Video: Christ at the coffee shop

Conversations about evangelism

February 3, 2016 | Web First
Canadian Mennonite staff, from a Mennonite Church Canada report
Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

In the spring of 2015, Pastor Kassa Lemma of Rehoboth Evangelical Church in Toronto invited Mennonite Church Canada Executive Director Willard Metzger to speak at an Ethiopian evangelistic conference. Metzger admits that his first response was hesitant. “We don’t do that anymore as Mennonites.” But he says the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Mennonites do engage in evangelism—they just go about it in different ways.

From that invitation, Mennonite Church Canada commissioned a video, Christ at the Coffee Shop, featuring three Ethiopian pastors and their approach to sharing Christ’s gospel in the city.

Pastor Kassa remembered, “When I started the ministry of evangelism I didn’t have a space for worship and I didn’t have a space for an office. So I started evangelism in the subway station, and my office is [in the coffee shop].” He points to a Timothy’s coffee shop on a busy street. “When I meet the people, my meeting place is here; a long time I have been working here.”

“God always leads you to where you sow and where you harvest,” says Tadessa Mekuria, pastor of Medahlialem Ethiopian Evangelical Church. “So it’s always important to ask God where to go, when to go and how to go.”

Pastor Ashenafi Lemma, of Freedom Gospel Ethiopian Church, compared the situation in Ethiopia, where people are invited to go to church, with his reality in urban Canada. “In Canada the ministers have to go outside [the church to minister among people],” he said.

Mennonite Church Canada welcomes new Canadians whose ideas about Christian witness or evangelism differ from those of historic Mennonite congregations. Says Metzger, “Our new Canadian congregations have much to teach us—their fervency, their passion—we have a lot to learn from them.”

Metzger acknowledges that the way Christians share their religious perspectives and faith vary. He feels that the conversation around witnessing about the gospel in a 21-century context is probably “one of the upcoming important conversations” that the Mennonite faith community in Canada needs to have. “I would like to initiate a conversation across the country amongst all of our congregations,” he said.

The 5:41-minute video is in English and can be downloaded, along with a discussion guide, from http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/48/18082.

To learn more about the church in Ethiopia see:
Ethiopian Church grows in maturity
Bogale Kebede: Apostle to the Kaffa
They can’t keep up

Pastor Kassa Lemma stands outside his “office,” a Toronto coffee shop. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

Willard Metzger (second from right) had conversations sharing the gospel with Ethiopian pastors (left to right): Tadessa Mekuria, Ashenafi Lemma, and Kassa Lemma. (Photo by D. Michael Hostetler)

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Comments

Traditionally Mennonites shy away from street evangelism. I think this is a great way to meet the under privileged and marginalized. You never know who is seeking a life of freedom!

I am an Ethiopian Christian living in Toronto, and I know three of the pastors. Recently I met pastor Ashenafi near Yonge and Bloor streets while walking for evangelism in Tim's coffee shop. We discussed the long-term vision and he asked me to give him some advice. Today when I was trying to find out some ideas and sources about the vision, I saw this video and I decided to say something about the vision I want to share with Pastor Ashenafi: to find free space in churches around the area of Yonge and Bloor and then invite people for free coffee and to chat about the Bible. I wish to discuss with your church in detail. By the way, I was a member and an elder in the MKC Kebena church in Addis Ababa. I wish to contact me with Pastor Ashenafi to discuss how to support our long-term vision. God bless Canada. The Mennonite church was a means for the expansion of evangelism in Ethiopia, and I pray we Ethiopian Canadians can be instruments for evangelism in Toronto in particular and in Canada in general. God bless you.

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