A popular Costa Rican saying has often fit the ministry of Jordan and Marie Foote well. “Vale la pena,” they say, when paying a high cost for a goal. Sacrifice has become familiar to them. “Vale la pena,” they tell themselves again and again.
The saying translates to: “It’s worth it.” The Footes know the trials they’ve faced have been well worth the cost of following God’s call on their lives. The Footes export coffee in a business as mission partnership with local Costa Ricans. Their vision is to use coffee as a life-transforming ministry that mobilizes Costa Rican missionaries.
A Strategic Invitation
The idea came from a vision trip to Costa Rica in May 2010. Leaders of a local seminary and missions agencies told the Footes that Costa Rican Christians were being called as missionaries to countries typically closed to the gospel. Yet these new missionaries needed help to support themselves financially, as well as to reach out to the communities around them.
When Jordan and Marie began considering their role in missions, Jordan wondered how he could apply his 14 years of business experience to sharing the gospel. He found that missions needed business professionals to do more than attend church, but also to offer their expertise integrated with Christ-like ethics and a gospel mindset to serve the Lord.
“There is so much more need in the world than just digging ditches and teaching VBS,” Jordan said. “There is need for accounting. There is need for marketing. There is need for good, ethical lawyers all over the world.”
Establishing businesses could be the answer for many missionaries to develop redemptive relationships as well as maintain their visas. The Costa Rican leaders invited Jordan and Marie to train their missionaries in how to use business as missions.
A strategic opportunity seemed to be exporting coffee from Costa Rica to markets where the gospel had yet to reach. Jordan and Marie’s church in Colorado was already pursuing China’s growing demand for coffee. Meanwhile, the Footes were interested in discipling and mobilizing Costa Rican missionaries to foreign fields. All this could be done using Costa Rica’s “El Grano de Oro” (“The Golden Bean”).
Finding a Footing
The Footes moved their family to Costa Rica on August 10, 2013. They were full of hope for the future, not knowing what the next year would hold. Their two children started homeschooling several months early to escape a negative schooling situation. Marie needed two major surgeries and attended her father’s funeral. Jordan struggled to learn Spanish and felt oppressed by anxiety.
It wasn’t what they asked for, but God had prepared them to persevere through suffering. He used difficult times to teach them about his character.
“The Lord’s really been teaching me to take my foot off of the gas pedal and the brake pedal and just let him drive the car,” Marie said. “He’s got this. He’s had it from day one.”
After a year on-field, the Footes began to make connections for starting a coffee business. Jordan wrote a business overview detailing their skills and resources, the help they would need, and the kind of business that would best serve Costa Ricans and missionaries around the world. An entrepreneur from Alabama said he wanted to sell their coffee in the United States. He calls himself “the coffee missionary.” He gathered coffee lovers, hosted cupping (coffee tasting) parties, and placed orders for all the coffee they could deliver.
“He told us several months ago that he’s never had as much fun sharing the gospel than when he’s been doing it through selling coffee,” Jordan said. “Our desire is to then create folks like that all over the United States and then eventually all over the world.”
Then last January, a church planter introduced the Footes to Isaac and Roberto, two local Christians looking to start a coffee business. Their visions fit together so exactly that Jordan and Marie felt like they were talking to themselves in a mirror. Isaac and Roberto wanted to start a business that would provide jobs for missionaries, fund global missions, and eventually lead to coffee shops in places unreached by the gospel.
Isaac’s family already had strong ties to coffee growers in the Santamaría de Dota mountains, within the Tarrazú region known for producing award-winning coffee. A pastor passionate about mission work, Isaac would take every opportunity to preach to the growers, serving them both economically and spiritually.
“We were looking for a business with people who already knew the coffee world and they were looking for a business where people already knew contacts in the U.S.,” Jordan said. “We just became the perfect match for each other.”
Isaac and Roberto appreciate the Footes as business consultants and a crucial link between the company and potential customers. Meanwhile, Jordan and Marie have been grateful for their partners’ genuine friendship and holistic view of work and personal life. They settled the partnership and officially formed last spring Santamaría Gourmet Coffee.
The Quadruple Bottom Line
Despite the usual challenge of cross-cultural communication, the business partners have not faced any major hurdles. They otherwise agree on how the business should be run. For them, Santamaría is more than a fundraiser for missions, with support calculated by the company’s profitability. Instead, Santamaría is a ministry in itself.
A traditional business seeks its own profit and puts the business first before all else. Jordan describes a business as mission as seeking first God’s glory through a quadruple bottom line: financial, emotional, spiritual, and community/environmental. This looks like recognizing and caring for the needs of both employees and customers beyond how they can profit the business. It means making positive change on the local economy and community development. The budget serves a world in need, giving out of the profits to help the poor. Even creation care has its place. Living in a country rich with natural beauty makes Jordan ask how their business can preserve the environment rather than destroy it like so much industrialization.
“How can this entire entity, everything it does, glorify God?” Jordan said. “That impacts the systems that are put into place, the marketing strategy, the sales, the HR, every aspect.”
For Santamaría, applying business as missions starts with good customer service. Jesus told his disciples that the greatest among them must be a servant, “for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“I believe that is the core and heart of where business as missions can really be a megaphone for the gospel,” Jordan said, “because we have the ability by the power of the Holy Spirit to serve like nobody else in the world can.”
With that foundation in place, the Footes plan to move forward with their ministry one open door at a time, whatever the cost may be along the way. They trust God will fill in the gaps that only he has the power to complete.
“He’s in this,” Marie said, “and there is truly nothing that is either wasted or without a purpose.”
Vale la pena.
Santamaría Gourmet Coffee exports six kinds of single-origin coffee. For more information on the Footes, Santamaría Gourmet Coffee, and how to order their coffee, please visit http://www.footetraffic.net/ or contact Jordan and Marie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-446-0809 (for U.S. phone calls).