The Good News in A Coffee Cup

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“Hello, Mr. B. Are you there? How are you? How is your wife?” I ask into the dark.

“I am fine. My wife is fine. How are you?” Mr. B responds from his chair on the porch where he gets better radio reception.

“I am fine.”  I reply through the screen.

“How are your girls?” He asks. “Are they sleeping?”

“They are fine.  Yes, they are sleeping.” I say. “Would you like some tea or coffee?”

“Oh yes, I would love some tea. Thank you.”

“And is your daughter there? Does she want hot chocolate?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

“Yes, she is here. She wants hot chocolate.”

“Ok, wait a minute.” I say as I make my way to the stove. The conversation is the same every night. The truth is I’ve already started the water to boil and his coffee cup is half full with a teabag, one scoop of milk powder, and one scoop of sugar. He loves hot chocolate much more than tea, but I generally save that for his daughters. And coffee keeps him awake until late in the night, so that is usually reserved for especially cold afternoons.

I deliver two steaming coffee cups that warm their hearts; or at least warm their bellies, and make my way back into the house leaving the solar light on so they can see. I rarely talk to Mr. B in the evenings, as that is prime radio listening time. There are four stations that can be heard in Kola: RFI, BBC, and two local stations. We haven’t heard BBC broadcast in quite some time, and the other stations come and go with the electricity but can generally be heard between dinner and bedtime.

Sometimes, when the girls are playing outside, or have gone down for a late afternoon nap, and when Mr. B is sitting on his blue plastic chair on the porch, I am able to talk to him. We talk about a lot of things, but mostly we talk about the things of God. He can recite more Bible stories than most American adults, I think. It’s fascinating for me to hear the stories from a Guinean point of view. He knows the stories so well; I think I’ve only corrected him once. During many of our conversations, Mr. B will get out a children’s picture Bible that was given to him and recount page after page of Biblical history. He points out all the characters illustrated and tells me everything he knows about each one. I often ask him how the stories relate to his life, or how they impact us today.

More often sooner than later, Jesus is the person of interest and we begin talking about how to get to paradise (heaven). By this time, I feel quite comfortable speaking the sometimes difficult truths of scripture because I have earned the right by daily sowing into his life. Little things like giving a cup of coffee, sharing cookies with his girls, praying for him and his family, and meeting felt needs open doors for explaining the Good News. If it only costs a scoop of milk, sugar, and cocoa powder to share the Gospel with someone, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

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