We have had conversations with many people who resonated to various degrees to what Teena and I envision. There has often been a need to explain or clarify some of what makes our hearts beat. Never have we had such free-flowing conversation until we met Ben and Rebekah Curfman. God has bent our mutual paths so that they are now crossed. We are excited and joyful.
Ben posted this on Facebook and I am putting here for other friends and the reading community may see.
Nine years ago I had a unique experience in my relationship with God. Many people interpret their experience as a “call to full-time Christian service/ministry.” The experience is different for everyone. For me, it was at a Christian summer camp during a worship service. I was thirteen years old at the time. I did not hear the audible voice of God. I was not visited by an angel. I just simply became extremely aware of the pain and confusion in this world and my responsibility to share the hope that I had.
Since that time, it has been an interesting road. Because of my religious background, I felt that I needed to find a position or description of what God had set my heart toward. I pursued this calling through bible studies and heavy church involvement in high school, two years of religious education in a liberal arts college, and another two years of religious education at the school I will soon graduate from. During that time the question had been burning in my mind: “What is it I am supposed to do? How will I define myself?” I am finding more and more that God has defined my ministry of His Gospel precisely how he wanted to – namely by creating me the way He did. I am my own definition.
Knowing this, I began to ask myself, “If there were no limitations on where or what I could do to accomplish the mission placed in my heart, where would I go and what would I do?” Sometimes the right answers are discovered only through the right questions. I soon found that I was not most effective in a traditional church setting both because of growing convictions about traditional church practice and limitations on the scope of ministry I felt let to do. I decided that an atmosphere most conducive to ministry was a coffee shop.
After prayer, I began considering opening a coffee shop in Asheville, North Carolina in order to minister one-on-one with individuals who need personal attention and mentoring in their spiritual lives. After all, coffee and Christianity are two of my greatest passions. My wife and I began praying, along with others, that God would open the right opportunity for this ministry to take place. I specifically began praying for someone to handle the shop from a business perspective, so I could focus on my strengths – coffee and ministry.
A few weeks later I was visiting my parents near Hickory, North Carolina where I grew up. The Lord showed me then that the Hickory area is in desperate spiritual need. I had never realized that such a need existed in my hometown. The next question came: “Lord, would you have us begin the coffee shop ministry here in Hickory?” So we prayed again for a few weeks. The next time I visited my parents we went out to eat. Before sitting at our table, however, I recognized a good friend that I used to attend church with. I had shared our vision for a coffee shop ministry with him a couple of months prior to this meeting. He told me about a place called Java Journey that was opening soon. He said that their vision seemed similar to ours and that I should get in touch with them. So I did.
We contacted Jeff and Teena Stewart, one of the key couples involved in the ministry of Java Journey. I offered my services in the coffee industry and my ministry experience to them as a way of "throwing out the fleece" as Gideon did. “Surely they already had help and wouldn't need someone such as myself,” I thought. Nevertheless, we felt that we needed to at least get in contact in case the Lord was making a way for us. He has.
After some great conversations and a sharing of passions, Rebekah and I have agreed to relocate to the Hickory area and make a serious effort to change the community with the Gospel through Java Journey. We believe that this is what God has been preparing us for. We will be seeking financial and prayer support in order to make this a reality, with the faith that God will provide our every need as He has done in the past. I will be continuing school until the spring of next year when I graduate in addition to helping Jeff and Teena manage Java Journey. We ask for your prayers, gifts, and encouragement as it is an exhilarating and terrifying experience at the same time. We will also be seeking part-time jobs to take care of our living expenses until Java Journey gets off the ground financially.