My first story in Christianity Today magazine appeared in the August issue. It’s about community cafes, or restaurants where you pay what you can afford, and how they lend people a little extra help when things get tough.
Kathy had been out of the job market for about 25 years—instead staying home with her three children—when everything fell apart. The 50-something resident of Edison, in north-central New Jersey, had worked part-time as a file clerk to help pay for her three daughters’ college tuition. But she left that job after her father died and her husband suffered a heart attack. Then her husband left, leaving Kathy without an income to provide for her children.
“It’s a little scary,” says Kathy, who asked that her full name not be used. “The rug was pulled out from under my feet.”
Kathy isn’t alone. In some communities surrounding Edison, 27 percent of the population lives below the national poverty level.
For Kathy and many others, a church in nearby Highland Park offers a unique solution. A Better World Café, one of a handful of “pay-as-you-can” restaurants in the United States, provides clients with good meals and job training, among other things.
My Rwanda reflection for UrbanFaith went up today. Since I got back from Rwanda, I’ve been trying to find the words to capture the magnitude of what happened in this country 17 years ago. Nothing comes close. Genocide is so far beyond words, but these words are all I have to offer:
The most beautiful place in the world is a valley in Gikongoro, Rwanda. Everywhere you look, you see hills full of palm trees and winding red paths. The light of a setting sun graces the hills with a golden hue. You cannot imagine a place more perfect, more pristine.
And yet that word, pristine, would be the wrong one. These hills are not unspoiled beauty, because they were once tainted by blood. This valley is home to the Murambi Technical School where 45,000 Tutsi people were massacred during the 1994 genocide.