Poznan, Poland -- Some things take time; more time than we expect. It's frustrating.  It challenges our patience. Sometimes it even challenges our faith.  We may never know why the delay, we just know that it messes up our timeline. That's all there is to it.

It was only a few days before our Sweet Surrender Coffee House in Poznan, Poland, was scheduled to open for business.

A Danish
Work & Witness team had come to help us finish up the last stage of prep work, feverishly refurbishing the outdoor entrance and landscaping the grounds. They had a demo project to complete and needed to set a wrought-iron fence line, lay a stone walkway and plant shrubs. It was a lot to do in a short amount of time.

Neighbors that walked by would stop and stare at the work for a moment and then move on. One neighbor, however, did more than stop and stare.  She stopped, walked over to the work crew and sternly asked, “Do you have the right permissions to do this?”  She didn't wait to hear the response, but continued, “I don't believe you do.  My husband is the chairperson of our association and is right now looking into this.  You should stop what you are doing immediately until this issue is resolved.” 

Scandinavia District Superintendent Kaj Ove Bollerup and his team from the Greve Nazarene Church in Copenhagen reluctantly dropped their hammers and shovels and stepped back inside the coffee house. After a few phone calls a meeting with the woman, *Tesia, was scheduled.

When Tesia returned, we escorted her into the coffee house where she admired the décor and listened intently as I described our plans to bring music and art into the community as well as use profits to assist financially struggling families of the neighborhood. She realized that we had spent considerable cost and effort to work the project through the Polish construction approval systems. Her demeanor changed and her attitude softened. She contacted her husband by telephone and encouraged him to support the project.

 

Fast-forward to September 19, 2009, the day Sweet Surrender cafe held an open house for the neighborhood.  Tesia, her husband and their son and daughter-in-law entered the coffee house with gifts in hand and stayed for the next three hours, drinking coffee, enjoying the concert performers and talking with neighbors. They stayed until closing.

Over the next several months, as the Poland mission team continued to struggle through the red tape associated with getting the final approval to open, Tesia and her husband became advocates within the system, giving advice and support whenever possible.

During the last week of March, 2010, we finally received the approvals to open the coffee house. Tesia invited Rhonda and I to her home for dinner.  It was the third time we had dined together since our initial, more adversarial meeting.  At the conclusion of this evening we celebrated the conclusion of a long process. 

While we were still sitting at the dinner table, Tesia emotionally shared some of the deep concerns of her life. Teary-eyed, she looked to us and said, “Would you please pray for my family?” The evening closed with heads bowed and hearts in harmony.

The second Sweet Surrender Coffee House of Poland opened for business on Tuesday, April 6, 2010, roughly six months later than expected. It was a long delay. Our focus had shifted during that time to developing the ministry. We held worship services on Saturday nights, with 12 to 15 now in regular attendance. A few neighbors who at one point stood in opposition to the work have become allies.

During this time, an opportunity has also developed for planting a similar work in Krakow, with a Polish leadership team that has already visited Poznan and has begun seeking the same city approvals that caused our delay. They have learned from our experience of the past six months.

Perhaps what was at first seen as a delay was in truth the right timeline all along.