The Early Days in Chattanooga, TN
One day in 1972, a few zealous people had the thought that they could open a little place where people could come and sit down and not feel rushed to leave. People could ask questions if they wanted to, and could find a little refuge from the pressures of life. Well, sometimes it is hard to even find someone to talk to about our troubles. Being believers, these young zealots knew that there really are answers to the troubles of mankind.
But there needed to be a place for people to get a break and sit down, and think about the deep things of life. So, they decided to make a nice, comfortable place with good food and maybe a chance to touch hearts with those passing through the doors. It could be a friendly spot to meet their neighbors.
They had run across a verse in the Bible about how being “filled with the Holy Spirit” meant that your life would produce a certain kind of fruit. That fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). So, if it were possible to consistently demonstrate these qualities, it would surely create a very nice environment. Just having such a place for people to come in and sit down would be so nice, so… why not do it? “We serve the fruit of the Spirit. Why not ask?” became their motto. For sure, people do not have to ask, but if people want to ask, they can!
So, the Yellow Deli was our heavenly Father’s gift to us when it first opened in May of 1973 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was not a genius marketing plan, but just a simple attempt to do something to start to make a change!
Growing to Other States and Countries
Amazingly, it has endured all these years, growing and spreading out. Now there are Yellow Delis in several states, and even in other countries. Since it is a “group effort” with all of us working together, it supports our “community lifestyle.” We all actually live and work together. This is not just a 9-to-5 job for us where we go to work every day and then go home to our separate lives.
We saw that a pattern was established in the first-century church — a life in which all who believed lived together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). Actually, we saw that there are several verses in the Bible that paint a vivid picture of the daily life of the original church, which looks much different from the religious experience most of us had growing up. Those original believers who lived communally as described in Acts 4:32 were not just “any ole’ people.” They were the famous first apostles, like Peter, James, and John, and the Apostle Paul. Those are the people who were writing the New Testament that we treasure so much today! Plus other famous people from the Bible were there in that community, like the Virgin Mary, those who were healed by the Savior, plus many others who were personally touched by the message of the Son of God as He walked among them. We know that all those people lived like that because the Bible says “ALL who believed were together and shared all things in common.” So surely the word “ALL” would have included them!
So, the way they lived after our Savior was resurrected and went to be with His Father is graphically described in the Bible in Acts 2 and 4 so that we can all know what they did when they first received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Though many feel as if the community life of the original church was just a fleeting experiment that soon ended, to us it appears to be the standard of how things should be for believers, so we have set ourselves to live that way.
So, living after the pattern of the original church in Jerusalem in 30 AD has been our goal. We must remain in unity and allow nothing to divide us. The unity of the disciples was central and essential to the message of the Son of God, but is little spoken of today. Hopefully, there can be a restoration of how things used to be.
Some more conservative people these days have said, “We’ve gone about as far as we can go!” when considering the state of the mixed-up world around us. Most of the old-fashioned ethics of our grandparents have been abandoned for the more modern ideas, which greatly contradict the Word of God. But, that is the nice thing about restoration: you get to go back to the way it was originally. It was predicted in the Bible that in the last days things would get very dark, but also that there would be a “restoration of all things.” So, we are hoping to see many things that have gone way off course be restored to the Way it was supposed to be. Obviously, our hope for this world goes far beyond what politicians are promising these days, but we have high hopes and we believe we will see them fulfilled.
A Great Sandwich
So, as you can see from this brief description of our life, there is a lot more to the Yellow Deli than just a great sandwich. But if all you are looking for is a great sandwich, we certainly have it for you! You are welcome to come back anytime and just enjoy the food and the atmosphere. But if you want to discuss the deeper issues of life, we would also be happy to answer any questions you may have. Just ask!
In each town where there is a Yellow Deli, there is also a cluster of homes. Following the pattern of those first believers, we share our common life together there. Though it may be hard for many to imagine living and working together, sharing a pure and holy life, that is really all we desire to do. Coming from many different backgrounds, we who have decided to live this life are very thankful for the refuge we have found among those who believe and respect the Word of God.
Sadly, fear of evil or perverse behavior going on among us has caused some to circulate unfounded rumors about us, thinking we must have bad motives. We hope that through having an open and hospitable place like our Yellow Deli, people will be able to see that we are not really strange and scary, but just friendly folks who love God and our neighbors.
It is a different life, but it brings deep contentment to our souls. We enjoy this peaceful environment, free from TV and drugs, so our children at least have a chance to grow up enough to decide on their own the path their lives will take, before the peer pressure of this modern world sets their course for them.
For some, this way may seem too restrictive, but to those of us who live here, it was the beam of light that revealed the solution to our dark and troubled lives. Our life is like “yellow for our souls”… as we live in “the green pastures of home” along with our sheep! So… Let there be Yellow!