By Dan Lacher
A young boy in a Brazilian village. A local homeless man making a fresh start on life. An elderly Biloxi woman devastated by the hurricane. Three individuals who share an unlikely bondtheir lives have been touched by the love of Christ through a coffeehouse tip jar. For the staff and patrons of journeys coffeehouse, the missions jar is just one aspect of what an intentional third place can do to fund causes locally and globally.
Located inside Messiah Lutheran Church in Midland, Michigan, Journeys is uniquely positioned to service the faith family as well as to reach out into the communityeven if that outreach happens on the go via the drive-through window. Obviously, there is more to journeys than just slinging coffee. From the moment of conception we knew that revenue from sales would go to fund the mission of Jesus in this world. It was not until opening weekend, when several customers asked whether we had a tip jar, that God presented the idea of funding outreach in this way.
Each month a mission organization is selected and signage is hung to promote the cause. It is not uncommon for a customer to ask about the mission, receive their change, and offer back a five dollar bill to be placed in the jar. The compassion of our customers has given us the opportunity to literally touch lives all over the world. Our first beneficiary of the monthly mission offering was a faith family team traveling to Mississippi to help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We also have used the funds to send a group of youth to West Virginia on a construction mission trip, to aid in the relief effort in Darfur, and to support teams working in an orphanage and medical mission in Haiti. On a local level, we have had the honor of using the offerings to support a men's crisis center, donate funds to a Christian radio station, and provide holiday blessings to families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
A personal highlight for me was the month we collected the necessary funds to sponsor a child from Compassion International. After some intentional research through our coffee supplier, we went to Compassion and asked them to find us a child in the area where the beans we use each day are being harvested. This child's family could be the very people growing our beans. In addition to having a compelling story to share with customers, we also share a connection with this child and have the awesome opportunity to touch his life with the love of Christ.
I'll close with one other story of how we have seen our customers fully embrace a mission. Recently, we funded the purchase of toothbrushes for a medical mission trip to Guatemala. We not only had customers giving through the missions jar, but also bringing in toothbrushes to send down. In total, the missions jar collected 300 toothbrushes and enough funds to purchase 1,000 more. What makes the story even better is that a large toothbrush manufacturer matched our funds, thereby doubling the toothbrushes purchased to 2,000.
When God moves through His people, awesome things happen. Around the world and in our backyard, the staff and patrons of journeys are showing Christ's loveone cup of coffee at a time.