It’s a long way from his home state of Montana to Beijing—about 6,000 miles, in fact. But there was no gap too wide to bridge for Samuel Cornthwaite, co-founder of GoodWorks Coffee & Tea, whose mission was to empower orphans who have aged out of China’s adoption system by training them to learn the trade of a barista.
“In China, the coffee industry is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year, meaning baristas are in short supply,” said Cornthwaite. “By providing this vulnerable group with job training and certification, we can set them on a long-term trajectory to a life of relative independence.”
Connect Faith had the privilege of talking with Cornthwaite in August before learning of his sudden tragic passing on Sept. 6 after a short illness while in Beijing. The impact he made on the local community was evidenced by the many articles, like this one in The Beijinger, published about him both around China and Montana. A GoFundMe campaign helped raise more than $28,000 for his family to cover expenses.
Cornthwaite was a man of strong faith, and GoodWorks’ partners in other parts of the world—namely Nigeria and Haiti—are Christian organizations. Yet in China, where it is illegal for a foreign organization to have evangelistic priorities, spreading a positive message of faith is more difficult. “Our prayer is simple,” said Cornthwaite: “That God would use our works to share.”
Conference planners who resonate with Cornthwaite’s mission can purchase coffee beans through the GoodWorks Coffee & Tea website to serve at events. American expat Thomas Crow stepped up in late September as general manager of the organization to continue Cornthwaite's legacy.