Written by Brent Fudge

Community in the Cafe

The event seemed to escalate from 0-to-60 at Cafe Filter as youth all around me gathered around tables to play board games. I caught Ian’s eye and without any words he invited me to play Exploding Kittens with him and his wife Katie. We fumbled thru the game with laughter and exaggerated expressions to cover the awkward broken communication we had. And like that, I had new friends. I learned about their cafe and the need to gather in order to replace the frustration of not being able to have normal fellowship in their homes. “We used to…” and “When we get our homes back , we will…”; each phrase followed with a lament for being displaced. I learned that this young couple, 21 years old, are not the only young couple who felt an urgency to marry quickly due to the attack upon their home and lives from Russia. Other stories like theirs reminded me of stories from back in the ‘40s in the US as young men were going to war and feeling the need to secure their sweetheart before they were shipped off. I had strong feelings of loss for these youths as I heard about their need to grow into adults much too quickly.

My story is full of time spent overseas. My family served together for seven and a half years in Haiti and now serve our Cincy community. My wife, Anna, and I celebrated 23 years together this year and my 3 teenagers are each a treasure in my life. Adventures like this trip to Ukraine are very much like the other adventures in my life. I have plans to travel to Jerusalem and Australia. God sends me to Haiti and Ukraine and Myanmar. I’ve learned to be open to His leading so when Matt asked me to be a “back-up” for his trip to visit TCI in Ukraine, God’s voice was peeping thru the invite.

The trip itself seemed unlikely to proceed around every corner, however, each corner uncovered another resource and confirmation to keep planning. I’ve learned that it’s better to go with God’s flow than to find myself telling God’ “naw, not interested.” So if God provides for a trip like this, then He plans to show up. I know I can expect to see Him. I saw Him in the new relationships I forged as I learned about these displaced brothers and sisters. Their stories dripped of hard times and even harder times to come. But the response isn’t quite what I expected. I expected need and brokenness. What I saw was spirit and resilience. Cafe Filter and the Church service we attended spoke of a strong community that found a way to celebrate. They found a way to give to their needy and provide for themselves. God made Himself known through the leaders and guides that told us of how they venture into the danger to search for the needy. They risked in order to extend His hand. It’s compelling and inspiring.

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