Coffee on the Other Side of the World
Originally posted at: https://www.global-teams.net/blog/general/2018/01/05/coffeeontheothersideoftheworld/
The weather is crisp, so crisp that I regret not bringing a jacket, but the coffee is nice and hot. I stare across the table at a stranger, one whom I quickly realize I’ll spend eternity with. We sit with a small group of people, outside a hotel, at a tiny table overflowing with coffee cups and pots of tea. This man speaks through a translator about his journey to faith in Jesus, sufferings I cannot fathom, and commitment to encouraging people in the way of Jesus, despite the assured hardships. It hits me that I’m sitting across from someone who could easily become an anonymous martyr, perishing for the cause of spreading the movement to Jesus in places and among people who are hostile to such things.
“I’m not scared to die,” he says through the translator. “My fear is that my death could stop the spread of the movement to Jesus.” Chills. There’s no other way to describe it. Chills from the top of my head to my toes. And the deep conviction that this man, this gentle person of peace who sits across from me, really believes in this Jesus. Not just to the point of death, but to the point of life with great suffering.
We then talk practically. What do these new followers of Jesus, those he’s discipling, need? How can we help and encourage? “Bibles,” he says. Despite growing up in a household with extreme religious devotion, he had not read a Bible until age 19. It was reading for himself the Scriptures that his religious devotion was transformed from duty into love. The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to him through the reading of His word, and he fell in love.
Months after my time with Global Teams in Africa, I think back to snapshots like the one above. Snapshots of God’s grace to me in seeing the power of him at work. Grace through kind and unassuming people, committed to the work of the Lord because he has transformed their hearts in such a way that there is no other option for them.
As a Christian living in North America, the Southern Bible belt no less, the chance of me encountering true, life-threatening persecution for following Jesus is highly unlikely. By God’s grace, I’ve been kept in the way, but I can’t help but wonder, “what if?” What if I was born in a different faith tradition? What if I was born in a different culture, where following the way of Jesus wasn’t the norm, and was actually discouraged? Who would I be? What kind of hope would I cling to?
Then, the tears start to prick my eyes. Because the truth is, that’s not my reality. I’ve been given great freedom. I had access to a Bible from my infancy. I grew up hearing about Jesus. I was given every opportunity to learn more about him, and sharing my faith was encouraged.
What a gift to partner with Global Teams as they equip ordinary people to spread the good news of Jesus’ saving power over death, life and suffering. I’m thankful for their mobilization ministries across the world, and for the opportunity to have seen with my own eyes the God of all nations at work.
Not only did Bethany drink coffee on this trip; she learned how to roast it!