After a six-month delay, Sweet Surrender Coffee House opened its doors for official business on Tuesday, April 6. The Poznan café, was held up by a conflict in disabled access requirements between the historical society and the city. Sweet Surrender finally received the permit at the end of March.
The delayed permit didn't stop the ministry team in Poznan from reaching out to its neighborhood in the meantime. Missionaries Everett and Rhonda Tustin and their team of Polish and American Mission Corps and staff have been hosting Saturday night worship services in the shop since September, with attendance now 12-15 people. They've also allowed people to reserve rooms for meetings.
Because an estimated 200 people from the community had already explored the shop during a well-received open house last September, the ministry team decided to open for business quietly. In retrospect, Tustin said the delay may have been an advantage for the ministry.
"The church seems pretty solid now," he said, "more so than if we were in full business mode these past few months, perhaps." It has given the team time to develop the relationships that started with a few neighbors who at first opposed the coffee shop, and have since become its allies.
One woman tried to stop them from renovating the coffee shop building last year. When they explained their mission to provide a community gathering place and use profits to help struggling families locally, she became an advocate for the coffee shop to the neighborhood association. In March, her family had dinner with the Tustins and, with emotion, she opened up regarding deep concerns in her life. "Would you please pray for my family?" she asked.
A Polish leadership team is now seeking city approvals to open a third location in Krakow.
The first Sweet Surrender opened in 2008 in Gdansk, on the northern coast of Poland, with leadership from missionaries Dawid and Simona Berdowski.
--Eurasia Region Communications