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Founding of Comfort Cafe


Mary’s Story

Comfort Café was founded by Mary J. Yerkes, a writer dedicated to sharing the hope, help, and healing that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In 1997, Mary was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, pain, and, often, disability. Mary’s experience of living with chronic illness, along with challenges she faced in her past, led to the birth of this site. She desired to share with others the hope, comfort, and purpose she experienced during this time through her relationship with Jesus Christ.

As she spoke with others, she learned that her experience was not unique. Repeatedly, she heard stories of God’s redemption in the lives of others who experienced loss, pain, and suffering. They testified of God’s unfailing love, His provision and sufficiency in their darkest hours. Together, they decided to share their stories with you. While some of the writers are professionals, others are just starting out. Regardless, their message is the same. Jesus Christ has the power to heal, restore, and redeem broken lives and use them for His glory.

In June 2006, because of ongoing health challenges, Mary found a new editor for Comfort Cafe–Ruth Wood. Ruth shares Mary’s vision for hurting women and continues this ministry of compassion.


Ruth’s Story

God has a sense of humour. I am a songwriter, not a website technician, for goodness sakes!

After recording the album, Eyes on You, I looked for ways to market online. My goal was to reach broken hearts with my music. I was delighted to discover Comfort Cafe—here was a ministry that shared my passion and agreed to publish my music-themed devotionals.

A few months later, Mary Yerkes announced she was looking for someone to replace her as health challenges required a slower pace of life. I empathized with her dilemma and at the same time worried about the future of Comfort Cafe. The ministry was just beginning and held so much potential. I prayed fervently that someone would step forward and even approached a technically gifted friend to consider the editor’s position. No luck. We were fast approaching Mary’s deadline, and still no one volunteered.

Then God seemed to suggest, “Why don’t YOU do it?”

“What? I’m technically impaired! This isn’t me.”

But the feeling grew that the Lord wanted me at Comfort Cafe. He reminded me that:

He is strong when we are weak.
Lord, if weakness is a requirement, then I definitely qualify!

I could learn new skills even though I wasn’t gifted on the computer.
You sure, Lord?

I’d been seeking Him for clarity in direction, as music ministry doors appeared shut no matter how hard I knocked.
Lord, is this the answer to my prayers?

I’d focused on my music ministry for so long, God completely surprised me by changing my course. However, after I accepted the editor’s position, I felt at peace. The Lord further confirmed His leading when I attended an Oregon Christian Writer’s conference and connected with many writers who shared my passion to reach hurting hearts.

It took me a solid month, working nearly full-time, to learn how to run Comfort Cafe. I appreciated so much Mary Yerkes’ patience in training me. Finally, I was e-mailing fewer and fewer “Help!” messages.

As I immersed myself in the work, I realized how the Lord used my past to prepare me in various ways:

My personal brokenness and life challenges—dealing with hearing loss, severe migraines, an ADHD child, difficulties in my marriage—opened my heart to the pain of others.

For years I attended a writer’s critique group, mainly to read my lyrics. Listening to others critique, I learned a lot about writing, a skill I now use as an editor.

I always edited my husband’s work. When he was published by Harper Collins and The Dummies books, I became less intimidated by the publishing world.

My songwriting background inspired me to provide music to “heal the soul” and so the Coffee Shop Concert page was born.

I am personally blessed by Comfort Cafe in so many ways. Reading the material that crosses my desk each month is a privilege. People’s stories often amaze me. I marvel at the degree of suffering some endure and the resulting beauty and grace God weaves into their lives. Also, working with writers and volunteers brings me much joy. Many have become dear friends.

Our prayer is for you, our reader, that the Lord would minister to your heart through these web pages. We do not know your specific trials but God does, and we trust Him to meet you in your place of need.

E-mail questions or comments to ruthywood@gmail.com.