By: Gabriel Roman
There is less than a month until I get married. In a time where most people are super stressed, I feel at peace. There are still small details to be worked out, but how can one be stressed about what color the tablecloth is going to be when they are in the middle of seeing one of God's promises in their life come to fruition? This whole journey of meeting, getting to know each other, dating, and engagement has been a testament to how the Lord is faithful to His promises.
Elaina and I met on October 3, 2017, and a few days later I was talking to my roommate and told him I was going to marry her. I clearly remember meeting her and having a peace like nothing I have felt come over me, and the Lord told me: “She is my gift to you, love her like I love you.”
But let me back up. You see, I used to struggle with relationships and getting validation from them. There was a point when the Lord broke me down, and I had to choose if I was going to chase after him or relationships. My focus shifted from how I can satisfy whatever person I was in a relationship with, to how can I satisfy the Lord. It wasn’t until I got to a point where I knew I didn’t need anyone and I wasn’t looking for anyone to fulfill me that the Lord blessed me with someone that I can serve him with.
Every step of the journey the Lord has shown up and showed off. His provision and favor has been all over our relationship, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The Lord has been faithful in his promise that I would marry Elaina. I am excited that on November 23rd, that promise will be fulfilled. But that is just the beginning of our journey in serving the Lord together. I can love her and serve her because I know that before anything else, Christ loved me and served me.
the reset button
By: Andrenna Williams
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” - 1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV
We've all heard the saying, “When things seem as though they are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.” It’s a very encouraging and reassuring sentiment, yet during seemingly chaotic times, it sometimes fails to provide the comfort and peace needed to weather the storm.
Uncommon Grounds Cafe is a very unique place. Sure, we have cool art on the walls, great music playing, delicious food, and a killer cup of joe; but we are a ministry “first.” Over the past two years, we have experienced a major increase in traffic and it’s been GREAT! However, this sudden increase in business caused our team to have to redirect our energy from the “ministry” to the kitchen. In order to meet the high demand of orders, we would often times miss opportunities to minister to and love on our patrons, thus operating outside of our mission and the cafe’s intended purpose. As a result, our team found itself in a state of emergency. Working long hours, filling a large amount of orders daily, and handling complex customer service issues that we were never designed to be able to manage. We were frustrated, stressed, and BURNT OUT!!!
At the end of September, the team traveled to North Carolina for the New Wineskins Missionary Network Conference. This much needed time of refreshing, encouragement, learning, and revival couldn’t have come at a better time! While at this conference, it became clear to us that some changes needed to be made. Collectively, we were able to realize that we were operating outside of our mission, and that in order for peace to be restored, we had to get back to making the “main thing the main thing:” the ministry. Uncommon Grounds Cafe exists to reach the marginalized with the Gospel of Christ, bringing them into the life and ministry of the church by walking with people from “Isolation to Community." How could we do that if we were stuck behind the counter running around like chickens with their heads cut off? We weren’t exactly sure how we were going to do this, but we knew that it was necessary, and that God would not only be with us during the process, but that He had already made provision for us to do so.
Upon our return from the conference, we hit the reset button on the ministry. A true reboot. We simplified the menu, readjusted our hours of operation, and made a recommitment to being good stewards over this ministry that God has blessed us to “get to” serve in. And lo and behold; it worked!!! Things have been running smoothly. The community has responded well to the changes, the team has a renewed energy, and we have seen God move in some amazing ways over the past two weeks! Taking that time away to assess the situation from afar and regroup proved to be just what we didn’t know that we needed, and we are truly grateful!
Sure, this may not be the last time that things get rocky, but we are more sure now than ever that Uncommon Grounds is God’s ministry, and we are dedicated to advancing the Kingdom of God through this mission.
A BOLD WITNESS
By: Scott Colburn
I recently attended the New Wineskins Missionary Network conference in North Carolina, along with a lot of Cafe and Church Army folks. It was a wonderful three days of worship, talks, workshops, and fellowship. Two impressions stood out to me.
Firstly, there is intense opposition to the faithful people who carry the Gospel around the world. I heard a missionary to Burundi tell harrowing stories of close scrapes in that very dangerous African nation. I saw author Dominic Sputo present on his book Heirloom Love. The book calls American Christians to pray and care for persecuted Christians around the world. I greeted my friend the Rev. John Chol Dauu, who is a priest and educator in South Sudan. In America, we mostly encounter indifference or sometimes the personal dislike or scorn of people who don't want to hear the Gospel, but we're a long way from being hunted down by our neighbors or the government just for our beliefs. It was important to hear these stories and see the people who are on the front lines of international mission.
Secondly, the American Church is increasingly becoming a minor player in missions. The Church in Africa, Asia, and South America is seeing explosive growth, often as a result of the persecution. They are starting to flex their authority and numbers, and this is a good thing. I saw a lot of African bishops, including my old friend Daniel. I saw my friend Jon from seminary, who is helping bring the Church to Vietnam. The U.S. Church still has the money and the seminaries, but more and more missionaries are coming from the countries that used to be the receivers, and they are even coming here with the Gospel.
I think my two impressions are related. Where exciting growth happens, there is more persecution. When the Church threatens the world, the flesh and the devil, Satan punches back. And where Christians have to struggle for their right to worship and preach, they establish a dynamic faith rooted in dependence on God that is attractive to lots of people. I don't pray for persecution in the U.S., but I do pray for a bolder witness and for fearlessness. The conference is a real charge-up experience, and gives a preview of what the Church could be like if we really were one global, unified body of Christ.