By: Herb Bailey
I wasn’t expecting it to go the way it did. But then again, it never does. I’m grateful to God that when I plan how I want things to happen, He interrupts my good plan with His PERFECT will. Our theme this year was CAPACITY, and we spent a lot of time thinking about how well we were making room for the Lord in our lives, professionally and personally. We challenged the status quo, pushed back against societal norms, and continued to meet together, even when times got hard. We've overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.
One of the hard things about ministry in the societal margins, is the lack of follow through… I’m not going to say anymore about that so you too can get a small taste of our daily life. It’s okay though, we are offering grace - room to get it right. We have learned that if we don’t offer grace, it is because we don’t realize grace has been offered to us.
Speaking of us, our numbers have changed as we have some that started this journey with us that no longer call the café home, and others that are no longer in the land of the living. On the other side, we have added three new staff, and new volunteers as well. This transition means that we are doing more, with an increased capacity for outreach, training, and love.
Overall, we could not accomplish our call without your help. We could not minister to the capacity that we have achieved without the Lord prompting you to pray, volunteer and financially support and walk with us. If you have not given an end of the year donation to the ministry, we look forward to receiving and processing your financial donation before the close of the year. We look with anticipation toward the 2020 year, and we are looking forward to rolling out next year’s theme, ORDER. "Order my steps according to thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." Psalm 119:133
We look forward to partnering closer with you in the coming year, so until then...
“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV
By: Lauren Zawatski
Awestruck. That’s a wonderful word to describe just one of the emotions running through my veins when I first set foot on the streets of Paris.
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to France for a few days - fulfilling a nearly decade-old dream in my heart! Ever since high school, I’ve always had an unexplainable draw toward France and French culture, and I’d hoped to one day visit or even move there. It wasn’t until I started walking with the Lord when I was 17 that I began to discover that this was a dream that God had actually planted in my heart. Throughout college I studied French, and eventually graduated with a minor in French language. I had desperately wanted to do study abroad in college, but the Lord knew it was not the right time for me quite yet. Years continued to pass and the Lord would keep giving me little reminders and confirmations here and there that this was still certainly something that He had planned for me - even though I had no idea what it would look like!
Fast forward to this year, and it has been the hardest one I've ever experienced. Every sphere of my life has been stretched and challenged, and my emotions have done somersault after somersault. Earlier this year, I had put this dream of visiting France on a "shelf" in my mind, trusting God would eventually take me there when the time was right. All the while, the Lord had been preparing the way for me. I never could have anticipated then that later this year I would actually go!
Simultaneously, almost 8 months ago when I started working at the cafe, God was placing me here, though I was unaware, as yet another reminder of how much he knows what He's doing! Not only did he set me somewhere that would be a place of healing and wholeness amidst the ongoing turmoil, he set me somewhere that has been so strengthening for my spirit and has aligned me even more with His heart. Through it all, I've learned to truly pray: "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done," even if it's not what I had in mind.
What this year has taught me is this: I don't have to force anything! My greatest plans are nothing when compared to God's infinite wisdom. I see a partial view, He sees the full. One of my all time favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 23. Though it's one of the more quoted verses of the Bible, the Lord has taken me through it this year in a truly intimate and practical way. During both the highs and lows I've learned to say:
"The Lord is my best friend and shepherd, I always have more than enough." - Psalm 23:1 (TPT)
By: Tessa Sentell
The cafe’s Open Mic has been changing and experimenting in the past few months. Some regulars have drifted away and some new ones have arrived. We’ve had more volunteers than ever before, and Paul has been living his dream as our host. With a whole new crowd of people comes new stories. Here are just a few...
A good bit of our crowd is made up of a group from a local rehab. They are an absolute joy to have, even if they clean the house of all ice cream every week! Two regular performers are Jeanette and Richie. Jeanette admits she can’t sing and is nervous every week, but still sings because the songs mean a lot to her personally. Richie is a gifted rapper, and weekly gives his testimony of the raps he used to write and the life he used to lead, and how he now raps for Jesus and uses this gift to tell his testimonies. The group is so encouraging and enthusiastic; no matter how good or bad the performer was, the person is always engulfed in hugs and applause the second they get off stage. Some people still come back to the cafe after moving from the rehab. I get to hear their stories as they continue recovery. Some move on to a ¾ house conveniently located within walking distance of my church, and to my joy some have joined my family there.
Joseph is our co-host. I’m not quite sure how he got there. He came in as an extremely quiet 19-year-old local kid, invited by a partnering youth group. He rarely spoke, but always had a smile. One night I turned around and found Joseph up on stage announcing the next person and just kind of went with it. I later found out that Paul had struck up some good conversations with Joseph, saw potential in him, and wanted him to come back. So he offered him the position of co-host to keep him coming around. Turns out this was the Lord’s timing, as Paul had an injury the next week, putting Joseph as the main open mic host for the next month.
Over the last few weeks I’ve seen him gain confidence. He’s made a group of friends and stays afterwards to talk and play games, where before he would sit quietly and watch. He’s getting louder from the stage and in conversation, and I’ve found out that he’s really good with kids. This is an isolation to community testimony! He is someone I’m happy to call my friend, and that I’m really, really proud of.
Lastly, here’s a quick story about a recent volunteer. Christina came into the cafe in a spiritual rut, unsure of where she was supposed to be or what she was supposed to be doing. We hit it off immediately, and she felt safe to talk about her journey with the Lord and express her frustrations. Fast forward a few months, and I get a text saying that she felt like the Lord was opening the door for her to lead a dance group, and that she was going to follow that lead even though she was scared. So, this past week myself and several other volunteers got to pray over Christina to bless her and commission her to go forth and multiply with what she’s learned from the cafe, into this new season of obedience to God. Promises of meetings over coffee to follow.
I love these people. We are blessed to host a space where testimonies like these can unfold. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Uncommon Grounds Cafe