Starbucks — A Missions Field
by Joel Graber
I will never forget what happened that day in Starbucks. I was in the middle of Thailand helping lead a team of close to twenty interns from our Pursuit Internship. Our week consisted of teaching and ministering to a local Bible College, which was where we stayed for a portion of our outreach in Thailand. We had different ministry opportunities to preach the Gospel and pray for the sick. It was amazing seeing God move in the miraculous and supernatural. Living out the supernatural is something all Christians are called to do and is something I desire to live out myself; our ministry teaches on it. We also teach on hearing God’s voice. Hearing God’s voice is simple and anyone can do it. I’m going to share with you my journey of hearing God’s voice, walking in obedience and the fruit that comes from it.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice…”. Hearing God’s voice is not for the elite or super spiritual Christians; it’s for every day people like you and me. Many people treat talking to God like a one-sided conversation. We are unsure that God’s actually listening, unsure whether we should keep praying, and unsure if we can actually hear God speaking to us, as in a normal conversation. I would like to encourage you today that you can hear God’s voice. God wants to open up dialogue between you and Him. I like to picture it like my relationship with my wife. If only I do the talking, it’s not a relationship, it’s a dictatorship. Communing with God is just as simple, if not more so, as talking to another person. The hard part is talking with God and acting on the things He asks you to do, which brings me back to my story.
On one of our days off, our team went to a local mall, and it so happened to have a Starbucks coffee shop. I separated from the team and made my way to Starbucks. I bought my usual, vanilla latte and I found a corner in the back of the coffee shop where no one would bother me and I could just relax. I opened up my Bible and started reading. It wasn’t long until another man sat down a few tables away from me. God told me, “look up,” and I thought to myself, “OK, that’s easy enough.” So, I looked up and as soon as I looked at this man, God told me that He was depressed and that I should tell him about the joy that He wants to give him through Jesus.
Now, prior to all of this, I had struggled with depression. People looking at me wouldn’t have known it, but deep down I was struggling, so I was very familiar with the spirit of depression. It’s amazing that God uses us to help people who struggle with things that we have overcome. Our “past” doesn’t write us off as unworthy. Our “past” gives us authority to release freedom and victory to others who struggle with things we have worked through. He makes all things for His good. Sometimes God may reveal something negative about someone, but that’s not for the purpose of exposing the negative to bring shame. The reason God may highlight a struggle in someone is so that you can speak life into that person. This is part of tapping into His heart and His thoughts for people. Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This is asking God for His words and His thoughts to bring life, and call people into the life that Jesus has for them.
So, God told me that this man was struggling with depression and that I was supposed to talk to him. I didn’t like that idea. I said, “God, I’m not going to do that,” and I continued reading and for some reason I couldn’t shake it. I kept trying to focus, but the more I tried focusing the harder it got. I started talking back to God, “God, he probably doesn’t even speak English and I’m in the middle of Thailand and I don’t have a translator,” I whined. Finally I gave in and exclaimed, “Fine! I will go talk to him. He probably won’t understand and I will just continue on with my day.” I went up to him and shared, “Hi, my name is Joel. I know you don’t know me,” and he quickly replied saying, “Hi, how are you?” in the most perfect English that I had come across in Thailand. At that point I thought, “Oh great, God, now I need to keep talking with this man…” I then explained to him, “I’m good. I was just sitting over there reading my Bible and talking with God, and I don’t know if you’ve ever struggled with depression or not, but I feel like God just wants to give you joy and fill you with hope.” As soon as I said this, the man started tearing up. He told me, “You know, I walk through this mall every day, looking at people with smiles on their faces, wishing I could have joy like they do.” I began telling him about the hope and joy that can be found in having a personal relationship with Jesus. I told him Jesus loves him and wants to give him the hope and joy he has been looking for. Right there in the middle of Starbucks, that man gave his life to Jesus and I gave him my Bible.
Isn’t it amazing that God knows everything about everyone? God actually wants to partner with us, His children, in bringing hope to the hopeless, and joy to those who are stuck in bondage. God wants to speak to you and He wants to partner with you in releasing His life. Maybe you aren’t used to hearing God’s voice; maybe it’s new to you. I would like to encourage you today that God is speaking to you, and He’s not mad at you, He actually enjoys you. Part of learning to hear God is learning how to remove the distractions, set aside time, get in the Word, and start talking to the Holy Spirit, expecting Him to speak with His still small voice. You can do it. Starbucks is a missions field… send me Lord! I mean that as a joke, but it’s true that God will use you anyplace, any time, if you let Him. I would encourage you to let Him, because He wants to partner with you in changing lives and changing destinies.
Pursuit Internship Director at Global Prayer House Missions Base
Medicine Hat, Alberta