Welcome and thank you!

Welcome! And thank you for your continued support!

Monday, December 19, 2011


I must start off by saying Thank You! to everyone who has supported me through prayer and finances throughout this pass year! I am so incredibly thankful for you. I am preparing for another year at Fresh Grounds. I am so amazed at what God has done this past year, that there is no possible way I would ever want to be doing anything else. God has allowed me to become a missionary to my community, and it is the greatest thing that I have gotten a chance to participate in. I am still becoming fully immersed in this life of servitude and because of the One I am serving, it has been most fulfilling.

This past year God has allowed me to bare witness to countless people in my community and surrounding communities. I have taken many of the youth volunteers here under my wing and have enjoyed every chance I get to spend in fellowship with them. I got to take on a youth worker, who is also a talented artist, as an apprentice this summer and then onto a week long educational trip to Washington D.C. As an artist, I love being around these extraordinarily imaginative and creative students and it is such a blessing.

We were able to put on a successful Arts Festival and will be magnifying it this upcoming year. Fresh Grounds was able to play a role in our communities Heritage Days. We have hosted the local community theater to several benefit performances, I was able to complete 10 successful art courses through Fresh Grounds and also through the local college, along with so many other programs and events throughout this year, and the community has embraced this ministry. We give all the Glory to God and we do what we do so that our town may know who God is.

There are so many stories we get to share with the people who walk through our door, but always the greatest of these, is the story of our Lord Jesus. God is doing some big things here in our small town. A couple from Hermitage came into the coffeeshop the other day and shared this with Marty, my boss. They were down in Pittsburgh at a doctors office, after being referred there from a local doctor. As they were in the waiting room they met another couple from Youngstown who had also been referred by the same doctor. After realizing this, the two couples decided to meet up again after this appointment. The couple from Hermitage suggested a coffeeshop in Greenville called Fresh Grounds that they could meet at the next time they had an appointment with our local doctor. The other couple looked surprised and excited as they exclaimed that they knew exactly of Fresh Grounds! To both of the couples surprised another couple waiting in the same waiting room chimed in that they two knew of Fresh Grounds.

I ask that you pray for Fresh Grounds, that we may continue to stay faithful to our purpose, and that God continues to use this place for His glory! I also ask that you please pray for me as I jump into another year, and that He may use my talents for His grater purposes. I am still teaching classes and continuing to grow the Art Program here with the hopeful intent of doing Art Ministry at Fresh Grounds full-time, stepping out from Barista as full-time evening manager. We are still in need of an elevator which will allow us to use the 2nd floor, which will be for the Art Program studio and gallery. We had a gentleman come into Fresh Grounds a couple months ago with the intentions of donating the rest of the $18,000 needed for the elevator, but a month later, this was no longer the case. I am continuing to stand faithful and I am always praying that my desires line up with God's desires and that He will be able to use me in the ways that He has gifted me. So I am taking this discouragement and allowing God to use it for His grater purpose of patience on what great things He can do.

I ask that you please continue to support me in prayer. Starting January 8th, my parents and myself will be fasting for three weeks in prayer for the Art Program. I would ask that anyone who is interested please join, even just in prayer. My friend Terra will be fasting for a couple days with us, and I am greatly encouraged by this. I will be sending out a daily prayer request each day of the three week fast. We will only allow ourselves 100% juice (and possibly pita bread). Recently, I was able to join in on our tri-county area's first ever Artist Round Table. About 20 artist from the surrounding areas came together to discuss the arts in our community. I was the only representative from Greenville, and I got to meet a lot of new people. A lot of the people at the meeting have heard of Fresh Grounds and specifically my plans for the art ministry. This meeting was so very encouraging and I have good hopes for what can come from our gathering and future gatherings. God has definitely placed these things on my heart and so that is the reason for me coming to Him through fast and prayer.

Financially, God continues to show himself and provide, and what a huge faith booster this has been. This is probably the most dreaded part of my "job". But I am still in need of financial backing and support for the ministry I have been called into. I ask that you would pray over this and if you are able to support me in this way, please contact me at: ben@freshgroundscoffeehouse.com for more information on how you can donate. I am also looking for donations for the art program, we have received some great material donations, I am still looking for a large printmaking press, potters wheels and a kiln. I realize how big these items are, but we have been surprised many times before, so I am just throwing that out there!

Thank you for your help in making this year at Fresh Grounds the huge blessing that it has been! And thank you for your future support!

Monday, September 12, 2011

God is moving

I have been praying for patience. I need it still, but God has certainly been working on me and giving me opportunities to be patient and to wait on Him. I am a product of our culture: not only are we naturally impatient... but as American's we are all about instant gratification and "I want it now!" mentality. Maybe through no longer eating fast food, and having to walk or ride my bike everywhere (or even hope for a ride) God has sped the patience process up through allowing me to live a slower life. (Those of you who know me well might get a kick out of that! But seriously guys!) I know I am still no where near the patience level that I still pray for, but I am a work in progress.
In addition to patience, I have been praying that God continues to show me what it is He wants from me. I am not going to lie, I had been feeling some discouragement, still trying to figure out my role in God's work and waiting on Him to show me.
So, some guy walks into Fresh Grounds, first time in. He gets to know whats going on with Downtown Ministries through Fresh Grounds Coffeehouse. Then he leaves. But before he leaves, God did something, I believe, miraculous.
Our elevator campaign was started in February. I had this campaign idea of 500 $100 dollar donations which would equal the $50,000 needed. We have been writing down on a chalkboard, near where the elevator doors will be on the first floor, the progression of the campaign. It has been showing the number 214 (214 $100 donations left) albeit with fun chalk explosion marks surrounding the numbers. Just sitting for months.
This elevator is what was keeping ministry at Fresh Grounds on the ground level. I do not mean that any other way than on the actual ground level of the building. The ministry at Fresh Grounds is so not ground level... it seeks to be a place where God's presence is tangibly felt... and it is! So what a compliment to the ministry to be utilizing all four levels of the building for just that!

For me in particular, the second level has been on my mind constantly. We have planned for it a gallery for local and non-local artists to display there art and a studio where the Fresh Grounds Art Program can hold classes and do ministry through Art! This is my passion, this is what God has equipped me with and blessed me with and I have been itching at the moment when the space can be utilized.
And that elevator is needed for just that. Not only has the Art Program already had handicap students participate, but it is also needed according to local building codes.
Again, I have been praying for patience. Fresh Grounds is a huge testimony to patience. It took 3 1/2 years of waiting on God to provide again and again (when He provides like He has here, it makes it even easier to wait, because He is good... and provides even better than what we can imagine!)
When this man left Fresh Grounds, there was no longer a need for any numbers on our elevator campaign chalkboard. He left and has promised to help with the rest of the funds for the elevator through donation. Praise God from whom all blessing flow.
This man doesn't even know me, I wasn't there when this happened. But God used him in my life, at a time when I needed encouragement, when I needed to know that God has me where He wants me, and when I needed reminding that He will provide.
Not two days before I got an encouraging and up-lifting letter from someone who I don't know that well, but knew exactly how I was feeling. In this letter this person reminded me to, "Delight yourself in Him and don't be discouraged. He is sufficient and will satisfy all your needs". Wow!
I love seeing God move, sometimes I get distracted, but He knows how to shake me to keep me focused. I ask that you pray for Fresh Grounds as we take a big step with getting these other areas of ministry ready. And may all the Praise and Glory be to God!

Update: The Joe to Show: A New Brew was very successful and my buddy Kyle was able to sell 5 of his pieces, which will be a huge help for us on our trip to DC at the beginning of October!
I am still currently at least $500 short on my monthly goal for support. I have had to let a few debts go unpaid.
I start teaching a new batch of classes a week from today!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I have the Best "Job"

Things are going great here at Fresh Grounds! I really do have a great job here. I have had a full summer, and I am spending this time now as reflection. On top of my responsibilities at the coffee shop as evening manager, this summer I also taught an Experimental Art course and a Photography course as part of the ongoing Fresh Grounds Art Program (still a work in progress). We are doing some serious fund-raising for the Program to complete the elevator campaign and renovate the 2nd floor space for the gallery and studio in which courses for the community will be taught. The classes this summer were a huge blessing. I had the opportunity to meet more people from the community and share my passion for both Christ and Art.
This upcoming Friday, September 2nd will really bring my summer to an end as my very first apprentice program is brought to an end. For the past 4 months, Kyle Marini (now in 10th grade a Greenville High School) has been spending his summer vacation as my apprentice. We hang out and make art! We have made a trip down to Pittsburgh to check out the Carnegie Art Museum. Kyle also got to go to the Toledo Art Museum and the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. It has been a blast! He is a very talent young man and the summer with him has kept me motivated as I have been pouring into his life. God has blessed me by allowing me the opportunity to grow in this way. I have really grown to love working with the youth in the area both with art and through coffee at the shop. I am excited to see what God is doing and will continue to do in their lives.
I also taught at Thiel College, in the College for Kids(CFK) program. I taught two art classes, a theatre course and a German language course. I realized this summer how crucial this part of my summer is to the ministry that God has me doing. So many of my youth at Fresh Grounds that I have gotten to know so well were also previous CFKers.
I appreciate all the prayers it is only by God's grace that he has gotten me through this very stressful and busy summer.
Please pray for continuing growth in financial support. I unfortunately am still half way to the amount needed. Also, to keep in your prayers... I am currently working with an artist from Pittsburgh on a 48foot by 36 foot mural for Greenville and there is a lot that God can do through this experience. I also have another batch of classes coming up, I am helping with this design aspects of a local initiative for creating a new playground for our public park. We are also continuing with the Phase 2 campaign for the Art Studio and Gallery. Most importantly for the youth as they go back to school.
Thank you for checking up on what's going on!
Love in Christ
Barista Ben

Monday, June 6, 2011

Exercising Faith

Exercising... I used to spend 2 hours, 7 days a week exercising. I was in the best shape of my life, I had an enormous amount of energy (I couldn't afford it now, but I ate a lot! and very healthy) and I was always in a great mood. I don't exercise quite like that anymore. Although I do plan to get back into shape, at that time I was exercising too much (if that's possible). I was doing it for selfish reasons, vanity and self worth. I was obsessed to the point where if I didn't get to exercise a day for some reason, or not as long as I would have liked, I was very angry at myself.
I understand now that I am not a fitness model, it is not my job and not even important to me to have the best body, although I should eat right and exercise to be healthy. That time was me twisting a good thing and making it something that was actually negative.
The idea of exercising faith, now, this is something very different. This can put you in the best shape of your life (much more than physical), put you in a great mood (much more than smiling and happy) and strengthen you like only God can strengthen a person. As far as exercising too much faith, well, if I am truly relying on God, I don't see how this could ever be a negative thing. This is something that I should be "obsessed" about doing, if I am truly committing my life to God.
I have had to exercise a lot of faith in the past months, but I still often am putting God into various sized boxes, not exercising faith in a God who is almighty and all powerful.

Isaiah 40:27-31
"Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
'My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God'?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

This Chapter was describing how big God is... So big, that even the small mundane issues I sometimes feel burdened by, I need to exercise my faith. That He is who He says He is, that even the biggest problems in my life, He is faithful if I believe.
I will keep you posted on what he continues to do in my life as some before and afters of exercising my faith.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Great Smokies and God's Glory

I am back! I wasn't gone for very long, but I am back at Fresh Grounds. I took a small vacation with my family. First, off to Lynchburg, Va to see my sister graduate from Liberty University. What a great day that was for the whole family! Then we spent little time filling her vibe to the maximum carrying capacity of her entire past year. My brother, my uncle and myself stayed the night at my sisters house so we could get the opportunity to go to her church the next morning before we left for the next leg of our trip. Her church is called One Community and the church gathers in this awesome warehouse that has been transformed into a place of worship. The front operates as a coffeehouse during the week. The pastor was a carbon copy of my previous pastor when I was attendingYoungstown Metro Church. The message was on Luke Chapter 14, and it was exactly what I needed to hear, to meditate and pray on for the rest of the vacation. It's a story I have heard before, many times, but fortunately the Holy Spirit knows exactly when to reveal things to you and reveal it did. I was just so struck by the three men who turned down the banquet and their reasons for turning it down: Money, Fun and Work. And when it says, "Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the servant said, "Sir, what you have commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the servant, "Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, non of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."
This really made me think. I have been invited, do I turn it down because of worldly things that I think in the moment are more important than God? This was really great to hear!

Quickly off to The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We rented a cabin and spent the next couple days enjoying God's creation! We did some great hiking and getting to spend that time outdoors was therapeutic as I took deep breaths of the clean mountain air and admired His wonderful work. This was exactly what I needed to fill me up again so I can continue to serve God and serve Him well at Fresh Grounds. Now that I am refreshed, it is great to be back!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Arts Festival (FG 1 year anniversary)

I am sitting here this beautiful Sunday afternoon in my office at Fresh Grounds. I am in on my day off... the day of rest... I just came in to open the place up for a film crew that is filming part of a movie here. Kinda cool. They even used me in one of their shots. Who knows, maybe this will be my big break! I am actually happy that I came in today. It has given me some time to reflect over this past weekend.
The first ever Fresh Grounds Arts Festival in celebration of Fresh Grounds' 1 Year Anniversary of being open took place this past Thursday through Saturday. We planned this event with the help of our programming committee in February and the events sounded great! The execution of these events sounded easy... we had time. Well things always compound before they take place and the Arts Festival was no different.
The week of I started to freak out... I had a lot to do in the next few days, but God placed in me a peace that surpasses all understanding. And it truly does surpass all understanding. I knew the shear amount of things that needed to be done should have made my mind explode and my body collapse... but Thursday happened... and Friday happened... and Saturday happened... and God worked in Fresh Grounds a great community event and the fact that things went so smoothly and went out without a hitch and that everything got done that needed to get done is a God thing. So... Thank you to all of you who had this place in your prayers for the event. Here at Fresh Grounds we love serving God and our community in the unique ways that this coffee shop in Greenville is able to!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yesterday and today, I spoke about Fresh Grounds and how our ministry works and what exactly I do to some big groups:
I once spoke as a kid in front of 3,000 people... don't remember the experience very much, needless to say it was pretty traumatic.
I later could get up on stage no problem, with little nerves as long as I was playing a character and not myself and had specific lines to memorize.
Recently I have really been pushed out of my comfort zone in speaking with large groups about my life story and about God and what he has done and is doing in my life. It gets easier each and every time.
I can easily talk about art. It just naturally flows and I thought to myself, speaking about God and the work that Jesus did up on the cross should be just as if not easier to talk about than art. So I am working on it, and it is exciting to see the growth that is happening.
I often have no idea what I am actually saying and I hope that it means the holy spirit has stepped in... but afterwards, is when I realize what all I said. And it is exciting to see how I could have said this or that wrong or gotten of on a tangent here or there and God has really guided my words.
I am still not a good speaker, and look forward to gaining more wisdom and knowledge, but I have been exposing my heart and I hope that God can do his work through that.
When God is in control, he can really bring glory to himself even using the least likely candidate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We are well into March and I am finally spending the time to share what's going on.
We are staying busy at Fresh Grounds for sure. I have been spreading myself pretty thin, but I am in constant prayer for God's strength, otherwise I would have a complete mental breakdown. Getting more Episodes written for our mini series, "the grounds", that will be filmed this summer with the help of an intern. Still teaching my painting and printmaking class, getting ready to take on new registration for the summer classes along with coming up with curriculum for my summer College for Kids art courses, and getting ready to the end for our final show...Which will take place during our Arts Festival which I planned and am continuing to promote and organize. In addition to my classes exhibition I will be having my own exhibition of new work at the FHC building right up the street. Fortunately a web development company in town, Reeves, will be helping me revamp the website and make it a little easier for me to manager. Still trying to finish the image for our new menu boards that we will be making and construction has begun on the second floor where our gallery and studio will be. In addition I still fulfill my responsibilities as evening manager of the coffee shop. AHHHHHHH! I am enjoying it all though! I am continuing to struggle financially with the little support I have raised and am making half of the amount in student loan bills that I have. But I continue to have a peace that is only from God, that He will provide.

The coffee shop has continued to build a regular customer basis and we a consistently maxing out the place. I love to see the Friday night crowd make Fresh Grounds their hangout and the Thursday night jammers build relationships with each other as local musicians. God is certainly providing ministering opportunities for myself and the volunteers as we work as a team behind the counter to serve God and our community.

A group of Grogans including myself had been trekking out to Youngstown every Sunday to attend an amazing church. We as a group took on some responsibilities at the church becoming more involved as the church lost its pastor. This past Sunday we as a group came to the hard conclusion that it was time to find a church in Greenville so we can continue to serve our local Greenville community in addition to what we do at Fresh Grounds. It was a hard decision leaving the church as they are going through difficult times, but we all felt moved... not to mention gas prices continuing to rise and me not having a car, it was becoming quite an expensive trip. We left the church prayerfully and with heavy hearts, but the church community understood and we both happy to see us be more apart of our community in this way but sad to see us leave their group. God will continue to do His work with or without us, and realizing this makes me want to join in more in what God is already doing in Greenville. Great quote from Bono, "don't ask God to bless what you are doing, but join in what God has already blessed and is doing". It is not about me and what I can do or am doing, and thank goodness!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Arts Festival!

Please pray for this event! This will be a unique new opportunity for us at Fresh Grounds to minister to our community, build relationships and get a different crowd in and involved in the art programs we have to offer!


I have been on a documentary watching kick for the past couple of weeks. A week ago I finally found on our Wii Netflix a documentary that I have heard a lot about from people in my small art sphere. Exit through the gift shop is this 8 year span project documenting the lives of a few street artists with the bulk of the film focusing on the guy behind the camera... It ends with a twist that would leave any artist watching the film both inspired and upset. I thought to myself at the insanity of the reality that so much of the contemporary art that we see in our museums today (the common blank white canvas for example) really gains its value from a small elite group... and because they say it is the next biggest thing or an amazing work of art it becomes the next biggest thing or an amazing work of art. The documentary was pretty good and any art enthusiast or artists reading this blog should check it out.

So as I continue to make art, teach art and criticize art with the hope allowing God to use my talents for His glory, I am strengthened (even in what some might consider an artistic hopelessness) by the idea that no elitist in the world has quite the power that my God has. I am not looking for God to criticize my art, but rather my heart. No documentary will ever be made of Ben Beck (the artist), a sad reality. But that sad worldly reality it not sad when looking beyond these worldly accomplishments or sense of success, in fact they are meaningless. Therefore, I simply pray that God uses my talents for His glory and that it will be pleasing to Him.
Another documentary that really got me thinking was I.O.U.S.A.(long overdue, but I finally watched it). It is a depressing story of our wonderful nations deficits. This shocker of a documentary will hopefully wake up "we the people" and really work on fixing our BIG debt problems, both as a nation and as individuals. Fortunately, with how scary and depressing the film may be, I have a hope that is great in the Lord. For those who might watch the film with their faith in anything other than Jesus Christ... the hopelessness in our world is too overbearing.
I am what some may call aliterate... I will wait til the book is made into a movie. All this docu-watching was accomplished during my long recovery from a horrible virus that left me 10 pounds lighter and unable to eat food for 5 days. A much needed break from my busy schedule and ample time to catch up on my Psych marathon.
This past Sunday at my church (Youngstown Metro Church), sans pastor, we watched a... documentary. Only half of it... we are continuing next week... so this post will be (to be continued...)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Lulls

In retail, January and February are the slowest months of the year. The weather, the money crunch after the holidays and the high number of Americans that suffer from seasonal depression all factor into the low volume of customers retailers experience. Fresh Grounds has been able to keep a steady influx of customers throughout January and hopefully it will continue throughout February as well... however, there have been some lulls. What a blessing these lulls have been! Because of the slower business, it has really allowed for some great conversations with customers which has been really encouraging and has been playing itself out outside of Fresh Grounds as well.

Fresh Grounds really lends itself to conversation with our customers and allows for ministry to be carried out in such a relaxed way... a very relational way. These God conversations that I have been having with customers and with volunteer Baristas have happened so naturally, I am very excited to be where I am at, here in this amazing ministry, continuing to grow as a believer and seeing God work in the lives of those in my community!

Becoming so comfortable in the Fresh Grounds environment talking about God, what He is doing in my life, about His Love and Grace and about the Truth in His Word with both believers and those seeking has started happening more and more outside of the Fresh Grounds environment. Although I was able to have such conversations outside of my home, or church, or church group I was never really the person to start the conversation or really speak up... and I am starting to become this person. I am excited to see God working my job in Ministry outside of the building in which our ministry takes place... and this is what He calls from all those who believe! I am thankful that He has been revealing this to me the past year.

I ask for your prayers and I continually pray that the Holy Spirit is with me as I have these conversations that I step aside and am able to listen when I need to listen and speak Truth when I need to speak Truth, because it is only through the Holy Spirit that God will be glorified in these conversations. I am so thankful that it is not what I can do, but it is what He does, because sometime I get freaked out!

Pray that God uses me and Fresh Grounds to bring Glory to Him so that He may be known and that the people who I have these conversations with do not see Ben, but that they may see Jesus. I am so thankful of the work that God has done in my life and how He has brought me to this ministry that happens to be a coffeehouse. And I am thankful for the blessings, for the support from other believers!
Thank you for your prayers! Stop in and lets have a God conversation!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Please Pray for Fresh Grounds

A video that someone shared with me. Please pray that myself and the volunteers at Fresh Grounds are able to relate to those in our community better and can share the love of Christ with those we come into contact with. I think that Fresh Grounds offers an nonabrasive and comfortable environment in which to share the Gospel, but I pray that we are always intentional about sharing the Gospel, through a genuine care for people, through the way in which we carry ourselves, compassion, listening and selflessness... all so that He may be known.


Welcome to the Barista Ben blog. This blog is specifically designed to keep updated and in touch for those who are supporting me both through prayer and financially in my full time ministry position at Fresh Grounds Coffee House.
First of all I would like to say Thank You! I have truly been blessed... and God continues to bless me. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve God by serving my community in all that is being done at Fresh Grounds.
It is my intention with this blog that there will be a monthly to bi-weekly update in which you as a support can check in on and see what wonderful things God is doing. I am a witness to so many things that God is doing in my community through this unique coffeehouse ministry, so there will never be a shortage of spectacular God stories to share!
Be sure to check back on a regular basis! Thank you again, so very much and I pray that God blesses you as He has blessed me!