"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:16)
We can have so many expectations about what it would be like to suddenly encounter a great man or great woman of God: Perhaps someone would literally be raised from the dead! Perhaps a blind woman would suddenly receive her sight! Perhaps a whole group of people would fall on their faces crying out to God and saying, "God is in this place!". Perhaps there would be bright lights in the sky, or a giant clap of thunder. Well...perhaps... But so often one of God's great men or women may walk up to one of us at a time and a place we'd least expect.
Just a short time ago, I decided to take a short walk around some of the back streets near downtown Canton, Massachusetts. Honestly, I was praying as I walked. Over twenty years ago, a Christian physician told me it would benefit me greatly if I walked and prayed. I was one of those people who liked to be closed up inside a private room in prayer, so I initially resisted that advice, but when I learned to be flexible and be open to walking and praying, I found the practice to be very invigorating.
I was walking through the parking area of an upscale condominium complex when I saw a man with light brown skin who was probably about my age (I'm sixty-three) walking in my direction. He was holding the hand of a little light brown skinned boy that I'd guess was his grandson. The man had a big smile. It surprised me that he walked directly up to me and handed me an American Tract Society gospel tract entitled, Seeking Acceptance. I gave it a very quick glance, then quickly turned in the man's direction. At that point, he was no more than three feet away.
"I'm a born-again Christian, too!" I excitedly told him. He stopped, and expressed delight in meeting another believer. It turns out the man's name is Wahgee (I'm guessing on the correct spelling!). He lives in Egypt. He told me he attends a Baptist church. He's just up here in Massachusetts visiting relatives for a few days. I asked if I could pray for him, and he enthusiastically told me I could do that. I laid my hand on him and prayed aloud for God to bless him and his family.
Think of it! Can you imagine while visiting relatives in a foreign country that you'd just go out and walk, taking gospel tracts with you to hand out as you walked along? Some of us can say we would do something like that on a missions group as a team or at least in groups. But I wonder how many of us would pretty much go out on our own as he did. This guy's from half a world away, but he's my brother in Christ. I'm sure conditions where he lives aren't the best for Christians, let alone for evangelical Protestant Christians. It wouldn't surprise me if he's faced persecution of various kinds. I guess that's why walking around in a foreign country handing people gospel tracts is no big deal to him.
Am I exaggerating in saying I met a great man of God a short time ago? I don't think so. As soon as he walked away, I sensed that. And, I sensed that for some reason, God wanted me to encounter him. Wahgee asked for my name. At least "Bob" is easy to remember! He said he would remember to pray for me and I told him I would do the same for him. Incidentally, I'm writing this from the Canton Public Library and I plan to leave that Seeking Acceptance tract right here at the computer station for someone to find.
You know, we have all types of "Church Growth Seminars" and "corporate evangelistic planning" and other kinds of "stuff" in the current evangelical church world of the United States of America. Maybe we don't so much need all that stuff. Maybe we need to take more prayer walks and meet more folks like Wahgee!