Free Food and Drink by John Makan

       As you drive down Cleveland-Massillon road, across from Norton High School, if you notice a neutral color building with the words "Caf? 41:11" you might not think anything about it, except that maybe it's just another nice coffee shop that has opened recently.

       If you became curious and went inside, you would find a comfortable and casual atmosphere, a menu with many flavors of coffee, bagels, donuts, cookies and various beverages - even soup.

       Still, you would think there is nothing unusual about this place, except that it is a very attractive and professional looking local coffee shop. You would be right - up to a point. It is all that, and more. When you finish enjoying the food and coffee and go to the check out, you would find something completely amazing - you owe nothing! That's right it's free. It's already been paid for. Not only that, but the people who politely serve you are not paid - they serve, for free.

       Like I did, you must be wondering who is doing this, how and why? The answers might surprise you. Apparently there are about ten local churches who give of their time and people to support the work needed to keep Caf? 41:11 staffed and running smoothly. This is not a denominational venture. It's a team effort with no one taking credit - the emphasis is on serving, and letting Jesus get the glory for it. On any given day you will find people, young and older, members of the local churches, pastors and ministers serving food and coffee to the visitors.

       How is this made possible? The coffee shop is funded by various people and sources and even by visitors who want to put something in the tip jar. In fact the "why?" may answer the "how?" The goal is to provide a professional place, like any quality restaurant, and to give and serve - freely - without expecting anything in return, to bless people and get their attention, especially those who are not Christians. Is it working? The answer is "Yes." People have been touched by the generosity and love they have felt there and some have already given their lives to Jesus as a result of visiting Caf? 41:11.

       It's new, it's different, it's even radical to the minds of some people - but it is working because it is the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for people to come in, and be touched by the generosity and love of Jesus - people who may not normally find themselves in a church. Is that a good thing? The churches and volunteers think so. They are finding a way to be creative in their approach to those who don't know about Jesus, and have moved beyond the four walls of the church to reach people with the message and ministry of Jesus Christ. As one of the volunteers said, "The face of the church is changing." And in keeping with the evangelistic emphasis, you will find that many Friday and Saturday evenings are filled with the sounds of music.

       But that's not all, the vision is expanding. There are plans to have more Cafe 41:11 open in Northeastern Ohio using the local churches to support the work, in part, financially and with volunteers, keeping the focus on the work of ministering to people who visit, not on any individual church. Again, the emphasis is on Jesus.

       Curious? Interested? Stop by and see. As one of the volunteers stated, "If the church gets behind this, this could become a 'Christian' version of McDonalds." And why not? There are thousands of churches in the United States and Canada who could work together the same way and for the same reason. Jesus Christ and Him crucified for those who need His healing and saving Grace.