February 6, 2016

Café Serves Up Prayer in U.S. Virgin Islands

A new café opened by Seventh-day Adventist believers on the U.S. Virgin island of St. Thomas is becoming a hot spot at a popular strip mall. The main item on the menu: prayer.

The Prayer Café, located on the third floor of Foster’s Plaza, is a 600-square-foot (200-square-meter) establishment that is open daily. While there, people can sign in, have someone pray for them, and write prayer requests to be placed in a prayer box.

“The Prayer Café is really a welcome service to a community that is in dire need of prayer,” said Mil Robinson, a prominent lay evangelist in the Caribbean region, who first envisaged the café three years ago.

More than 200 people have come through its doors in the two weeks since it opened on Jan. 18, said Robinson, who serves as prayer coordinator at her local church.

Robinson and her team of three retirees, who volunteer full-time at the café, said they have seen many answers to prayer.

“One lady had lost her job and had not paid her rent for nine months,” Robinson said. “She came for prayer and on that same day found a job.”

In another instance, a young man’s faith in Jesus was restored after prayer, she said.

Robinson, who has hosted evangelistic meetings across the English-speaking Caribbean as well as in North America and Europe, said the café is an offshoot of the secret to her success as a lay evangelist: prayer and dependence on divine providence.

She first visited Foster’s Plaza during an evangelism campaign in St. Thomas in 2013, and met people and prayed with them there. Robinson subsequently spoke with the mall owner, who lowered the money rent for the café to US$300 from the usual $1,000 upon learning about the planned Prayer Café.

Members of Robinson’s prayer group donated furniture and start-up funds.

“Everything surrounding this project is a miracle,” Robinson said.

About 3,600 Adventists live on St. Thomas, which has a population of about 38,000. The Adventist Church has six congregations on the island and operates an elementary school, middle school and high school.

People who visit the Prayer Café are greeted by soft Christian music. They are invited to talk about their needs and receive encouragement by prayer.

“People have commented how soothing it is to visit, how they can sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, and have said they don’t want to leave,” Robinson said.

The Prayer Café also takes phone prayer requests everyday. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon on Friday

Glendon Cross, a pastor on St. Thomas, said he was glad that the café was putting prayer into the public spotlight.

“We need to reach a stage where we put prayer at the top of the agenda. In so doing, not just each church but each building will become a house of prayer,” he said.