ARTICLE BY: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
Have you ever showed up at a coffee shop, placed your order for a drink, grabbed your wallet to pay, only to discover that someone else has covered the cost of your order?
Nothing softens the soul like the random act of kindness of a complete stranger, except maybe a not-so-random act of kindness of a beloved friend.
As a Christian, I see a thread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this simple idea of paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee.
Selfless love and sacrifice for someone you may never know tethered to the hope that they will pass along the kindness to another.
The gospel served in a cup, what a beautiful thing!
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” Revelation 21:6b NASBAs a Christian, I see a thread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this simple idea of paying for a stranger's cup of coffee.Click To Tweet
The concept of “paying it forward” is not a modern inception.
A quick course of internet research led me to a well of insight into the ancient practice.
Although I cannot confirm these facts, I believe they add a delightful element of intrigue to our story:
- The “Pay It Forward” concept can be traced back to a play performed in Greece in 317 BC.
- Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson included the “Pay it Forward” idea in their writings.
- Early references generally involve lending of funds to be paid forward rather than being paid back.
- In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel, Pay It Forward, was published and later adapted into a film.
An interesting quote on the topic (credited to an “anonymous” representative of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1944): “You can’t pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay forward.”
The Birth of the “Pay it Forward” Movement
So, how did this “Pay it Forward” movement take on the modern coffeehouse spin so many of us have experienced in recent years?
As far as I can tell, it is the brain-child of an Irishman named John Sweeney.
On March 27, 2013, John started a Facebook page called Suspended Coffees.
The idea of paying ahead for a “suspended coffee” to give to someone who couldn’t otherwise afford it can be traced back to Naples, Italy—where it is now common practice.
Sweeney’s call to action was simple: Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, because an act of kindness can change a life.
This is how we need to approach our Christian life!
I don’t get to spend much time at coffee shops these days, but I had my very own “suspended coffee” experience a few weeks ago.
And do you want to know what went through my mind?
“Wow! There are still good-hearted people on this earth. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that goodness and kindness still exist in this crazy world.”What Christ has done for us is something we can never pay back, but we can share His love with others.Click To Tweet
My personal suspended coffee experience got me looking for ways to “Pay it Forward” in my day-to-day life.
Because isn’t that exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us?
What Christ has done for us is something we can never pay back—and in response to this, we are called to show His love by seeking out those around us that we can pay it forward to.
“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5 HCSB
Our Mug on a Mission fundraiser was inspired by and created for “Pay it Forward” people.
If that’s you (or if you are intrigued by the concept) keep on reading!
The Big Idea Behind “Mug on a Mission”
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 HCSB
There is a fierce spiritual battle raging for the hearts and affections of God’s people.
The enemy has targeted the Church, and our communal lack of biblical knowledge has left us vulnerable and exposed.
The only offensive weapon included in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
If we do not know the Word, we will not be equipped to fight back against the schemes of evil one!There is a fierce spiritual battle raging for the hearts and affections of God's people.Click To Tweet
Take a moment to think of the people in your local community, workplace, and church.
Do you know how many of them are engaging in consistent Bible study?
According to the Barna Research Group, just 14% of the population in our country reads their Bibles daily. The same research shows that 1/3 of the population reads their Bibles weekly.
This means that approximately 2/3 of the people you come into contact with on a regular basis are not consistently reading their Bible.
Yet, a majority of Americans (66%) express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says, including one in three (29%) who express a strong desire.
Maybe, the only thing standing between these people and the freeing truth of the Bible is a friend who is willing to study by their side.
We know that the idea of inviting a friend to do Bible study can be intimidating, so we’ve created free online Bible studies and a selection of inspirational mugs to do the work for you.
These mugs are on a mission to help you share the TRUTH of God’s Word with your local community!
Our Exclusive “Mug on a Mission” Designs
$10 of every individual mug sale goes directly to Living by Design Ministries.
Living by Design Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry that delivers free Bible studies to inboxes around the world.
We exist to help believers of all ages open their Bibles, understand what they are reading, and apply the freeing truths to their lives.
If you aren’t familiar with our Living by Design Bible studies, here are a few things that set us apart:
- Our Bible studies are available online and anyone, anywhere, can access them for free.
- Our Bible studies are available on-demand (sign up today; start tomorrow).
- Our Bible studies take just 15-minutes a day, 5-days a week to complete.
- Our Bible studies are delivered straight to your inbox each morning.
- Our Bible studies are exegetical (Bible-focused and Scripture-rich).
- Our Bible studies are packed with free digital gifts to engage all your senses.
- Many studies include an audio version of the daily devotional (+ Scripture reading).
Because our studies are packed with spiritual nourishment and delivered to individual inboxes on a daily basis, you can invite others to participate without fear of overcommitting your limited time and resources.
In this way, the free online format of the Living by Design Bible studies encourages discipleship and evangelism simultaneously.The convenient, online format of the Living by Design Bible studies encourages discipleship and evangelism simultaneously.Click To Tweet
Each mug design includes an inspirational message AND the URL of our online ministry.
We’ve also created beautiful postcard-sized fliers for you to print and share with the mugs.
FREE Bible Study Material + Cute Inspirational Mugs = A Fun Way to Pay It Forward!
Just imagine the impact a single “Mug on a Mission” might have if…
- You used it to serve coffee to friends and neighbors.
- You donated it to the local homeless shelter.
- You gifted it to a friend who is struggling.
Envision the conversations it might begin, the relationships it might build, the conversions it might bring.
I can see it now!
Warm beverages soothing weary souls and Bible study nourishing parched spirits—what a dynamic combination.
And what if hundreds, or even thousands, of these “Mugs on a Mission” were purchased and gifted to communities around the world?
Are you catching the vision I’m casting?
If you ask me, this is an opportunity to “Pay it Forward” x 2!Will you support our ministry by purchasing a 'Mug on a Mission' to share God's Word with a hurting world today? Click To Tweet
When you gift one of these mugs to a friend, or use it to serve guests in your home, you are creating an opportunity for Christ to enter the conversation.
When you buy a set of twelve mugs to donate to your church or local charity organization, you are kindling the fire of change in your community.
Will you support our ministry by purchasing a “Mug on a Mission” to share God’s Word with a hurting world today?
ARTICLE CURATED BY: Yvonne Novak, Living by Design Creative Team