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,