The Moth Student Kohvik

The Moth youth kohvik is a coffee shop with a unique mission: to create an environment that nurtures the spirit of local community in Rapla by promoting social entrepreneurship among youth.

Our vision for The Moth emerged over the last few years as a possible answer to a range of perennial problems that we face in our efforts to disciple Rapla youth. As with many small towns, many young people growing up in Rapla leave us after High School to pursue education or a career in bigger cities. If they return to Rapla at all, it is not until they have established themselves financially and built a family. Missing this age group (20-30) means that our outreach to Rapla’s many unchurched youth is limited to a very small number of adult volunteers. On that basis, we can’t reach very far.

This has motivated us to find a sustainable youth ministry solution that is able to fund and staff itself apart from the ministry of the church while staying closely associated with our efforts at intentional ministry networking.

The Moth answers this challenge by creating a business-based, community oriented ministry platform – an environment in which connections are made and collaborations nurtured every day. The Moth provides a natural space in which faith can be demonstrated and articulated for youth who might not otherwise encounter the Gospel. To this end, The Moth is developing active partnerships with ministries and social enterprises in Rapla as well as working closely with local schools to invite youth to learn basic business skills through shadowing and shared development of the shop.

We are grateful to the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest for a ministry grant of 5,000 USD to help us get The Moth up and running! We are also looking forward to welcoming short-term youth missionaries in the summer of 2019 to help us leverage our new space. We hope to open the shop by January 1st, 2019.

Sõbralt Sõbrale Shop

In March 2018 we opened a consignment store in Rapla together with the company Sõbralt Sõbrale (Friend to Friend). Sõbralt Sõbrale now has 17 stores around Estonia and uses revenues from their sales to promote a number of good will campaigns for children, the disabled and needy throughout Estonia. When the opportunity to open the store came up in discussion in 2017, it was clearly an answer to a longstanding prayer for new ways to minister to the Rapla area.

The store in Rapla has been designed from the start with the idea that, in addition to demonstrating the love of Christ in a business environment, it could also become a space for welcoming, befriending, connecting, encouraging and discipling our customers. The showroom sits behind 18 meters of floor to ceiling picture windows overlooking one of the central squares in Rapla. Our vision is to equip an adjoining kiosk included in our rent as a coffee shop and juice bar. The coffee shop will use a selection of the furniture for sale in the shop for limited seating. After store hours, the shop can be converted into a cosy cafe with an open-mic stage for evening soirees and outreach.

Rapla Street Cafes

Each June, the town of Rapla celebrates the community by holding a street festival. Each year, the Rapla church hosts a one-day parking lot restaurant as a run-up to our anniversary celebration. This is a whole-church event with opportunities for everyone to contribute something special. Over the years we have developed a now famous hamburger recipe, offered live music and a mini fair in the church yard.

Christ Child Search

Each advent an ecumenical team gathers from local churches to organize our annual search for the Christ child. This is a unique retelling of the Christmas story to a population that may have never heard it before. Each successive search has grown in number such that now we have kids streaming out behind our famed “star of Bethlehem” like a comet’s tail

Along the way, kids meet all the characters from the nativity scene along with some others that might have dropped in. Each station involves creative dialogue written by a very talented and beautiful teacher (ehem!) and fun activities. The final destination presents a reading of the manger scene followed by fun and treats for all.

A great outreach and a beautiful way to announce the Gospel together with our neighboring churches.

English Camp

In partnership with a team of youth from Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs and the Estonian organization KOMA, our youth hosted our first ever summer English Camp this year in the small town of Kaiu. The camp was a great success for our first foray. Not only did we see campers with little to no faith exposure make significant steps forward in their walk with Christ, we also made deep inroads into the local youth population setting us up for significant future outreach.

Kosovo Youth Mission

This “youth mission adventure” was the first of its kind in our Union: a youth mission outreach in support of our Estonian partners serving in Bosnia and Kosovo. Parallel teams were sent to each country for 11 days of service and cultural immersion.

I was honored to assist in the coordination of the project and to lead the Kosovo team. Both teams consisted of youth from all around Estonia who had been recommended by their pastors for leadership potential, spiritual maturity and interest in mission training.

Trip Goals

  1. Encourage ministry partners
  2. Inspire a generation of mission-minded youth
  3. Invite participation of the whole union
  4. Gain cross-cultural skill and experience
  5. Lay a foundation for future mission

Actions
The Kosovo team was based out of the small town of Gracanice, a Serbian enclave just southeast of Pristina, alongside our partners Dejan and Daily Adam. The Adams have been developing high quality early education preschool – The Osadus Keskus – for the local population for the last five years. Our team helped to build a playhouse for the playground and repainted classrooms.

In the afternoons, a group of young men would come to the center to work out on an exercise gym Dejan had set up behind the house. Our team was largely composed of athletes and so everybody hit it off pretty well. In spite of language and cultural barriers, we were able to have some significant conversations with the guys. At the end of our work week, they treated us to a lavish grill party and ate around the table like brothers.

Following our projects, we took a series of day trips to various locations around Kosovo including major cities, famous Serbian Orthodox monasteries, and a day of hiking in the amazing Rugova Canyon on the borders of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.

Culture
Attempting to sum up any one of the Balkan region’s many cultures in a paragraph would be folly but I can share what we encountered on the ground. Our team was prepared for difficult conditions and hard work. Indeed visible and cultural scars left by centuries of conflict were inescapable and our days were filled with constant activity under conditions Estonians only experience in the sauna. But we were greeted by a level of hospitality none of us would have expected. Our accommodations were very comfortable, the quality and amount of locally grown food kept us sated around the clock and people were extraordinarily friendly and open. Kosovo’s mix of Albanian (predominately Muslim) and Serbian (Orthodox) cultures makes for a unique and challenging history. But it seemed that most people were able to live and function side by side, even while maintaining a strong sense of historical and ethnic identity. Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in the region, but the culture and history were rich and deep.

Support
While we had aspired to carry something like this out for years, the project was made possible by a generous donation from the Estonian congregation in Vancouver, Canada and later additional contributions from partners in Toronto. In order to give our youth experience in fundraising and to lay a foundation for future trips, both teams were responsible for matching that sum with fundraising from their own contributions, individual sponsors, and local church donations. Our goal was to send a clear signal that Estonian churches are entirely able to send future mission teams. In the end we were able to raise over 11 000 EUR, exceeding our startup capital by over 2 000 EUR and even staying under budget enough to provide seed money for future projects.

Piiblipäevad Conference

Our first event in Rapla was the Union’s annual youth event. This was quite an undertaking for our little church, but the team came together so well. We even managed to press the envelope and use the conference as an opportunity for regional service projects. Proud of my team!