Rite of passage parenting: Dream on
I was born a dreamer. I will die a dreamer. My two sons are dreamers, and I hope my coming grandson will be one, too.
I tend to think of dreaming as a gift from God. My wife and those who work for me thinks it’s a curse. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. It’s a challenge to live and work with a dreamer, and I understand that. Every day, I see new horizons, and I see them with clarity and passion.
I’ll never live long enough for all my dreams to come true. People who aren’t dreamers find it hard to understand that when dreamers are talking, we’re usually dreaming out loud. And as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned a dreamer has to be careful where he dreams.
Lately, I’ve been dreaming about coffee. I don’t like to drink it, but I spend lots of time thinking about it. I love the smell of coffee, too.
By the time you read this article, I’ll be back in Panama to take care of some important tasks. First, I’m going back to the jungle to find the tree that will become the cross I carry up Mount Kilimanjaro. I want the cross to come from the jungles of Panama as an encouragement to the new believers there.
I’ve been in touch with the Embera tribe in the jungles of Panama, but our communication hasn’t gone well. I sent word to ask them to look for a tree that would fit the dimensions of a cross. Two weeks later I got a message back (I’m not making this up): “Could you send us a picture of a tree so we can know what one looks like?”
They live in the jungle. They’re surrounded by trees. You can’t swing a monkey by the tail without hitting a tree. So I’m going to go in person to show them what a tree looks like, and while I’m there, I’m going to shoot the messenger.
But another purpose of my trip has to do with coffee. Many of the people I minister to live in the coffee-growing regions of the world. Panama is one of them. A dreamer friend of mine named Greg Sweatt started buying coffee beans from these second- and third-world countries, exporting them back to his home town, roasting, packaging and selling them. He’s seen God do some amazing things. The bean growers hire women—usually those who have lost their husbands to death or divorce and have children still at home—and pay them above-average wages.
In each country, the local coffee bean companies give part of their profit to supporting missionaries. Last year, one company alone paid a full year’s salary for 47 missionaries.
Here in the U.S., my friend Greg has used profits from the coffee beans to start a church and to begin many community outreaches in his area. Not only do I think that smells like the apostle Paul, but I would bet it’s a sweet aroma to Jesus, too.
Greg’s work has me dreaming about how I can be a better missionary. I work hard at leading people to the Lord and providing Bible studies for the new believers, but what if I could also provide income that helps support mothers and children? What if I could provide better medical care and raise the level of education by selling something most of you already use on a daily basis? I would say this fits what God says in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I’ve always said that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is release them to dream. By God’s divine creation, children are dreamers. They don’t have to learn to dream, because He has already placed the dreams within them. But as they grow older, the world tends to beat the dreams out. Didn’t we all have dreams of growing up to be firemen, astronauts, doctors or something just as grand?
Just because you didn’t fulfill those early dreams doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming—no matter how old you are. At sixty-one, I’m dreaming of beans and carrying a cross up Mount Kilimanjaro. Maybe I’ll find some coffee beans up there, too.
I don’t know where this coffee dream will take me. That’s the fun part of this journey called life. But I hope I don’t end up liking coffee. I wouldn’t want to swallow my dreams.
What about you? Live out your God-given dream . . . who knows, maybe countless lives and countries will be changed as a result?