I’ve just dropped my car off to be serviced, and have a couple of hours of waiting, so I go to the Starbucks across the street. This is my second time at this place.
As I sip on my coffee, I notice a couple walk in together. The man walks up to the counter and after ordering his drink, he turns around and asks the lady behind her what she’d like to have. He pays for his purchase and goes to the end of the counter where he’s to pick up his order. Anyone watching the couple would have no problem assuming the two are together, but this is not the case.
When it’s the lady’s turn to order her drink, the barista tells her, “Your drink was already ordered and paid for.”
“By whom?” asks the lady with a very confused look on her face.
“By that guy,” the barrister points to the man who’d walked in before her.
The woman walks up to the guy and thanks him insisting to pay the stranger back when the man says, “Lady, I’m grateful to be alive. Riding my bike here, I almost got killed by a driver who didn’t see me. So, please accept my gift to you.” He then walks out.
“Did you see what just happened?” I ask the gentleman sitting across from me.
I go on to explain what just transpired and finish by saying, “May God help us all to see life the way this man just experienced it.”
“Amen!” responded the gentleman.
His quick response causes me to ask, “Where do you go to church?”
It turns out that Mike is a worship leader of a very large church in the neighborhood. We hit it off very pleasantly. We spend the next two hours talking about our faith, worship and the church.
As we’re talking I notice a young lady standing in line can’t take her eyes off me. Eventually she walks up to me and says, “Do you remember me?”
I really don’t, but I fake it. “Of course, I remember you! But can’t remember your name.”
With tears in her eyes she says, “Mehri! I’ve been thinking about you so much lately.”
As soon as I hear her name, I remember her totally. Over ten years ago, she used to be one of my church members. She goes to this Starbucks often, and as fate has it today, she’s come in later than usual. If it were any other day, she would not have run into me. I introduce her to Mike and after exchanging contact info, we promise each other to meet soon.
Eventually Mike has to leave which gives me a chance to fire up my Mac and update my status on Facebook when another young man sits next to me.
“Are you on Facebook?” he asks with his thick African accent.
“Yes, I am.”
“My name is Zach! Can I be your friend on Facebook?”
“Why do you want to be my friend? You don’t even know me.”
“I’ve never met many of my friends on Facebook. At least I’ve seen you in person.”
I find it fascinating what his generation considers friendship.
“My name is Shah. You’re from Africa, correct?” I say, as I shake his hand.
“Yes, but you’ll never guess where.
“No! Benin. I told you, you’ll never guess.”
I’m not going to argue with him about the fact that I was only a country or so off the mark.
“I have over 350 friends on Facebook, but except for a handful, I’ve never asked anyone to be my friend. They all requested to be my friends,” I continue.
“This way, I’m assured that these people wanted to be my friends because they know who I am and what I believe, so my comments and thoughts will not offend them.”
“So, what is it that you believe?”
I know that question was going to come up, and am ready for it.
“Being from Benin, I assume you’re a Muslim,” I tell him.
“Yes, I am.”
I begin to share my testimony with him from a shame-based perspective, a culture he was raised in. He finds my life-story to be interesting and identifies with much of what he hears. He goes on to tell me about some of his Christian friends who’ve been sharing the same kind of life-stories with him.
As Zach and I are talking, I notice another old friend standing in line. I haven’t seen him for over 8-9 years. It’s good to renew our friendship.
Eventually. I get a call from my mechanic. The car’s ready, and I have to leave. As I walk across the street, I realize, “I had church at the Starbucks this morning.” I had fellowship and renewed friendships, exchanged ideas on church and worship, met some new people, and shared my faith with a Muslim man.
When was the last time you did all this at your Sunday service?
Since our first meeting, I’ve met with Mike again, and have had the honor of being given the three CDs he’s produced. He’s one talented man of God. I also had a chance to meet with Mehri, my old church member. She’s been through a lot these last 10 years including a divorce, unsuccessful attempt to move back to Iran, the loss of all personal possession, a new, but painful start in America, and battling leukemia.
In our last meeting, after sharing all she’s been through, trying very hard to hold back tears, she said, “Pastor Shahrokh, do you remember the first day I came to your church? I’ve never been the same since. Thank you for introducing me to the Lord. Throughout these past 10 years, He’s been my only true friend. I would have never made it without him in my life.”