FIRST-PERSON: The desert road

Tags: evangelism

EASLEY, S.C. (BP) -- Tony took his family to spend the day at a water park. On their way home, they ran out of gas.

They were stranded on the interstate in the desert of West Texas. While his wife and three young daughters sat in the hot car, Tony walked to a nearby rest stop to see if someone would help.

I happened to be driving across the United States that day, not knowing that I was headed toward a divine appointment. I had planned to stop at a scenic overlook, but was in the wrong lane and missed the exit.

Frustrated with myself, I continued up the road and eventually stopped at a rest stop seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Tony approached me for help, and I assumed he was going to ask for money. I soon found out that he wasn't looking for money, he was looking for someone to help him get some gas.

The closest town was about 15 miles away. I assured him that we would get some gas and come back. As we were driving to the nearest town, I knew that this was the divine appointment I had prayed for before the cross-country trip began.

When we returned, Tony began to pour the gas into his vehicle and pour out his heart at the same time. Life had been hard for Tony, and he didn't understand why things were happening the way there were.

For the first time, I noticed that his red T-shirt had a large white cross on the front with a skull in the middle of the cross.

I asked him, "Tony, what does that cross mean to you?" He said, "I don't know, man. It's just a T-shirt."

I said, "Tony, that shirt says to me that there is hope for you."

With his permission, I took out my phone and began to tell Tony about Jesus using the Three Circles app. When I got to the part about brokenness, Tony broke down in tears. I realized that this was more than just a presentation; this was his story.

By the grace of God, Tony trusted Christ as his Savior that day on the side of Interstate 10 in West Texas.

As I drove away, I marveled how God cares about one person on a desert road. The whole encounter reminded me of another man on a desert road that we read about in Acts 8. The angel of the Lord sent Philip down the desert road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. There was a man on that road who was about to experience a divine appointment.

As he sat in his chariot reading Isaiah 53, Philip approached him and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" The Ethiopian man said, "How can I unless someone explains it to me?" That question reveals a powerful lesson for us all. Those who do not know Jesus need someone who does.

The Bible says, "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus" (Acts 8:35 NIV). There on that desert road, the Ethiopian man responded to the Gospel and put his faith in Jesus Christ.

I can still remember being in Dr. Roy Fish's class in seminary as he used that text to teach us how God yearns for people to know Him. Dr. Fish explained that God yearns for us to know His love and to share that love with others.

You may not travel on a desert road this week, but you will likely come across someone who is far from God. You and I have Good News that they desperately need to hear.

Someone once said that the sin of the desert is to know where water is but not tell anyone. Be sensitive to who you meet this week. It may be more than a coincidence that your paths have crossed. Prayerfully open your mouth and tell them the Good News about Jesus.

Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
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