2003: So, we had found a beautiful apartment for our family and a community hang out flat for weekly meetings but we still needed a place for the whole community.
After months of viewing some awful places, we found a big basement in E-14, Kailash Colony. It was a mess but we could see the potential. We got in there and fixed it up with fans, lights, toilets, a kitchen and lots of plugs. We painted the wall blue and it was arty and colourful. Josh did some graffiti on it to liven it up. It was then that we started our Friday Night Coffee Bars.
CCC (Capital City Church) was full of musicians and creative people. The Ugandans kept it noisy and lively. Duke, Mark, Ronnie, Alan and Barbara came with their incredible stories of life in Africa.
Those who were locked into one genre were stretched. We were every genre. An American group taught us Four-Square dancing, someone else taught us couple dances, all kinds of people took to the stage whenever they wanted to. Originals flowed and we were amazed at the incredible giftedness of the young people in our lives.
Our power supply was a challenge and we needed a generator. Someone suggested we have a “Mad Hatters” night to raise some funds. The hats were crazy! They were too good to keep in the basement so we went into Kailash Colony market to show them off. We invited people to come back for coffee and quite a few followed us. Some kept coming week after week. The hats were auctioned and we made over Rs 30,000! Most of it came from the visitors who had come off the street. It was an amazing night.
Then there were Bingo nights, movie nights, table tennis, darts, carom, UNO, Scrabble and Open Mic nights. They were all big hits and Friday Night Coffee Bar was the place to be.
When someone had a birthday they would bring a cake or sweet meats to celebrate themselves. The worship times were celebratory and many encountered the love of Jesus and His community. There were those who loved us before they loved Jesus. They were part of the community and attended everything for years before crossing over. We never pressurised them or tried to convert them. We loved them and they loved us, then they loved Jesus.
We learnt the importance of having fun. Lots of it. To be unreligious and down-to-earth. To love unconditionally, all who walked through those doors. To build a culture of honouring all people from all backgrounds and cultures. To bless the community through great entertainment and a good, clean environment. To give strangers a place to rest their weary heads after a long week of intensity in the capital.
While we were underground, we were very visible. Hundreds of people walked into “The Basement”. There was always someone to sit and chat to and of course, always Vinod’s famous coffee* to enjoy.
*Even “coffee snobs” loved Vinod’s steamed milky coffee. We never let on it was BRU; the cheapest coffee/chicory available.