With over twenty years in overseas service, I can be fairly confident I’ve ridden in just about every mode of transportation there is. From planes, trains, buses, boats, and taxis, to cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, horses and camels. There is no shortage of ingenuity when transportation is involved, including the ability of man to keep antique cars not just running but useful to provide a living.
The question for those who move to a new country or big city in service to the Kingdom is: Do I need a vehicle? This is usually followed up with another: “Which mode of transportation better serves my ability to share the gospel?”
For those in the West who would never think to ask such a question, it’s good to take the challenge, as it relates to your own circumstances. Is everything in my life an avenue God can use for me to share the gospel? Does that include my car? It should.
Let’s go back overseas, though, for a minute. Why am I bringing up this topic? Because it can be a challenge for workers who have grown up in areas of the United States where public transportation is limited and cars are a part of life. This means many Christian workers arrive overseas with an expectation of their “need” for a personal vehicle.
And here’s the rub.
Not only are vehicles extremely expensive in most foreign countries (they’re expensive in the States too, I know), many workers who raise their support or are in areas where public transportation abounds, are not granted funding for such a purchase. We discovered in our first country of service a 300% markup on all imported vehicles (which basically was all vehicles). That’s no small change.
As we moved overseas, my husband quickly learned that public transportation was a wonderful tool for scattering seeds for the Kingdom. One time, we were heading to the airport, which was about twenty minutes away. I’m not sure why, but we had two taxis. By the time we arrived at the airport, the driver of Raouf’s car, after pulling the luggage from the trunk, was giving my husband a big hug and thanking him profusely. Yep, in twenty minutes, he had heard and responded to the good news of Christ.
Because this happened over and over, Raouf struggled with the decision of purchasing a truck for our ministry. He was concerned that having a vehicle would keep him from having opportunities to witness in the taxis and buses he took. The Lord soon gave him peace, when, a few days after we purchased the truck, we had to go back to the dealer to see about getting seatbelts (right…they weren’t standard there). The dealer’s brother said he’d ride with us to show us a place. As soon as he got into the truck, he told Raouf he’d been reading the Bible Raouf had given him. That was all it took for Raouf to spend the next several hours about his need for a Savior. When the man was ready, Raouf stopped the truck on the side of the road, and the man prayed to receive Christ. This was the confirmation from the Lord that even a truck could be used to his glory.*
This experience in Syria would play itself out many more times as we moved from country to country in the Middle East and North Africa. No matter what mode of transportation we took, we were on the lookout for ways to use it to share the gospel. That included traffic jams, which were frequent in Beirut, Lebanon. Inevitably, we’d get stuck in a traffic circle, so Raouf would just roll down his window and start a conversation with the person in the car by his side (as they were usually just a few inches apart).
Are you bemoaning the fact that you can’t have your own vehicle in service? Ask the Lord to help you see the positive side of public transport in the work of his Kingdom, and then open your eyes and ears for opportunities he’s bringing your way. Do you have a vehicle? Are you using it in isolation or service to God and others? Be a person who’s willing to give a ride to a person who’s without. Maybe this is the opening you need to share.
Walking or riding, public or private, however you go, may you go in the power of the Spirit with the message of peace to the nations.
Grace and Peace
*For more on this and other stories of the Kingdom, I encourage you to read, A Life Surrendered: Raouf W. Ghattas.
*New Addition: In preparation for a devotional I’m writing, entitled, Living by the Highlights, I am sharing quotes from the many books that have impacted my life. Feel free to meditate on the thoughts shared, and share to your social media as you feel led. Carol