News Story

A Cup of Faith

ORU alumni sow coffee beans to fund missions

By Danielle Parker 07
(Rachel Wegner 07, Contributor)

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From L to R: Cassie and James Olson, Duane and Sue Kershner

From L to R: Cassie and James Olson, alongside their friends and founders of Roca Blanca Missions Base, Duane and Sue Kershner. They are standing outside their espresso café at Cox Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
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The Oaxacafé espresso cafe at Cox Hospital in Springfield, Missouri gives all its profits to support missions work.

The Oaxacafé espresso cafe at Cox Hospital in Springfield, Missouri gives all its profits to support missions work.
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James Olson, at left, helps to baptize a Mexican native.

James Olson, at left, helps to baptize a Mexican native.
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James and Cassie with their children, Carolyn and Andy.

James and Cassie with their children, Carolyn and Andy.

There is something about a great cup of coffee. The aroma, the taste, everything about coffee has a stimulating effect on the body and mind. Through Oaxacafé, however, ORU alums James 94 and Cassie (Anderson-93) Olson believe the drink can also have an impact on souls around the world.

James admits he and Cassie never thought they would be in the coffee business. Long before they were husband and wife, the two went on a missions trip to Oaxaca, Mexico as juniors at Victory Christian School in Tulsa. During their time there, both James and Cassie felt an individual calling to minister to the region of southern Mexico.

In 2002, James made the decision to shift from full-time church ministry to the mission field. But the transition was not as simple as he had hoped. He realized how difficult raising funds could be.

"The beginnings of Oaxacafé came out of a need," he said. "We had a vision to reach these people and to raise up Latin American missionaries, and do all of these things, but we didn't have the money to do it."

The vision for Oaxacafé was birthed after James and Cassie both learned how Paul Newman was able to raise millions of dollars for charities through his business. The couple decided they could implement the same very same idea in the area of missions.

"Our big passion is business that funds missions," James said. "We cannot look at the church for all the money that is needed for the Great Commission. We have to look at the resources we have in the business world. That is what Oaxacafé is all about -- funding missions. As your business grows the ministry grows; as the ministry is growing, your business is being blessed and growing, and you are able to do more to help the ministry flourish. "

In 2004, the Olsons opened the doors to Oaxacafé. Through the company based in Springfield, Mo., the couple sells wholesale gourmet coffees, products and equipment in addition to serving as consultants to aspiring business owners and churches that want to start their own cafés. The couple also owns and operates a coffee shop inside Springfield's Cox Hospital, and cafés licensed in not only Missouri, but Kansas and Arkansas.

The meaning of Oaxacafé comes from Oaxaca, meaning "the place of the seed," and fé, which means faith. Combine the two words, and the ORU alumni had "Oaxacafé," the place of the seed faith.

"We could see that God has His hand on this," James said. "It was just a reminder of the impact ORU had on us. We actually started this with the purpose of giving. It goes back to the impact that ORU had on our lives, the concept of going where God's light is dim, even to the utmost parts of the earth, and also going into every man's world. To me, we are fulfilling what Oral Roberts had in mind. Our hearts are very much involved."

Oaxacafé is not the typical business venture. The concept financially supports ministries in Mexico, like Roca Blanca Missions Base, which includes a house of prayer, Bible school, music school, medical clinic, trade school, and high school. ORU alumna Laura Pratt Nelson 88-MSN is the director of medical services at Roca Blanca, a place where Mexican missionaries can learn from the business/missions model that Oaxacafé has in place.

"We launch out a missionary and we send them into a small town to plant a church. If they do not have a means for income, then they are totally dependent on us or they can't stay there," James said. "There is really no credibility if you don't have something you are doing in that town. But the minute you start a business, now you are doing something to add value to the community. It gives them a strength in where they are."

Five years after launching Oaxacafé, James and Cassie are reaping the harvest of their seed sown, and today, the couple lives in Mexico, working as full-time missionaries. Along with a few other business endeavors, Oaxacafé provides the funds needed to continue the work God has placed in their hearts.

"I really view Oaxacafé as His business," James said. "We are still using business principles that are natural, but we are combining the faith principles with them, because we understand that we are working in the kingdom of God."