A providential trip to the car repairman
Keith Collier, Baptist Press
August 10, 2011

A providential trip to the car repairman

A providential trip to the car repairman
Keith Collier, Baptist Press
August 10, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas — North Texas’ blazing summer heat, which
already has more than a month’s worth of triple-digit days, all but warrants
the necessity of an air-conditioned car.

In June, as temperatures consistently soared above 100, I
realized I was in for several miserable months unless I could get my
10-year-old Dodge Neon to blow cool relief.

I first considered a do-it-yourself approach to recharging my AC, but my
mechanical ineptitude gave me caution. Reluctantly, I called a local repair
shop and scheduled an appointment — an appointment that reminded me to watch
for God’s masterful way of placing us in someone’s path for His purposes.

When I arrived, I met Chris*, the assistant manager. As he entered my
information in the computer, I noticed his arms were tattooed with demonic
faces. I thought about commenting on them but refrained before sitting in the
waiting room.

His friendly smile and conversational manner betrayed his rough exterior. His
eyes lit up as he mentioned his wife would give birth to their son in a couple
of days, to which I replied, “Children sure are a blessing from the Lord.”

“Yes, they are,” Chris said. “In fact, this baby actually saved my relationship
with my wife. We were about to split up before she got pregnant.”

I responded with a simple, but direct, question: “Chris, what’s your
relationship with God like?”

I could tell by his expression that I had just drilled to the core of his
being. He offered excuses about growing up in church, but now working on
Sundays, he no longer attends. I told him I understood the busy demands of
work, family and school, which led us into talking about my seminary studies.
He mentioned a friend who taught him about chakras and asked if I had ever
studied world religions.

I shared with Chris about my own spiritual journey, including struggles with my
faith several years ago. I explained that I had studied and explored other
world religions and found them wanting. The real question, I told Chris, was, “Who
do you say Jesus is?”

Chris looked me in the eyes with a sullen expression and said, “I really don’t
know right now.” He knew what he had heard about Jesus as a child in Sunday
School, but he struggled with who he believed Jesus to be today.

I shared the gospel, told him about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and how he
could be reconciled to God. He thanked me for sharing and said he needed more
time to think about it. I told him about The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel,
a book instrumental in my own spiritual journey, and offered to bring him a
copy. I then left him with my contact information and an open offer to talk

The next morning, however, my car would not shift into reverse, so I contacted
Chris to see if it was related to my AC repair or just coincidence. It turned
out to be just coincidence — really, providence — but it presented me with another
opportunity to see him.

He received the book and a Bible I brought like I was handing him buried
treasure, and expressed sincere gratitude for the unexpected gift. I told him I
would continue praying for him and reiterated my offer to discuss spiritual

A few weeks later, I needed an oil change, so I brought my car into the shop.
Chris told me about his newborn son. He had not found time to read the Bible or
book, but he had been thinking about our conversations. He claimed he believed
that Jesus was the only way to God but still needed time to work it all out. As
before, I told him I would pray for him and echoed my original offer.

The Lord has used this newfound friendship to teach me some simple, but
forgotten, lessons.

First, mundane appointments often prove to be divine opportunities. We must be
intentional and willing to share the Gospel with whomever God brings our way.
You will be surprised how a simple, yet direct, statement about church or God
can open up an evangelistic conversation, even with someone who has demonic
tattoos on his arms.

Second, “thump ’em and dump ’em” evangelism is insufficient. Some people may
only cross our path for one conversation, like Philip’s encounter with the
Ethiopian eunuch, and we must share what we can in the time we have. But more
often than not, we can, and should, arrange follow-up discussions regardless of
the inconvenience it places on our busy lives. Rarely does someone put his
faith in Christ after only one conversation. We must invest in relational
evangelism and continue to water the gospel seed.

I plan to visit Chris often, sharing the gospel and offering to walk the
journey of life with him. I imagine we will talk at least every 3,000 miles, if
not sooner.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.)