Posted in focus on faith

Strangers in the Night

“Can you help please?” she called across the street to me from her vehicle window. Before I could even answer the slim Oriental woman had stepped out of her SUV into the deep winter chill. 
“”Yes!” I hastened over so she could climb back into the protection of her warm car. I was bundled up in my snowsuit, better prepared for the extreme cold of this New Year’s evening. 
“We can’t find this address,” she told me, handing me a Mapquest printout of her destination. As soon as I saw it I understood. She was looking for a house on the far west side of town and where she found me was so far east it was not even on her printout. I knew it would be difficult to explain so I did something unthinkable in today’s world. 
“I am on my way home from visiting my new grandbaby,” I began, wanting to allay her fears since grandmothers are usually a safe bet! Then I asked if I could get in the back seat and simply direct her. Since I was already walking home, it didn’t matter to me if I went home from a different direction. 
“Oh yes, thank you,” she said, moving some packages to make room for me. 
Once inside I saw the other young woman and asked if they were sisters.
“No, we are mother, daughter,” was the answer with laughter from both.
As we drove by the RCMP detachment, the driver, Xiaoyan, told me she and her daughter Doris had stopped there hoping for help but it was closed along with the rest of our little town on the first day of 2009. They had begun to lose hope when they saw me walking – I was the only person out on the streets that night, they said. 
“I don’t usually walk at night when it’s this cold,” I explained, “but I couldn’t tear myself away from the baby so I stayed longer than planned.” My son-in-law had offered to drive me home but since I was well dressed and needing to walk off some holiday goodies I had struck out on foot. 
As we chatted I learned they were recent immigrants from Mainland China and lived in nearby Calgary; they were not familiar with my town. 
Noticing the call numbers on their radio were set at our only Christian FM station, I asked if they were Christians. They said they were and I asked them if they went to a church in Calgary. 
“Actually, we are coming here to see our pastor,” Doris answered. 
“Who is he?” There are several churches and many ministers in our town of 16,000 but you never know…. 
“Paul Johnson,” she replied. 
I almost jumped out of my seatbelt. “He’s my friend! He works with my husband!” I knew this encounter was no coincidence. 
Surprised to see me on his doorstep with his late but expected guests, Paul began to make introductions. 
“We’re already friends,” we interrupted and told him the story. 
My husband came to get me and we were sent away with hugs and Chinese tea and fresh pie. As we drove home I remembered my New Year’s morning prayer, long forgotten in the bustle of a busy day. “Lord, you know how prone I am to doubting You. Reveal Yourself to me today in an unmistakable way,” I prayed with Thomas-like faith. Only God can bring together total strangers in such a way that the encounter is the answer to each other’s prayer.

Author:

Christian writer and speaker trying to follow God one yes at a time.

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