At the heart of CRISTA Ministries’ Shoreline campus is the Arbor Deli, a café that serves as a central hub to the seven different ministries. It’s a place where a simple cup of coffee can turn into a time of encouragement and lunch can span across generations. The students, staff, residents, visitors and family members who meet at the Arbor are a tangible representation of the various people who make up the different components and generations of CRISTA.
The Arbor thrives on a strong community of regular customers, but there’s only one customer who has an engraved plaque with his name and “office hours” at his favorite table. Meet Al Bartlett, a resident of Cristwood who loves fellowship, studying God’s Word, and a good practical joke.
Al moved to the Garden Apartments at Cristwood almost ten years ago, but he had been familiar with CRISTA long before then. As a college student, he remembers hearing Mike Martin, CRISTA’s founder, speak about acquiring the land for his ministry to teens. Over the years, Al has been connected to many of the ministries of CRISTA. His son graduated from King’s Schools, his daughter volunteered at CRISTA, his son-in-law worked for World Concern, and countless friends from church have been connected with the various ministries. After traveling for several years following retirement, moving to Cristwood was a natural fit.
A few days each week, Al arrives at the Arbor as the first customer of the morning. With a cup of coffee, newspaper, and iPad, he gets settled at his table. Some mornings are filled with planned meetings where friends drop by to catch up on life. Other mornings are filled with spontaneous interactions, where simply picking up a latte on the way to work leads to a meaningful conversation with Al. Whether chatting with a neighbor, praying with a teacher, or playing checkers on his iPad with a kindergartener, Al views the Arbor as a place of ministry. “I never know what’s going to happen,” he explains, but he knows that God has a plan for each person that he meets.
Sharing a favorite Bible verse, talking about the joys and hardships of life, or simply joking around, Al approaches each day with an undeniable sense of joy. The engraved plaque was a birthday gift to Al from the Arbor staff several years ago, a formality that acknowledged his already integral contribution to the CRISTA community. Al explains his outlook on life simply by saying: “I’m so grateful for my life, that I get to live in a place like this and share life with people of all ages.”
And we’re grateful to have him here.
“I’m so grateful for my life, that I get to live in a place like this and share life with people of all ages.” – Al Bartlett, Resident
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