Reaching Mexican uni students, one coffee at a time

Phil Jones, a commerce student from Melbourne, planned to take 6 weeks off after finishing university to travel the world. As he tells it, God had another plan.

“I met a few Mexican people in my final year of university. And I thought I’d include Mexico in my round-the-world itinerary”.

“But God really spoke to me about short term missions while I was planning my overseas holiday. So, instead of going around the world, I went on a short term mission to serve in café ministry in Mexico in 2006,” says Phil.

“It really opened my eyes to the different ways I could serve God and reach out to people.”

Phil returned to Australia with a new passion: he began working on a plan to go back to Mexico longer term. He enrolled in the Perspectives Missions course, and began speaking to mission agencies. In 2008, International Teams sent him back to Mexico to work in café ministry to young people.

Three weeks after he arrived back in Mexico, the café he had planned to work with, closed down. They didn’t have a sustainable business model.

With the café closed, Phil moved into youth and young adults ministry in a local church. He stayed there for two years.

In 2010 he married Sandy, and they began praying about how they could be involved in ministry together. At the time, Phil was involved in leading one small group in the university.

He says, “we noticed an opening for another café ministry, and we saw the opportunity to create a sustainable business that permitted us to do ministry”.

With Phil’s background in Commerce, and his experience working in the café during his short-term mission trip, he had the skill set required to make this ministry work.

Five years later, they still own and operate that same cafe, called RenovArte, in Queretaro. Phil says, “We are passionate about being and making disciples of Jesus.

“We do one-to-one evangelism, we invite people to explore the Bible and get to know Jesus, and we do intentional discipleship. We know them, they know us, and we have a good product. That’s why it works,” says Phil.

One of their regular customers is a Masters of Psychology student called Hugo. Hugo grew up Catholic, but when his parents divorced he became very disenfranchised with Catholicism. He wanted nothing to do with religion.

“But [Hugo] sees Christ in us. He doesn’t see us as ‘religious’ people. He has become our friend. He trusts us enough to ask us his questions.”