Raising Our Ebenezer

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

When Compassion Tea Company began in 2011, its founders planned a course for a company that would provide a steady income for CompassioNow so that quality healthcare in rural parts of Africa could be consistent and growing. At inception, the company appeared to be solely a tea membership venture. We watched as the club grew in member numbers thanks to our friends, families, and opportunities at church events, craft shows, Christmas teas, and holiday bazaars. At heart, we remain a small company dedicated to its members.

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But God, ever interested in the steps, has guided our company toward new partnerships, ones that reach more people and, we’re hopeful, will make an even larger impact for Africa.

It began with an opportunity to supply tea at Valley Community Church, Pleasanton, CA, for their evening worship service. This connection grew into our supplying the tea for their burgeoning tea and coffee shop, Inklings.

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Shortly thereafter, we approached Barnstormers Coffee Shop at Lighthouse Christian Supply in Dublin, CA, about carrying our tea. Friendships led us to Tifa Chocolate and Gelato in Agoura Hills, CA. Word of mouth led us to Brew Unto Others in Lamar, CO. And Homeboy Industries of Los Angelos, CA, serves our tea in their Homegirl Cafe.

As if this wasn’t blessing enough, we now find ourselves heading to the East Coast through an exciting partnership with Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Compassion Tea will now be served there along with their “coffee with a cause.”

Some may call it karma or kismet, but we call it a “divine appointment” that CompassioNow founder and Compassion Tea director Wendy Bjurstrom found herself with a $35 plane ticket to Washington DC earlier this fall. While in DC, Wendy met with Ebenezers staff and introduced them to the work of CompassioNow and to Compassion Tea. Nor did we find it at all odd or coincidental that Lee and Anne Kennedy, Compassion Tea directors and CompassioNow board members, were at that very time reading The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church, the church behind Ebenezers.

Ebenezers Coffeehouse is located at 201 F Street NE on Capitol Hill. “In 1908, Ernestine Reuter was granted a permit to build a one-level diner…. The estimated cost of construction was $2,000. The diner originally served ‘butter and eggs’ to the Union Station travelers before food service was available on the trains.”

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According to Batterson, “[W]e had a dream we decided to circle in prayer. It seemed ridiculous, but sometimes those crazy prayers have a way of working their way into our spirits. We had the dream of converting a former crack house into a coffeehouse. One block from Union Station, the property had an asking price of one million dollars. At the time, our attendance and budget were nowhere near enough to reach that amount. We were a church. Churches don’t build coffeehouses, and we had zero experience in the coffee business…. Six years after we began praying we miraculously got the property even though we had been outbid by four other potential buyers.”

The Ebenezers Coffeehouse website adds, “After nearly twenty-five years of neglect, National Community Church purchased 201 F Street NE on February 7, 2002. The property was successfully rezoned from residential to commercial use in January 2003. Architectural plans were approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board in February 2004. Construction began December 2004 and we opened our doors March 15, 2006.”

Ebenezers Coffeehouse is “the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill” and its “profits go to local and international missions projects.” Explains Batterson, “The driving motivation behind building a coffeehouse was the fact that Jesus hung out at wells. They were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Ebenezers is a postmodern well that has served more than a million customers—neighbors, business people, and congressmen alike.”unnamed-1 unnamed-2

The term “ebenezer” means “a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone.” As the stones that built Ebenezers Coffeehouse were renewed, there had to be a moment of recognition among the National Community Church community that they were setting up a monument. We see this new partnership as another way God is helping us and we are pleased to set up this monumental stone.

What exciting opportunities God is opening up for us! As God establishes our steps to help bring “essential healthcare to the world’s least served,” we are humbled and amazed and thrilled.

If you are ever on Capitol Hill, stop in Ebenezers! Enjoy the venue, the history, and the tea!

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