Profile of a Coffee Break in Worcester County, Mass

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“Dear Ms. Jeanie, “D’Anna’s letter began, “You may not remember ten years ago when I first met you. I was a teen living in Lakeside Housing when you and your husband pulled up to the Community Center with a truck full of toys. My brother and I were running around with the other kids that had signed up for your Christmas program. Even though we did not really know what was going on, we stood in line anyway. 

My brother got a new bike (the first and only bike he ever had.) I got a bouncing Tigger doll. These were the first Christmas presents that we had ever gotten (at the time, I was 15 and my brother was 11.) Later that day your husband dropped off a Christmas basket of food to our home. This was our very first Christmas dinner to go along with our very first Christmas presents.”

God continued to work in D’Anna’s life through Jeanie Haggstrom. As an adult, D’Anna began attending the M2M (Mom to Mom) Bible study and today she is a study leader. D’Anna’s husband goes to the men’s study group (Men 2 Men) and their daughter loves attending Little Lambs.

Jeanie’s testimony is equally powerful. Years ago she read about Coffee Break in a newspaper when she was looking for a play group that her son could attend. Her son had special needs and didn’t want her to leave his side during Little Lambs, so Jeanie stayed in the room with him. It was there, through hearing the simple Bible stories as they were told to the children by Little Lambs leader Diane Averill, that Jeanie gave her life to Christ. She became a woman on a mission—God’s mission—and God gave her a heart for Coffee Break. “I tell people that I am the woman at the well,” says Jeanie. “God touched me and changed my life. Once you know what God has done for you how can you not let others know it too?”

[Walking in the Light] Like the woman at the well who both scooped water and shared the gospel, Jeanie and her team of volunteers atWalking in Light Ministries, founded by her late husband Wally Haggstrom, care for both the physical and spiritual needs of the families and children in Worcester and the Blackstone Valley. Each week 65-90 women gather together for Bible study in a church that’s located close to the largest transitional shelter in the state of Massachusetts. Those that don’t have transportation are given a ride. Those that need clothing and household goods are invited after the Bible study to choose whatever they need from donated goods and bring them home, and all are welcome to stay for a large group lunch together. A point system was developed awhile back in which participants can earn points for things like attendance and helping to clean up; the points are added up and used in place of money in the food pantry at Thanksgiving and at Christmas when participants can “buy” special food and gifts from donated items. A couple of years ago, men started coming to the woman’s Bible study, so they made room for them too, and now a pastor leads nine men in a small group study at the same time as the women meet.

[Walking in the Light] The Bible studies are led by a team of 14 volunteers who come from a variety of different denominations, and Jeanie says it’s a joy for her to see the many Christians whose hearts God has touched going beyond their own church walls to be involved in this outreach. The team meets at the beginning of the year to plan and then meets together at the end of the year to review what worked and what didn’t work. Out of the review session last year came an idea: what if we asked a different pastor to lead a chapel each month with the Bible study groups? Now, in addition to getting to know people from area churches through Bible study, participants get to know pastors.

Jeanie uses the “no Bible experience required” inductive Coffee Break Bible studies with her groups. She likes the fact that they are short so “people can see a beginning and an end,” and she appreciates that the studies include life questions so that everyone can participate in the conversation. She’s thankful for the Spanish versions of the studies as more and more Spanish speaking people are coming, and she also finds the definitions at the front of each book to be very helpful. But what she loves most is the life change she sees occurring through the studies. “It takes years sometimes, but we can see the hearts of the women changing.”

God opened the doors of another church to Jeanie and her team recently. When Jeanie heard that the church had a food pantry that was open every Tuesday at 3:00, Jeanie asked if she could start a Bible study there during the hour before the pantry opens. People who arrive to visit the food pantry are now also welcomed with coffee and snacks into the Bible study. “I hope other churches do this!” says this woman at the well. 

What does your Coffee Break look like? We’d love to get your mug shot and profile it! Tell us all about your ministry here.

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