church in the Margins and there he opened his heart to Jesus.
I also had the opportunity to bless a couple who came to visit the Cafe for the first time. They are in recovery and were looking for a place to be. I told them that we have volunteer work that they could do and they have been volunteering closing hours for the past week. I invited them to church where they also accepted Christ into their lives and are planning to get baptized.
I prayed about having a place and feeling that I am actually making a difference. These past couple of weeks I had the opportunity to invite friends into the love of Christ.
Written by: Herbert Bailey
There are three things that I find God calling me to
The first is handling the basic care of our community, from listening to transporting them to hospitals to introducing our community to a living hope in Christ.
The second is to train and support our current leaders as they work diligently in the field, following up on multiple ministry opportunities as well as supporting their self-care.
The third reason is to explore other areas where God is moving, as well as training new leaders and other ministry partners.
I have found that doing work locally is a never-ending look at the Lord’s grace for my life. The lessons that I am learning about humility, and the lessons that I am learning about trusting God are priceless. What we have seen at the café is God working with not only the least of these, but with the practitioners of faith, the ones who have worked fearlessly in the field for years, coming in for a rest. They are encouraged that there is a safe place to exhale, where the pressure to perform is lifted and the reality of our human experience can be recognized.
Some of the work of training other leaders is simply allowing them, or encouraging them to BE. BE-ing is difficult because we seemed to be hardwired to DO, and our value is measured by our output, our outcome. We push back against that notion with the reality that we are first, which solidifies our value, and from that place of being valued by God, through Jesus, we can then serve. This is not even taught as much as it is caught, simply being present in a place of low judgment, but a pace of high accountability.
The side effect of that is people that visit, see the culture of God’s Kingdom, want to have that experience in their own local communities. We have and will continue to share what the Lord has given us, in way of materials, hands on training, internships, workshops, and most importantly, prayer. God’s Kingdom expands as we offer Him the honor and praise that He is due, get out of His way, and live out of the identity of temporary residents, agents of reconciliation. Team work makes the Kingdom work.
Written by: Andrenna Williams
A young woman whom God has placed in my life to minister to is currently struggling with addiction, mental illness and an unhealthy attachment to a toxic relationship with the father of her children. The amount of abuse that she absorbs from this man is inhumane. Repeated cheating and intentional disregard for her health and well-being is inflicted upon her on a daily basis by him and she willingly, seemingly, “happily” takes it.
As a woman whom has not experienced a relationship like this, it would be easy for me to have several responses and feelings regarding her situation. I could easily judge and condemn her for being “foolish” and “desperate” for accepting that type of treatment. I could make excuses for her for being “naive” and attempting to fill a “void”. Or, I could get so upset at her partner and how he treats her that I absorb the hurt and pain and therefore allow it to become a part of me.
However, I don’t have to! Psalm 55:22 says to “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken”. When I accepted the call on my life, and submitted my will for His will, I inherited freedom from having to carry that weight. I am able to listen, love on and minister to my sister in Christ freely without having to be concerned with trying to fix her, him or their situation. How awesome is that! “I Get To” be an active participant in what God is doing in her life.
Written by: Greg Miller
On a recent short term missions trip our team went door-to-door through a trailer park to talk with people and let them know that bicycles would be repaired for free that coming Thursday. My expectations were that we would find resistance to our efforts and would not get many opportunities to talk with people.
Instead, the opposite was true. People were happy to talk with us and share a little of what was going on in their lives. In addition, one person, instead of wanting bikes repaired, offered to donate about 6 bikes so others could use them! Another resident, we were told, was on a mission trip to Kenya!
If you had asked me where to find people with whom to spend time talking - where to get bike donations - and where to find residents on foreign missions trips, the trailer park was not the place I would have recommended.
Our experience reminded me of several things.
First, it is often those who have the least that give the most. Jesus said that the widow who put two coins into the temple treasury had given more than the wealthy because she gave all that she had. Paul said of the churches in Macedonia that “in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality”, (2 Corinthians 8:2). Poverty can indeed lead to rich liberality! Too often we stay away from the poor. The Lord may want us, instead, to learn about generosity from them.
Secondly, I was convicted by the words of James, “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”, (James 2:2-5). Indeed, the poor of the world are often the richest in faith.
Finally, you are not going to learn much by staying where you are comfortable and playing it safe. The Lord says to “Go” and make disciples. “You are the light of the world.” You won’t shine if you keep your light under a bushel basket. Let your light shine! Go into ghettos and trailer parks. Amazingly, you might find that you will learn something in the process.
Come and join Uncommon Grounds Café in its ministry and find out how much you can learn. You’ll get more than what you give.