Joe’s ability to string together cuss words could’ve gotten him into the Guinness Book of World Records. I haven’t heard more unprovoked F-bombs in one conversation. Though Joe expressed his views passionately, we didn’t argue.
I chuckle now, but one time, after sharing his views, he shoved his middle finger in my face and, with a few words about Jesus [blank] Christ, apologized for his language. Despite his rough exterior, he had an endearing quality.
Joe grew up in Canada but was flying to his newer home in Thailand – returning to his Thai wife and young boy. He had other sons – three to be exact – all over the world. He missed his family and was excited to get “home.” But he wouldn’t be there long. Joe worked for a Calgary oil drilling company, stationed offshore in Angola (a country he described with more expletives).
Joe claimed his god may go by a different name than mine, but in the end all gods are the same. (“Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Gandhi – it doesn’t matter.”) Yet he was also convinced he was god, that we’re all gods.
Joe’s sudden appearance at my table was clearly not accidental. He had been drawn to me. He wanted to talk so badly. I noticed immediately the loneliness in his voice. It was even more apparent in his tired eyes.
“Why did you come over?” I asked. Joe wasn’t sure. I said I could envision God bringing him over to remind him that God loved him deeply and to give me the pleasure of meeting him. He pondered that for a while.
I asked if I could pray for him. He agreed. Surprisingly, he grabbed my hand when I started to pray. I simply asked Jesus to reveal himself to Joe. When I concluded, he said, with eyes full of tears, “Sam you’re f**ing making me cry.”
One more F-bomb for the road, I thought. It made me smile then, and it makes me smile now.
When I finish writing this, I’m going to email Joe. I’ll ask how his trip to Thailand went and what God said to him as he travelled. I’m convinced God is pursuing this guy to show him Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Joe could use a little of all three.
Here’s what this meeting makes me think about evangelism: forget winning and losing the argument. I used to be able to argue and curse with the best of them (okay, not quite as efficiently as Joe), but to what end?
Sometimes the reality of Jesus in us draws people from across restaurants. And we get to introduce people to our best friend.
Sam Dick is an MB Mission mobilization coordinator in Abbotsford, B.C. A version of this story first appeared on Dick’s blog Thoughts on mission, discipleship, and leadership at SamDick.org Apr. 26, 2012.