Snacks are an important part of many people’s lives. For some, a snack is something as easy as grabbing an apple a day, maybe to keep the doctor away. Speaking of apples, I recently met a Swedish guy who introduced me to peanut butter on almost everything! From eggs and bananas, to apples. I must admit, the apple tasted much better than the others. Go ahead, give it a try, there is a first time for everything. Don’t judge an apple by its cover!
Back to snacks though, coffee has a special place — master en suite with air conditioning — in many people’s hearts, or stomachs. Especially when it’s cold, maybe even rainy, you long to have the hot liquid burn its way down your throat as the stomach leaps for joy at its reception. The need for coffee is almost quadrupled in cold-climate areas, particularly at this time of the year, when the prophecy, “Winter is coming” gets fulfilled.
Winter, my friends, is a whole other story for another day. When the cold hits you like a hurricane, your skin gets drier than the Sahara. The days become shorter, it is dark by 5pm, and it is still dark when you rise in the morning. At such times, you cherish some portions of hymns that you hadn’t given much thought before. Like the third verse of Getty Music’s The Lord Is My Salvation song,
My hope is hidden in the Lord
He flow’rs each promise of His Word
When winter fades I know spring will come
The Lord is my salvation
John Newton even wrote a hymn called Winter. Here is the first verse;
See, how rude winter’s icy hand
Has stripped the trees, and sealed the ground!
But spring shall soon his rage withstand,
And spread new beauties all around.
Source: Olney Hymns – Book 2, Hymn 30, page 77
O! I digress. This post is about coffee – or snacks. The point is, coffee is good, especially during winter. Knowing this, last week we did a publicity drive for evangelism events we held at a predominantly international student residence in Bergen.
The event was dubbed Think Again and the aim was to do just that, think again about the big questions of life; Love, identity and also to grill a christian – basically ask TOUGH questions about faith and christianity and grill a christian with them.
I could tell you of how we gave out free coffee and fliers at the train station despite the morning chill as we invited people to the event. But no, I want you to know about an evangelism strategy that I am convinced – if given a chance – can yield much fruit.
Text a coffee
The idea here was to deliver free coffee to the student rooms. This would be in exchange for a flier (invite to the event) but even better, maybe open an opportunity for a conversation, hopefully leading to evangelism.
The first day went well, way better than I thought. In fact, at the very first room we delivered coffee to, the recipient, a Norwegian girl was so happy that she asked to take a picture of Nora (my colleague) and I. Because it’s a small world, the following morning Nora woke up to an instagram screenshot from her high school schoolmate asking if she was the one in the picture – It turned out that the girl posted the picture on instagram and Nora’s acquaintance saw it.
The caption was: I may be living in a sauna from the 70’s but the people here are the nicest
But this was only the beginning, things were bound to get better. The following day, we spiced up the coffee with waffles. And this, is how you get people’s attention in Norway. This time, the Coffle (Coffee + Waffle) was in exchange for a question about christianity/faith in preparation for ‘Grill A Christian’. The questions flew in, as the waffles went out.
Waffles are so loved that, after designing the poster for the Wednesday meeting, I had to design a fresh one that made a big deal of waffles so as to attract people.
Needless to say, it worked. The room was thronged.
I obviously do not expect Kenyan students to desire coffee or waffles as much as the Norwegians, but I certainly know things they are sure to like. Take the popular KDF as an example.
Some Christian Unions have in the past used coffee as ‘bait’ for evangelism and it has worked for them. For instance, in JKUATCU we had Kata Kiu (Quench your thirst) where we served very hot coffee to people, for free. We not only made sure it was not in disposable cups so that people would have to take it from our stand and return the cup to us but also that it was too hot for someone to take in a hurry. Taking it slowly meant we would get more time with them for conversations and evangelism.
This had its challenges, though, some people were in a hurry and didn’t have time for coffee. This is the reason I believe Text a Coffee | Text a KDF or whatever name or shape it would take has potential in Kenyan universities. The idea of having free food delivered to someone’s room is more welcoming than a random knock on the door by people going for door-to-door.
The budgetary implication is something that can be worked around. For instance, cooking mandazi can be significantly cheaper than buying KDF.
So I look forward to hearing, hopefully even seeing, this get tried out and Lord willing, yielding much fruit.
Lastly, let us remember the words of Rebecca Pippert in her book Out of the Saltshaker & Into the World;
Fear, not ignorance, is the real enemy of evangelism. We fear that our friends will reject or marginalize us if we speak about our faith; we fear that what we don’t know will be exposed; we fear that our beliefs will be challenged.