Following Jesus on an Unexpected Local Adventure

[fa icon="calendar"] February 11, 2016 / by Stuart Sutherland

hands_holding_cup_of_coffee_with_heart_shape_in_foamNot too long ago my wife Sara and I found ourselves on an unexpected adventure. After 12 years in architecture and Sara homeschooling our daughters, God called us to something completely different. At first we thought we were on track to become international missionaries, but we connected with some radical friends and saw a clearer picture. God was calling us to be local workers while maintaining the missionary mindset.

We focused on the small community of Shasta Lake, California and noticed that there was no thriving church. Upon further investigation, we noticed grave signs of poverty which included socioeconomic decline and other symptoms of poverty: domestic and drug abuse, theft, entitlement and hopelessness. Where do we begin in such a place?

The Vision

Many years before, the Lord placed a vision in our hearts to open a coffee shop. It was our assumption that we would be international workers opening a cafe in post-modern France. As the Lord lead us to Shasta Lake He also affirmed that we were to follow out this vision locally. So we set out to share the vision of a coffee shop, community center, and missional community.

Within days of unveiling our vision to our church family we had folks ready and willing to help fund the project. When we looked for a building, the Lord provided, when we needed equipment, the Lord provided. Within 14 months of securing a building, Heritage Roasting Company was open to the public.

In following Jesus to Shasta Lake, we discovered a community which seemed to be inaccessible. We were given a vision that seemed too radical, too big and well outside our comfort zone. However, we are now in our third year thriving as a place where followers of Jesus get to connect with not-yet followers 7 days a week.

Restoring Hope to a Community

Last year we served over 100,000 beverages which were opportunities to learn names and hear stories of the folks in our community. We have a thriving community center that offers after-school tutoring, marriage classes, Financial Peace University, mentoring and space for the community to use.

Community leaders and local government agencies have invited us to partner and help restore hope to the community. Furthermore, we have a growing Sunday night Missional Community where we worship, study the Word and serve our Shasta Lake community.

To what do we attribute this level of influence? How was this possible? After reading many books on community development, growth of the early church and God's word, I discovered one major theme. There is no formula; no golden cookie cutter for missiology, ecclesia or contextualization.

The only thing we can do in fulfilling the Great Commission is to completely and obediently follow Jesus. When we do that, God's Kingdom advances in our hearts and in the areas we serve.


Topics: Better Together, Missions