That morning, Adam and I went for breakfast. We ordered the usual - two bowls of noodles. Our two bowls of noodles arrived; we gave thanks and started eating.
Then this stranger appeared from behind, greeted Adam and sat down beside me. That wasn't usual. It wasn't my first time eating there with Adam, and even when Adam greeted his friends there, he would sit at another table from his friends.
Anyway, this man sat down beside me, lit up a cigarette and started talking non-stop. He was well into his late thirties, an animated man, I must admit. He only stops to breathe, so he can continue onto his next line.
As he finished his first cigarette, a cup of coffee arrives for him. The monologue went on for another 30 minutes long after we finished our bowl of noodles. This whole time every word was completely in a foreign language. Since it was a language I knew just enough to say, ‘I am hungry’, I wasn’t paying much attention at all.
The man finished his second cigarette and shortly after I found myself back in the car with Adam making our way to the office.
‘So what did he say?’ I asked.
‘Oh, he said…’ Adam makes a turn, ‘He has many stories. He works as a security guard. He is also a musician in a band, and also a neighbourhood leader. He was talking about how he didn’t like the government for all the corruption there is. He was also saying, because he was a musician, there are many ladies who want to sleep with him. Then he suddenly thought, ‘Oh! I have a wife and a daughter. So until now I have not slept with any other women but my wife. Even though I am tempted I said no.’’
Then Adam said, ‘Every time I see him, I would treat him to a cup of coffee.’
‘So how many cups of coffee have you treated him?’
‘That was the 7th cup. I just listen to him talk and let him tell me his stories. I plan to treat him twenty cups of coffee.’
‘Wow, that is a lot of coffee.’
‘Ya, I want to build relationship with him.’ Adam gestured with his hand.
I was still trying to grapple with how the gospel comes into play here in this culture, so I asked, ‘When will you share the gospel with him then? Would it be on the 20th cup of coffee?’
There was a slight pause. ‘After twenty cups of coffee I will see if he is ready. When he is ready I would share, when he approaches me.’
That was when it finally sunk in for me. There is no start and end to relationship building. Too often we conceptualise saving a person as them repenting of their sins, reciting the sinner’s prayer and that’s it. We just saved a soul. But there was no intimate relationship built.
When they are ready, they will come to us, asking us for directions. At that point we would be ready to point them to His love. In the meantime, we will continue deepening our relationship with them.
It most probably would take more than twenty cups of coffee. But twenty cups of coffee and some patience doesn’t cost a lot when God took an eternity to make known His love for us.
*The names in this story has been changed for security reasons.