Some of us are former meth cooks, some of us are former gang members, and some of us are young pastors. And some are a mix! All of us have been involved in the Bible studies with Bob, Chris, Ryan and pastors from Tierra Nueva at the Skagit County Jail in Washington State. Many of us get out, and due to our criminal histories, our huge debts in the system and with collectors, with former using buddies and gang homies around us, starting a new life “on the outs” can be almost impossible at times. Most guys stay in the “underground” life, make money on the streets, and only find a church where we feel comfortable once we’re back in the jail Bible studies.
But a few years ago, Tierra Nueva chaplains Bob Ekblad and Chris Hoke had the idea that some of us out of jail could learn how to roast the coffee being grown by their original Tierra Nueva mission with peasant farmers down in the mountains of Honduras. With the help of a Presbyterian grant, we bought an industry-grade roaster, installed it in the Tierra Nueva basement in Burlington, WA, and bought twenty hefty sacks of fresh green coffee beans to start. We made a label, learned how to roast at Caffe Vita in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, and now train new youngsters out of jail how to be part of this business with us and be part of a new family of faith “on the outs”.
We are a nonprofit organization, and we use the money from sales to grow the business and help support a few of us wanting to be leaders in our communities, reaching out to the many men still out there, looking for a way out of the underground life.
We want to spread the love of Jesus into the underground world, and the coffee project help us support ourselves and get involved with churches and families all over the country who hear our stories and buy our beans.