The Mustard Seed Café is a not-for-profit, community café. We want to tell and demonstrate the love of Jesus to every single person who comes through our doors! We serve delicious, nutritious food with an accompanying commitment to treat each person with dignity and honor. Guests may volunteer an hour with us in exchange for a meal or they may choose to pay what they can on a suggested price for their meal. Some pay the suggested price, others pay less, and some pay more as a donation. We welcome all!
It all begins with a novel called “The Summer Kitchen” and an idea that wouldn’t go away – a non-profit, pay-what-you-can cafe. Then comes a Bible study lesson on justice. A broken heart. A confession of self-righteousness and prejudice. A quote by David Livingstone that, “Sympathy is never a substitute for action.” A mission trip to Costa Rica. Breakfast with a friend. A visit to the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in downtown El Paso. An issue of Christianity Today. One World Everybody Eats Foundation. An email.
In the summer of 2011 three friends, Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick, and Shelley Speicher meet to discuss the idea and pray. They become convinced that a pay-what-you-can café is God’s invitation to learn humility, compassion, kindness, and love. The idea is to create a table where everyone eats…regardless of their ability to pay.
The dream takes shape. Fears and insecurities do as well. God persists. A mission statement and vision points coalesce. A community interest meeting is held. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Checks arrive. Volunteers of every age and background begin to trickle forward through website interest sheets, cups of coffee, and conversations in offices, checkout lines, and parking lots.
Classes are taken. Book pages are dog-eared and devoured. A Steering Committee is formed. Grants written. Conferences and meetings attended. Locations are considered. Doors open and close. Friends are made. Wise counsel given and embraced. Two years pass…
Fast forward to summer of 2013. A lease is signed, a garden designed, and the café becomes a reality. Shakespeare once wrote, “What is the city but the people?” The Mustard Seed is El Paso’s own community café, and we proudly take root in the Rio Grande neighborhood of our great city. Everyone has the capacity to help in one way or another. We invite you to join us!
Christi Brown is a southeast Texas girl who came to El Paso in 1984 with her husband, Adin. She married into a family with deep roots in Mexico and a strong commitment to the El Paso community. She loves her roles as wife, mom of four, and mother-in-law. She’s a former Bible study teacher and community and church volunteer. Christi’s passions are living for God’s glory and learning to love other people as He does. Over the years, she’s come to truly appreciate the richness and diversity of the El Paso community. Given the choice, she wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world, except maybe Africa. She believes that the Mustard Seed Café is a God-given and God-sized work intended to bless the El Paso community. It’s one of the most challenging, most humbling, and most rewarding adventures she’s ever attempted.
Carmen M Estrada was born and raised in Baranquilla, Colombia, in a loving family where she learned at an early age to serve and share with the less fortunate. She came to the United States in 1988, lived in New York, and it was there that she met and married her husband, Luis. Together they have two adult children, Joshalyn and Karla. The Estrada family has resided in El Paso since 1992, and shortly after arriving they became members of the First Baptist Church of El Paso. The respect and love that Carmen has for El Paso, especially the downtown community, has been developed and grown through the different ministries and programs of which she has been a part. Some of these programs include Camino de Luz, First Baptist Church Clothes Closet, and the nine street ministries (Agape Ministry). These ministries all have a special place in her heart. In all these ministries Carmen has seen, felt, and received the Grace of Jesus. After almost seven years working at La Familia del Paso, serving adults with mental illnesses, the Lord has led her to the Mustard Seed Café, to continue serve Him and the El Paso community.
Shelley Speicher was born in Newfoundland, Canada, but spent most of her childhood in western Massachusettes. In the early 70’s she moved with her family to El Paso and with the exception of a year spent in Northern California, has been here ever since. She is married with three children, two step-children, and three grandchildren and is currently employed as bookkeeper for Coronado Baptist Church. Two years ago Shelley “answered the call” that came in the form of an email from Christi Brown. Christi presented the possibility of starting the Mustard Seed Café and included a quote in her email that really resonated with Shelley, “Sympathy is never a substitute for action.” Realizing how paralyzed she had been by the enormity of the needs in the El Paso community, she saw this not only as a way to take action, but a way to use her God-given abilities and her affinity for cooking, hospitality, and people to positively impact the community she loves.