A victim of child sex trafficking, a God-breathed vision and a small-minded plan that never happened. That combination may not sound like the recipe for a successful coffeehouse that has seen hundreds of lives transformed, but with the Holy Spirit's leading, these ingredients have yielded the Palate Coffee Brewery.
Owners Carl and Tina Kadolph founded the coffeehouse in Sanford, Florida, four years ago this September. Run by volunteers, Palate donates its profits to fight human trafficking.
A Victim and a Purpose
Tina, profiled by CNN and named the 2018 Hero of the Year by Orlando, Florida's Spectrum News 13, doesn't enjoy sharing her story. But in obedience to God, she has done so multiple times—and has watched Him use it to change lives.
Despite growing up as the daughter of a woman who sold her for sex beginning at age 4, for years, Tina didn't think of herself as a trafficking victim.
"When I was a child, 'trafficking' wasn't a word," she said. "So I didn't really understand. And that happens today to survivors; they don't actually know they're victims until they're taken step by step and shown that. ... It took therapy and help to show me what had actually happened."
The Kadolphs—who have been married 35 years and have three children, including a son adopted from Guyana, South America—experienced what Carl called "a lot of confusion" in their relationship. This, they came to understand, stemmed largely from her childhood abuse. She also suffered from anorexia from the time she was a teenager, even getting down to 70 pounds in her 30s because of the trauma she endured.
"Once Tina had gone through counseling and came to the realization of what she had gone through in her childhood, the things her mind had blocked from her memory, ... a lot of what we went through as a couple started to make sense," he said.
Understanding the deeper issues, Carl says, helped shaped the couple's purpose.
"From the actual time when she was being trafficked to the torment she went through ... that's really part of our motivation: No child should have to go through what Tina has gone through."
A Vision and a Promise
Even after Tina came to know Christ, her history continued to cause her pain. Like many people, she pondered why a good and powerful God would let such awful things happen to her. But one day, more than 10 years ago, God miraculously answered her question in a vision during a quiet time.
"I had never had a vision before, so I didn't actually know what was happening to me," Tina said. "I was walking on the beach, and I was a little girl at the same age as when the trauma started.
"All of a sudden, I could hear the beach sounds, and I could see myself walking," she said. "And I thought, Who is this little girl? Why is she in my thoughts right now? And all of a sudden, Jesus was there. And He took the little girl's hand, and when she turned, I thought, That's me!"
Tina had a problem, also stemming from her abuse, that loomed as large as the "why" question. She couldn't relate to God as her heavenly Father.
"I had never had a father in my life," she said. "I never knew what it was like." When she thought of the men who abused her, "I would almost think of God in that way. I never had a father play with me. I never had a father hold me in his lap. I never had that experience, so I didn't know what it was like."
Tina's vision continued as she and Jesus walked together.
"He took me, and He lifted me up in His arms, and He threw me up in the air like I'd seen daddies do with their little girls. And He twirled me around on the beach, and I was laughing, and then He held me again.
"I looked up in His eyes, and I said, 'Why? Why didn't You help me? ... Why didn't you stop this?"
"And when I looked," Tina said, "He had tears rolling down His face. And He said, 'It was never My plan for you, sweetheart; it was never My plan for you. But adults make choices. ... It was never My plan for you."
And so we walked together, hand in hand. And He said, "I'm going to take what happened ... and I'm going to use it for good."
How is this ever going to be used for good? Tina thought.
A Dream and a Calling
Some years later, Tina was speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida, and a professor friend took her to a coffeehouse. At that point, Palate Coffee didn't exist.
"It wasn't even a dream," Carl said. "We were never these people who sat around in the middle of the night dreaming of having a coffeehouse. We didn't even know how to say 'espresso.'" But when Tina and her friend had visited Common Grounds in Lake Worth, "they had gotten goosebumps that [opening a coffee shop] was what we were supposed to do," Carl said. And when he visited Common Grounds a few days later, "I was in total agreement."
When the couple returned home, they immediately started looking for a site to open a coffeehouse. And the vision grew from there.
"We had no budget; we had no money ... we had a little silly plan of what we thought we would do," Carl said. "But God just kind of laughed and said, 'I've got the real plan.' And He provided the money we needed. He provided every single step."
Palate took its name—with a food-oriented spelling—from the verse where Jesus commands the man He healed at the pool at Bethsaida to 'Get up, pick up your pallet and walk" (John 5:8, NASB). One of the Kadolphs' two daughters used that passage to encourage her mom only days after the couple closed on the coffeehouse property.
"Jesus didn't say, 'Why don't you try crawling? Why don't you try moving your legs?'" she told Tina. "He just said, 'Get up.' ... And so [our daughter] was saying, 'We may not know all the details right now, but God's called us to do this. So we just need to get up and walk."
A Testimony and a Hope
And get up and walk the Kadolphs did—but not without challenges, including some from the Christian community.
"When we first opened, we had many people from the churches who would walk in, look around and say, 'Well, this isn't a Christian coffeehouse,'" Carl said. "There are no verses on the wall. It doesn't say, 'He Brews' anywhere. ... If we just made it a Christian coffeehouse, then all we're going to get in there are Christians. And then who do you minister to?"
Today, he and Tina hear from many who thank them for Palate and tell them they received Christ through its ministry, Carl said. One young woman came into the café and went straight to the restroom, then came out and began looking at some handmade jewelry. The Holy Spirit impressed Tina to speak to her, and soon she felt led to tell the young woman she was a trafficking survivor.
"She immediately started crying and wrapped her arms around me, and she said, 'I just fled my trafficker.'" As the frightened young woman shared more of her story, Tina was able to tell her of God's love and provision. "We found a safe house for her to go to, and she's gone through a two-year treatment program. And now she's got a job and is living a wonderful life."
As planned, the Kadolphs pour Palate Coffee's profits into anti-trafficking efforts. In 2017 alone, they donated more than $36,000 worth of products and funds to various organizations, including their own nonprofit, Love Missions. In August, the ministry will open a safe house in Guyana to house girls ages 4 to 11. The Kadolphs recently returned from a trip there where, in partnership with Guyanese supporters, they finished getting Sunflower Safe House ready to open.
"Locally, we do education and awareness," Tina said. "We also provide handmade hygiene bags for survivors. At this moment, we have local churches ... helping us with that. But eventually, the plan is to have at-risk women here and globally helping make those for survivors here in our country."
Most of all, the couple wants to continue offering hope to trafficking victims.
"No matter what you've gone through in your life, God has a plan for you," Tina said. "God uses our testimony to change others' lives. ... When we are actually in the face of seeing someone's life changed, come to Christ, it makes everything worthwhile."
Marti Pieper is copy editor and assistant online editor for Charisma Media.
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