Compassion in a Cup3 min read

By Elisa Schulz

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, NIV).

The congregation at Messiah, Midland sees people adrift in the river of life and has compassion on them. The church has built “piers,” or outreach stations, to give people a resting place in their journey—and to introduce them to Jesus at the same time.

One of these piers is Journeys Coffee House. Lindsay Henry, Communications Director at Messiah, explains: “Our goal with Journeys (…) is to minister and serve others that may otherwise never hear about Jesus or the Lord’s love. Though people may not want to go to church due to preconceived notions or past experiences, they may want to buy a cup of coffee, and through the grace, love and actions of our baristas, people can come to know Jesus.”

 A Gathering Place

The first Journeys opened at Messiah in 2007. A second one opened in downtown Midland in 2011, “because we knew there are people who won’t step foot in a church, but they will grab a cup of coffee,” says Henry. The two coffee houses combined have 22 employees, and they serve approximately 75,000 people annually. According to Henry, “our goal through Journeys is to provide a gathering place. Journey’s tagline is ‘the gathering place where you can make a difference’ and through our amazing baristas who are trained to listen and minister to others, we try to reach one more life with Jesus.”

They do it one cup at a time. Sometimes they see people in distress and pray with them. Sometimes they see new friendships form among customers. And sometimes they see fun things happen too. Henry reports, “In July [2014], a group of cyclists stopped by Journeys to have a cup of coffee and take a rest from biking across the country! They began in Seattle and are biking all the way to the East Coast. It was great to hear their stories and share ours.”

Journeys Cyclists

Along with featuring new drinks starting this year, Journeys has had several new musicians visit and perform in their downtown location. They were also able to assist other community organizations, such as the Children’s Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region, during their open house. “As people’s hearts and providing ministry is our main goal, we have served as a listening ear and ministered to the community,” summarizes Henry.

Branching Out

The baristas’ tips help fund another ministry of Messiah, called Filling Midland’s Cup. Henry explains: “The goal of FMC is to meet the gaps in the community, whether that’s through sneakers, school supplies, food giveaways and more.” Messiah has about 100 volunteers that help out with different FMC events. They partner with local entities to organize food giveaways, distributing about 215 tons of food per year. In the last two years, FMC has also helped organize SNEAKERPALOOZA, an event that donated almost 1,000 pairs of new, brand-name shoes to local students.

The church has other “piers,” including an auto care place and a restoration ministry focused on people who deal with substance abuse (see related article here). Journeys Coffee House is interconnected with all of these ministries. Henry says, “During the Restoration Fellowship services and Sunday mornings in our Messiah location, [Journeys workers] enjoy greeting and serving all walks of life as they come in to learn about Jesus … We look forward to what else God has in store for Journeys and feel blessed every day to serve the community and spread His word.”

Click on the video below to see Messiah’s pastor, Rev. Ed Doerner, explain how the Pier to Pier Ministry works.


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About the Author

Elisa is a staff writer, copy editor, and photographer for the Michigan District, LCMS.

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