"Blessed are those who dwell in your house, eversinging your praise! Selah" ((Psalm 84:4))
Blessing number one: permission to go to the States!
A couple weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the States for a wedding of a great friend of mine. I had planned and prepared for weeks and the time had finally arrived for me to hop in a taxi and head to the Ezeiza International Airport. I called ahead the preceding day for a remis, a taxi that is ideal for traveling longer distances because they charge based on distance, not on time. The remis was scheduled to pick me up from my apartment at 7 and shuttle me to Ezeiza. In my experience if there is one thing I could count on to be on time in Argentina (or so I thought), it was the remis companies. However, I anxiously watched the minutes go by… 7:00, 7:05, 7:15, 7:20…. No remis. I called the company and they informed me that the driver was unreachable and that because of traffic they would not be able to send another with sufficient time. Therefore, my best bet would be to grab a taxi off the street as soon as possible and pray that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Blessing number two: remis doesn’t show up.
In my frustration, my roommates and I hurriedly took my suitcases down the elevator and onto the street. I hailed the first available cab, unaware of what would unfold in the next hour. The chauffer was affable and helpful, grabbing my bags and placing them in the trunk. I said my “see you later”s, shut the door, and took a deep breath. At last, I was on my way! I quickly thanked the driver for his willingness to make the long drive to the airport and explained how my remis failed to show up. He was very understanding and asked me how much the remis was charging for my trip. “100 pesos más tarifa”, I responded (about 25 dollars plus tolls). The chauffer, whom I would later come to know as Horacio, smiled and out of compassion, agreed to drive me for the same rate.
Blessing number three: generous taxi driver.
Now in order to understand what happened next, I’ll first need to digress. A few weeks prior to my trip I had heard a compelling story about the late Bill Bright, founder and former president of Campus Crusade for Christ. Bright was truly a man of God with a huge heart for the Gospel. He was also, however, a busy man. With trips and conferences all over the world, one could imagine his agenda was pretty jam-packed. However, there was one thing that made Bill Bright different than the average businessman. His business was the Kingdom of God and his product was the Gospel. No matter where He went or whom He spoke with, Bright was careful “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim 6:18, emphasis added). The last line of this verse is perhaps what most characterized the ministry of Bill Bright; he was always willing to share the transforming power of the Gospel.
This is where my story comes into play. A friend of a friend of a friend once worked as Bill Bright’s personal assistant. Working this closely with Bright, his assistant attested strongly to his faith. He recounted that whenever they would travel overseas, the first thing Bright would do was share the Gospel with the taxi driver, many times even having to rely on a translator. His overflowing passion for the message of Christ made it virtually impossible for him to NOT share.
Which brings me back to Horacio. After his generous offer, my heart had calmed down from its previous frustrated and anxious state, and I began to engage in small talk. As I recognized the Lord’s blessing of a friendly and generous taxi driver, I remembered the faith and passion of Bill Bright.
Blessing number four: remembering Bill Bright’s legacy.
Remembering his faith, I was compelled to share with Horacio. Because I work for a Christian organization, it’s not always difficult to strike up spiritual conversations. Our small talk had quickly reached a deeper level as I explained what my job in Argentina entails. I explained that I spend the majority of my time on the university talking with the students about what it means to have a relationship with God. When I had finished unfolding my life in Buenos Aires, I could tell Horacio was engrossed in the conversation, more so than the normal response. I took a deep breath and, being thrust forward by the Holy Spirit, asked, “Y vos? Qué crees?”- What about you? What do you believe?
Blessing number five: out-of-character, God given, boldness
Horacio didn’t even blink at my question. He didn’t feel awkward talking about spiritual things, but rather, seemed comforted by the opportunity to express openly who He was and what He believed. Horacio explained that he was born into a Jewish family (not a surprising fact- B.A. has the 3rd largest Jewish population in the world), but was not a practicing Jew and that his wife was Catholic. He didn’t seemed to have any truly formed beliefs other than the fact that He believed God existed. Horacio opened up about his desire to know God, but couldn’t seem to overcome his doubts. Finding a pause in the conversation, I briefly explained a little of my own journey in discovering God and how more than believing in a religion, I had attained the most valuable thing in my life: a personal relationship with Christ.
Horacio and I tn hebegan to talk about lighter subjects, and I was content with the conversation the Lord had provided. Little did I know… God had not finished working.
Over the last few minutes, Horacio had been processing everything I had said and interrupted our small talk to ask, “How did you achieve this relationship with God?” Shocked but excited, I carefully went through the Gospel with Him. I used my knowledge of the four spiritual laws, and my own experience to expound on what it means to truly follow Christ. I started by describing God- a loving Father, infinite creator of the Universe, personal, yet perfect, who has a plan for each and every one of us. Then, in comparison to God, described who we are- imperfect, broken, and lost individuals, desperate to fill our emptiness with something, anything, that will satisfy our longings. I explained the broken relationship between God and mankind because of our sinfulness and that only one person, one sacrifice, could reconcile this brokenness: Jesus Christ. I told Horacio that Christ lived a perfect life, and then died for each of us, becoming the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and in three days, resurrected so that we might have eternal life with Him. I explained how Christ fills the void in each of us and that everything else only lasts for a season, but that Christ’s satisfaction is eternal. I explained to him that despite my doubts and unanswered questions, I had made a personal decision, by faith, to follow Christ, and that He had changed my life forever. Horacio then asked me if I believe that God answers my prayers. I didn’t hesitate to say yes, smiling at the irony of his question in that He, in fact, was an answer to prayer. I told Horacio that God often answers us, we just aren’t always paying attention, or that maybe He answers us in a way we might not expect.
Blessing number six: opportunity to share the Gospel
Horacio was left speechless at the beauty of the Gospel. We marveled at the greatness of God, but again, the subject changed momentarily. “The traffic isn’t as bad as we thought it would be tonight,” Horatio commented. “See, God does answer prayers,” I responded with a grin. Horatio smiled back, pondering the truthfulness of the statement.
Recently I finished reading a book called “The Case for Faith”, by Lee Strobel, a former journalist and a now well-known Christian apologist. The book breaks down 8 major oppositions to the Christian faith and Strobel’s own discovery of truth. I recommended the book to Horacio, knowing that it was available in Spanish as well. He was so interested in obtaining a copy that when I told him I had one in the apartment, he whipped out his business card and told me to call him as soon as I returned from the States.
Blessing number seven: opportunity for follow-up
We exchanged contact information, and I strategically wrote mine on the back of a 4 laws booklet I had placed in my backpack only 30 minutes before, making a joke with my roommates that I was “pulling a Bill Bright”.
Blessing number eight: 4 laws booklet in my backpack
As we neared the airport, Horacio told me that just that morning his wife made a comment that He really needed to find a relationship with God. Horacio and I both agreed that our encounter had not been by coincidence. We said our goodbyes and I made my way to my gate with a full heart and an increase of faith. I’m so glad God’s plans are better than mine.
Today, I met up with Horacio and gave him a copy of “The Case for Faith”. He mentioned that He wanted to bring his family to my church. I have no doubt that God is moving in BIG ways in his life and I am anxious to see how the Lord speaks to Him through the book. Please be praying for his search for truth.