It’s Friday night, and Season’s Harvest Café in Cypress, Texas, is bustling. Dust from the gravel driveway creates a cloud that sparkles in the headlights of the pickup trucks that just pulled in.
Walking up to the front of the log cabin is a red-feathered hen, looking curious but unbothered by the stream of people coming and going. She looks around for a minute, and then turns around and heads back to the pen by the barn. Meanwhile, a couple sits together on a wooden swing hanging from a large oak tree, listening to the twang of a banjo coming from the back patio, while smoke from the barbecue lends an aroma of down-home cooking.
If I didn’t know any better, I would think I had just pulled up to a farm in the country. Instead, I’m in a restaurant five minutes from a busy freeway in the suburbs of Houston—a restaurant that also serves as a church.
On a quieter day, after the Season’s Harvest lunch crowd has cleared out, Pastor Beket Griffith greets me at the door. He welcomes me with a wide smile and introduces me to his wife Joanne, who is the restaurant’s executive chef. We sit down, and they explain how their desire to serve God in ministry collided with their dreams of owning a restaurant, and how they are managing to do both while simultaneously raising a family.
Grandma’s Kitchen, Prison Ministry, and a Home Church
The interior of Season’s Harvest has a homey feel to it, with a large stone fireplace and old photos with an early American feel. These aren’t random pictures, though; they are of Joanne’s family, including one of her grandmother, who Joanne said played a big part in her love for cooking. Beket said they always had it in the back of their minds to open a restaurant, but their heart for ministry came first.
“We got married, and we knew we both loved the Lord,” said Beket. “We didn’t know what we were going to do, but we knew we wanted to do something centered around our family, centered on ministry, and we were going to homeschool. We just started moving forward with that mindset, seeing where God took us.”
Beket had a few small jobs before he began working in full-time prison ministry, while Joanne stayed home and homeschooled their children. It was during that time Beket felt the call to become a pastor. With his own pastor’s blessing and encouragement, he branched out on his own and began a home-based church called Family of Faith Community Church.
Just because Beket started a church, however, didn’t mean he could give up his day job. The couple lived on his salary from the prison ministry while he learned the ropes of being a pastor.
“People think being a home church pastor is just preaching on Sunday mornings, but it’s a whole lot more than that,” Beket explained. “We were doing three services a week, plus weddings, funerals and counseling…everything that comes along with being a pastor. Plus I was still working full-time.”
Even with Beket’s prison ministry job, the church, and homeschooling their five children, though, the Griffiths’ dream of owning a restaurant one day was still in the back of their minds.
“My wife is a great cook,” said Beket. “And with the home church and all, we could see that hospitality was one of our gifts. But we always thought we would pursue the restaurant idea after the kids grew up.”
God, it seems, had other plans. In 2010, the couple ran across a house they thought would be perfect for a small café. The front room would be used as the dining room, the kitchen was in the middle, and a room in the back would serve as the school for their children. Things came together, and in September of that year, Beket dropped the keys in his wife’s hands and said, “Congratulations! We now own a restaurant.”