With great care, the young woman packed the delicate, breakable items into her backpack. She was going to be on the road for months and needed to take just the most essential items, and yet she knew she couldn’t leave these behind.
Two tea cups
Sarah, a missionary with Youth with a Mission, wrapped the dainty, china teacups and packed them between layers of clothing. Over the ensuing months, Sarah travelled to remote jungle outstations and inner city missions. After finally arriving at each destination, she would carefully unpack the cups from her well-used backpack and look for the right opportunity to use them.
How could these two cups be used to touch lives?
Sarah invited tired aid workers to take a moment out of their demanding schedules to sit outside her tent and drink tea while they unburdened themselves to someone who was willing to take time to listen and pray. Young women living in abject poverty smiled with delight as Sarah filled the pretty cups with steaming tea, welcoming them to share their story and their struggles. Homesick missionaries were refreshed by the familiar as they wrapped their hands around the smooth china, sipping tea and reminiscing of home against the jungle backdrop.
It didn’t matter whether it was coconut juice, yerba mate, a pungent herbal brew or Darjeeling tea that filled the cup. And the invitation was not to the Ritz Carlton or a perfectly set-up home.
The Golden Thread that Sarah gave was the treasure of time and the seldom-offered gift of undivided attention. She created a space where people were invited to come and be, to open their hearts and slow down, even for just a few minutes. She cared about those with whom she was meeting and created a place of welcome and safety. She wanted her guests to leave refreshed and encouraged.
And then she added the Silver Thread, the small touch of beauty, designed to show the worth and value of each guest.
Two teacups, placed on grass mats, concrete benches or worn, wooden tables touched lives.
A simple act, a small tea set, a sweet fragrance became an inspiring story.
I heard Sarah Lanier, the author of Foreign to Familiar share almost 20 years ago and her example is still having an impact on my life. The details of the people served may not all be exactly as she related them, but she did travel the world with tea cups in her backpack, ministering to people everywhere she went as she shared tea with them.
- How can I add a small touch of beauty in the midst of the everyday that would make an impact on someone?
- Who could I meet with for an hour to encourage through my undivided attention and loving interest?
- What one thing could I do this week to make a small difference in the life of someone in my sphere of influence?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below and share this story with your friends to encourage them too.