Editor's Note: I met Jacob Cole in Hawaii a few years back and followed his journey to Amsterdam to set up a café with his wife. They officially opened in the last few months after many months of work and have great plans for the café. I thought it'd be fruitful to pick Jacob's brain a bit about the project and what God taught him through it. Click the arrows on header photo to see before&after photos.
AMAG: Jacob, what compelled you to create a café at the YWAM Amsterdam base?
JC: Good question, I feel like that’s kind of a question with a lot to answer. I actually first came to YWAM Amsterdam a little over 3 years ago. I was leading an outreach here and during that time I became really good friends with the base leader, Reinier. After I left he asked me to consider coming back and helping with growing community life here on the base.
I guess at the time I considered it but wasn’t really sure if I wanted to continue full-time with YWAM. Anyway fast-forward a lot of time and details, when Tegan & I decided to come back to Amsterdam, Reinier knew we were passionate about creating community and so they asked us to take this project on. As soon as the idea was presented to us we both were really, really excited about it. Tegan actually had originally wanted to come to Amsterdam to start a café as a business, so we were all about making this thing happen!
AMAG: What is the vision behind this cafe?
JC: The vision is really for it to not just be a cafe. YWAM Amsterdam is extremely lacking in spaces for natural community to be created. Most of the living spaces in our buildings are just one person rooms, and we don’t have a big space that we all spend a lot of time in together, so for community life to happen is…hard, I guess. We want this place to be a centralized meeting place. We really want to drawl people out of their offices, rooms, and far-away buildings to really just take time to enjoy each other. If you compare our drink prices to some of the local shops and even other YWAM bases I think you’ll be pretty positively surprised.
It’s not really meant to be a money maker, but a community maker.
It’s pretty cool. We have latte’s for like €1.50 ($1.65), and it’s really nice stuff. We are buying beans from a local roaster that’s one of the best specialty coffee places in the city (It’s called Lot Sixty-One). It’s not really meant to be a money maker, but a community maker. We really believe creating family changes everything, that when you feel wanted and feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself it really does change things.
So I guess we’re trying to offer really nice stuff for really cheap to really make sure we’re drawing everyone out of individualism and into community. People think lust is the biggest stronghold on Amsterdam, but it’s really not, sure it’s one of them but really the biggest is individualism, which leads to isolation, which leads to loneliness, which leads to lust and the other strongholds of the city. Family breaks all those strongholds and creates something we were designed for: community.
AMAG: What was the hardest part of the journey to the opening? What was the deepest lesson you learned?
JC: I guess in moving to a new place to start something new it’s always a little difficult. You have to gain people’s trust before they really believe you’re wanting what’s best for them and their community. Then you have people’s opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do, and you want to hear people out but you also have to keep the original vision and dream in mind or else a project like this just becomes a job you don’t really want to do if it’s not your own. So I guess the hardest part was keeping the end goal in mind.
When you’re 5 months in to a project that you thought would only take 2 months, and it’s just you and your wife, doing something you’ve never done before, it’s hard to hold on to the dream you have. Not to mention since we weren’t experienced in this area. I had no idea how long it would take.
The deepest lesson I learned probably had to do with endurance, and holding on to your dreams no matter how hard it is. When you’re just two people working 40 hours a week, doing construction, it’s hard to hold on. But the end goal, the dream, you can’t let go of that, and you have to do whatever it takes to make it happen. It’s so worth it in the end.
the end goal, the dream, you can’t let go of that, and you have to do whatever it takes to make it happen. It’s so worth it in the end.
AMAG: What’s the story behind the name “Anchor”?
The name has a lot to do with the vision of the cafe. But also the building itself. Way back when, the building was used to give sailors housing that didn’t involved prostitutes or the craziness of the city. It was a safe place for them. When thinking of a name (which took us almost 6 months) we wanted something that had to do with the history of the building, as well as significant to what it would be. So really and truly this cafe is becoming an anchor to our community. It’s already such a central meeting place, and already an “anchor” to our community, holding us together. So it isn’t just a cool hipster name. Ha! It really does have significant meaning to us as a community.
AMAG: What has been the response from the YWAM Amsterdam community?
JC: The response has been incredible. We’ve received nothing but love and positive responses from our community here. It’s been great. Also just seeing people from the community constantly in the space, whether they are working, having meetings, or just reading a book, it’s been truly amazing for us to see people using the space. As well as people you don’t usually see around the base except for staff meetings or other events in the building we work in called “De Poort” (where the cafe is located), because we have four different buildings all spread out in the city with different ministries all happening from them. It’s been great to see those people almost every day in the space. It’s really fulfilling its purpose so well already.
Ed. Note: Next question is a long one but good one so take a deep breath, grab a coffee and enjoy!
AMAG: A question I like to ask is how did God awaken you to the reality that he is alive and active today? How has that affected how you live your life?
JC: Gosh, that’s a big question. . . I guess it goes back to the first week of my DTS (Fire & Fragrance DTS) in Kona, January 2011. I had grown up a Christian, with parents in ministry, and believed in Jesus but I think my view of God was a bit distorted because life kind of shapes what we think about things. You know when you’re a kid and they tell you that we believe in an invisible God? Well I guess that painted God to be even more distant than I already felt like he was. Jesus, I could kind of grasp since he came to earth and was a real person. But God, as this father character was hard for me to really get.
During that first week of DTS I ended up watching the documentary, “Furious Love” with a few of the other students and staff. As I watched I began to weep, not because I was seeing people’s lives being touched, but because I was finally realizing who God was. God wasn’t this distant God up on a throne just looking down at us, and he certainly wasn’t the invisible God I had believed he was. You see, I realized sitting there through this movie, that God was a loving Father who was (and is) constantly looking to reveal himself to his children as a loving Father, that he is so visible, so present, and so close to us.
If you met the me I was before this story, and met the me I am today you wouldn’t think we were the same person.
After the movie God wasn’t done there, I cried for two days straight as God tenderized my heart to the revelation of his love for me as a Father. In Kona we have these things on Monday called Ministry Night, we all go to this prayer room, and just worship for a couple hours and see what God does. I was headed to my first one of DTS, and this was the end to my two days of crying because of the revelation of God’s love for me.
Up to this point I had always been pretty quiet and introverted, but I honestly know that was because issues I had with self-hatred, and fear of rejection. This Ministry Night wasn’t crazy, everyone wasn’t loud and screaming or anything like that. But I clearly heard God say, “Scream and every time you scream I’m going to break self-hatred off of your life”.
So for the next two hours, although it wasn’t like me at all, I began to scream and scream, and each time I screamed I could feel a literal weight come off me, and I could feel this weight of self-hatred leaving me. It all ended in the night with me on the ground, crying again, and I got this picture, I saw God the Father on my right, sitting on the throne saying he loved me and was proud of me, and on my left I saw Jesus on the cross and he said he would have died if it was even just for me. So really for the first time the cross became personal to me. We hear of Jesus dying on the cross for all of humanity’s sins, which is incredible, but when he said he would have died just for me that really changed everything. It made it so much more personal for me than it had ever been before.
If you met the me I was before this story, and met the me I am today you wouldn’t think we were the same person. That day God broke self-hatred off my life, and the fear of rejection, and gave me a revelation of who he was. Although the devil tries to come here and there to push the past in my face, I can honestly say that I have not again lived under the stronghold that held me down before this night. I am a happy extrovert, desiring to build community where ever I go, and get to know as many people as I can. I live a completely different life today because of revelation that God is alive, not at all invisible but always looking to reveal himself as the incredible Father that he is.
Keep up with Jacob and his wife Tegan: www.teganandjacob.com
Visit the YWAM Amsterdam website: ywamamsterdam.com