By: Scott Colburn
I recently got the annual e-mail from the chaplain of the Beaver County Jail. Every year at this time, he informs those of us who volunteer there that the training dates are coming soon. Uncommon Grounds has had a Sunday night Bible Study at the jail for 8 years now.
I never wanted to teach a Bible Study at jail. I felt a little nervous about going into a jail, and a lot awkward at talking to people who didn't share my suburban, educated, middle-class perspective. Shouldn't I just mind my own business and let other people deal with their own situations and the consequences of whatever they have done? But I felt God call me to join with others at the jail to teach and share ourselves. I'm glad I did, and years later I can't imagine not having inmates as part of my Christian community.
This isn't to romanticize things. We've seen a lot of inmates seem to “get it” and then we see them back in jail within months. Sometimes they don't seem to learn a whole lot from the lessons, and when I've been two weeks in a row they barely remember what we covered the last week. But they are hungry for change, hungry for a power in their lives greater than chaos, ignorance, or addiction. We have the chance to make disciples, not just church members.
As I said, the training dates are coming up in March and April. It's a two hour training, mostly for gathering information and doing background checks. We could use a few more guys and gals who love the Lord and want to love His estranged children. Pray about it and see if God may be calling you. Doesn't matter if you aren't a Bible scholar, or don't know what to say to an inmate, or think people in jail got what they deserved. If you believe in making disciples, this may be the place for you. Contact me, Scott Colburn, through the cafe and I'll get you the information on signing up. This past summer, I was sitting on my front porch when someone called my name. It was a guy from the study riding by in a car. He'd just gotten out, and he was excited to see me. We caught up for a moment and then he was on his way. I haven't seen him since, but I haven't seen him back at the jail either. Wherever he is, he became free through the Gospel, even when he was still in jail. He has a future, the same one that all of us believers have.
By: Andrenna Williams
Here at Uncommon Grounds Cafe, we truly believe that ministry is most effective when it flows from relationships. We build our events and programs around the needs, desires, and concerns of our customers, fellow community members, and friends. It’s more beneficial for us to focus on what’s been clearly identified as being important to those around us vs. guessing or assuming what people need/want and then hoping that what we come up with sticks.
One area where I'm seeing this “organic flow” play out almost flawlessly is in watching 2 of our kitchen staff take complete ownership over our weekly Open Mic night: from coming up with the menu for the night’s dinner special, to working with volunteers, to hosting, and even getting door prizes! For the past year or so, Herb and I have been trying to figure out a way to “revamp” Open Mic. We've wanted to be able to provide a more supportive environment for the performers and a welcoming feel for newcomers, while maintaining an atmosphere that was conducive to family fun and community fellowship. Our issue was finding a way to do this without disturbing the current flow or upsetting the regulars. In other words, allowing this “change” to happen and flow “organically.”
Over the past 3 months, both Tessa and Paul have worked hard together to bring a fresh feel to Open Mic, and it's worked!!!! Each week, a delicious meal is prepared which almost ALWAYS sells out, there is a dedicated team of volunteers who not only show up to do the physical work but also to “listen,” encourage, and love on the guests, they have created an atmosphere that fully supports and gives respectful attention to EVERY artist that goes on stage, and they have even started doing weekly raffles and small games with free coffees, Big Breakfasts, and café merch as the prizes. Tessa and Paul both have a strong ability to connect with people “organically,” and are sensitive to their needs. It has been such a blessing to watch these two team members love this ministry and desire for it to be the best that it can be. I am honored to be managing them both, and look forward to seeing what they will do in 2020!
By: Angel Bailey
This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to the Vision gathering for the Remnant Sons motorcycle ministry that my husband and I are a part of. It was an amazing, God-filled weekend, and I was able to share about what I do with the women in our café community. The Ladies Night Make n' Take parties have been so much fun this past year, and to get to share some of that with women from this other ministry was wonderful!
I am so blessed that the Lord has given me these creative gifts, and that I get to help other women see the love of Jesus while awakening a creative spirit within them. I spoke about self-care, and how important it is that we take time, every day if we can, to evaluate our emotional, physical, and spiritual selves to see where we need to inject a little love and caring. God rested on the 7th day, and even Christ took time to step away from everyone to pray and get refreshed.
I shared that we don’t need to feel guilty about taking care of ourselves, and how easy it is to do. Just going to the store and buying your favorite candy or scented candle; or taking a walk-in nature; or if you save a bit of money for a massage or getting your nails or hair done once in a while. A little love for yourself will go a long way. Then we made some yummy exfoliating sugar scrubs and had so much fun! I am thankful that I’ve found my niche and that I “get to” love and care for so many women.
By: Herb Bailey
As we enter into the New Year, we are faced with an overwhelming sense of the desire
for God to be first in our lives. For the past three years we have had themes, and this year is no different. The theme for 2020 is ORDER.
When we were spending time reflecting, the Lord was clear that for us to have the
CAPACITY to serve Him, as well as be filled with His love, we needed to put Him first.
Perhaps you’ve heard the greatest commandment question that was posed to Jesus, and His response: "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND." (Matthew 22:37) This is the great and first commandment.
Not to let the practical work off the table, Jesus quickly follows up with: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In ministry, it is easy to get those two mixed up. When people like ourselves are so busy serving the marginalized, we can get bogged down in loving people and subsequently miss our first love. Our first love is the Lord, and from that wellspring we serve, love, and partner with others as they walk in the Kingdom of God.
As the Psalmist says, “Order my steps in Your word; let no sin rule over me.”(Psalm 119:133) I pray that this year, we are ordered by the Lord, and love others from a place of resting with Him, giving our neighbors the best of what we have.