Sam Erwin preaches on Sunday and he brews coffee on Monday. His journey started with a ministry degree from Grace College and a love for well-roasted coffee, and it transformed into an extraordinary outreach for at-risk high school students.
Espresso-ly Passionate about God’s Word
Erwin was looking for a Christian college with foundational biblical teaching and classrooms that took the Word of God seriously. When he encountered Grace, it became his number one pick. The only problem was finances. Without some additional assistance, Erwin would have to go to a community college if he wanted to graduate debt-free. But Grace offered him a scholarship at the Presidential Scholarship Days that met his needs and enabled him to start his ministry studies.
“It was enriching,” Erwin said about his experience at Grace, “It was deepening, it was full, and it was fun. I had the opportunity to go deep into the Word of God and into relationships with other people.”
After graduating with a ministry degree and a biblical languages minor, he preached where he could, filling empty pulpits and going where the Lord guided. This led him to a small country church called Broadway Christian Chapel in Ligonier, Indiana.
“I had told the Lord years ago that if opportunities opened up where I could speak his Word, I would do so,” Erwin said, “That’s how I found Broadway Christian Chapel. It was a little congregation in the middle of the country that didn’t have anybody to preach. They were on their last legs, so I asked the Lord if he wanted me to go.”
After Erwin accepted a position as interim pastor, God moved him to become a full-time pastor there and immediately began inspiring hearts through Erwin’s sermons.
Brewing Up Something New
Through his new church, Erwin got connected with Turning Point Educational Center, a school where at-risk high school students have a second chance at education. He started speaking at “God Talks,” a time for students to voluntarily come and hear about the gospel. Erwin knew some of the board members at the school, and he occasionally brought his home-roasted coffee for them to sample — completely unaware of the board’s budding vision for a coffee company. They were actively looking for an individual who was connected to the students at Turning Point and was familiar with roasting coffee. Erwin immediately caught their attention.
At the start of 2020, Turning Point Coffee Company was launched, and at the helm of the venture was Erwin.
To this day, he manages the coffee roasting and oversees packaging, labeling and shipping. The business immediately became a way to raise money for educational opportunities for the students, as well as provide a space for them to connect with stable, godly mentors and learn about job skills.
“Our mission at Turning Point is to share Jesus with students and connect them to Christ. We want to create an upward turning point in lives that are going downhill. When you buy a bag of coffee from Turning Point, the proceeds go to further that mission,” Erwin said.
Balancing a Latte Responsibilities
According to Erwin, his ministry degree at Grace equipped him for the plethora of roles he fills now.
“At one point, I had considered leaving school, throwing everything off, and going into the mission field. But God made it clear that He had something for me to learn at Grace. Through the Bible training, God used Grace to give me tools that helped me exercise discernment, learn theology, and dive deep into the study of biblical languages. I also learned about counseling, how to minister to people’s hearts, and how to meet them in their brokenness,” Erwin said.
Balancing a life of outreach, coffee roasting, full-time pastoring, and leading a family is not an easy task, but if you ask Erwin, he’ll say it’s all about where your heart is.
“When a pastor goes into a rural church, it can be easy to rate themselves based on how many people show up,” Erwin said. “But when God sees me, he sees the righteousness of Jesus, and that makes all the difference. In every area of life, that knowledge makes me satisfied when challenges come.”
Erwin recognizes the importance of church outreach and evangelism. He always tells people that the church is not defined by the building they meet in. It’s essential to shine the light of Christ beyond the four walls of a Sunday meeting space.
“This world is growing darker and darker,” Erwin said, “I believe that not just pastors, but all believers, need to let their light shine before men.” – from grace.edu