Actively bringing about much needed change in our communities and hope to the broken and disheartened.
Over the past six years I have been dreaming and praying about what it might look like to have a café that exists for the primary purpose of bringing the kingdom of God to a community. About a month ago I arrived at that café. I am now a month into my internship at Café Yesterday in Berkeley, California and almost on a daily basis I have encountered specific ways of ministering to people that I used to lay in bed and dream about. Because a café is fundamentally different from a local church the opportunities to minister to and love a community from this context are unlike those I experienced in the typical church setting. The encouragement and hope that I have received over the past month for my coffee shop ministry in Las Vegas is unparalleled to any other time in my life. Not only have I seen a thriving new coffee shop impacting a community for the kingdom of God, I have also participated. My dreams for what coffee shop ministry looks like are no longer based on theories that bounce around in my head keeping me from sleep. My hopes for ministering to Las Vegas by way of a coffee shop are now based on concrete experiences that have exceeded anything for which I was ever foolish enough to dream. I would love to share a sampling of these experiences with you.
One of the first café regulars I met was a man who is homeless, he goes by the name 300. He has lived on the streets of Berkeley for four years, he is 43 years old. 300 visits the coffee shop almost daily. He has lived in Berkeley his whole life. The church that he had attended since he was a child asked him to stop coming a couple of years ago (something he gets really upset about whenever he talks about it),according to him they even had someone assigned to the door to make sure he couldn’t enter. Most of the time 300 likes to keep conversations centered on Berkeley politics and gossip. I have never known someone more informed about the “goings on” of their city. Anyone in Berkeley that 300 thinks might be willing to have a conversation with him – he talks to – regularly.
While I was working behind the counter the other day 300 was sitting at his table (he always sits in the same chair, at the same table) we were talking about the latest conspiracy being hatched by local “powers that be” and he said something that stopped me cold. 300 said that at any other business in Berkeley he is not welcome to hang out – forcing him and his shopping cart to stay on the move. “But Café Yesterday is a haven for me” he said. I froze for what felt like minutes as his words echoed like scoreboard buzzer in my head. I have never been a part of church that a person who is homeless considered to be their haven. In that moment I felt more a part of the kingdom of God than almost any other time in my life.
300 knows fully why Café Yesterday exists in Berkeley – he knows more about our motivation and intentions than probably any other regular. He knows that two of us on staff are ordained ministers and despite his awful experience with his old church and former pastor – he calls this place his haven. 300 even told me that he wants to help me raise half a million dollars for For Good. Coffee. – truly one of the most humbling moments of my life.
Okay, enough about 300 for now – I’m getting emotional. One of the most shocking experiences I have had since being here (a big statement considering I’m in Berkeley) is that in the past week I have been invited to church on two separate occasions by two different regulars at the shop – who don’t attend church anymore. Both of these regulars used to attend church and for very different reasons each made a conscious decision to walk away. I have shared my story with them – they both know why I am in Berkeley and that I was recently on staff at a church. They both told me that they had wanted to check out some of the local churches in Berkeley and asked me if I would go with them. Have you ever been invited to church by an unchurched person? I certainly haven’t. I was usually in the position of trying to figure out how to do the inviting. I jumped at both invitations – I can’t wait.
Ryan, who runs the coffee shop, has clearly established for the shop that our primary purpose is to love people. Its not about making money – although money is really tight – its not even about being the coolest coffee shop in town (although we think we are) – priority number one is loving people. Ryan leads by example and full empowers everyone who works here to do the same. I have personally served more meals to people who are homeless, completely free of charge over the past month than in my previous 24 years of church membership combined. My favorite is when I invited beggars off the street inside for a meal – Ryan just smiled and said “good job man” while he helped me fix their plates.
I cannot wait to get to Vegas and share love with a neighborhood in the same way that I am here in Berkeley. I have never been more excited and encouraged than I am right now! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement, it has helped to propel me to this point. I will be in Berkeley for another three months before I make the move to Las Vegas.
At this point the next hurdle is financial. The grand total for a coffee shop start up will be between two -hundred fifty and three-hundred thousand dollars. This seems like a relatively simple thing when I compare it to the ways that God has worked in my life over the past few years to get me to this point. I am so incredibly thankful to those who have already donated generously to For Good Coffee. I hope that these stories have given you a clearer picture of what you are supporting and involving yourself with. I hope that you would all please pray about making a financial contribution. Recently a few families have committed to making monthly contributions, joining a couple churches who are doing the same thing. Every amount of support is helpful and it will all contribute to stories like the ones I mentioned above. Thank you so much for considering joining me in this adventure! Feel free to pass this onto anyone who you think would be interested – or send them to www.forgoodcoffee.com
Donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to:
2081 Land End Loop, Roseville, CA 95747.
Please CLEARLY identify them TYLER HUDGINS CHURCH PLANTING FUND.
Here are some pictures from my CA adventures.