I was sitting in McDonald’s with an hour to get some work done. I had my large coffee, my iPad was open and ready, and my Bible sat next to me on the table. I relished the opportunity to be alone and work without distractions. Only…wait. That guy over there. He’s looking at me. He looks like he wants something. Shoot. Look down, Ruth. Act busy. You shouldn’t have made eye contact. Drat. Now he’s coming over, limping slightly as he walks. It’s cold and rainy outside, and he has an umbrella he’s sort of using as a cane. Okay. Sigh. He’s at my table. Here we go.
“Yes, sir? Can I help you?” I ask, trying to be polite.
His voice is accented. “Yes, ma’am,” he answers. “I’m trying to get to Houston. My daughter is having surgery. She’s a cancer doctor, but now she has cancer herself. Stage 3 bone cancer. I want to be there for her 10:30 surgery, but I can’t figure out the way.”
Oh. This isn’t the way I saw this conversation going. Immediately I am ashamed of my selfishness. This gentleman obviously has more important concerns than my alone time. He hands me his phone and asks if I can help him pull it up on his Google maps. Sure, I can do that. Or can I? Rats, his phone is a different brand, and even after I connect to the McDonald’s free WiFi, his maps still aren’t working. I find the exact address on my own phone, then plug it into his app, to no avail. “No results found.” Ugh. This isn’t going well. The guy was telling the truth. He really can’t get directions.
I decide to go old-fashioned. I pull up the directions on my phone and write them down on a scrap piece of paper. It’s not hard, thankfully, and he’s been there before. As I get within a few miles of the hospital, he’s nodding his head. He’ll recognize his surroundings once he gets to that point.
All this time we’ve been chatting, making small talk. We exchange names. He asks if I have kids. He tells me he’s from Persia. I learn he’s handicapped and shouldn’t really be driving, but he desperately wants to be there for his daughter. He notices my Bible and asks if I’m a Christian. I affirm this, and he tells me he’s Baha’i. I make a mental note to Google that when he’s gone.
I finally get the directions written down, and on a whim I ask him if I can pray with him. This is new for me. I never do stuff like this. I mean, I’ve always thought it would be neat, but I’ve never had the guts to do it right then and there. If anything, I’d normally just assure him I’ll be praying for him. But the Holy Spirit is tugging on my heart and I really can’t ignore it. So despite the fact that here we are, smack dab in the middle of McDonald’s in the midst of their breakfast crowd, I take his hand and pray for him, for his daughter, for the surgeons, and that they will know the peace of Jesus.
When I’m done, he asks if he can say a prayer also. I really can’t say no, so he prays something that sounds sort of like a mixture between a psalm and the prayer of St Francis (“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…”), though I note there’s no mention of Jesus. We’re still holding hands when he finishes, and he tells me the Baha’i religion respects all other religions and beliefs and works for peace and love among all people. I tell him, “I already have peace in Jesus. I pray you can have this peace too.”
It’s not the best witness I could have given. Looking back, I see so many things I could have or should have said. I didn’t give a clear testimony of why I have peace in Jesus. I said nothing about His atoning work for my sins on the cross. But I prayed in Jesus’ name with and for a non-Christian; something I’ve never done before. And I will continue to pray for him. I ask you, dear reader, to say a quick prayer for him right now as well. Pray that “Karim” will come to saving faith in Jesus. Pray for his daughter, having surgery today. Pray that God will send others into their lives who will witness to them further about Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Pray that God opens your eyes to the opportunities He sends you to speak of His Son to others, and that He gives you courage to take those opportunities when they come. Becuase you just never know when you’ll be called upon to be a witness to someone else.
Maybe even in the middle of McDonald’s.