World Cafe - Meeting people, meeting needs, meeting Jesus
Rita and Vidas Rimkai work in the city of Gloucester, England, alongside Brunswick Baptist Church. Rita became a Christian after the collapse of Berlin Wall. Vidas met God in the UK, while Rita was studying at Redcliffe College. In 2010, this missionary family from Lithuania joined ECM to work alongside churches in Gloucester.
The ministry started in their neighborhood, where the Rimkais fell in love with a Polish family. As God is a hospitable Creator, welcoming all into His world, the family enjoy welcoming people into their home. Here, the mundane conversations turn into prayer, discovery and openness to the Spirit of God. They began a monthly refugee and asylum seekers meal at church and every few months they also set up a Free Shop for them with secondhand clothes, basic food items and so on. This work has now blossomed into the World Cafe which meets every two weeks and is a vibrant time of fun, food and connecting with people.
In March 2018, a new project called The Table of Christ Church was launched. The vision is of a 'Give-what-you-can' cafe run at a local Anglican church in partnership with the church and community there. The hope is to build on the World Cafe's success and create a place where refugees, asylum seekers and other members of the local community can come together.
We never thought we would be part of such an exciting journey. We are reimagining church!!
On the 7 of March, after almost a year of meetings, Juliet Jensen, the vicar of St James and Christ Church and Rita shared their vision for Christ Church with the public. A vision that invites the whole of community to be part of it. It is based on the success of World Cafe.
What is this success? We have been asked this question so many times. Our success is very simple, we are meeting people where they are...some have lost homes, land, jobs, friends and families, have been made into widows and orphans, others have loved ones suffering from cancer, loneliness and more. The World Cafe is based on these words (Matthew 25:35-36), ‘ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
We are not perfect community, but we are very real with lots of pain and hurt. Life is full of suffering. So, we invite people to share their suffering as we share a meal, as we share skills, finances, and time. World Café’s success is people willing to walk a second and a third mile, if there is a need. We are absolutely amazed how many wonderful people there are in Gloucester and beyond.
The next step is The Table at Christ Church. It will be a “Give-As-You-Can” restaurant church in a unique Victorian setting. It is a place, we believe where a wider community, not only migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, will be touched by God.
On the night of sharing the vision over 100 people attended from the surrounding area. Business people, students, families, singers, artists, community builders - you name it these people were there. Bijan, our lovely Iranian guy cooked a big meal and we created a restaurant for people to imagine how would it look like...just a glimpse of a future with a life changing stories. And the response was WOW!!!! We have been given the blessing to move forward with this important and dynamic ministry.