Rebuilding the Ruins

Proof that God’s plan is far greater than our own.

The parallels between Hosea’s Heart and Awakening Coffee are astounding, and the point at which we have crossed paths could be dictated by no one but God.  Partnering with Awakening Coffee seemed to come from far out of left field, but to God, it was just another link in His puzzle.  The Good Lord knew what we needed, before we even knew we needed it.

Meet Cherie: a wife, a mother, a teacher, a volunteer at Awakening Coffee, a young woman whom I met in college at UW-L.  Cherie and I are both English teachers and had several classes together throughout college.  At the time, we were more of aquaintences and I would have never imagined we’d be friends this many years later.

Cherie has always been interested in my work in Swaziland, but I never thought much of it…until this summer that is.  While I was in Swazi, Cherie contacted me about this coffee shop called Awakening in Winona, MN.  She had asked if we, as Hosea’s Heart, would be interested in having their partnership.  They needed an answer or a confirmation from us, but caught up with the daily life in Swazi and limited internet, I read the message and let it slip my mind without responding.  When I returned home after the summer, I remembered the email and thought we had missed out on an opportunity.  That was far from true.

Cherie contacted me again and told me she didn’t need my confirmation, that she had already received it from God.  When I finally met with her to hear her story and see how they could help support Hosea’s Heart, I was in a complete state of awe.

One night, Cherie’s husband, Ben, felt the Lord telling him to take Cherie up to the bluff to watch the sunrise the following morning.  When morning came, Ben woke up his less-than-happy wife to a misty, dreary, early morning.  Of course the weather would try to get in their way, but Ben wouldn’t let it.  So he and Cherie watched the sunrise together, anticipating something or some reason for why they were up.  All that happened was different cloud formations, but at one point, the clouds formed a clear lion, mane, mouth open and everything–a clear lion.  Not thinking too much of it, the two went on about their days.

When Cherie returned home after work, she went to her Bible for devotion time.  As she was thumbing through it to find Jeremiah, she flipped her Bible open to a page in Hosea.  At the top of the page, the very first words she read were: “the Lord who roars like a lion.”  Immediately, Cherie hit her knees in amazement.  “God couldn’t have spoken any clearer!”  She knew right then that Hosea’s Heart is what God was telling her to support.  Furthermore, the verse she opened to finishes with “And I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.”

Now meet Al and Danielle:  Al and Danielle own Awakening Coffee and are two incredible people called to be missionaries right where they are.  Listening to the Lord and following in obedience led them to radical things, including Awakening Coffee.

Al and Danielle never had any desire or intention to start Awakening Coffee, but the Lord had called them to it.  In fact, the Lord initially called Al to buy a run down bar.  He had no idea why in the world he should buy a bar or what in the world he would do with it.  But God tends to work in mysterious ways, and Al followed in obedience and bought the run-down bar.  The place, in ruins, needed to be rebuilt; it needed extensive work, and Al and Danielle and no money or means to pay for it.  With a miraculous loan from a banker and God’s provisions through people at just the right time, they were able to turn a bar into something beautiful–a coffee/cafe/ministry center.

The greatest parallel to our missions revolves around the idea of “rebuilding the ruins.”  We rebuilt a house into a home for girls in Swaziland, Al and Danielle rebuilt a bar into a mission center.  Another neat connection is “from trash to treasure.”  The girls at our home in Swazi collect bottle caps and we turn them into beautiful necklaces.  Most of these caps are from beer bottles, another connection to the idea of transforming the old bar.

The last connection is with my sister, Laura.  While in Swazi this past summer, Laura talked about a dream of hers would be to start her own coffee shop where she could bring over the girls from Swazi to have them train and work and learn job skills at the coffee shop.  This is her heart in being able to bridge these two worlds together.  It just so happens that Al and Danielle were looking for someone just like Laura, so they hired her as the assistant manager!  We are so excited and eager to see how God continues to grow both of these two ministries in the upcoming years!

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