In the heart of the former steel town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, a cafe called Uncommon Grounds is a sanctuary of Christian outreach and care. People come to the cafe to find a warm meal and a listening ear, and sometimes, hope and a fresh start.

One day a man came into Uncommon Grounds looking for someone to listen to “his side” of  the story. Frustrated with his ex-girlfriend, he had been more physical than he knew was right, and was put on probation. Part of his probation required him to attend 12-step meetings and anger management classes, some of which are hosted at Uncommon Grounds.

When he first began talking to me he seemed agitated, but eventually he calmed down. We are all sinners, I assured him.

The more I listened to him, the more I heard his true heart. He had a deep love for his children. He wanted to be a good father. He didn’t have a great role model growing up, but he wanted to do better for them.

We met weekly for a couple of months, and at one point, he asked if he could borrow some money to keep his lights from being turned off.   It is my policy not to give out money to people, but to refer them to other agencies in the city that. This time it was different. I heard the Lord say “Yes.” So I said, “Yes.”

What happened next shocked me.  He offered to pay me back! Instead, I asked him to do a service project for the neighbor with his kids on Saturday and send me a picture. That would be payment enough.

A month later, I was driving down the street and I saw my friend, sharply dressed, working for the local funeral home, with a huge smile on his face.  He is now taking his children to church, spending time with them, and showing them the value of an honest career. He offered his life to the Lord and offered his children what he had received by God’s grace: hope.

Helping people’s lives through Christ in ways like this is what the ministry of the Uncommon Grounds Café and Church Army USA is all about. To God be the glory!

Uncommon Grounds Café is part of the Matthew 25 Ministry initiative of The Anglican Church in North America. Find out how you can donate to the Matthew 25 Initiative, or how your charity can get funded.