All for less than the Cost of a Cup of Coffee a Day

Without a doubt, the most formative years of my life were spent not in a seminary but in a squatter community. It was during our ÿ ve years in Baliuag, Philippines that God gave us an extraordinary burden for those trapped in poverty in the majority world. It was there that we learned the truth that the poor are poor not because they lack money but because they lack opportunity.

There are many brilliant young people who are prevented from reaching their academic potential because they don't have $3 a day to cover their fees. When we ÿ rst heard that we could provide a university-level education to a Filipino youth for less than the cost of a cup of co˜ ee a day we knew we had to do something about it.

The Cappuccino Club is our response. It serves to o˜ er a digniÿ ed and sustainable solution to the curse of intergenerational poverty. Three key words deÿ ne our values, these words are: EDUCATE, EMPOWER and TRANSFORM. For $3 a day it is a real privilege to gift a deserving impoverished youth with a university level education. This alone will go a long way to lift an entire family out of abject poverty. But The Cappuccino Club is not only concerned with the material well-being of the poor.

Empowerment means more than creating better job opportunities. When we talk of empowering the poor we are talking about releasing them to their full potential. The poor are told by society at large that they will never amount to anything, that they are a bane on society and a hindrance to progress. The unspoken message communicated to the poor is that they are only good for menial tasks and have no potential to a˜ ect change.In this context empowerment requires that we re-educate our Cappuccino Club students so that they understand that their identity is not deÿ ned by what society says about them but what God says about them. In many respects this is more critical than the academic education they will receive. That is why there is an intentional mentoring component in The Cappuccino Club programme. Each student is mentored by a recognised leader in their church community. They are shaped by God's Word to recognise who they are in God; people of great dignity with immense resource and fully equipped for God's work.

And this brings us to transformation, because this has to remain our ultimate goal. Our prayer is that The Cappuccino Club students will in fact become the agents of change amongst their families and into their communities as God works in and through their lives to accomplish His will.

The Cappuccino Club has only been going three years and yet even in its infancy we see glimpses of the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the 30 young people currently in the programme. Each of the students, from six separate impoverished communities, is giving back to their community through a service component. All are high-calibre young people, several are studying theology, some long to be missionaries to their own people, many will graduate as teachers with a longing to bring high quality education to those who are used to receiving only the dregs.

We are pumped by what God is doing through this small dream. Today over 40 donors are investing into this work. We believe that God has given us a ministry that is holistic and strategic in its approach to the issues of poverty alleviation and spiritual renewal amongst the poor. We long to develop this further as God, through his people, provides the necessary resources. If you see value in this initiative then we would love to hear from you.

By Mark Smith

Website: www.thecappuccinoclub.org.nz
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Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCappuccinoClub

Contributions to the Cappuccino Club can be made through GC3

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