Outreach Ideas that Energize Church: English Cafe’

Who thought an International English Cafe would be such a hit! There are a lot of models and plans for church-based Outreach floating around cyberspace. Some sap energy and use up people-hours; others pour energy into the people.

Here’s what we imagined: a cafe set up with free wireless, music, movies, free good, stress good, coffee, cappuccino, and espresso, and opened in the evenings for internationals to come and meet and talk with English speakers. Since we’re in a very cosmopolitan location (Myrtle Beach SC has approximately 8000 international students who move here for the summer to work) we dreamed it out, promoted it well, and here’s the most recent story to come out of the outreach. Plans are being written as we go, so look for a model plan for starting your own soon!

Wednesday night we had cooked up about 36 hot dogs in anticipation for the students coming to the cookout at the cafe. It was 6:30 (we open at 5) and there were no students. There was a group of about 5 or 6 of us sitting outside, including Richard A. and Vera G., talking about how to love on the kids in Myrtle Beach this summer. At the same time there was a group of 4 faithful prayer team members in the auditorium. We had sought God, we felt it was the time, and we were waiting. Actually, I think a few of us (yes, me included) were doubting we had made a good choice having the cafe open this summer.

Then they came: 4 Ecuadorians. They were hungry and lived on 29th Ave. They went back and got 3 more friends and brought them to the cafe. Then in walked 3 life guards: 2 from Czech Republic and 1 from Poland. We turned around and there was a family from the ESL classes at the Myrtle Beach Family Learning Center. Nelson M. came in ready to teach the SELF DEFENSE CLASS and introduced himself to the Ecuadorians. Honestly, after that, I lost count of how many students and volunteers were there. My best estimate is 30 students and about 20-something volunteers. Praise God! We all feel this is just the beginning!

The volunteers were from our Seacoast as well as Impact Ministries at the cafe. We had been waiting. We were prepared. We were ready to see God work. They drove in on their bikes. Many had Seacoast bags and all had the cards we had distributed at the Orientation Meetings weeks before. I’m not much of a believer in “if we build it they will come” as much as a “Is God up to something here? let’s get in on it” kind of person. God is definitely up to something.

Please continue to pray for the students in our area. We had great “God conversations” with them. Almost all asked us “Why do you do this?”. We simply got to say “To share the love of Jesus in a practical way.”

If you have not joined us on a Tuesday or Wednesday and still would like to, please pop in. We’re open from 5-10pm through August. (Oh, by the way I think we went through 80 something hotdogs, slaw, potato salad and a killer bowl of banana pudding!)

This snapshot at Week Four of a Twelve-Week outreach project captures only part of the energy in the room. The most heard questions? Why would you do this for me? The most popular answer? This is the best way we could think to show you God’s compassion in practical ways.

Much prayer. Hard work. Occasional disappointments. A good plan to get the word out. AND DID I SAY MUCH PRAYER?

Here’s to reaching the nations … in our own back yards!