When Does Drinking Coffee Become Social Justice?

If the question seems strange, I understand. We don’t usually think of our morning cup of Joe as particularly world changing. But if you’re Jonathan Golden then you don’t see a disconnect. Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee sees coffee as a means of redemption. Their slogan says it best: Drink Coffee. Do Good.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 had left the coffee growers simply devastated. It was upon realizing this that Golden launched a ministry to partner with these farmers and help them rebuild. He gives them a fair living wage, supports community building projects, and “invests up to $3 a bag into the Rwandan economy.” Suddenly drinking coffee ministers to people. And what started out as his burden has been shared with coffee lovers all over the world.

Land of a Thousand Hills is just one of a number of growing organizations started by young entrepreneurs seeking to change the world. Many of these organizations have been started by Christians who see part of their role in this world not simply to do church, but be the church. They are seeing their faith as an integrated part of their everyday life and striving to impact the world in the name of Jesus, with the gospel and with justice. You see, when you’re a Christian even a cup of coffee can become a means of communicating the love of Jesus. Paul himself urged us to let everything, even eating and drinking, be done for the glory of God.

As a coffee fanatic I can’t explain how much I love this ministry. I also can’t help but wonder what simple, mundane, everyday things in my life could be turned into a ministry. Consider your life, friends, and ask yourself how can your everyday life impact the world for Jesus? If you’re not sure then maybe you should think about it over a cup of coffee. I know I will.

About Dave Dunham
  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    I like that he’s doing this but I’m conflicted. I still feel weird that organizations have to trick people into charity by giving them something in return.

    I was struck by this most recently during KJAZZ’s membership drive last week. The Long Beach jazz radio station is listener-supported and so it runs these quarterly or so drives in order to stay on the air and be millionaires or whatever. The thing is: when you pledge a certain about, you get goodies. And the more you pledge the cooler your goodies. $45 gets you a CD. $250 might get you tickets to a concert. $1500 and maybe you’ll gets a set of signed congas.

    So essentially, bake-saling, selling things at an exorbitant price in order to make money for their cause. My problem is not with that but with the fact that such gimmicks are necessary. I won’t give you $15 unless you give me something worth $5. Save people a lot of time and money if the middleman were cut out and I could just give you the $10 that you’d gain without you having to go out, buy the sugar and flour, and spend an hour baking goodies.

  • David Dunham

    Dane, I apprecaite what you’re saying, but here I think the issue is slightly different. These coffee growers are, in fact, trying to sell their coffee and start a business. Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee is partnering with them to see that “dream” of theirs become a reality. So it’s not charity so much.

  • peter bartlett

    I think this kind of charity is a step in the right direction for social justice ministry.
    To me, the most basic question when thinking about helping those in need is, how do I(we) best love and value people in order to point people back to God.

    The traditional method of simply giving money or food or gifts or whatever isn’t necessarily bad, but it easily establishes you as the giver as the one who has the power over them, and they are the ones who are dependent on you.
    Whereas the model that Land of a Thousand Hills is using seems to empower the people that you are helping out.

    The first case can easily turn into, “I give you stuff so you have to listen to what I say” whereas the second seems more likely to lead to true appreciation for your help.

  • David Dunham

    Excellent point, Peter! That’s why I think a lot of people are getting involved in these types of organizations, because it’s not just straight charity.

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