Founded by jail chaplains and a few former inmates and addicts, we at Underground Coffee believe in the Lazarus story. The story where Jesus resurrects a dead man. He calls his name, calls him out of the darkness. With a community's help, the heavy stone keeping the dead in the darkness is rolled away. And then Jesus asks the others to remove the death wrappings from Lazarus, this man suddenly back in the land of the living, undergoing a transformation.
There are millions of Lazaruses out there. Men and women are coming back to life, in mysterious ways, while still locked away in the American prison system. But the stones are not being rolled away: years of debt, felony records, tattoos, court dates, parole appointments, mental health needs, no driver's license, poverty, wages garnished . . . they all add up to heavy barriers that keep these lives trapped in the "underground." They go back to prison, too often. Or to the criminal economy to make ends meet.
And even when we've helped roll away the stones with some of these men and women, there's still those delicate death wrappings to remove: addictions, old ways of thinking and wounded relational patterns that sabotage a new life in society. People give up on them. They give up on themselves. Back to the darkness.
At Underground Coffee, our mission is to give some of these folks coming out of prison and jail
- a small role, with some supplemental income, as they work their recovery
- entry-level job experience
- a unique, loving community of supportive care among others leaving the underground
- inner-healing through our Genesis Process
- a chance to share their ongoing story of transformation with the wider community
But we also believe in mutual transformation. That is, it's not just those coming out of the underground that are being transformed. It's the mainstream folks drinking this coffee in cafes, buying it in grocery stores, and sipping it in churches who are also called to have transformed minds and hearts--to become aware of this American underground system and partner with the resurrection of these amazing stories.
We hope Underground Coffee can be what connects us, helps bridge those two worlds. A cup of coffee has always been a means of connecting, building a relationship. We're just taking that deeper.