Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Hello - I'm a missionary.

No, really – I actually am. I’ve got the paperwork and everything.

Sometimes, people at parties ask me what I do, and I say to them “Well, I’m a missionary” and then I watch their faces go blank because they’re convinced that I’m winding them up.

Today I was on the bus over to Auckland hospital, to visit Lionel, when I had a bit of a moment.

I was sitting alone on the backseat, rummaging in my backpack which has somehow come to define me these days, getting out my Bible to read, when suddenly it hit me:

Here I was, 10,000 miles away from home, perhaps for another year, with nothing to rely upon but God. If the world turned against me, there really was no-one else in my corner but God. I felt a bit pleased about this. Here I was living the life of adventure that I had always dreamt of since… well on some level since always. Even when I was seven, I’d dreamt of travelling the world after being enthralled by seeing Japan on Blue Peter.

And now here I was alone on a bus in faraway New Zealand, Australasia. Alone, but for God. Oh, and that guy on the opposite seat.

At that moment, said guy on the opposite seat suddenly asked me a question about my Bible. We chatted a bit. He was tired, depressed, going nowhere in life, and disillusioned with the answers he’d got at church. Then he actually asked if I would sit down and talk about God with him. This was definitive missionary stuff. As Lionel was expecting me at the hospital, we fixed a time a few hours later to meet-up, at about 8:30pm.

He didn’t show, so I phoned him using one of the phone-cards containing excess credit that God had sent my way months ago. He was at home in his flat, and wanted me to come up and visit him.

I didn’t like that. It was getting late, he was a complete stranger, and he lived just off K’Road – Auckland’s red light district. Still, I looked for his flat, and was quite relieved when I couldn’t find it. Now I had a poor excuse. I rang him again, and invited him to come out and meet me for a coffee. He was adamant that I had to come into his flat. I declined, we agreed to do this another day, and I headed back to the bus stop.

On the bus home, I looked again at my backpack, and found I was taking a longer, grimmer, far less heroic look at myself. Where was the fearless "missionary" now? Where was the story of an amazing divine appointment for my blog? Had I done the right thing in backing out? What if I’d entered his flat and been beaten-up by his mates inside? Was my imagination being ridiculous? Had I failed? Most of all, just what on Earth did my decision make me?

Surely there must be something to learn from this experience?

I thought back to my conversation with him on the earlier bus. I’d postponed him to fit in visiting Lionel first. If this had been a divine appointment, and they do tend to be unexpected, then I probably shouldn't have tried to fit it into my preconceived schedule.

Or maybe I had been just a bit too keen to group myself with so many real heroes, in countries far more poor and obscure than rich English-speaking New Zealand.


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