Written by: Greg Miller
During a recent trip to the Beaver County jail for our weekly bible study one of the participants stated that he had been having a lot of difficulty with his cell mate. There were also tensions on the pod in which he is confined. This man is a believer who wasn't sure what to do. He was sharing his trials with someone else who suggested that he pray about those situations. So, he began to pray. He was amazed at the transformation that took place within one week. The relationship with his cell mate improved dramatically. The tensions in the pod disappeared. Most of all, he was in awe of the fact that God had answered his prayers so rapidly and so obviously. As a result, his faith and his trust in the Lord grew.
Even though he is incarcerated, he is experiencing a growing relationship with Jesus that surpasses what a lot of Christians experience. His body may be locked up, but his spirit is free and growing. He is experiencing God's love in a way that many of us don't get to do. That is a marvelous reality of God's work. It is not hindered by our physical circumstances. He can work anywhere; anyway; with anyone. God is amazing!
When this man is released back into society I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do with his faith that is growing, even while in jail. I can't help but think that the Lord has some big plans for him!
Written by Angel Bailey
I met a new couple at our Community Thanksgiving Dinner. They are new to the area and in recovery from addiction. The wife was 7 months pregnant with her first child. She was nervous and unsure about being a parent. I sat and talked with her for a while and gave her some tips for preparing for baby. 2 days later, her husband came in to the café and told Herb that his wife thinks her water broke. Herb called me and asked me to call and talk to her. She didn’t answer at first and I was a bit nervous but started praying. I finally got ahold of her and strongly encouraged her to go right away to the hospital.
Thank God they did, because her water had broken and the baby was in duress. They did an emergency C-section and had to give the baby a breathing tube. They had a little girl, and named her, but she was life-flighted to a hospital if Pittsburgh so they couple didn’t get to spend any time with her. Tuesday morning, the husband came to the café for bible study and confessed through tears that he was scared for his baby’s life and about being a father. Everyone around the table was so encouraging to him and it was amazing to see God’s love in the flesh. We are waiting to hear back from him about where they will be staying when they get a room at the hospital where Piper is being cared for so we can go visit them. Please join with us in keeping this couple and their newborn in your prayers. God bless!
Written by Helen Yi
There is truly nothing greater than seeing people who have been deeply blessed be a blessing to those around them. It paints an intensely beautiful picture.
As I work, I sit facing the main entrance to interact with customers who come in, greet people who come to meet with Herb, grab packages and mail as the postal workers walk in, and to lend a helping hand to those who seem a little lost. Some of my favorite interactions with the people who walk through the doors is when I see the love of Christ being exemplified. This month I was able to experience that because of the people who partner with the Café in ministry.
We have been collecting winter coats since the beginning of this month because the weather in Pennsylvania is brutally cold. This past week, I was sitting working and it was earlier in the day and I saw a gentleman walk in with a large box. I was unfamiliar with the person and could not see what the box contained. Angel and I were both watching as he approached the back of the Café, and she greeted him, and he told her he had winter coats! She knew his name and thanked him, and he said to let him know if we needed more and walked out. I immediately stood up and looked in the box and was taken aback. The box contained a bunch of puffy, colorful jackets all brand new with their original tags.
I looked back at the rack of existing coat donations and was deeply moved. The coat rack has been well visited by many people, but the rack is never empty. It gets replenished with coats almost instantly. So many people have been blessed by this rack and it is all thanks to people like you. The people who have donated coats will probably never know or see where their donations went or to whom received the coats, but the point is that they gave freely. They gave freely because they were freely given grace from the Father.
We are able to bless others because we know that God has truly blessed us. We were given grace when we deserved death. We were given grace when we chose sin over God’s love. We were given grace and because we were given grace, we can also give grace to the people we serve. We love because He first loved us.
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.