KANSAS CITY — Eleos Coffee is a refuge in the darkness for all types of Kingdom workers in the high-crime sector of the city’s northeast side.
Owner Dan Smith and one of his employees, Rich Casebolt, a Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC)-trained church planter, use it as a base of operations and a foundation for lighthouse activity off of Independence Avenue. Members of nearby Living Faith KC, a missional church in the neighborhood, the Eleos laborers are immersed in a stream of ministry. The Pathway got to witness the current that carries that river of service May 21-22 as various activities unfolded.
Eleos is a place where three types of coffee are roasted. The pattern right now is to serve coffees from Ethiopia, El Salvador, and Sumatra; the twist is to soon insert a specialty bean from Honduras. Smith, 45, is the maestro of the java.
“The profiles for those coffees were already established, and it was a way for me to learn,” Smith said. “Now I’ve been roasting for maybe about a year. I really love it and enjoy the process of tweaking those profiles to get different flavors out of the bean. Now we want to become more strategic in this.”
On May 21 at Eleos, Casebolt called to order the first meeting of English as a Second Language (ESL). The coffee shop was full as many Kingdom workers gathered to help seven Hispanics who will hopefully become disciples as they grow more proficient as English speakers. This is eleoscoffee.com in action—a business geared toward supporting ministry.
“Demonstrating compassion is a huge part of what we want to do,” Smith said.
Eleos is essentially uncomplicated.
“It started by us going out on the street,” Smith said. “It wouldn’t have worked if we would have just stayed inside these four walls. So before we opened this coffee house, we were very intentional about getting out on Independence Avenue, doing what we call prayer walks.
“We would take non-perishable food bags and hygiene products with us, and we would just pray as we would walk. And then as we came across people we would try to strike up conversations. If they were obviously living on the street we would ask them if they needed some food or water. And then we’d ask them if there was anything we could pray about for them. We did that for a number of months, and then as we were getting closer to opening as a shop, we would tell people ‘We’re the Eleos Coffee House. If you want more of this food, just come on down and we’ll refill the bag.’ So that’s what initially began bringing people in.”
The coffee house serves sandwiches, pastries, teas, smoothies, and shakes. Since October 2011, it has been a place where people can escape from the pressures of urban life and maybe begin to open up with a stranger about the Bible.
“Sometimes it’s with someone who is drunk,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s with someone who is very educated. It’s an amazing mix of people.
“We feel that God has gifted us with this space. We just rent one little part of this building. We’re praying that maybe God would open the door somehow for us to buy the whole building. We think this is a strategic location in the northeast.”
Eleos, which employs a total of five people plus an intern, is the Greek word for mercy.