I’m sitting, propped against a few pillows, in a hotel in Chicago. I just took my Baptist History midterm, and well, I think I could’ve done better. Trying to keep the Particular, Freewill, Six Principle, General, and Regular Baptists straight proved more challenging than I realized. On top of that I tried to memorize finer details of famous, and infamous, Baptist leaders between 1700-1900. I rolled information over and over again in my mind, repeating their distinguishing characteristics, and still forgot some of the details. Ah, such is life as a traveling seminary student.
Today I decided that perhaps the greatest lessons about God are learned in the taxi-cabs of life. This afternoon is a good example. Jaks, the Kazakh cabbie, started out having to turn back to the taxi stand because he didn’t know where to go. Once we got going I shared with him that I’d been in Kazakhstan before as a missionary, which opened the door for him to share his Muslim faith with me. And I don’t mean just casually. The kid was passionate! Despite his broken English he definitely got his point across. In fact, at one point in the 20 minute ride, he handed me his personal phone so I could watch a Muslim leader of some kind challenge a Bible-believing minister. Now, Jaks wasn’t combative at all. No, he was ardent. He pled with me to listen. He explained that life is short, that the decisions we make today will determine our eternal destiny. He believed that Muhammad had ordained our paths to cross today so that he could tell me to become a Muslim. He hoped he would see me in heaven and that when he did I would tell him that I’d embraced Islam.
I’ve never had anyone share their faith with me like this kid did. Ever.
I asked him at one point along the way, “Why do you follow Muhammad?” His inability to express himself well in English frustrated him I could tell. He told me that he hoped to get to heaven, and that his soul desire was to please Muhammad. He told, with firm conviction, that EVERYBODY is embracing Islam. Smart, wealthy, and famous people all over the world believe the way he does.
I told him about Jesus, and read Hebrews 1:1-4 to him, and explained that God has spoken to us through His Son, and that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature, and now sits at His right hand. I also explained that I believed our paths crossed because the God of the Bible, the Creator of the Universe numbers our steps, that Jesus paid the penalty for sin, that the Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.
I don’t think he really listened, but I trust God will bring other believers across his path regularly. I was humbled by this young man’s heart-felt zeal. I stepped out of the cab challenged by the fact that life is short, God ordains our steps and brings people – like Jaks – across our paths so that we can share the gospel – ardently and passionately.