The Sabbath Sofa
We invite people to rest for a few minutes on the sofa, where the interviewer engages them in conversation.
Londoners walking their busy city streets have been encountering an unusual sight involving a white sofa. It’s part of a unique social media project designed to share the gift of Sabbath rest with tired city dwellers.
Mission 360° recently met with Sam Gungaloo and Ana Costescu to talk with them about their Sabbath Sofa ministry.
Mission 360°: Ana, what is a Sabbath Sofa?
Ana: We take a sofa to one of London’s busiest public areas to invite people to sit down and take a break from their hectic lives. It creates an opportunity for us to share with them God’s weekly Sabbath break.
M360: Where did the idea for the Sabbath Sofa come from, Sam?
Sam: I met with two pastor friends, Sam Neves and Vili Costescu, to brainstorm how we could share the concept of the Sabbath with urban people in a creative way. We thought, why not place a sofa in a busy area and invite people to sit down and experience Sabbath rest for themselves, even in a small way?
M360: How does the program work?
Ana: We go out about once a month with a team that includes a videographer, a photographer, an interviewer, and people who hold signs that say, “Are you tired? Have a seat.” We invite people to rest for a few minutes on the sofa, where the interviewer engages them in conversation.
M360: Where did you first try out the Sabbath Sofa, Sam, and what happened?
Sam: It was in a very busy area in central London called Marble Arch. I was initially very scared to do this. I thought people were going to reject me immediately. But the first person who came to sit down on the sofa was so receptive. I’m still in contact with her today.
M360: Fantastic! Ana, you’ve done this many times. Tell us about one of your experiences with the Sabbath Sofa.
Ana: One of the most rewarding things about this project is the relationships that we’ve been able to maintain with people we’ve met. Many of them write to us on Facebook and share their Sabbath experiences. The first person to sit on the sofa in Marble Arch wrote to tell us that she was so inspired about the Sabbath that she changed jobs in order to have Saturdays off. It’s so rewarding to know that people are not only receptive to what we have to say, they’re acting on it.
M360: What do you say to people once they sit down?
Sam: I break the ice by asking questions, such as, Are you tired? Or, What makes you tired? It’s amazing how people open up and start talking. Then after a few minutes, I ask them to imagine a world where they could take a weekly twenty-four-hour break from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. I ask, How does that sound to you?
M360: How do they respond?
Sam: One hundred percent say, “That sounds amazing!” or “That sounds like heaven.” But then many of them add, “It’s not feasible for me.” That’s when I share that there are 18 million of us around the globe who do this regularly. By our personal experience we can show that it is practical.
M360: Ana, what sort of things do you do to support your Sabbath Sofa encounters?
Ana: We have a strong social media aspect of our program to help create interest in the Sabbath and to keep those whom we’ve encountered engaged.
Sam: Our goal is to draw people with our social media and then bring them into our lives by developing loving relationships with them.
M360: Tell me another story of someone who had the Sabbath Sofa experience.
Sam: I was going through my little speech with a man in Soho, London. When I asked him if he had ever heard of the Sabbath, he said, “Yes, I have.” That took me by surprise because approximately ninety percent of our contacts are unfamiliar with the Sabbath. “You have?” I asked again. “Yes,” he said, “I am a Jew.” I asked him to teach me about the Sabbath and was blessed when he summed it up as time for God and humanity to spend intentional time together.
M360: Ana and Sam, thank you so much for sharing with us about the Sabbath Sofa. I would love to see hundreds of these in cities around the world.
Growing secular and postmodern populations—particularly in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North America, and cities worldwide—provide a huge mission challenge. Global Mission supports innovative new approaches, such as the Sabbath Sofa, to touch the lives of these urbanized people. To learn more about Mission to the Cities, visit MissionToTheCities.org. To support this ministry, please visit Global-Mission.org.
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