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Protesters try to tank Christian coffee shop

The Colorado ministry has grown amid persecution

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Protesters try to tank Christian coffee shop

Every month, a group calling themselves the Denver Communists sets aside a Friday night to protest in front of The Drip Café in a city arts district.

The group criticizes the coffee shop’s owners for their Christian beliefs about homosexuality, calling customers to boycott the business.

The demonstrations began on the cafe’s opening day in June 2023. Members of the Denver Communists discovered that the shop’s parent organization, Recycle God’s Love, holds to the Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin, owner Jamie Sanchez told WORLD. “They took that, and they blew it up and made all the false accusations that we hate gay people,” Sanchez said. “We hadn’t even opened the doors yet.”

Signs in the street

During the monthly demonstrations, a small crowd of people typically gathers on the street in front of the cafe’s front doors holding signs that say, “Drip Café is anti-gay” and waving LGBTQ signs and pride flags. Protesters set up a table with a book display, buttons, and information about the communist group. According to the group’s posts online, its goal is to drive The Drip out of business. “They’re pulling out all the tactics they have to shut us down,” Sanchez said.

When the protests began last summer, Sanchez said his team called the police after they found graffiti on the building and damaged windows. Law enforcement could not charge anyone with the vandalism because they did not have proof of who was responsible, and the demonstrations are protected as free speech, Sanchez said.

The Denver Police Department told WORLD in an email that the investigation is ongoing and officers have not been called to the cafe since September.

The Denver Communists group claimed that the shop and its owners discriminate against people who identify as LGBTQ. Meanwhile, the Recycle God’s Love values page reads: “We believe that showing hate towards people in these communities is not the way Jesus would respond. Therefore, although disagreeing with the lifestyles we believe to be sinful, we must show love.”

Sharing the Love

Recycle God’s Love grew out of a Bible study that Sanchez, his late wife, Carolyn, and his sister started in 2012. “We just felt so overwhelmed by the love that God has given us and to send His Son to sacrifice for our sins was just so overwhelming that we were like, now we have got to go share this love with other people. And so we decided to do that by handing out sandwiches to the homeless here in Denver,” he said.

After Carolyn died in 2018, Sanchez said God called him to continue the ministry while he raised their two daughters. He was learning to lean more on Christ, he says today. “I just trust Him now much more and I knew He would do good things with this tragedy,” he said. “When I did go back the homeless community sobbed with us, cried with us, mourned with us, prayed over us.”

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, RGL partnered with local churches for the first time to unite volunteers across the city. The ministry now hosts outreach events every other month where more than 130 volunteers provide hot meals, clothing, haircuts, dental work, and Bibles. Sanchez said the events regularly serve people who identify as LGBTQ and are experiencing homelessness.

Last summer, Sanchez and his team opened The Drip Café in the Denver Art District as part of the ministry’s Project Revive, which aims to connect the people they serve with jobs and resources to overcome homelessness. The program—meant to last three to four months per person—planned to provide individuals with housing, employment at The Drip, spiritual discipleship, and education, Sanchez said.

“The Drip Café is like a stepping stone, and then we are moving them into a higher paying job or into a trade that they want to get worked into,” he said. “It is taking people who are ready to get out of a homeless situation and really work hard inside of our project to get out of it and just live a sustainable, Christ-fulfilling life.”

Blooming where they’re planted

Though the protesters continue to gather outside the shop every month to pressure customers to boycott, Sanchez said the situation has only strengthened his team’s faith. His team members have learned to show empathy for those who do not follow Christ and to lean on the Lord when their faith is challenged, he said.

Despite the controversy, the coffee shop has stayed open. An online GiveSendGo campaign has raised more than $20,000 for the shop.

The negative attention has brought more donors and partner churches to RGL and helped push plans for its Project Revive forward more quickly than Sanchez expected. Now, his team is making plans to strengthen the project’s employment opportunities and praying for a way to provide housing for individuals in the program.

“All this negative attention that they’ve given us actually gave us more positive attention than we could ever ask for,” Sanchez said. “Everything’s against us except for God. So because God is on our side, we’re thriving.”

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

You sure do come up with exciting stuff to read, know, and talk about. —Chad

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