A lot of the most precious work of evangelism happens in quite ordinary and seemingly haphazard situations.
This week, I went across to the other side of the city to meet a friend visiting from 9000km away. I excitedly arrived at his hotel a few minutes early and waited in the lobby as arranged. 5-10 minutes passed, and I was surprised he wasn’t showing up. I looked again to double check the time and realized then that he was actually coming TWO WEEKS LATER. Oops! I guess I overlooked that minor detail in the schedule.
Of course a little disappointed I had to wait another 2 weeks to see my friend, I decided to go grab some supper and then take a long, leisurely road home. Being a bit of a touristy area, I noticed at a some people taking some silly poses in historical garb. “Do you want to be a Sultan?!” asked a young guy in English beside me, to which I casually responded smugly in a bit of local slang. He coiled back in surprise. We started laughing and talking, and he eagerly dragged me away into his carpet shop where we drank tea and had a fun chat. I was just thankful for some friendly conversation after my scheduling failure. Five or ten minutes later, some curly haired, tough-looking dude came out of the back of the shop, sat down, and joined in our conversation. This guy had the swagger and street-cred of about 10 Italian mobsters.
Very quickly we got on to talking about how he was was digging through the Old and New Testament, looking at what the prophets and disciples said. Although most people in this country would write off these books as corrupted and non-trustworthy, this curly haired anomaly was talking about how we had to look at what these people have written, and how we couldn’t say anything against their testimony, because the all suffered so much to live for this message. I sat there listening jaw-dropped as he went into all sorts of detail about the prophets, Old Testament history, and Jesus’ interactions with Peter. In all my 4 years in this country, I have NEVER randomly met someone who had looked into the scriptures so seriously. Where did this guy come from?!?
Of course, typical to his religious upbringing, he still had the idea that God never allowed Jesus to die, as that would be pointless and sad. I tried to explain the incredible intentionality of his death, the beauty of his sacrifice, and what that all means for us. I showed him Isaiah 53:1-6 and tried to draw his eyes to the unseen centerpiece of this massive story he was working so hard to unravel. He wasn’t convinced then and there, and said he first had to resolve some questions he had about the historicity of the Old Testament. Our conversation wrapped up there, we exchanged pleasantries, and he slunk back off into his mysterious carpet-land.
It’s times like this that I feel like a bit of a Spirit-filled Inspector Clouseau, like a sort of bumbling detective-evangelist. I’m just being flung from one situation to another… taken along by the Creator of the Universe as his witness and his friend. Whatever my role, I’m glad to be written into this fascinating story he’s composing. Sometimes it’s a comedy, sometimes a thriller, and sometimes a tear-jerker. But it’s always a privilege and a joy to get to walk on the scene, stumble into some perfectly-arranged situation and be the the first person to say… “Hey, actually I know him! I know what happened! It’s like this…”
The bumbling detective doesn’t have to be smart, cunning, or even on top of his game. It’s the scriptwriter that’s a genius!