Why Cafe 1040 Exists

by Cafe 1040’s Founder and Executive Director

I found myself crossing the closed border of a closed country to visit a Hmong village where Operation Mobilization was doing work. This Village sits at the southern end of a long valley. Due to the brutality experienced during WWII, the villagers intentionally isolated themselves from the outside world and became a small farming village of subsistence farmers.

The Hmong (an ethnic minority in Southeast Asia) flee persecution in the North to try to make it to this “Hmong autonomous zone” in the East, adjacent to the closed border. Not coincidentally, the national government sniper school sits atop a mountain overlooking the long valley approaching the Village. The adult Hmong, tall enough to be seen over the high grasses, are used for training targets by the snipers. The Hmong adults instruct their children that “no matter what, just keep walking south as there is a Hmong man who will take care of you if we don’t all make it.”

That Hmong man is a believer, a follower of Jesus.

Every year this Hmong’s flock increases as he receives the children of the parents who were killed as they journeyed down the valley pass. He has a young flock, a beautiful flock, and none of them are in need.

Operation Mobilization and their small team of several nations care for these tiny survivors and raise them to be fully mature followers of Christ. It is an amazing story of redemption, while simultaneously a hard thing to see.

A few months after my visit to the Village, I received a phone call from Molly, a Cafe 1040 grad that I met a few months before while visiting our student team in North Africa. She was a senior at Michigan State studying Organic Agriculture, a farmer – from a long line of farmers.

She was seeking advice on an opportunity. She wasn’t ready to go long-term but was ready to do something hard. When she called me, she started, “There is this village…” It seemed like a good fit, but she wanted to hear from the Lord. I asked her if she wanted to live without power, without internet, without clean water – for six months.

There was a long pause when I told her that I had just visited the Village she was asking about. I told her I had been sitting at the well praying for a Cafe 1040 grad because I knew this assignment was going to be hard.

I told her about the orphans, the pastor, the team; she didn’t blink. She called Operation Mobilization, and soon after left to teach Hmong farmers how to increase their yields and fight disease – for six months.

That was 7 years ago.

Today (December 2015), Molly and her husband are working with Operation Mobilization to find a new, long term assignment among a people that have never heard the story of Jesus.


Cafe 1040 prepares normal people with extravagant dreams and desires for the hard assignments of telling the story of Jesus where it has never been told. It is for Molly and others like her that we exist – until there are disciples of Jesus from every people group in the world.