Becca was part of this summer's team in Iceland, serving coffee and conversation to festival-goers. Here, she shares stories of what happened:
A few years ago, they started calling us the Coffee Angels. And the name stuck.
We show up with canisters of free coffee as they come rolling out of their tents in the late morning. We walk through the debris from their parties the previous night, dodging ill-placed tether lines from tents staked into the ground.
“You guys are life savers!” they say. But, whether they know it or not, they are receiving more than coffee.
God’s plan is often to use small, unlikely things to bring big, long-term changes. And that is what we do in Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands), Iceland, during the outreach. The Þjóðhátíð festival is held every year in an ancient volcanic crater.
What began as a way to commemorate Iceland becoming a nation has been deluded into a huge drinking party with bad music. Even among Icelanders, the festival has a bad reputation for violence and sexual assaults.
The situation seemed hopeless, but that is where we come in.
"Throughout history, God has a track-record of using the small places and unlikely people to show His glory...."
It begins with non-stop prayer and then love flows out, in the form of coffee. It is amazing how thankful people are for free coffee when the wind is cold, and the hangover is brutal.
It is the definition of love to meet people where they are, with no strings or expectations attached. And they respond with surprise:
“Why would you do this?”
“You have come all the way here just to give me coffee? You really are angels!”
And, through this simple gesture, seeds of God’s love are planted.
Every year, the festival-goers are more receptive to what we have to say and are more willing to talk about their lives. We are building relationships and trust.
Every year, the heavy, dark spiritual atmosphere grows lighter. Last year was the start of another shift. God showed us ground that He wanted us to move into. Things that were not possible before were opening up.
And this year, we pioneered a new expression of our ministry at the festival: a night team. As is our routine, the whole team went to the festival site in the evening to watch the crater lit by bonfire, flares, and fireworks.
But this time, some of us stayed out until the sun peeked over the horizon again at 3 or 4am.
After midnight are the peak party hours. We weren’t sure what to expect, but God used us to help the festival staff watch out for people in vulnerable situations; and also to offer help where the staff would not.
"It may seem like small things are happening here. But for those of us who live here in Iceland, we know that it is to those little victories that we need to cling..."
We walked stumbling people back to their tents or homes; we helped someone find their lost cellphone. It was a new way of making connections, and building on what God did through our coffee encounters during the day. Some even recognized us from when we gave them coffee that morning!
It makes me wonder – if we are seeing these improvements just for one weekend, what else is God doing in Vestmannaeyjar? And could it be that this festival is not only a measure of God working in Vestmannaeyjar, but a litmus of Him moving in the hearts of all Icelanders?
It may seem like small things are happening here. But for those of us who live here in Iceland, we know that it is to those little victories that we need to cling.
Throughout history, God has a track-record of using the small places and unlikely people to show His glory. To use a tiny island off the south coast of an obscure island country near the arctic circle seems to fit the profile.
Photo Credit: Becca Thompson
Every summer, 24-7 Prayer sends mission teams to serve alongside communities who are living out prayer, mission and justice.
2019 mission team details will be released later in the year.
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