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Chapter 27: Peace Filled

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

Acts 8:1

I remember reading this verse many years ago thinking, ‘Glad this doesn’t happen in today’s world.’  But it does.  Persecution of the church happens daily, of course we now associate this with ISIS.  My heart breaks as I read about the persecution taking place in the Middle East.  Children being martyred for their faith in Jesus.  I think about Loralie and Jack when I hear these accounts.  My heart breaks.  Not just because of these injustices taking place, but because my heart’s response is wrong.  I was so filled with anger.  Life for a life sounded right in this moment.

But God lead me to work though the book of Acts with our church here in Kraków.  In Acts 6 and 7 we have a beautiful example of the Christ centered response to Persecution.  Stephen had every right to condemn, to judge, to lash out in anger.  But he didn’t.

 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Acts 7:60

The message of Christ is controversial.  The message of Christ is love.  So next time we are tempted to respond with hate, remember this:  The spearhead of persecution towards the early Church, Saul, became the author to a majority of the New Testament, Paul.

This doesn’t make sense.  But God acts in ways that make sense to Him.  He takes what man desires for evil and uses it for His glory.  He takes the scattering of the church to fulfill what he promised in Acts 1:7-8.

How does this relate to the Graves Family?  We are trusting God amidst the unknown and uncertainties of our future.

This last month we have had some pretty awesome experiences.  We have been able to host a lot of people that God has used in some incredible ways to speak truth, love and mercy into our lives.  We had a fellow volunteer, Graham, visit and remind us that we are not the only ones who wait patiently for God’s voice leading us to the next step in our lives.  Sometimes God allows us to grow in perseverance before revealing the next step.  Our good friend Sarah came to live with us for <insert God’s timing here>.  What a voice of God’s truth she has been!  Michelle and I both thank God for the light she has been in our lives.  We also had the Sunbergs and the South Texas missions team come to town.  Talk about real people sharing real life!  What a treat to get to know these guys and gals more!  We only consumed roughly 1.5 kilos of coffee this month….God is good!

I know you might be wondering what I meant by the unknown and uncertainties statement.  So let me clarify:

We have friends across the globe that get asked the same question, ‘What’s next?’  What a challenging question to answer!  Sometimes God gives us clarity of the future, sometimes He lights our path.  Lately, God has been sharing His peace.  Every time we pray about our future, God responds in His peace filled whisper: “Wait.  Focus on the now and what is in front of you.  I will appoint you.”  It is not careless when you are following God’s leading.

I(Brad) have started a coffee blog (http://gravesabroad.com/coffeediem/) where I plan to discuss coffee origins, brewing methods, cafe experiences and reviews, best practices, equipment recommendations, ministry in the workplace, community, and discussing coffee shop ministry.  This is something that I have been wanting to work on for some time and feel that now is the right opportunity to begin.  Pray that God uses this for His glory…whatever that may be!
We have decided to keep the kids in school for at least one more month, maybe two.  This is a difficult decision to make (financially), but we feel that it is best for the kids and that God is encouraging us to keep them in!  They love their school and are big parts of the social scene.  They seem to grow daily in their Polish language skills, far surpassing my (Brad’s) knowledge.  This has opened some awesome doors for ministry and building relationships with the staff and families.

Michelle has been growing in her leading of worship.  God is using her in some pretty awesome and radical ways as she focus on the Lord’s presence.  Worship has never been better at Church!  God is so wonderful!

As you pray for us, please consider these requests:

  • For Sweet Surrender – Leadership shift, delayed reopening, and future business and ministry opportunities
  • For our Family – As we follow God’s prompting to wait in His presence and focus on the days ahead.  That we would be investing our time and resources wisely.
  • For our friends Sindy and Bojan, his father just passed away.
  • For our friends the Adams – They have a huge Gospel week long event next week.
  • For our finances – things are getting tight as we come to the close of our contract
  • For Michelle and I to continue to build relationships with those that God puts in our lives.  Sharing the hope of Jesus as opportunity presents itself.

How can we pray for you?  Email us please!  thegravesabroad@gmail.com
Financially support us at: http://web.nazarene.org/goto/TheGraves

We are so thankful for all the support you have shown our family!  God bless!!

Coffee Shop Ministry: What and Why

They very phrase “Coffee Shop Ministry” sounds weird.  It’s almost like I took a business and thought I could add fulfillment or meaning by ending with the word ministry.  That is not the case, trust me.  If it were, I would have chosen an occupation like “Wall Street Executive Ministry.”

So what does this phrase mean?  Ministry that takes place in, around, and through a Coffee Shop.  After you finish your long and over the top eye roll, allow me to explain how it is so much more and why it matters.

 

Think back to the last time you were in a coffee shop.  What brought you there?  Were you meeting family or friends? were you studying for a test, completing a project, reading a book, or out on a date?  Regardless of whether or not you even care for the taste of coffee, there is something different about the environment of a coffee shop that brings us together.

Community is fostered.

This is important.

We go to coffee shops to share life, live life, to give life.  Sometimes it is about the coffee.  Enjoying a single-origin Ethiopian Yirgacheffee that your barista has just coaxed a fruit filled flavor that seems to kick your taste buds with goodness, you begin to question whether syrup was added!  Other times coffee is nowhere close to your heart, so far that you cannot fathom why anyone would punish their taste buds with such an unpleasant stout beverage…if you can call it that!  In the end, it becomes more about people than what you are drinking.  It’s about your friend, your barista, your life. You find yourself at a coffee shop.

This is why.

Community forms naturally around most coffee shops.  During my time with Starbucks I picked up on this.  Not just a community of coffee drinkers, but almost a perfect cross section of Humanity.  Every creed, religion, race, sexual-orientation and Political affiliation.  Life happens here.  Why wouldn’t we want to be involved in this community?!

If we, the church want to engage others, share life, and be present in our local communities, we must find where the people are.  In most cases, you can find a coffee shop nearby.  A non-threatening environment full of acceptance.  Not every coffee shop is ideal, but there are people in each shop.

 

At at the very least, when you are ready to a purchase your drink, remember there is a person staring back at you.  Put the phone down, make eye contact, and share a moment.  Because ministry is about to happen.

Ingredients for Success

I thought it might be a good idea to mention a few of the most important ingredients for making the best cup of coffee.

Before I begin, I want it to be clear that I am making a big assumption:  You actually like the coffee you selected.  Sometimes no matter how you prepare a coffee, you just won’t like it.  This is the case with me and Starbucks’ French Roast.  No matter how you prepare this coffee, it will always taste what seems to be an ashtray.  Every time.  Guaranteed.

Here are the basics:

  1. Fresh Coffee
  2. Filtered Water
  3. Correct Grind Size
  4. Proper Measurements
  5. Clean Equipment

  Fresh Coffee

I always buy coffee from local Specialty Coffee shops and roasters.  Here I can talk to the Baristas (sometimes even the roasters!) about the coffee and find out more than a bag can offer.  I usually ask about when it was roasted, what flavors they can taste, and what the best brew method and tips.  Good first time tip:  Ask them what their favorite is!

I avoid coffee from the grocery store.  Before you go all “You Coffee Snob!” on me, let me explain.  I don’t know how many of you have worked in a grocery store before, but I have.  As a customer you normally don’t notice the specifics of how long product has sat on the shelf, but as an employee (night stalker) you do.  Think about this, the coffee is bought in bulk (usually lower quality beans), roasted in bulk, shipped to a warehouse, then distributed a stores back room, then onto the shelf.   Ever picked up a product covered in dust?  Thought it might be more than a few years old?

The longer a coffee oxidizes the more stale it becomes.  This process begins immediately after roasting and the rate at which it oxidizes increases when the coffee is ground (more surface area).  So think about buying pre-ground coffee…

Filtered Water

Have you ever enjoyed sweet delicious spring water?  You ever settle for city water?  Notice the differences?  The main ingredient in your cup of coffee is…water.  So maybe next time you take a little more care when selecting what water you put in.  Even though tap water can be super delicious, it also has to do with what minerals are in your water supply and whether they play nicely with coffee molecules or not.  Using a filter helps remove impurities and provide a cleaner cup.

Grind Size

When you grind the coffee fine, it provides more surface area for the water to pull flavor from.  This requires a shorter brew time.  Think Sand.  Think Espresso.

When you grind the coffee coarse, the water has less surface area.  This requires a longer brew time.  Think small pebbles.  Think French Press.

Using the correct grind size depending on your brewing method, amount of coffee/water, and desired brew time.

Proper Ratios

I recommend that you start with a baseline of 7grams of ground coffee for every 100ml of water.  This is not the golden rule for every coffee, but it is a starting point for finding the right ratio for you.

Clean Equipment

Coffee is rich with oils and stales soon after grinding.  It is important for cup quality and machine function to clean your brewing equipment after each use.

At the end of the day, no matter what you do or don’t do.  You need to discover the right method to make the best tasting coffee TO YOU.  After all, You are the one who will be enjoying this delicious cup of joe…not a book, blog, or “coffee connoisseur.”

Let’s talk about soda…

Frequently I get asked the question, ” Brad, how do you make the perfect cup of coffee.”  What a challenging question!!  The answer to this one is extremely complex, yet frustratingly simple, “By making the one you like best.”

Let me ask this question, ‘What is  your favorite soda, beer or wine?’

I don’t drink alcohol, but I have had my fair share of soda, so lets talk soda.  If I were to answer that question honestly it would depend on my mood.  Sometimes I enjoy the rich dark flavor of a Dr. Pepper, the spicy Ginger Ale, the sweet Cream Soda, the bite of a Barqs, or the fruitiness of a Cherry Pepsi(or Coca-Cola…we don’t need to get into that debate here).  Do you see where I am going?

Just like the complexity of a soda selection, we have the complexity of coffee selection even more so!  Not only would we be determining which coffee to brew but then the choice of how we brew it that accents each coffee differently.  Just as no two sodas are created equal, no two coffee’s are equal.  I would argue that no two coffee farms, in the same country at the same elevation on the same mountainside would be identical in flavor…that is assuming they are the same varietals!  We won’t go to much further down this road now, but I think you are starting to get the picture.

Let me answer the initial question a second time, “Practice and Patience.”  If you don’t practice and you are not patient, I suggest you trust your coffee ritual and time to the local Barista.  For myself, the perfect cup requires farmers, processors, transporters, roasters, and Baristas to play their part in the big picture of coffee.  It only takes one mistake, at any level to transform this sweet nectar into dirty water (also known as instant coffee).

If you enjoy the cup of coffee that you make in the morning, by all means keep enjoying!  I cannot promise that you will enjoy any cup that I make you more, though a majority do.  I can give you specifics on measurements, methods, and coffees, but unless you are doing the exact same steps with the same coffee, you probably wont match it…unless you practice and have loads of patience.

When I was practicing for the Polish AeroPress Championship, I would use the same base formula for making my AeroPress: 14grams of Ethiopia from Java, 2 clicks coarser than medium on my Concept, 80 C water temp (175 F), 18 seconds pour time for 205g of water, let it sit for 1:10, then flip and 30 second press at most(ending around 1:40).  No matter how many times I made the coffee, it seemed to change in flavor each time.  I discovered that if I poured to fast or to slow, poured over or under the amount of water, or pressed to slowly or too quickly it would affect the taste of the coffee.  Even the water temperature being off by a few degrees drastically changed the outcome!  The joy of the perfect cup outweighs the challenge to brew it.

Coffee, Soda, and Food all are a preference of our pallet.  You may never like coffee, no matter how I make it or until we add a little bit of milk.  I do not call myself a purist, connoisseur, or snob; I just enjoy good coffee.  I, like you, have my favorite way to enjoy coffee.  Let us begin to understand this journey together.

Chapter 26: Trust

…for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.

Acts 5:38-39

God is awesome.  It is amazing how many times I have to remind myself that when we pursue the call of God in our lives that He is faithful and provides!  It seems silly after all my family has been through that I forget this.  Maybe that is the struggle of our fallen humanity, that we need to be in continuous communion with Him so that we never take our eyes off of Jesus.  To seek Him in the sunny days, so that when storms come, we hardly notice.

We have had some busy days in the recent weeks.  I am thankful that even with the shop closed, we find ourselves hard at work.  God is moving in this city and we are so thankful to be surrounded by people in pursuit of Him.  Part of our time has been to help our good friends, the Adams, set up their new Worship Center.  The grand opening  will be this month.  .  From here we will be able to help partner with other missions and ministries in the city, and it is located in the main square!

What a blessing! God has moved on every prayer request from last month!  I understand and appreciate those that pursue the Polish language as a ministry tool.  Yet it amazes me that God continues to bring internationals that find themselves in Krakow, who prefer to speak English, as reoccurring ministry opportunities.  My frustrations with a lack of the ability to communicate have dissipated as ministry opportunities in English abound. God is awesome!

Two meetings that really amazed me were for the Honduran Coffee connection and the bible study with young adults.  Both went better than we could have imagined.  We are excited to see where God takes these meetings and hope to have some major updates soon!

As we thank you for your continued prayer support, please continue to pray for our family with these in mind:

  • We hope to continue a bible study in the upcoming weeks at our house for some of our young adult friends
  • We are trying to build relationships with our neighbors through Michelle’s gift of baking.
  • English conversations with our coffee people
  • Worship nights, youth nights, and prayer meetings
  • Building relationships with the parents of Loralie’s friends
  • A project to connect our shops with a coffee farm in Honduras!
  • With the transition out of management, we have come to find our roles as volunteers changing.

As we approach the end of our contract for this term, we would love the opportunity to be here longer.  But we trust God and are fully surrendering our finances to God.  If you are interested in supporting us financially you can go to this website:  http://web.nazarene.org/goto/TheGraves

If you are curious what are current needs are please ask!  We would love to share more. If you would like to share your prayer requests with us, we would love to join you in prayer!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

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