Me and a good friend were just leaving from another family’s house, where we had gathered to hang out, eat a meal, and pray together. We had a wonderful time, sharing what God was speaking to us and meeting with him in prayer, so we had stayed pretty late. It was 11pm and we were out on the almost empty road, waiting for a bus to go home.
We were still buzzing with thankfulness and excitement about all that we had been learning from God, and the sweet time we had praying in the Spirit, so we were happily chatting with each other on the side of the road.
And then, about 20 meters away, some guy who was fumbling through things in the trunk of his car started yelping out something in a nervous English. He was a ways into his explanation before we realized he was trying to talk to us, but I understood that he was stuck in some situation and was wondering if “help… you… me… help??” I switched into Turkish and found out what was going on. He had lost his phone, ran out of money and gas, and couldn’t call for some help. He wondered if we could give him a bit of money for gas, and he would take us to where we need to go.
Between me and my friend we scraped up a little money we could give him, and I (somewhat grudgingly) walked over with this guy to go fill up his little gas canister. He told us how thankful he was, and how he would definitely get our bank account info and send us the money back.
We climbed in his BMW, now full of gas, and got ready to go. To be truthful, I was a little annoyed with this guy, and didn’t really feel a lot of love for him. “Hmm, maybe this could be a divine appointment,” I thought briefly, but most of the time I was just hoping the whole ordeal would be over, and I could just get home. Judging by the way he talked and was acting, I thought I knew these kind of people… they were fairly well-off, snobby, difficult to relate to, and not very easy to have a spiritual conversation with. He was not the kind of guy that I would naturally feel drawn to, or get along with easily.
As we got driving he asked me what I did, and told him how I basically taught people the Tevrat, Zebur, and Injil (Torah, Psalms, and NT). “Doesn’t that get confusing? Keeping all those different ones in your head?” He would be thinking they’re almost totally separate books, almost like separate religions. I explained that no, it wasn’t confusing, because it’s all one thing, one story. And then I started to tell him the story of salvation. I told him how God gave the law, how people couldn’t do it (and still can’t), and how he promised to wash us clean and give us new hearts, and then how Jesus came, gave his life, died to take on our sins, and rose again.
“So does everybody have to accept this?” he asked, very seriously.
I talked about how everyone was infected with this disease of sin, how impossible it was to save ourselves, but how wonderfully Christ can save us and draw us into a good loving relationship with God.
“O man,” he said, “we’re in trouble, aren’t we?” without a tinge of flippancy. After I explained a little bit more about our predicament and Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection as the only answer, he talked about how hard it could be for people to accept, and about how some might accept this when they were 17 years old, some at 33, and some at 70.
I talked about the impossibility of this decision. Who’s going to give up their whole lives, who’s going to turn away from everything else, and just accept this ridiculous news about Jesus dying for them? For anybody to believe this and take this life, it has to be a total miracle of God. I asked him what he thought of all this.
He responded very seriously, in a sort of stunned, measured speech. “I don’t normally think about these kind of things…” he said, “but now that I heard it from you, I just got scared… really scared.”
I talked about how I used to be really afraid, because I was aware of my condition, but then I was also afraid of totally giving God my life, because I thought I might become weird, or lose everything good in life. I talked about how I saw the love of Christ in his brutal sacrifice and suffering, and decided I could trust that love.
“But when you go to him, everything will come out in the open.” He concluded, with a sort of grave concern.
“Yes,” I explained, “He sees it all, every bit of secret anything, anything you’re ashamed of and everything that you’ve done. He sees it all, and says, ‘I’ll take that away… I died for that.’ And then, you’re free and cleaned. Everything is wiped away, and you start over.”
“start all over…” he mumbled thoughtfully to himself.
I talked about how wonderful it was to actually know God, and to wake up in the morning knowing that the God of the universe really loved you, and was looking after you.
“hmm… I wouldn’t know what that would feel like…” he said.
I talked him about how this great gift was there for the taking, but how it meant that he would follow Jesus. Just like Jesus, he would be misunderstand, insulted, possible even spat on. But he would have peace.
We had just just been chatting for a few minutes as we drove down the road, and this guy was being convicted by a ridiculous message that he was hearing for the first time in his life.
Something crazy was happening. He was being convicted and affected by what he was hearing, and my heart was being filled with compassion for this guy, and all kinds of words were flying out of my mouth. The presence, power, and love of God was being poured out right there, through us, as we drove along in his BMW. That night he had lost his phone, ran out of money, ran out of gas, been sort of humiliated on the side of the road, and now was churning over this message that sent his head spinning.
We covered a ridiculous amount of ground in conversation, over what was an actually very short distance. I couldn’t believe God had somehow squeezed so much understanding and ‘punch’ through my mouth and into this guy’s brain, in such a ridiculously small window of opportunity.
I gave him my number, leaned over to give the Turkish 2 sided kiss/head bonk, and said goodbye. Me and my friend went home rejoicing, just giddy about how God opened up a floodgate of his truth and conviction when we least expected it. I prayed that he would call me back, not just to return the 20 Lira that we lent him (which he insisted on doing), but to give his life to Jesus.
This is often what it looks like. We live and work in the harvest fields, but the sweetest works happen almost totally incidentally, as our good Father drops us into crazy situations and gets his word out through us.
Who will give up their task-oriented life, let go of their personal track of success, and spend months and years doing simple things like chatting, reading, watching TV, and perusing dictionaries so they can get comfortable with a language like Turkish or Pashto, and be ready to be dropped into situations like this? Jesus came and took on flesh and blood, so that he could walk among us and show us the truth. Who will take on a new language and culture in their brain, so that they can show people Jesus?
Please pray for more workers.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3)