Monday, December 31, 2007

Day Five

We awoke at 6:30 am CST in our Jackson, TN hotel - showered, packed and headed east on I-40 for our last leg. Turns out that this is the second interstate that Jeff has traveled from one end to the other (I-70, the other) and the first Teena has. When we picked it up in Barstow, CA there was a sign that read "Wilmington, NC 2700 miles."

The terrain only changed by elevation since the abundance of foliage started yesterday. It was good to be back in the Appalachians again. This time it reminded us of other mountains we've been around and we were able to compare and contrast from our experiences. We hope to make many trips into this range as they are the most serene we've been near.

One witty highlight was passing by a town that you could only find in the state of Tennessee. It would be fun to hear someone from this place tell folks elsewhere of their hometown.

"Where you from?"

"Mye? Wha' Ah'm from Bucksnort, Tena-say."

As we pulled into the storage center in Newton, NC Teena commented that she felt that we should be planting a flag in front of the office just as explorers do on unconquered mountain tops. I guess that comes from traveling over 2600 miles in "one trip." Just short of our final destination at Teena's mom's house in Lewisville, NC. Newton is the location where we plan to store our furniture and we will earn a part-time income by managing the storage facility which is changing from the traditional style of management to an automated kiosk management.

We no sooner picked up the key from the hidden location in the shrubbery, than we went in to explore the office which we have been granted permission to use at no charge for our own purposes for the time being. The timing was interesting. Just after we got into the office an elderly couple stopped by to try to use the automated system and were temporarily stumped. Imagine the two Stewart stooges trying to help them after having been there for only 5 minutes. Interesting scene to say the least but with a little phone assistance from Joel McMinn we were able to assist them and make some new acquaintances in the process. Jackie made herself at home in the office and flopped down on her tummy and proceeded to watch doggie tv out the big glass door office.

Teena wonders if maybe the storage facility clientele might not provide additional prospects for our coffee shop ministry as we helped one other person before we left. Jeff guided this newbie through the process like he'd been at it for months instead of mere minutes. The folks here are very friendly. The funny thing about the storage center is that it is walking distance from an antique store we visited while out here on vacation. Who would have thunk it? --Answer: God.

We checked out the units we'll use until we find a home, so we could get acquainted with the logistics of offloading. After checking online, we learned that our belongings beat us to NC. They are at a terminal in Fletcher, NC (near Ashville) and should be in Hickory on the 2nd. We hope to start unloading on the 3rd. Jeff's twin brother will be here to help. They should make haste as they plan to sit down together and watch the FedEx Orange Bowl as they both "Rockchalk Jayhawk" a KU victory.

It's amazing how natural all this quickly feels. We miss many of our dearest friends, but we are convinced this is what we are supposed to do. As we've said all along, "We are going to die trying." Thanks for your prayers. We value them.

Happy New Year!

Jeff and Teena

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day Four

Jeff forgot to mention that when Teena described the peculiar trees she had seen in the Arizona desert (see Day 1) Noah had a name for the tree--the Joshua Tree which she now foggily remembers hearing about somewhere before. You can find out more:

As we've traversed east, we've watched the terrain change gradually from the plains of Oklahoma (which had more trees than Teena expected and some lovely horse farms) to the tree lined placid lakes and streams of Arkansas to the more familiar forresty terrain of Tennessee. (It's starting to look more like NC.) Teena drove through Memphis which was a bit more Las Vegas looking than expected with even a pyramid type of building.

Except for a stomach bug which Teena picked up and which has remained somewhat manageable forcing her to make only one unplanned pit stop, we are doing well. Hopefully she'll be feeling more herself by tomorrow. Jeff stopped at WalMart in Arkansas to pickup some Pepto Bismol and came out with glazed eyes. "It's a whole different culture in there." (Evidently all the motorized carts were in use by obese women buying junk food.)

Liz Tognoli called to see how we and Jackie are doing. Jackie's adjusted fairly well since the initial barf-in-the-car-on-the-dog-rug incident. She's learned to hold it indefinitely and to go at the end of the leash. Her only protest is dumping her food bowl, even after we stopped and bought more enticing food. Oh well. I guess it's her way of letting us know she's pretty bored with the drudgery of sitting in the back seat. Last night as a treat we picked up a stick during her evening constitutional and let her bring it inside. She was very happy chomping away.

Day Three

We are posting this at the end of "Day Four" as the "no frills" Motel 6 (the only place that we could book that allows pets in the Oklahoma City area) had no Internet connections. They did have 2 washers and 2 dryers so we filled our time doing laundry.

We woke up in Albuquerque at about 7 and walked down to the "Owl Diner" to have a hearty and leisurely breakfast with Noah and Rachel. It was like a "Rosies" or "Gunther Tooties" style with very tasty and fatty food. We had great conversation for over an hour. We walked back to the motel and they helped us pack up for our next leg. We bid them farewell promising that something was in our scheming to get them out to our new home either in the summer or next Christmas. We have a feeling that this might be another "Ocean Isle Beach" family year.

We pointed east on I-40 and headed toward Oklahoma City at about 9 am.

It was amazing to watch the topography change from desert to plain. As you travel east there seems to be a transition as the fertility of the ground takes on a gradual transition - more scrub bushes with some grass to half bushes and grass to all grass.

We arrived at our motel after dark. The area (north of the airport) is a bit rough and tumble. It looked like about 20% of the businesses in the area had closed. We wondered if the airport had changed its main entrance to the south or another direction. We were glad to pull out of there prior to the dawn with suitcases full of clean clothes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Two

Jeff is asked at about 2 AM to take Jackie (our 12-year old Scottie) outside because she's wondering around the hotel room. Maybe she needs to do her business. So Jeff gets up, puts on some jeans, shoes and a coat; grabs the leash and heads out into the Flagstaff, AZ night.

The air bites like he hasn't felt it in awhile. Perhaps being in the Bay Area over the past 6+ years had made him forget what anything below 35 degrees feels like. The dog only wants to sniff where others of her kind have been. So both head back to the room. At 6:30 am the ritual is repeated, only this time more successfully. "Man! How different the air feels from anything in the past few years."

Teena and Jeff head east on I-40 toward New Mexico at about 7:15 and turn on the radio. A station giving Arizona current temperatures includes Flagstaff and announces a reading of 2 degrees. It has probably been nearly 10 years since we both felt that.

Today was intended to be a relatively short trip (4 hours) so that we may spend time with Noah and Rachel in Albuquerque. Teena wanted to see the Petrified Forest National Park, so we took an hour-long diversion to see a government protected lot of land that looked like the surface of Mars.

We get to Albuquerque at 1:15, meet Noah and Rachel and have an enjoyable lunch near our hotel.

We wanted to do something for the afternoon, so we agreed to find the "Rattlesnake Museum" listed in the front of the Yellow Pages. It turned out to be in a section called "Old Town" which had many shops and sidewalk vendors. After seeing many versions of American rattlesnakes, we walked the shops and enjoyed a Mexican dinner in a local restaurant.

We concluded the night by watching a couple of movies in their room. We will breakfast together in the morning and head to our separate destinations before the morning is half way gone.

It is great to see them and they look very happy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day One

The ABF "pup" trailer with all of our worldly belongings was picked up late yesterday evening by a driver. It will make its way across country as drivers going East are available and we'll store those goods in a storage center at no-charge in Newton, NC which a generous donor has allowed us to use for a few months at no charge until we secure a home. We'll be living with Teena's mom in Lewisville, NC for the time being and camping out there.

We left Benicia at 4:55 am this morning after spending the first half hour repacking and getting rid of excess boxes that wouldn't fit. We put things in every cubby hole we could find in the trunk and back seat of the Bonneville. It was tight but we made it with room for one 12-year-old very confused Scottie dog named Jackie.

Jackie whimpered slightly in protest as we made our way down the Benicia hills, positively certain we were going to the vet or the groomers. It took her about 4 hours to figure out that maybe we were just going for a very long ride. On our first pit stop after just having made comments about traveling without having to worry about the hassle of kids, Teena gave Jackie some water and Jackie promptly puked on the sleeping bag in the back seat. So much for not having kids.

"1 state down, and 7 more to go" - is what Jeff told Teena when we crossed the Colorado River on I-40 into Arizona. We were amazed to see how the terrain changed and as we passed through the Mojave desert Teena was surprised to see it wasn't a Sahara white sandy desert, but rather one consisting of scrub brushes and very odd looking pine trees which looked as if they couldn't make up their minds as to whether they wanted to be a cactus, palm tree or pine.

After 765 miles in .5 of a full day, we arrived at our motel in Flagstaff, AZ with below freezing temperatures, a biting wind and crunchy snow underfoot . Not exactly what we imagined taking the "southern route." We're glad we took it as we can't imagine what systems we could run into going over the Sierra Nevadas, the Rockies, and through the heart of the country at this time of year. Jeff checked the weather ahead and it looks to be very much in our favor.

Rachel and Noah will leave Parker, CO tomorrow morning at 5:30 am and we will leave here at about 7:30 am so we can meet in Albuquerque to spend some time together. However, there is some snow in CO as we speak, but it is supposed to tapper off and pass through tonight and be partly cloudy tomorrow. Hopefully the roads will be cleared ahead of them.

We'll post on how our day and time go tomorrow..

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stewart Travel Itinerary

Please pray for us as we trek across the U.S. Here's our schedule. We'll try to post updates.


Jeff and Teena

Thursday, 12/27 Travel from Benicia, CA to Flagstaff, AZ

Friday, 12/28 Travel from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM

Saturday, 12/29 Travel from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday, 12/30 Travel from Oklahoma City, OK to Jackson, TN

Monday, 12/31 Travel from Jackson, TN to Winston-Salem, NC

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Present Relevance...

"He replied, 'You give them something to eat.' They answered, 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.' "
-Luke 9:13 (NIV)

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

There are 2 pieces here. We are seeing them being put together.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Training Day

This Saturday (December 8th) we will be learning the operation of the Espresso machine we are purchasing from Shawn West (of Coffee That Cares). The brand is "Azkoyen" (From Spain) and the model is "Xpression." From doing online research, I've discovered that the system is fully automatic. At the push of a button you can get cappuccino, latte, warm milk, steamed milk or just coffee (weak, strong or "white" - whatever that is). I saw an article that mentioned this machine entitled: "The End of the Barista?"

It sounds like our kind of machine. Shawn has given us a full year warranty and assures us that repair is pretty basic - if you know computers and appliance systems (both of which I've tinkered with). It retails for up to $12k. I've seen it listed in a few places for $8k. That's just the machine. Shawn will sell the machine with a milk refrigerator and a ceramic cup warmer (see picture) for $5.5k.

We've both prayed about it and feel that we can purchase this to build the rest of the ministry around it. We figure if we can create good lattes, then we'll put other pieces together as we progress - even other people we can train to operate the system.

Another step toward our vision. We're pumped - needless to say.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An IKTHUS on the Line

In regards to putting our house "on the market" (one of the worst in many, many years) a few months ago, a very common question we've been hearing since then is - "Any nibbles?" At first I would say "No, we just keep casting our line hoping it's a good spot." About a month ago I would answer, "The bobber is moving, but we don't know if it's a passing fish or the wind blowing." Most recently, I would reply, "The bobber is actually dipping slightly under the surface." As of last night at around 9 pm I can now say, "We've got one on the line and we're carefully reeling it in - VERY carefully."

IOW - We accepted an offer last night. It looks very promising since all that is left is an appraisal and pest inspection, etc. The price was lower than we had hoped, but God has been surprising us along the way and we're confident that there are a few more ahead.

Very interesting timing. The closing is scheduled for December 21st and we move out on the 26th. So we'll have a very memorable "Christmas 2007." We've already been invited to dinner by some very close friends.

Please continue to pray for our transition. We will have to recruit strong men and efficient packers to help us load a trailer on the day after Christmas. We plan to pull out on the 27th and arrive in NC within 5-6 days.

Thanks for your interest in our lives. We'll keep you updated.

Check out our new website as well - there's fresh roasted coffee there you can purchase to help us and Mission Solano in Fairfield, CA

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Jeff and Teena

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Journey in Song

I love many types of music and have a great appreciation of many composers and performers of my generation.

Among them is James Taylor. Many of his tunes utilize a journey theme (did he initiate this for John Denver of vice versa?).

One of his songs has become a recurring "earworm" for me. I love the melody, the words and its relevance.

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Maybe just like a friend of mine
It hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Karen she's a silver sun
You best walk her way and watch it shinin'
Watch her watch the mornin' come
A silver tear appearing now I'm cryin'
Ain't I goin' to Carolina in my mind

There ain't no doubt it no ones mind
That loves the finest thing around
Whisper something soft and kind
And hey babe the sky's on fire, I'm Dyin'
Ain't I goin' to Carolina in my mind

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Maybe just like a friend of mine
It hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Dark and silent late last night
I think I might have heard the highway calling
Geese in flight and dogs that bite
Signs that might be omens say I going, going
I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

With a holy host of others standing 'round me
Still I'm on the dark side of the moon
And it looks like it goes on like this forever
You must forgive me
If I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Maybe just like a friend of mine
It hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind

Monday, November 19, 2007

"How Many More Miles?"

Well, literally - about 2,670-some. If you mapquest "Benicia, CA/Hickory, NC.

My late father (one of the pioneers in the road trip history of America after Eisenhower created the interstate system) was among the first to utilize the "about one more hour" diversionary tactic to shut us up for the next 45 minutes.

I believe we are nearing that allegorical threshold as I type this entry - call it an "eleventh" one.

God has given us a bit of hope in the dreadful housing market scenario. There is a family in the next courtlet who have visited the house 3 times. And now Liz (our realtor goddess) just called (I mean when I was typing "Well, literally - about ,,,") and informed us of a family that came through on Saturday who wants to make an offer.

I would be remiss if I did not let the reader know that Teena kept saying. "I'm praying for 2 offers." Every time I heard her, I thought "She's so noble, but equally naive. Okay - I'll pray for that too. Bless your heart."

She just got home and I told her. She did a "Snoopy Dance."

Pardon me - I'm a cock-eyed optimist. I'm cautious about hope since I don't want to put myself so high with it, that I break a few limbs when the "sudden stop" occurs. I do hope that both offers will come to fruition. We'll see.

The biblical encouragement that God does exceedingly beyond all we ask or think has its balance with the two of us. Teena asks, I think.



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Road Signs & Mile Markers

As we continue our Java Journey adventure we've come to realize that God rarely gives us the big picture. Instead, he unfolds his plan in small bits and pieces more like road signs (the kind with the arrows pointing in a specific direction) and mile markers, that show us we are making progress.

Oh yeah, and did we mention that God is the master of networking? Wow. We are amazed at the people and opportunities he keeps throwing in our path.

Here are a few we have had lately.

A coffee expert milestone. A church member told Shawn West, an acquaintance of his, about our coffee shop ministry idea and put us in touch with Shawn. Shawn has experience launching and managing both a TCBY franchise and launching and managing two different independent coffee shops out here in the Bay area. In addition to his contracting job, Scott runs a Christian coffee roasting company which donates proceeds of its sales to charity (Mission Solano an inner city mission.) He allowed us to pick his brain and may even donate his services to venture out to NC to consult and train us. With enough advance notice, he might even help us choose a location. Scott also has some used coffee shop equipment including counters that we may be able to purchase at really good price. We'd have to truck it out to VA once we are ready to start up the business, but hey, God's a big God. We know he will work out the details. And Scott is willing to sell us bulk coffee for cheaper than we could get it at wholesale.

So, wow. Go God! This takes us one step closer to getting the equipment and systems in place that we will need once God says "go!"

The extra vehicle milestone. One of the needs we made known in our Java Journey brochure was for an extra vehicle for our son Jordan who is attending college at DeVry University in Fremont, CA. Once we move away, Jordan will be without a car. Thanks to a gracious couple from church, Kathy Youngs and Bob Basel, Jordan now has a car and was able to drive it back to school today. Woohoo! He is so excited. Imagine the impression this makes on him regarding God's providence. That gift felt just like God said, "Here is an affirmation that I'm with you and I'm going to take care of your needs."

What needs can you continue to pray for? We are still trying to sell our house in a depressed market. It has been on the market for one and a half months. We have been told that the average selling time at least during the summer months is 90 days. Our real estate agent told us the market pretty well dies come the end of Oct. until spring. We do not know the answer to this challenge but God surely does, so pray that our house sells very soon and that it will be for a good price. We need the proceeds to cover the coffee shop ministry start up of equipment, facility, etc.

After we notified staff and board at our church that we planned to launch this ministry, informing them it was contingent upon the sale of our home, our church board gave us a termination date of Nov. 30. We had planned to stay on for as long as it took to sell our home. So, needless to say, this was not anticipated. If they do not change that decision, Jeff will be officially unemployed after that date. So it's pretty scary. We plan to meet with the board this week to update them on our status and to ask for an extension. Please pray for the meeting and its outcome.

Monday, October 1, 2007

“Left Toin at Albakoikee”

We’re trying to see all the “toins” and be courageous enough to make them. IOW-We are reevaluating the umbrella, which will be over the operation of this envisioned venue of espresso wafting the air while God does a transforming work in people’s lives.

The franchise format is becoming less appealing to us. After reading the 1-inch thick “circular” given to us by Moby’s CEO – and after talking to some dissatisfied employees and owners, we sense that it may not be an equitable trade-off to sacrifice the innovative expression of our vision for high-priced “expertise.” We think that many of the accompanying “products” we are required to sell, are distracting to the appeal of a non-conventional style of ministry. To be quite blunt – they encroach the “cheesy” barrier.

We think that will repel seekers, rather than draw them in. We are maintaining the model of John 1:14 where Jesus took on our existence thus releasing his rightful grasp of equality with God. He “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” We want to do the same. The “churchiness” and “I’m saved, you ain’t” wall needs to have a Berliner demise once and for all.

So – it looks as though we will do this independently. Not that we think we are able to work in isolation. Lord knows there’s too many Lone Rangers out there. We have talked with existing coffee shop owners, both secular and Christian, who are in that region of the country. They have consented that they are willing to help us out by consultation. So our thinking now is to purchase some quality equipment and then learn first how to make a dynamite latte.

As far as the financial picture – things are shaping up a bit. The giving is at a trickle, but we’ve heard from many who have stated they will be making donations very soon. We had one couple offer to give us their 10 year old car. That gives us the option to give that car to Jordan and sell my 98 minivan for our needs, or vice versa.

Keep praying for the sale of our home. Our realtor states that our house is doing better since it is “showing” and others aren’t. We haven’t had what you might call “nibbles,” but the bobber is moving a little bit. It’s difficult to determine if there’s a fish below the surface, or if the wind it making it move.

YHWH A'-ga-pe,


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tevye was Right

In the final scene of "Fiddler On The Roof" - the Anatevkans are gathered as they mourn the necessity to depart their cherished town.

As is true to form with the dark comedic format this tragic story tells, the town's spiritual leader (No name given other than "Our Beloved Rabbi") remarks: "Our forefathers have been forced out of many, many places at a moment's notice." Tevye has a typical dichotomous simple/profound response: "Maybe that's why we always wear our hats."

As we face the Abrahamic dilemma of "going to a place we do not know" we trust and take comfort in God's promises. They are not mere poetry - rather revelation to rely on with a proven track record for multiple generations of followers.

Among the promises are the words found in Isaiah 45:2 &3

I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.

I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.



Monday, September 17, 2007

Faith Challenges

Jeff and I knew when we made the decision to step out in faith and start a coffee shop ministry that the dark forces of doubt would probably step in and start shooting arrows. After all, it stands to reason that adversarial entities (however you personify them) don't want us to succeed, being opposed to bringing more people to Christ. That's pretty much what this coffee shop vision is all about, bringing more people into the Kingdom.

So, while we were still in NC this summer where we combined researching our coffee shop idea with visiting family, we finally reached the conclusion after a lot of prayer that this was God speaking and that we'd better listen. As soon as we told our family about our crazy decision, the fiery arrows started zinging toward us.

The first news, before we even boarded the plane to come back to CA, was that Gaby, our 23-year-old who lives with us, lost her job. So that meant we'd be putting our house on the market and literally selling it out from under her. (Not that we don't think it's time for her to leave. ). Then Jordan, our 20-year-old, who goes to DeVry U in Freemont, CA began experiencing serious spiritual isolation and depression. Two of his close buddies transferred out and he was left alone without any spiritual formation leader on campus and he wasn't clicking with the group of peers he normally hung with. He hit an emotional rock bottom.

Then there were the financial set backs. I'd been stashing as much as I could into savings which isn't saying much considering we already had to pull out of equity to manage California cost of living. And with the big bucks I make as a very part-time admin assistant and a freelance writer who'd put column writing on hold to pursue book writing, and having just come out of paying for Rachel, out oldest daughter's wedding in CO, there wasn't much padding there.

So, where was I. Oh yes, so the financial set backs started coming. We put the house on the market and were told we have to have everything pristine in order to be competitive. That meant the fogged up windows in the kitchen and dining room had to be replaced. Cha-ching. There went that money. Then my faithful Bonneville started acting up and had to have a major tune-up. Cha-ching. More savings down the tubes. Then Jeff, who officiates sports, called on Saturday night en route back from a football game to tell me he had knocked out his front veneer tooth AND we were supposed to do a presentation on this entire ministry idea the next day at both Sunday services.

He'd look like a hillbilly! After calls to several dentists who I learned are not on call like doctors, we temporarily solved the fix with super glue. I'm not kidding.

It held for two days until Jeff could go into dentist. Total cost for a new restoration, $780. Cha-ching. So God has allowed our small savings to dwindle. Looking back. I have to say that it's probably not a coincidence. When God tells us he wants us to step out in faith, sometimes he helps us along by taking away anything that will cause us to rely on our own power.


Now, let me share some of the cool stuff God has been doing. First, after three months of unemployment, Gaby got a job at--where else--a coffee shop. Jordan has pulled out of the tailspin and has seen his campus relationships improve and is doing better spiritually.

We've had numerous people come up to us and tell us how excited they are about our new ministry and that they want to help.
God to use them to help launch a new ministry and then our ministry appeared. (God, you are too cool.) And then another person handed us a check and told us she prayed over it and felt that that was the figure God told her to give. She also is going to try to contact a relative in VA who is a lawyer to see if she will do pro-bono work to help us figure out the legalities of non-profit versus profit + ministry to see which animal our coffee shop should be.

And then there was the couple who offered us our choice of a used car or van which we could either give to Jordan for transportation to college or for us to sell to have the extra cash to use for ministry needs. Way cool.

Oh yeah. And the housing market is pretty dead. We had no calls to view our home this weekend, however, our next door neighbor told Jeff his sister-in-law wanted to move closer to them and she was visiting. Could they take a tour of our home. Well, of course we said, "yes." So God is working.

Keep praying for the sale of our home, that it will be soon and for a good price. We need the money for the business start up.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Create a Matching Coffee Fund

A friend who wanted to help but was maxed out on charitable contribution commitments, came up with a creative solution. She and her husband both frequent a well-known coffee shop franchise. Every time they purchase a cup of coffee, they plan to put a matching amount into a coffee cup earmarked for the Java Journey ministry.

The Rudiments


Teena Stewart has served as a ministry development team leader and a ministry discovery seminar teacher. In addition, she is a published author, speaker, ministry consultant & coach, and product and pr specialist for DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion. To learn more about her writing, speaking and ministry visit Teena's web page

Jeff Stewart, Pastor of Discipleship at Northgate Christian Fellowship is also a published author. You can read more about his spiritual journey and ministry thoughts on his blog a different cloth.

The Stewarts are being called to a new type of Christians coffee shop ministry that is still in formation. Below is their story and their vision. For regular updates on the coffee shop ministry's progress you can view the RSS links on the right hand side of the page which link to their coffee shop blog. Feel free to post questions and comments.


A few years ago Jeff and Teena Stewart began noticing that coffee shops were becoming a growing trend. Why would people pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee? They began to understand first hand after participating in the establishments themselves. It wasn't just about a beverage. It was much more. People from a variety of cultures and age groups love to make a coffee shop a part of their day, whether hanging out with friends, or just passing through to grab a savory hot beverage. It's hard to feel like a stranger in such an intimate setting.

An idea started brewing. What if the Stewarts could somehow use this type of relaxed environment to connect with unchurched people? A critical element of sharing the greatest message of all is being able to have uninhibited rapport. A large population of people will never set foot in church no matter how hard Christians try to get them there. The coffee shop environment is ideal for connecting and potentially reaching these people. The Stewarts started kicking around the idea of a Christian coffee shop ministry with some Christian friends. But nothing materialized at that time.

They weren't discouraged, but continued to dream about and discuss the idea. Having read several cutting edge books that discussed current thoughts and trends on reaching unchurched people, their idea gained velocity. They decided it was time to do serious research. This time they traveled to North Carolina to survey some locations, study working coffee shops, and talk with a budding Christian coffee franchise developer. They also met with a small group of believers who were already ministering in a coffee house type of ministry (mostly Christian music and worship minus the coffee).

After lots of prayer and research, the Stewarts feel called to pull up roots and do something new and out of the box by starting a coffee shop ministry in Hickory , North Carolina working with this core group of believers. The Stewarts have a passion for being “out there” where most of the hungry and lost people are. It's a risky venture, and involves selling their home with no sure promise of support or success.

Below are the specifics of how this ministry vision is unfolding.


Our mission is to create an appealing, professional looking coffee shop where people will want to linger not only for a cup of coffee, but to learn, and latch on to the Christian message and its principles.

The Stewarts will work in cooperation with a small coffee house ministry called Cup of Life associated with Living Hope Covenant Church in Hickory, North Carolina. This small body of believers has already been hosting innovative worship services and Christian concerts in a former restaurant facility. They plan to join forces with the Stewarts, utilizing their coffee shop establishment to continue to provide Christian music and a worship community along with other ministry opportunities such as small groups, benevolence outreach, prayer ministry and more.


The Stewarts have researched a new and growing franchise called Moby's Coffee. Moby's mission is similar to the Stewart's coffee shop vision, to provide professional quality coffee, drinks and pastries in an inviting environment with Christian music events on the side. The Stewart's plan is to open either a Moby's franchise or a similar. Profits from coffee sales will hopefully help the Stewarts pay for necessities such as living space, food, gas, health care and other every day living expenses.


In addition to offering worship and music gatherings, the Stewarts envision other ministry too. Imagine an inviting place where people (including non- believers) can turn in prayer requests or have someone listen to them and pray with them privately. Or a place that would be a hub for launching small communities of in-home study groups where people can learn about the Bible, grow in their faith and even find support from addictive and destructive behaviors. Imagine a coffee shop where the regulars could bring benevolence offerings of canned and dried goods or make a donation to a highlighted charity of the month, where people learn to care about people and in the process live out what it means to engage Christ's love by action?


God, and the Stewarts are still working out the details on how they will collaborate with Living Hope. Living Hope is willing to switch locations in the Hickory area, and may be able to help pay partial rent on the coffee shop or a small stipend to Jeff for his teaching ministry in exchange for sharing the coffee shop space. But they are too small to support a full-time pastor's salary. The Stewarts currently have their California home on the market and plan to invest the money they make from the sale of the home in a Moby's Coffee franchise, the headquarters of which is based in Mount Airy, North Carolina, or in establishing an independent coffee shop. The proceeds from goods sold via the coffee shop business will help support the Stewarts and the business itself will be set up as a for profit business.

One of Moby's stipulations is that the franchisee/owner must have regular Christian music events and worship gatherings. Living Hope plans to help with this as well as with small groups. In addition, the Stewarts will work with this group to develop more methods of reaching and teaching people about Christ and multiplying more communities.


The new ministry is a unique hybrid and somewhat unprecedented. It is essentially a church/ministry launch. After the Stewarts sell their home they will have enough for most of the basic start up costs of the franchise, but not for the extra costs of a home, cost of living or for ministry expenses. Like missionaries, they need to raise support for the extras in order to commence on this innovative venture. Unlike missionaries, and more similar to church plants, they and the ministry will eventually become self-supporting. With a good start, the need for continued support will be devoted more to prayer and encouragement and less to financial resources.


After much and often intense prayer, as well as careful consideration, the Stewarts feel God is giving them a strong green light but also stirring in them the need to share their vision and support opportunity with friends. So, here are specifics you can pray for or support.

Transportation. They will donate their 1998 mini van to their son, Jordan, who is still enrolled in DeVry University in Freemont, CA in order for him to have transportation. They will need a second vehicle once they relocate so that they can both work. Estimated cost of a used van or truck would be $5,000.

Moving expenses. They estimate the cost to move from Benicia, CA to Hickory, NC to be about $9,000.

Housing. They will most likely rent a dwelling place first and then look for a home to buy later. The estimated funds needed for housing for the first year is $15,000.

Health insurance. Neither the ministry nor the coffee shop provides health insurance so we ,and our one dependent, Jordan, will still need health insurance estimated at $300 a month.

Temporary income. While we are getting established, we will need income for groceries, gas and other expenses.

Here are several options for how you can help.

* Pray for us and the needs expressed above.
* Sign up for our email updates.
* Contribute financially


Java Journey Support Card

Your Name(s):____________________________________




__I am donating $______ as a one time gift.

__I am pledging $______ per month for a year from date of this first check.

__I pledge to pray for you and your ministry.

__Yes. Sign me up for your e-mail updates.

__I would like to help in some other way. Please call me to learn more. My phone # ( ) _____ _________

Make donations out to Living Hope Covenant Church with "Coffee Shop Ministry" in the memo.

Mail pledges and donations to: Living Hope Covenant Church, 573 30th Ave. Cir. NE, Hickory, NC 28601

*All gifts will go to the Coffee Ministry fund at Living Hope Covenant Church and are Tax Deductible.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Java Journey

This is the official blog of Jeff and Teena Stewart to provide updates for those who are interested in, curious about and/or supportive of our passion and vision.

In short - we're launching out to start a church without conventional clergy and laypeople, but of baristas and patrons.