If you want a latte and find yourself in the Sacramento area, there might be a more God-honoring option than Starbucks: Origin Coffee and Tea.
Founded by Origin Community Church, it serves all the mochas, cappuccinos, and loose leaf teas one would expect at a trendy coffee shop. But unlike most of its competitors, Origin, a 501(c)(3), donates its profits to combat human trafficking—which includes anything from foreign children being shipped around the world for prostitution to American pimps luring underprivileged teens into selling their bodies.
As Origin’s website explains:
2-4 million young girls every day are enslaved, raped, dehumanized for pleasure. This is the nightmarish reality which is shocking to us, having triumphed over legalized slavery in the U.S. But the dark and hidden practice of human sex trafficking not only exists, it is thriving. This thief of childhood innocence is now the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. At Origin Coffee & Tea, we simply can’t go another day without waking up to the cries of these girls for rescue. We must fight for them as they cannot fight for themselves. This is not just another cause—this is an emergency.
To help the cause, almost all employees at the coffee shop work for free. That includes about 100 volunteers at a time, with each committing to work four hours a week for three months. And they are expected to discuss trafficking with customers when opportunity arises.
This ministry calls to mind the rich Christian heritage of helping the vulnerable. In the early fourth century, for example, the plague hit the Roman city of Caesarea and sent the population to flight. Yet Christians stayed behind to care for the dying and later bury them, risking their own lives in the process. According to the historian Eusebius, the Christians’ “deeds were on everyone’s lips, and they glorified the God of the Christians. Such actions convinced them that they alone were pious and truly reverent to God.” Later, in the nineteenth century, Christian conviction motivated England’s Earl of Shaftesbury to crusade on behalf of the mentally ill. For centuries cages, chains, prisons, floggings, darkness, and semi-starvation had been accepted as legitimate forms of “treatment.” In fact, the mentally ill were all believed to be controlled by evil spirits that could only be exorcised through such torture. But thanks to Shaftesbury, Britain’s insane eventually came to be regarded as patients rather than prisoners. The list could continue, for followers of Jesus were responsible for hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and host of other merciful endeavors.
More importantly though, Origin Coffee and Tea calls to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Indeed, the Lord expects His followers to devote their time and resources to helping forgotten and preyed upon members of society.
May this congregation in California inspire others to likewise find creative means to help the weak and vulnerable.