While spending a week with my daughter and her family, I decided to visit the church they attend instead of going to my former one. Little did I know that I would find God while drinking coffee that morning. As soon as I stepped through the doors, I saw a familiar face.
My friend Fred and I chatted as he tended the coffee bar. When my son asked him what brand coffee the church used, Fred told us the fascinating story behind a company called Land of a Thousand Hills.
In April 1994, Rwanda (an African country half the size of the state of Maryland) suffered one of history’s most atrocious genocides. In only 100 days, almost one million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu sympathizers were killed by extremist Hutu militia. In the aftermath of civil war, Rwanda made a commitment to national restoration. The government asked the church to guide the country toward reconciliation and called on the outside world to support them as it looked to heal and eradicate poverty, disease, and illiteracy.
After the genocide, I visited Rwanda for the first time. I asked the local priest in the village of Bukonya how Americans could help his country rebuild. He replied, “sell our coffee.” In that moment the Bukonya blend was born. Jonathan D. Golden (From landofathousandhills.com)
In 2001, Jonathan Golden, founder of Land of a Thousand Hills, recognized a tangible opportunity to impact the lives of the Rwandan people. He started a coffee company that pays a fair wage to the farmers of Rwanda, helps them with basic needs, and offers a quality product to coffee drinkers. The introduction of this concept to the healing fields of Rwanda opened the door for formerly warring countrymen to not only rebuild their homesteads, but to work together toward lasting peace. A commitment to excellence in coffee has brought dignity and hope to a nation that history suggested would never recover.
Help Rwandan Genocide Survivors
Through Land of a Thousand Hills (on Twitter as @1000HillsCoffee) you can enjoy your coffee while also offering help to these African communities. The company’s website promises, “When you buy Land of a Thousand Hills, you are receiving coffee that is 100% Arabica, fairly traded, and roasted fresh. Your excellent morning cup is offering hope to these developing coffee communities with each purchase.” Thus the company’s tagline: Drink Coffee. Do Good.™ Thanks to Land of a Thousand Hills, many people are find God while drinking coffee at church.
In this short video, watch images from Rwanda and the coffee workers accompanied by moving music:
©Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of The One Year Women of the Bible (Tyndale House Publishers) and three other daily devotional books. Visit her at www.DianneNealMatthews.com or @DianneNMatthews.