Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coffee House - Brewing Hope

“To provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.”

This is the mission statement for Teen Challenge, a global program serving in 87 countries. Each week ICA, our church, hosts one of these programs in Kiev, Ukraine. The meeting is called Coffee House. At Coffee House, individuals are welcomed to enjoy coffee, tea, and cookies, while they mingle, get support, discuss thought provoking topics, hear testimonies from recovering addicts, and most importantly, learn about God and his great love for them.

Coffee House exists to impact and change lives bound to addiction. And, that it does! Adam and I had the privilege of visiting our first Coffee House on Wednesday. What an encouragement it was to see a thriving ministry making a positive impact on people’s hearts. Now this is a ministry being used by God to mend the broken. You could hear the Lord’s heart beat at Coffee House. You could see the smile on His face. You could feel the warmth and love of his presence.

One addict shared his testimony. He lived a life full of regrets; drugs and alcohol flowed through his veins. He was convicted and sentenced to serve prison time. As he was awaiting his trial, his conviction ran much deeper. It was a conviction of the soul; he changed.

Although his soul was renewed and revived, his deeds were old. Prison time awaited him. In prison, God sustained him, and the man saw this as his place of ministry. One day he was being transferred on a train, where inmates are not allowed to talk. If they speak, they are beaten. The guards are hard, rough, and intolerant of inmate rebellion. The man, while in his train cell, started talking to other inmates about the Lord. The guards remained silent as the man shared his testimony and spoke of Jesus.

This is just part of his amazing story. God does the miraculous and the impossible; like transforming rock hard hearts into caring, loving, and passionate people.

During the discussion of the night, a man was sitting on my right. A thick odor of alcohol engulfed him. A strange sense of joy overcame me as I thought to myself, “This man is wasted, but he is still here!” Certainly I was not happy that a smelly and dirty drunkard was breathing over me, but I was happy that a man whom Jesus loves, still came; drunk and all. He still felt welcomed, cared about, and wanted to know more about the God who loves him.

Here we meet alcoholics, former KGB, convicts, and the like. We witnessed many great moments at Coffee House. It’s a place where people are loved; not being judged for their past, but being encouraged by future hopes of change and salvation. 

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