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A Rapid Transit Witness
A chance encounter turned out to be a divine appointment that potentially saved two lives and infused a wounded soul with a will to forgive and live.

The bus slowly pulled into the main terminal to let passengers transfer to other buses. While I waited, I noticed a man staring at me. We both eventually got on the same bus, and the driver slowly guided the crowded vehicle out of the station.

"Will God forgive me if I take somebody's life, and mine too?" the man asked.

As people got on and off the bus at different stops, the same man I had noticed at the metro center seemed to be trying to spot an empty seat toward the back of the bus. I thought to myself, I hope I can get off this bus before he sits next to me. Idon't feel like talking to anyone right now. I thought again, What a selfish thought!

The bus continued a few more blocks, then stopped to let off some passengers, including the woman who sat in the seat next to mine. The man near the front of the bus quickly got up and walked to the back of the bus and said, "Good afternoon, ma'am. Is this seat taken?"

Say what?

The man sat silently for a few minutes. I noticed that his hands looked rough and worn from hard work. He was wearing scuffed boots, and his clothes smelled like wood. A scar marked his face below his cheek. The man looked down at his hands with an expression of despair, wringing them, as if he were worried about something.

Trouble is everywhere, I thought. Thank God we have a loving Saviour who can solve any problem.

As I looked out the window, the man next to me asked, "Ma'am, are you a Christian?"

"I'm trying to be," I answered.

He responded, "I thought you was one when I seen you at the terminal."

"How could you tell?"

"I noticed no makeup or jewellery, the plainness in dress. It's nice to see a woman that dresses like a woman." After a few moments he said, "I'd like to ask you something. Will God forgive me if I take somebody's life, and mine, too?"

Startled, I started wondering whether I should move to another seat or get off the bus at the next stop. I suddenly felt a feeling of sadness for this man. This is someone's son talking about taking his life, I thought, and someone else's, too.

"Sir," I said, "God forgives us when we repent, but when we deliberately take our life or someone else's life, God still loves us, but He doesn't love what we do. Why are you thinking about this?"

He sighed and looked straight ahead as if he were far away. Then he said, "I'm gonna end it for once and all. She's messed over me one time too many, and I'm tired and sick of it."

"Death isn't the answer to your problem," I offered.

"But I love this woman so much," he exclaimed. "Yet she's cheated on me over and over. I've talked to her, and she's promised she would stop it, but when I came home from work yesterday I caught her with someone else. I don't see any other way out."

"When you love someone, you should love her enough to let her go," I said. "Give her the freedom to make her own choices. Release the anger you have against her and forgive her; pray for her."

" … let me tell you about a Man who had to deal with seven women He loved very much."

"I don't think prayer's going to do her any good," he said.

A love story

Deciding to try a creative approach to reaching this man, I remarked, "If you think you have trouble with one woman, let me tell you about a Man who had to deal with seven women He loved very much."

"Seven women!" he exclaimed.

"Seven women." Then I described how through the centuries Jesus tried to win the love of Christians represented by the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3; how the first woman lost her love for the Man, how the second woman became rich and felt she no longer needed Him, how the third woman constantly resisted His love and became a stumbling block to others, how the fourth woman was immoral, and so forth.

The man blurted out, "That's the same thing this woman is doing to me!"

"But this Man was always kind, caring, giving, patient, long-suffering, honest, forgiving, and loving," I said. "He loved them so much He let them make their own decisions about whether to stay with Him or not. He loved those women so much He gave His own life as a sacrifice for them."

"You mean He's dead?" the man asked with astonishment. "I was going to give Him a call."

"Sir, you can still contact Him," I said.

"But, I thought you said He was dead."

"That Man's name is Jesus, and you can always get in touch with Him whenever you want, and call upon Him to meet your needs."

The man sat quietly for a few minutes and looked as if he was trying to make a decision. "Do you have a Bible?" I asked.

"The last time I read a Bible I was a boy growing up in Mississippi years ago. My mother used to take us children to church every Sunday."

"Have you talked to anyone in your family lately?"

"Sir, have you made a decision yet?"

"No," he replied, "my poor mother is now up in age. Something like this would break her heart."

"Sir, you have so much to live for," I told him. "You need to stop thinking about death and remember that Jesus died for you." I mentioned that the Salvation Army thrift store had some Bibles for sale, and that the store was located six or seven blocks in the opposite direction.

He shouted to the driver, "How long before we pass the next bus going the other direction?"

"About three minutes."

Back on track

The man said, "Ma'am, I'm glad we had this talk. When I saw you, I had to talk to somebody that looked or talked like a Christian, to tell me if God would forgive me."

"Sir, have you made a decision yet? You don't have to tell me; I just hope that it's pleasing to God."

He responded: "I'm going straight to the Salvation Army store to get me a Bible, because I gotta have a talk with God. I need to get my life together and out of this mess. And I think I'll give my mother a call. In fact, I'm going to do better than that; I'm going to go and see her. She'll like that."

The driver shouted, "Sir, the bus is coming." The man's expression of despair was now a look of relief.

Once again the driver shouted, "The bus is waiting for you across the street."

The man said, "Thank you, Ma'am. I didn't know what to do but now I do. I got too much to live for. God bless you."

"Sir, you're heading in the right direction to meet the best and only One who can lead you in life, and you know who that is."

As the bus drove off I kept staring out the window until the man was no longer in sight. I thought, There goes a passenger on his way to a glorious destination.

Lanora D. Frazier is a schoolteacher who lives in Bakersfield, California.

Originally published in Messenger, October 2002.

 

 
 
 
 

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