Thursday, July 5, 2012

Impacting Others

Tuesday, July 3

On the 10 hour flight from Brussels to Entebbe, I sat next to a guy who was from Scotland. His parents were Rwandan and he was headed to Rwanda for business. We started talking, and I told him that I was doing missions work in Uganda. Once he found out I was a Christian, he started talking and asking me all sorts of questions. He said that he believes that when we want to do something, we have to make a request to the universe and then the universe will eventually give us what we want. And since God is everywhere in the universe, he listens to those requests and grants them.

I wanted to be sure I was hearing correctly, so I channeled my inner counselor and said, “What I hear you saying is that the purpose of God is to give us everything we want.” He said that was exactly what he was saying. So I began to talk to him about this misconception. I explained that God is not like a vending machine. We cannot come to him, put in our money, make our request, and just wait for whatever we want to drop down in front of us.

We talked back and forth for some time. He argued that even the Bible says that we have to make our requests known to God. I told him that was very true, God does want us to come to him and pray to him, but that is not his sole purpose. At the same time, God knows the desires of our hearts before we even come and tell him. He was shocked by this. He could believe that God is everywhere, but he had a very hard time believing that God knows everything.

A little while later I got up to use the bathroom. When I sat back down, the man sitting next to me left to use the restroom. As I sat, there was a young guy in front of me. He turned around and he said, “When I heard you witnessing to the man next to you, I started praying for you.”

It’s amazing to me how the Lord weaves our lives together. That he would put that Scottish man next to me and give me the opportunity to share with him. That he would put an American man in front of me, who turns out to have a very similar heart for Uganda as I do, who would pray for me and share stories with me. That he would bring me halfway around the world to meet people who are searching for him and needing someone to help light the way. If that doesn’t show how much he loves us, then I don’t know what does.

Tuesday July 3

The man I sat next to on the plane from Brussels to Entebbe was born in France, lives in Scotland, but his parents are from Rwanda. As the beverage cart came around, he asked for whiskey. A while later when we were served lunch, he drank wine. He then had another whiskey later. He looked at me and said, “I can’t believe I’m drinking alcohol sitting next to a monkey!” Ok, what he really said was, “I can’t believe I’m drinking alcohol sitting next to a Christian!” (But I totally heard monkey). He tried to convince me he wasn’t a drunk, but he didn’t do a very good job of it.

He explained that in Scotland, if you don’t drink then you don’t have friends. So that’s where he picked up drinking. But then he started talking about a time when he was visiting Rwanda and had been to a big party and had gotten drunk. He drove away from the party, but at night in Rwanda they have road checks so he ended up getting pulled over. They gave him the test, and found he was drunk.

So I knew it was time to get to share Ashley’s story for the very first time. I told him about the accident, and how she was riding with a guy who was drunk. I told him what she went through, how she had to relearn everything. I told him what happened to the guy, how he went to prison, but that no amount of jail-time could ever bring the old Ashley back.

Then I looked at him and said, “Your story ended well. But imagine if you had crashed into someone and killed them or if they would’ve been injured like Ashley.”

The man looked at me. He was speechless for a minute. He said, “I almost feel like crying. I couldn’t live with myself if that ever happened.” He paused then said, “I’ll never drive drunk again.”

Whether or not he will keep that promise, only he will know. But I’m willing to bet he will think twice before he gets behind the wheel drunk.

Until we get to heaven, we will never truly understand how our lives will impact other people. By sharing with this man, his life or the life of someone else might be spared. The accident left Ashley with many scars, reminders of what happened. Let’s not be afraid to let our scars be a reminder to others of how healing can come.

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