When I first heard my mother describing the idea, I thought she had lost her mind. But as it turned out, that was not so much an indictment on her as it was against Holy Spirit. The older I get, and the more I buy in to the stories describing God’s activity in the Bible, the more I realize the rabbit hole of God’s creativity. The fact that “the coffee house” in Stillwater, Oklahoma, even exists, that it operates on a minimal (but sufficient) budget, that it is run by volunteer (college student!) staff, and that it’s “business” is growing serves as a modern-day testament of God’s ability to create and sustain. So, it is only appropriate that I begin this little report on “the coffee house” by giving all attention to the author and sustainer of the place: Our God.
What exactly is “the coffee house?” you ask.
“the coffee house” is a non-profit, volunteer-run establishment that operates out of a building owned by University Heights Baptist Church and is located one block from the Oklahoma State University campus. It is a cool little space that was the original home of Hideway Pizza. “the coffee house” functions on a monthly stipend provided by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, because we are considered a mission, and University Heights Baptist Church currently provides funding and support for a coffee house intern who oversees the ordering of supplies, the recruitment of volunteers, the scheduling of special events, and so much more. With a pool of some twenty college student volunteers, we run smoothly on Mondays-Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 3-8 p.m. One hundred percent of our proceeds are donated to local and international organizations that help to create change in the world: World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, His Nets, Faith Medical Missions, and so forth.
How did it begin?
Four years ago the vision was planted: An expensive espresso machine found in the church + a building with fantastic potential sitting vacant on most weekdays + Holy Spirit adding a dash of imagination = a non-profit coffee house run by volunteer college students. It took two months to get the place up and running, several hours watching YouTube videos on “How to Make a Latte,” and a further two years of “business” before the students began to take ownership of the operation. Now it is a fully functioning coffee house that is, in short, a miracle.
What is its purpose?
From the very beginning, the goal of “the coffee house” was to provide a safe and positive environment for students to study. Its goal was not to raise funds for “helping” organizations, nor to proselytize, nor to be a trendy outreach tool for the church. But with that being said, every week “the coffee house” serves as a venue for a dozen Bible studies ranging from Athletes in Action to Life Church Life Groups to a community-wide women’s discipleship group; it is home to countless one-on-one discipleship meetings; it has served more than a dozen students and campus organizations (this school year alone) with a space for benefit concerts; and its walls are continually absorbing the sound of volunteers building relationships and having intentional conversations with patrons. We’re seeing students (who know Jesus and those who don’t) drawn to the place; they continually comment upon its unique atmosphere. We hear words like “peaceful” and “positive energy.” You and I both know that it can only be Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, God is at work in our midst in “the coffee house.” The next time you’re in our neck of the woods (Stillwater, Oklahoma) come and experience it for yourself: a latte with love at the corner of Third and Knoblock.
Marquette Bugg is university minister at University Heights Baptist Church, Stillwater, Oklahoma. She wrote this column for the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Okahoma‘s newsletter.