Who would have ever thought that “coffee beans” could help get young people in Rwanda out of poverty? Well one man did, his name is Skip Crittenden; a long-time supporter of the Peace Plan and a member of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He was drinking his normal morning cup of coffee and getting ready to head to Rwanda for another peace trip when he had an epiphany … “Why not teach their young people how to make coffee - sure is successful in the USA?” Here's the story ...

First you need to understand a little about what happened to Rwanda back in 1994. As many as 750,000 people were killed in the Genocide, 20 years ago this April; leaving over 1,000,000 children without parents, families and being left to fend for themselves. Living in severe poverty with no educational opportunities; their lives have been about surviving each day, not the future.

Over the last 20 years, Rwanda has risen from the ashes, becoming a shining light in Africa. With leadership focused on reconciliation and renewal, the country is thriving and growing. But those million children are now young adults; many still suffering from lack of education and personal skills. They need our help!

The Nehemiah Association was formed in 2007 as a ministry to reach the underserved youth of Rwanda, offering them a chance to gain such skills as art and sewing. Their year long program trains students in many soft skills needed to integrate them into the new growing global community. Skills are taught such as community relationships, personal hygiene and health, commitment to showing up, dedication, cultural dance and singing.

Skip presented the concept of starting a coffee shop to the Board of the Nehemiah Association in 2012 and they unanimously agreed with the idea. The Coffee Shop will offer first year graduated students an opportunity to continue developing hard skills desired in entry level business positions, while practicing their English, learning about cleanliness in a business atmosphere, working with money, customer service and maintaining equipment; all in a volunteer internship role.

With a vision and no financial support, only a relentless trust that God will provide as He always does for everything in his life, Skip started Nehemiah's dream of opening the coffee shop. Much to his surprise, while some people thought he was crazy to do a project ten thousand miles away, many of his friends here in the states heard about what he was doing and began to ask, “What can I do? How can I help? What do you need?” It was God’s first step towards making Nehemiah's vision a reality.

After the first step, there was another step and another step as people began to donate time, products and money. Today Skip has almost 500 supporters on his facebook and email lists that he keeps posted weekly on the progress he and his youth in Butare are making every day.

In case you don’t know Skip, he worked in construction for almost 20 years. God was preparing him to serve in this unique way to help reduce construction costs. He is also teaching his building skills to a team of young people in Butare who are doing most of the work themselves ... “teaching them to fish”; another step where God is showing his relentless love and faith in this project.

Skip needed to find just the right spot for the coffee shop, so he found a building on the street side of a beautiful new major hotel that has recently opened and just down the street from the National University; an outstanding location for a coffee shop … trendy, high traffic, with great access.

Construction was started on March of 2012 and two years later the "build out" is almost complete. His team of young adults have learned to build walls, wire electricity, install lights and cabinets, paint the walls and put on the finishing touches. The shop’s called “Nehemiah’s Best Coffee” and it’s almost ready, with a grand opening scheduled for late spring or early summer 2014.

All the equipment was bought in the USA and shipped in January 2014, to arrive in April (taking about three months). During this time the product line, the menu and operating instructions are being completed. Once the equipment arrives, one more trip and it’ll be set to open. The youth of Nehemiah are ready and willing to man the blenders, the cash register and provide the service God would want. That’s the goal.

Would you like to find out how YOU can be a part of Skip’s “One cup at a time” vision? And help the young adults of Rwanda by opening this shop soon and other locations. Please contact the Peace Plan at 949-609-8000 or call Skip directly at 714-328-4106. His email is and the website is

It’s a long way to go for a FREE cup of coffee, but if you Butare, Rwanda, you get “FREE COFFEE FOR LIFE” (any time you’re in Rwanda) and you’ll instantly become as attached to the infectious youth of Rwanda as he has. Skip says: “I’ll never look at coffee beans the same again!” Thank you God for making this possible!

To contact us, call Skip @ 714-328-4106

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