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.