(This post was originally posted at Provocative Church on March 8th, 2007. Serving coffee is an important part, for most churches, of creating a warm and friendly first impression. Consider not just serving coffee, but rather coffee that is helping to bring justice, economic prosperity to those who are under-resourced and hope to a part of the world that has suffered greatly - Rwanda. That is a message that every church would want to proclaim.)
A couple of weeks ago we purchased a new coffee to serve on Sunday morning. Up till now, we had been serving Equal Exchange, a fair trade coffee. And we had no concerns with Equal Exchange, but we, through a personal contact, developed a relationship with The Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. They are a local distributor of Rwandan coffee, and because of the relationship, but more particularly because of the Rwandan story, we wanted to be partners with this wonderful work.
This is their story...
Most people will not associate the Republic of Rwanda with coffee, but it is in fact considered to be one of the finest in the world - after all, Africa is where the coffee bean originated. With volcanic soils, abundant rainfall and high altitude mountains, Rwanda has some of the best coffee-growing conditions in the world. But given this nation's recent history, this bag of aromatic coffee beans comes with many a bittersweet story to go with it. Here is one such real-life story: Thirty thousand independent coffee growers climb the hills, tend the soil, and carry the beans on their shoulders down to cooperative village wash stations. The two best varieties of beans are separated, washed and meticulously tested for export. The destination is miles away in America. The villages are scarred by one of history's worst cases of genocide. 800,000 people were slaughtered ten years ago, but the pride of the dedicated and determined Rwandans has made a miracle happen. There is optimism in the air, and forgiveness and reconciliation can be felt throughout the land. Leaders in reconciliation are Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana and his wife Mrs. Harriet Rucyahana. They bring together widows from the Twa, Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. Known as Inyakurama or Trinity, over 150 of these widows are working hard to restore their lives emotionally, spiritually and economically. Their hard work allows them to receive Microfinance loans to start small businesses, which in many cases mean the difference between a sustainable life and death. As you drink Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, please keep in mind that you are investing 30% of your purchase in Rwanda. Drink a Cup and Do Good!
Coffee may seem life an inconsequential thing, but our partnership with The Land of A Thousand Hills gives a people and a nation an opportunity to begin to restore their lives and bring about economic justice. Consider serving this coffee at your church on Sunday mornings, "Drink a Cup and Do Good".
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