Shop Talk is a quarterly publication of FCS Community Economic Development. by Jeff Delp
Ten months ago, FCS Community Economic Development started on the journey of opening Community Grounds Café at the South Atlanta Marketplace. For ten months we went through multiple trials and along the way learned a lot about the intricacies of opening a coffee shop: city and county government codes, grease traps, plumbing, and even a little electrical. The biggest lesson learned, however, had nothing to do with the knowledge needed to open and run a coffee shop. It was faith that God decided to teach me during this process, and that proved much more difficult to learn than how to install a 70 lb grease trap.
Having faith has always been something that has been hard for me. Sure I believe in God, believe in my call to follow God, and am an active church member in my community. To actually believe that God would provide and intercede in this situation is something I haven’t put into practice much before. The time, talent, and resources I needed to accomplish a task were almost always at my disposal. Up until this point, I would complete a project and try to give God the glory but with this project, everything did not add up. The resources I thought I needed to get Community Grounds up and running were not available to my business trained eye, but the greatest resource I kept missing was believing in God’s provision.
A few months ago I re-read the story of Joshua and Israel taking Jericho (Joshua 6:1-17). God gave Joshua a specific set of commands that he was to follow, and God would give Israel Jericho. The problem with the plans, at least to our human eyes, was that the plans that God gave Joshua in no way resembled a battle-plan to take a city. The plan called for marching around the city one time for six consecutive days. On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times and then blow horns and watch as the walls tumbled down. For a people wandering the desert for 40 years waiting for their promised land, one could hardly blame the skeptical people in the crowd. However, after following God’s plan Jericho indeed became Israel’s. God was faithful to his commands.
Ten months is not forty years and a coffee shop is surely not Jericho but our work here in South Atlanta is God’s work. I was taught a similar lesson through the process. God has a plan for South Atlanta and FCS Community Economic Development’s work here. It is not our plan, and it will not happen in our timing or by our own work. It will only happen when we give our plans over to God and follow God’s plan. My plan was to open Community Grounds in August; God’s plan was to open in March. My plan would have presented Community Grounds as my coffee shop because I would have done the work to get it open. God’s plan allowed for community members to rally their time, talents, gifts, and money around opening up a true community establishment. While God’s plan was clearly better than my plan, believing in God’s plan proved challenging and difficult for me. I must admit, most of the time I failed to see God working around me. I questioned whether we would ever open and questioned whether or not we should give up. I questioned why “I” couldn’t do it. But even in my doubt, God was faithful.
Now that we are open, the lesson is not over. Now it is time to take my lessons of faith and apply them to running a new business, something that is wrought with trials and struggles, especially in our economy and in our neighborhood. Instead of doing it myself this time, I am going to try to have faith.
Please pray for us as we begin this journey of running a coffee shop in South Atlanta that provides jobs to a community desperate for economic opportunity. You have been our army marching around the city. Without our army we would not have taken able to take our Jericho. Thank you for your support, and if you are ever in the neighborhood, please stop by and see us at Community Grounds.