The Greve Church of the Nazarene, Denmark, on 1 May opened its new café ministry in the neighborhood of Vesterbro, close to the city center of Copenhagen. The café is named Sweet Surrender, after its two sister Nazarene cafés in Poland.
The church took possession of a 150-meter-square space in January this year, after months of searching for a location. Church members, café volunteers and their friends spent three months remodeling the space before they were ready to open. It was a lot of work.
“We started to remove the top layer of carpet only to find we had six more layers to go and found holes to the basement,” said volunteer missionary Katie Fitch. “We scrubbed and painted walls to get rid of the smoke smell. We refurbished some of the furniture and shopped for some new.”
While the volunteers were renovating, the café drew a lot of interest in the neighborhood, as word spread that a religious group was involved. Some wondered if the group was attached to a cult, but this misunderstanding provided many opportunities for the volunteers to thoroughly explain the café’s mission and who the Church of the Nazarene is.
“Every day we are asked by customers why we do what we do,” said Fitch. “They are always impressed by the friendliness and acceptance they feel when they come into the café. Of course we share with them it is God’s Spirit that makes all the difference. We are slowly opening the eyes of our customers to the love of Christ, one cup of coffee at a time. We have had a number of great conversations in the few months we have been open. God is moving in the café.”
The Greve church has been challenged by the project to live out their mission beyond the walls of the church building.
“While not everybody bought into the vision with the same excitement from the beginning, the support has grown as good stories are told and the ministry expands,” said Pastor Kaj Ove Bollerup. “Mission has to be incarnational…. As Wesleyans we believe that we do not need to turn a coffee shop into a church to stand on holy ground. God is already at work in the lives of the people who make the coffee shop their place. In a way we are the guests, who prayerfully make ourselves available in this divine/human encounter.”
Since opening, the café has created connections between the Greve church and social organizations in the community. According to Bollerup, in one of the first organizational meetings, it was agreed that Sweet Surrender would live out a mission of charity, loving neighbors by meeting needs in the neighborhood. For instance, the café collects coffee, tea, cookies and children’s items for a ministry among prostitutes called Night Light Café. The café collected Bibles for distribution to the women, along with copies of the JESUS film. And once a month, the team throws a birthday party for a child whose mother could not afford to do it herself.This fall, Sweet Surrender is launching activity groups, one for women, one for men and the third to youth to get these different groups into the café. The fun activities build a bridge for relationships with the church members who volunteer there.
Some of those who volunteer in the café do not yet know Jesus, but are drawn to giving of their free time in work there because the café’s mission attracts them. Spending time working side by side with the Nazarene volunteers provides opportunities to share about Jesus Christ.
The café volunteers have begun meeting with a few neighbors for a worship and devotional time in the space on Saturday after Sweet Surrender closes. They hope that eventually some of the customers will join them.
The Sweet Surrender team requests prayer that the team and volunteers will be “in tune with God in a humble, united, sensitive and courageous way” and will be a blessing to the people of Vesterbro. They also need English Bibles for distribution to African women who are caught in prostitution, and financial support to hold birthday parties for the children of single mothers.
The original version of this article can be found here.