With the presence of local pastors, Chinese community leaders and others, Haven Brews café was christened on October 28, 2023. Located at 222 Finch Avenue West in the north end of Toronto, the café is the dream-come-true for Joseph Wong, Director of the Tyndale Spiritual Formation Centre, and his two partners, Andrew and Chris.
“We dedicated the space to God,” says Joseph, “hoping that it will serve as a hub for the community, where people can find a safe haven and reflect and nurture their relationship with God.”
Rev. Harding Ng, interim principal of the Canadian Chinese School of Theology at Tyndale, offered a blessing and prayer for the café.
For Joseph, though, the idea of “haven” long predates the café.
“It all started back in 2018,” Joseph says, “when I graduated from my MDiv in Spiritual Formation program at Tyndale. After I completed the program, I went to walk the Camino del Norte as a time to process and discern what is God’s calling and what the next chapter would bring.
“It was very tough hiking up and down the mountains and cliffs, the winds blowing heavily along the Bay of Biscay. ... However, no matter how harsh the weather conditions were, there was always a naturally formed harbour along the shores, where it was safe and peaceful. This image stayed with me ... after my journey was completed.
“Then I went back to the Bible to seek out this image and found in Psalm 107 the word ‘haven’—a place of refuge: ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.’”
— Joseph Wong
Back in Canada, Joseph was inspired to create the Haven Community for a group of unchurched youth—the “nones and dones”—with the support of Mosaic Baptist Church in Markham, where he continues to pastor.
From 2019 to 2020, Haven Community members were having weekly meetings during a period of political unrest in Hong Kong, when many people were fleeing from political injustice and violence.
During this time, Joseph became the Director of Tyndale’s Spiritual Formation Centre, which helps students (free of charge), ministers and the wider community to become more Christ-like by providing resources, training, academic learning, networking opportunities and spiritual direction.
“As the Haven Community grew, two of my partners, Andrew and Chris, moved to Toronto,” Joseph says. “They had been serving in youth ministry for many years in Hong Kong, and we were discerning how we can serve the local community even better. And we arrived at the Haven Brews café idea. So for Haven Brews, we are mainly serving the diaspora, whether they are from Hong Kong, Ukraine or [are] Uyghur.”
“Whether a hand drip, espresso, or latte arts—we at Haven Brews are passionate about our specialty coffee. We care deeply about the people who roast and grow our coffee beans for us, and we source our beans from the best local roasters and growers around the world. ... But Haven Brews is more than just a coffee shop,” the café’s website announces.
“To that end,” adds Joseph, “Haven Brews will be hosting workshops and gatherings after hours, focusing on our identity, becoming aware of our emotions and various trauma that we are carrying, learning compassionate acceptance, and reimagining the future and our new calling. There will also be a lot of arts, music, visual arts, films, which are really important in culture making and how we reimagine our identity and church culture.”
“We cannot guarantee that you will find the answers to what you are searching for here,” the website says, “but we can ensure that you will find friends to accompany you on your journey. You are not alone here.”