For some, a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee. But for Martin Mann ’72, a cup of coffee is an opportunity to model Christ’s Kingdom First in his own community.
Mann opened Jitters Coffee House in Millersburg, Ohio nearly a decade ago.
“In my mind’s eye, I felt God telling me that our culture is no longer attracted to church in a cul-de-sac, where it is comfortable,” said Mann. “Rather, we need to be visible in the marketplace, accessible to those who are spiritually hungry.”
A preacher for more than 43 years, he and his wife Judy (Buswell) ’67, and five other couples from their church met weekly to pray and save money for a year. With clarity at the end of that year, Mann pursued their current Washington Street location. It was occupied, so he waited to seek other options because he felt God was guiding them to Washington Street.
As they were waiting, an earthquake hit Haiti. The couples chose to donate a large portion of their money to a medical mission.
“Wouldn’t you know, right after, the owner of our Washington Street location called me to say that the lease had become available. So with only $1,300 remaining and some two-by-fours, we started to prepare the space,” Mann said. “When we ran out of money, we locked the doors, told the Lord that it was in His hands, and that we’d continue when more funds were available.”
A week later, Mann received a phone call: someone wanted to donate $20,000 to help them move forward.
Every Sunday since it opened, there has been a church service at Jitters. The first week, there were 12 people, and today there are two services hosting about 70 people. The shop is open for business while the services are in session.
“Our goal is evangelism, not to grow a large church,” Mann said. “There are at least six people who came to salvation as a result of our ministry who are now serving in local churches elsewhere in our community.”
Mann earned two bachelor’s degrees (biblical literature and education) and a master’s degree (counseling) from Malone.
“In my early years at Malone, I truly benefited from relationships with my professors, who helped me wrestle with deep concepts in theology and the sciences,” he said. “They equipped me with good answers to real world questions.”
Mann said he could write a book about how he has watched God work through his obedience to open Jitters Coffee House.
“I have never had a better pastoring experience in 43 years than I’ve had here,” he said, “interacting with a community who is aching for spiritual healing and a relationship with Christ.”