A Big Vision for Justice

Sometimes at FYI the various pieces of what we do come together in fun ways.  During this week’s Urban Youth Ministry intensives, Ron Ruthruff, author of The Least of These: Lessons Learned from Kids on the Street, shared a story with students about a ministry in Seattle.

A group of folks from New Horizons ministry caught a vision for developing a business for kids they worked with on the streets. The idea was to teach these kids a skill: to learn to make and serve the best coffee in Seattle (a hard line to talk in that city for sure). So they launched Street Bean Espresso, a place to develop both job skills and dignity.  They’re able to say on their site that “100% of the profit from every beverage and pastry you buy helps young people leave the streets behind.” Incredible.

But they didn’t stop with that vision of justice and shalom.  This team wanted to instill an even bigger picture of what it might look like to join with God in acts of deep justice globally in the lives of these kids. So they decided to take the youth who serve in the coffee shop to Guatemala to meet the farmers who grow their coffee.  The same farmers whom they’re helping to become self-sustaining.  In other words, kids reclaiming their lives in Seattle are helping coffee growers in Guatemala reclaim their lives and land.

I love this vision.  It’s not just “urban youth ministry” thinking about the inner city, nor is it just North American youth ministry thinking about self-serving “short-term missions.” It’s people connecting people locally and globally to get a taste of the greater vision of God’s shalom-wholeness.