“If a Christian took the form of a flower, what would it be? Some would say a rose, some might say a tulip, and yet others would say a daffodil. I, on the other hand, say that a Christian is called to be a dandelion, because a dandelion has all the attributes of a Christian witness.
A dandelion is the first sign of hope in the spring. It is the first expression of love, for it is the first "flower" usually given to a mother by a small child. A dandelion makes itself known in the neighborhood quickly, it is not conscious of class and equally casts itself on the rich and the poor. A dandelion provides beauty and colour where nothing else will grow. It can be cut, trampled, dug up, or pulled up and still bounces back with its witness as though nothing happened. A dandelion is a victim of slander, for some call it a weed, but it pushes on undaunted to conquer the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would all act and witness like dandelions?” - Anonymous
Because New Addington needs Jesus
This poem and the sentiment behind it is the inspiration for New Addington Baptist Church’s brand new Dandelion Cafe, where Naomi Dibdin (former assistant manager at London City Mission's Cafe Eterno) is now based.
This unpretentious little cafe sits among the grassy surrounds of the church gardens, surrounded by large swathes of green space open to the community. On the face of it, New Addington is peacefully suburban, yet it’s a community in need - in need of practical help, in need of love, in need of Jesus. That’s why, when London City Mission took the decision to redirect Cafe Eterno’s resources to other areas of London, Naomi knew exactly what to do.
A natural next step
God has been guiding me for a long time to get me to the Dandelion Café today.
A year with London City Mission’s City Vision programme first awoke Naomi’s heart for sharing Jesus with Londoners, two years with M&S cafe first awoke her tastebuds to sharing coffee with the world. Cafe Eterno was the perfect workplace for these two loves to combine.
After nine years, learning from Shirley Phillips the ins and outs of running a cafe where people are the priority, Naomi is ready to run Dandelion. Naomi and the volunteers make sure it’s a friendly place where all will feel welcome. Families, being the bedrock of society, are a particular focus. Along the corridor from the cafe, a brightly lit, carpeted hall is the perfect place for young children to play.
While sipping a creamy latte and enjoying some of Naomi’s own homemade lemon cake, I chatted to one mum. She looks for welcoming, friendly places to hang out in with her three week old and two year old. “The great cakes are certainly a draw!” she says smiling. Many of the regulars are local, so friendships are easily formed.
Room to grow
Dandelion is LCM's first ministry in New Addington; a pioneer one might say, fully dandelion-like as the first in the Mission to grow through the cracks of this area.
There’s much more to do here...extensions, fencing, advertising, extending hours and food provision, setting up a children’s play area outside...the list goes on. But they’ve worked hard to make a good start and are excited for the future.
It’s clear this ministry is no fragile flower. This is Dandelion Cafe, tough and resilient, throwing down deep supportive roots into this hurting community. It’s also a great representation of God’s vision for London City Mission - partnering with a local church to reach the margins of society with the gospel of salvation.