How long does it take you to drink a cup of coffee? Some may leisurely sip their brew whilst chatting to a friend or reading a book, whereas others may down their cup in a few seconds before dashing off to their next appointment.
Did you know it takes months, or even years, for coffee beans to reach your coffee cup? While attending some coffee classes in Japan last year, it occurred to me that the process of harvesting coffee cherries and preparing green beans ready for roasting resembles my first few years in Japan.
God plucked me, a bright red coffee cherry, from my roots in Sydney and brought me to Japan. During my first two years studying language and culture, God popped me out of the skin, processed and prepared me to be a green bean. While God has been “processing” me, I have been learning the same lessons over and over again. Although sometimes painful, the lessons form the acronym PARTY:
Prayer: God has been teaching me to turn to him in trust and dependence. In various situations—getting through classes each day, losing my voice the week I was to share my testimony at church, deciding on my training designation after language school, and just surviving daily life—I’ve had to turn prayerfully to God to make it through.
Anxiety: Related to prayer is stress and anxiety. So many things make me anxious—stringing the right words together to form a sentence in Japanese, getting enough sleep, taking care of my health, making Japanese friends… the list goes on. God continues to remind me that he is in control and that I can entrust my concerns to Him.
Rest: Operating in a new language and adjusting to a new environment bring a completely different tiredness from what I’ve experienced in the past. I feel like my capacity has gone down, I’m learning my new limits and I’m learning when to stop and rest.
Timing: I can get frustrated or disappointed when things don’t go according to my schedule (for example, when my progress in language study is not as fast as I would like). But when I look back, I always see God’s hand in the timing. Not only that, so often He’s provided timely encouragements through His Word, sermons, or other people.
You: Although I’m away from my family and friends back home, he has provided me with you, fellow green beans (and, dare I say, not so green beans!)—friends and co-workers who are also in Japan. I am thankful and amazed at how God works to bring us all from different countries to serve his purpose of telling others about Jesus here in Japan.
Believe it or not, I haven’t always been a coffee drinker, but I became hooked by the aroma. In the same way that the aroma of coffee attracts, we, as the aroma of Christ, through our lives and speech, seek to make others crave and desire the hope that we have in Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16a tells us, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other an aroma that brings life” (NIV).
During these first few years in Japan, some days have been great and others have been incredibly challenging. But, as I “party” in God’s grace and goodness, he is processing me (sometimes painfully) equipping me, and enabling me to be his aroma. I haven’t yet been roasted, ground, or brewed, but even as a green bean I can be the aroma of Christ. Perhaps the roasting will commence when I begin my training in Tokyo.