EDINBURG — Prophecy became reality for Jerry Joule on Sept. 18 when the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Baptist Student Ministry organization opened BSM Global Blends, the first fully donations-based restaurant in the Valley.
Situated at the intersection of Sugar Road and Schunior Street, BSM Global Blends and the BSM building stand right next to each other — something Joule prayed for a decade ago before the organization moved into their building.
“Before moving in, we (Baptist Temple Church and BSM members) came to the empty land to pray for it,” said Joule, who at that time was a college minister director at First Baptist Church in McAllen. “We were praying for the land but then I turned and looked at the property next to us and asked, ‘What about this property?’ and they said it was not part of the deal.
“So, I walked over and picked up a rock from that area, and prayed for that rock for days… I prayed and prayed that God would provide this property for BSM.”
A pizza place then purchased the land, which then became a coffee shop, but Joule’s faith stayed intact.
“I said, ‘No, God is just building a building for us,’” he said.
In Spring 2018, the coffee shop closed and Baptist Temple Church purchased a lease for BSM, which transformed it into BSM Global Blends. Joule is the co-manager of the restaurant, which serves a variety of sandwiches and drinks to university students and faculty at no cost.
“God has provided us a whole cafe, when 10 years ago it was just a rock,” Joule, who is now a pastor at The Way Church in McAllen, said.
BSM Global Blends is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and since opening, has served about 50 customers a day on average.
“The hope for the restaurant is two-fold,” Robert Rueda, the director of UTRGV BSM of 15 years, said. “One: that students do not go without a meal, and 2: that they learn that God loves them. It’s simple.”
Additionally, while Baptist Temple services take place on Sunday at the BSM building, BSM Global Blends is used to host the church’s children’s ministry.
Opening a donations-based restaurant has been in the heart of Rueda for years. And when the building next to BSM’s became available, he came up with BSM Global Blends to serve college students
“I did research and found that there were other places that have restaurants like this that depend on donations, like in Dallas and other cities,” Rueda said, who has a masters in divinity. “So I thought, ‘Why can’t we have one?’ So, we decided to be the first.”
With a few donors who contributed to the seed money to launch the restaurant, Rueda said that the goal is to soon be completely based off of the donations of customers.
He explained that BSM Global Blends operates like any other restaurant — they had to get a food handlers license, health permits, ect. — but what sets them apart is that all bills are paid with donations, and all staff members are volunteers.
Though other restaurant owners would be stressed about unstable income, Rueda said that he is comfortable because of his trust in God.
“It is all an exercise of faith; we are donation-based and faith-sustained,” he said.
Rueda’ favorite meal so far is the spicy turkey avocado sandwich, with an Oreo frappe.
“What we really wanted to do is provide an area where students can just eat good food, not bad food,” he said. “Most of the time, if you are a student and you have $5, the thing you do is go to a fast good place and buy four $1 fried things, and that’s the only thing you eat. So that is something I have been concerned about.”
Joule, who has been a long time friend of Rueda, was in charge of creating the restaurant’s menu, and while experimenting with recipes, he said that all he could think about was: “I hope that they think that this is really good.”
Soon, Joule hopes to add wraps, salads and fruits to the menu.
In addition to serving meals to university students and staff at no charge, Rueda said that BSM Global Blends works to give members an opportunity to minister.
“It shows them how to live out their faith, because it is not just about going to church on Sunday,” Rueda said. “Students get to show the love of God by being loving.”
There are currently eight staff members who operate the restaurant, three volunteer members and five campus missionary interns
Volunteers wear buttons that say “God loves college students,” and Rueda’ idea for that stemmed from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…”
“So, for God so loved college students, he provided a restaurant for them, so they can come and be blessed,” he said.