Encountering Strangers

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Image by AdamAtom via Flickr

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NASB)

It is impossible for me to not encounter strangers each and every day. Even while living a very small town, there seem to always be strangers about. While driving truck,

nearly all I spoke to, encountered daily, were strangers. There are the men and women that work at where I fueled my truck. There are those I saw and spoke to where I spend the night, even though I slept in my truck. There were people at the shippers and receivers of the commodities I transported. There are those I met at restaurants. There were other drivers I encountered while I’m at my company’s terminal, too, as the company had several thousand drivers. And then there were those infrequent and annoying times when people banged on the side of my truck, awaking me often in the middle of the night, asking for money or offering sexual favors.

What hospitality do I show to strangers I encounter? So many people, so many in need. A smile. A friendly greeting and parting blessing. Some seem to need to talk, to have someone listen. Do I take the time with them they need?

After chatting briefly with a man one evening, I handed him a “Road Home: New Testament for Truckers.” He looked at me for a second. Then he said he’d just been told by his wife that he needed to read the Bible. G-d is so good! I was exactly where I was suppose to be, at exactly the right time. Thank the Lord!

When someone asks for money, I must consider carefully what G-d would want to provide. Sometimes I would hand over some change, as requested. Once I bought a man a couple of hot dogs to eat, rather than giving money. Some times I give nothing, for I don’t often carry money into the fuel stops–too many drivers are robbed just walking though parking areas.

My most memorable encounters are those at restaurants and terminals. At restaurants, sitting with open Bible, I’ve been approached by people. Sometimes the conversation has been a great blessing. For when two Children of G-d gather together. . . Well, it’s church.

It was like that with Warren, whom I met in Sacramento, California. Warren saw me reading the Bible, and said, “That’s a great book. . . except those words in red.” He laughed at the look on my face. He loved the Lord, and took the words of Jesus, printed in red in my Bible, very seriously. We had a lovely time talking. He told how his pastor was asking for mentors during a Sunday service. His wife asked the pastor what was required of a mentor. The pastor replied, “someone who’s made a lot of mistakes and is willing to share them.” Warren’s wife said, “That’s Warren,” and promptly volunteered him.

There are other encounters, however, that are more difficult, challenging, requiring careful discernment. Jude writes: “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23 NASB)

Not long ago a man approached, seeing me reading the Bible, and said he had a question for me when I finished eating. Not waiting to complete my meal, I invited him to join me. He did so, bringing his desert to my table, as he’d already eaten. He said he’d asked many pastors which church to attend, and they’d all said their particular church was the true one. He then said, “What do you say is the true church?” I didn’t hesitate, saying that the church isn’t a place or an institution, but is the Body of the Christ, his people, on Earth.

We spoke of many things, and he began to tell me how he’d found no real Christians in his travels. I offered some examples, which were immediately refuted. I felt the Spirit of G-d within me reminding me of my status as a Child of G-d, and to guard my heart. As we talked, I became aware that he had a script of things he would say. He’d ask a question. I’d answer. Regardless of the answer, he explain his version of a scripture, then say if I’d read the Bible, I’d know the correct answer.

It came to me that I was not to argue with this man. I was also not to be led away from my own faith to follow his path. We are told by Y’shuaJesus, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:7) Paul wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel. . .” (Gal 1:8). And Peter warns us to “watch for false. . . swelling words that are empty.” (2 Pet 2:18) We are to “test the spirits. . .” (1John 4:1) and “all things, hold fast what is good.” (1Thes 5:21)

Each encounter is an opportunity to give, receive, and grow. Each encounter with others is a moment in time to be a beacon of light in a dark world. It is also a moment to grow closer to our Lord whose Spirit fills us and will guide us into all truth.

Lord watch over us. Let Your light shine upon our feet and our path. Fill our hearts with Your Spirit.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

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