First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Live and Share God's Love

Conference & Connections


New Nonprofit Turns Coffee into Employment

11/2/2018 Meagan Ewton

In a small basement office in Oklahoma City, a new non-profit is hoping coffee can address a societal problem: employment after incarceration.

Red River Roasters is dreaming big and starting small: three flavors, three blends, one grinder and one heat sealer. The endeavor was founded by Redemption Church, a ministry of Oklahoma’s Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries that meets at OKC-Penn Ave.

Crystal King, the first, and so far only, employee, grinds and seals each pound of coffee by hand. She likened the work to starting a small business one relationship at a time. “I am not a salesman, but when it comes to the mission of helping people come out of prison, I can be excited about that,” King said. “I am one of those people.”

King, who was previously incarcerated for 42 months, is a graduate of Exodus House, a temporary residential program that helps people newly released from prison re-enter society. She believes Red River Roasters has the potential to change lives. “It’s truly scary to be a success (after incarceration). The statistics are stacked against you,” King said. “What people need are jobs. That can be the difference between succeeding and going back to prison.”

This sentiment was the motivating factor behind starting the business, according to Rev. Brad Rogers, pastor of OKC-Penn Ave. and Redemption Church. He said a conversation with the coffee supplier for Redemption Church led to the choice to create Red River Roasters.
 
The nonprofit has received some support as they get started, such as a donated coffee grinder, donated tables, and a CPA who donated time to set up the 501(c) 3 designation. The church also received a New People New Places grant that in part supports the work of reducing recidivism through employment.

Rogers said that while they hope to grow enough to roast their own beans and provide full coffee service to their customers, the coffee is just the means used to provide hope to the incarcerated community. “While we’ve become passionate about coffee and still have a lot to learn, coffee comes second to the mission of changing lives and providing opportunities for the incarcerated community,” Rogers said. “As we gain success in this area, we will have a positive social impact on not only the lives of individuals such as Crystal, but also on the greater community.”

For her part, King is excited about the possibilities. She plans to continue marketing to United Methodist churches in the district as well as other nonprofits. “Being a part of something like this is a game changer,” King said. “It can change somebody’s life. It changed my life.”

The Red River Roasters store can be found online at redriverroasters.org.
 

Breakthroughs!!!

Where have you noticed God-activity lately? When did you pause and think, “God is part of what’s happening here!”? Where have you felt that God was working behind the scenes to effect some good thing – in your or your family’s life, in your neighborhood, in the church?
 
Where have you noticed God-activity lately? When did you pause and think, “God is part of what’s happening here!”? Where have you felt that God was working behind the scenes to effect some good thing – in your or your family’s life, in your neighborhood, in the church?

I don’t know about you but I’ve been seeing them all over the place. Committees and Ministry Teams have started talking about where they’ve seen God-at-work as part of our opening devotions time.

Some of these God-Sightings have included:
  • Sisters & brothers who hadn’t been speaking have started talking again.
     
  • People opened their hearts and wallets so that everyone who said they wanted to work for Mission Guatemala was able to go.
     
  • The Woodson YMCA will be sharing our space here at church for their childcare program during the spring/summer expansion.
     
  • Ongoing sobriety
     
  • People who hadn’t been coming to Wednesday evening programing are coming to church Wednesdays for classes, meals, and fellowship.
     
  • Ditto to different people joining us at Coffee Fellowship after worship.
     
  •  More than thirty percent of the people who completed Estimate of Financial Giving cards increased their amounts.
     
  •  We have two great entryways now.

The list goes on and on. If you have ever wondered if your prayers matter, they do! Keep praying and asking God to help us be who God knows we can be!

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