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.