It was nighttime; cold and murky. The arctic autumn mist made it difficult to see even five metres ahead. Long-standing Gideon Member, Alex Bergen, had no intention of making an impromptu detour on the way home from an evangelism trip to Northern British Colombia. Although his mind and spirit were overjoyed from the prior week of missions, Alex’s body was tired, and all he could think about was his warm bed and a steaming shower calling his name back home. As Alex began to approach the small town of Fort Fraser, he began to sense that the Holy Spirit was trying to inform him of something. Wrongly equating this sense to his current mental tiredness, he brushed the feeling aside and continued driving. Alex rubbed his eyes and squinted into the haze. His gaze gravitated towards the only streetlamp in sight; his eyes became focused on its contrasting luminescence as he approached the center of the town road.
Suddenly, Alex heard a voice... “STOP,” it whispered. Again, he ignored the command. Then, the voice became urgent, “STOP! STOP!” Confused, Alex slowed the vehicle to a halt. Immediately, he noticed a man standing underneath the lonely streetlamp...a hitchhiker who was looking for a ride. The man was dishevelled, dirty, and he carried a backpack filled with a few essential belongings. Clearly noticing that Alex’s car had stopped in close proximity to him, the man eagerly hopped into the passenger’s seat.
Alex winced as he prayed, “I never pick up hitchhikers, Lord! If this is what you want for me to do, then show me why. I am scared.” He breathed out slowly and greeted the foreigner. After they had both exchanged simple pleasantries, the man promptly began to share his life story. Alex, taken aback by the vulnerability of this random hitchhiker, began to listen more intently.
He was a run-away. This man had grown up in Northern British Columbia, not far from where Alex and his team had been evangelizing earlier that week. Yet, after being heavily involved in crimes such as vandalism and street drugs, he had escaped his self-inflicted trauma by running away to Vancouver. The man had been living on the downtown city streets for the last two years. Then, just a few weeks prior, he had decided to try and make amends with the community of his troublesome youth. Now, he was hitchhiking northbound, in order that he might reconcile with his family.
Alex was in awe of the story which was spilling from this homeless stranger’s lips. This was like a modern-day prodigal son! “Oh Lord, give me Your words to respond to this man! ”
Then, God instantly provided Alex with a perfect segue to share His Gospel: “I am searching,” the man expressed humbly. “I am searching for a physical God.”
Completely taken aback by this incredible evangelism opportunity God had miraculously set up, Alex tried to maintain his composure. He took a deep breath. “Let me tell you about this God that you are looking for...”
So for hours, the two chatted about the Gospel of Christ. The man asked many insightful questions and seemed very interested in discovering Jesus. Then, as it became late, Alex let his new friend doze off in the passenger seat. About a half-hour later, Alex slowly turned into a gas station. The light of the gas station caused the man to jolt awake. He looked around.
“There is a 24-hour rest stop here. I’ll stay here for the rest of the night.” Alex nodded and handed the man all of the spare change he had swimming in his wallet. “Here is some money for a meal. It is not much, but there is something else that I would like to give you.”
The man seemed intrigued, so Alex gently handed him a Gospel of John. “What do you know about the Bible? ” Alex asked.
Unsurprisingly, aside from the spiritual conversation they had just had in the vehicle, the man knew very little about Scripture. Again, this gave Alex the opportunity to share the story of Christ’s redeeming love. And yet again, the man listened and responded with an eagerness to learn more. Alex ended their time together with a hug and the exchange of contact information. He made it clear to his new friend that if he had further questions, he would be happy to have a phone conversation.
Then, almost as quickly as they had met, Alex left the man standing in the dim light of the gas station. He peered back to see two hands resting on an open Bible, and two eyes fixated on the pages of God’s Word.
“Thank you, Lord...thank you for showing me why I needed to stop my vehicle. I am not afraid anymore. Thy will be done.”