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Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Simple Cup Of Coffee

I will follow him,
Follow him wherever he may go,
And near him I always will be,
For nothing can keep me away,
He is my destiny.
I Will Follow Him, Frank Pourcel, Paul Mauriat, Arthur Altman & Norman Gimbel (1962).

Sitting at a picnic table by the Berlin Wall Memorial on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I fire up the stove to brew my first cup of coffee. The city is slowly awakening, as walkers, runners, and cyclists occasionally pass by. This is a peaceful little spot away from the main bike path, so most probably don't notice me sitting there in the shade.

But one guy did. He was walking directly from Rapid Creek across the grass some distance from me toward the Civic Center parking lot. Carrying a gas station coffee cup and a small towel over his shoulder, he smiles and waves. I acknowledge and yell, "Would you like a cup of hot coffee? I'll make it right here!"

No hesitation. He strides right over to me and changes my day.

John preparing to leave for his next calling.

As he approaches, I see a face that simply glows with peace and joy. He thanks me for the invitation and wants to know all about me and what I'm doing. I tell him this is simply an early start to this month's #CoffeeOutside - Rapid City, an informal, outdoor gathering of the local cycling community over coffee. I'd be happy to brew a fresh cup for him. And here's some relatively healthy treats to go with it.

He says it all looks awesome. His name is John, but he really wants to hear more about Coffee Outside and how I brew coffee right there on a picnic table. So, I talk of our little community and go through my process with a JetBoil stove, freshly ground coffee, and AeroPress filtering system. With his first sip, he closes his eyes and sighs deeply, "Ahh. That's good coffee." Then, he slowly starts to talk.

CoffeeOutside groups in the United States.
(image from

John is a man currently living out of a truck, but he's not broke and he's not homeless. Far from it. He's a man on a mission.

Not long ago, John worked a steady construction job in Chicago, lived in a good part of town, and thought he had the world by the tail. When a girlfriend started dabbling in meth, John joined that scene and quickly spiraled out of control. Darkness and hopelessness enveloped his world, threatening his very life. 

Somehow, at those depths, John saw a light. He saw Jesus. He gave his life to Jesus and instantly changed.

John sold or gave away most everything, packed up a few things in his truck, and asked God where to go to serve. Right then, as he was leaving Chicago on I-90 near O'Hare Airport, the music in his truck abruptly stopped and an electronic billboard overhead flashed "Nebraska, The Good Life."

So, John headed to Nebraska and, along the way, learned of the store in White Clay that sells millions of cans of beer annually to residents of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. That's it. He drove directly to Pine Ridge, knowing nobody there and nothing of the culture.

Initially facing opposition and even hostility, John says that he simply made himself available to others, served as able, and eventually was accepted by the community. About a month later, John heard a new calling to go to Rapid City. So, he reluctantly left Pine Ridge.

In Rapid City, he immediately landed a construction job and continued to serve. He had been here for about a month before hearing his next calling to go to Polson, Montana. Again, John reluctantly decided to leave because he believed that's where God called him to go.

Before John left Rapid City, however, a local minister agreed to baptize him. That's why John carried a small towel. He had just been baptized in Rapid Creek moments before stopping by for coffee. Wow.

That explains his sparkling eyes, undeniable joy, and inner peace. John is a new man with a servant's heart. And he's out there listening to God's voice and following it.

What a blessing to share this time with him. All starting with a simple cup of coffee.

Go, in peace, John. Praise God.

I Will Follow Him, Peggy March (1963)

I Will Follow Him, Sister Act (1992).

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