Coincidence? Or Not?

March 6, 2023

By Maria Fontaine

Audio length: 6:31
Download Audio (5.9MB)

The following testimony from a missionary in Taiwan illustrates the importance of following the Lord, listening to His checks, and being an instant witness to whoever the Lord brings across your path. You never know when it’s the Lord’s perfect time for someone to hear the message and receive it!

It was my day off. My husband had other things to do and the kids were in school. This meant I had the whole day to myself. I planned a morning in a coffee shop catching up on reading and e-mail. Next on the plan was a hike in a lovely area of town that I almost never get to because it’s a 40-minute drive away.

The morning went along smoothly and everything was going like clockwork. It started with me getting my favorite chair in the coffee shop, and the menu had just been updated to include bagels, my favorite. I read about the importance of adopting a mindset of faith, expectancy, and readiness whenpreaching the gospel. This struck me as a new thought—faith to tell someone about Jesus, and faith and expectancy that that person is ready to hear the good news.

My belief up until this point had been that sharing the good news was a part of being a Christian. Faith in myself as the giver and in the receiver as the one God planned for me to talk to hadn’t come into my mind at all. I viewed it more with a salesman outlook. I showed the product. If they chose it, great; if not, well, that was their problem.

I hadn’t given the timing of witnessing encounters much thought. I have also held the belief that witnessing is my job as a Christian and something I should do to receive Jesus’ grace and blessings in my life. Obedience to Jesus’ commission to witness was what mattered to me, not seeing results.

At the end of my reading and meditating on this new thought, I said a prayer for the faith and readiness to meet those who are ready to hear the gospel, and for faith in myself to be a giver of the good news to grow.

My children had just started school the week before, and as fate would have it, I was called to the school to meet with one of the teachers and work out some book payment. I felt cheated out of my plan for my day. Now I would not have the time to make it to my planned trail. After finishing up at the school, it was already 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I only had an hour of daylight left. I thought of going to the nearby park and walking around it for an hour. Not such a great hike, but at least I’m out getting some fresh air, I thought.

I had walked about 300 meters toward the park when I felt I was going the wrong way. Then I remembered a short hike right near the children’s school that I hadn’t gone on for about six months. Encouraged that I would get my hike after all, I turned around and took off in the new direction. As I neared the entrance, I saw a beautiful new addition to this hike: a small stream redirected, new rest areas, large grass fields and little walkways all throughout. As I was about to go check out the new paths, I felt pulled along the well-worn path that I knew already. Then, coming to the next fork, I almost went toward the waterfall, my favorite route, but instead of going toward it, I found myself walking away. As I walked, I thanked Jesus for giving me this time in His creation and for leading me to this climb.

After about 20 minutes of climbing, I came to the first lookout, a large rock with room for two people overlooking the valley. Atop the rock was an elderly man meditating, who spoke as I passed. “Do you climb here often?” he asked. “No,” I answered, “this is only my third time in a year.” “I haven’t been on this trail for six years,” he added. He then invited me to join him in admiring the view. At this point, I knew I needed to forget my exercise plan and sit and enjoy the view and learn who this man sitting on the rock was. Within minutes our conversation turned to spiritual topics, and I was soon to find out Eddie was an atheist. Not only that, but he had never felt God or any higher being in anything or at any time in his life.

He said, “If God is real, then where is the proof of Him?” Why had he not had some spiritual experience in all his 50+ years? Then he asked, “What are the benefits of having a religion?” This man was of a scientific mind and only believes in things that he can prove under a microscope. In response, I talked about my own experiences with God and explained that the greatest proof of His existence was the creation all around us.

On and on our conversation went. I told the story of Jesus’ birth and death, my own choice to be a missionary at the age of 17, and the miracles that Jesus has done for me. We looked up Bible verses together and then I presented him with the choice to pray for Jesus to change his life and manifest Himself to him. Eddie prayed the salvation prayer with me and was beautifully saved.

Then he told me that he hadn’t even planned to hike this trail; he was going to go to the other side of the mountain, but something made him drive the other direction. He then said that he had planned to see the waterfall, but something caused him to climb the other trail instead. I was thrilled, and told Eddie my experiences just the hour before and how I had not planned to hike that trail either, and we both agreed that our meeting was miraculous. Eddie couldn’t wait to tell his wife all about it. He kept saying we had a miraculous spiritual meeting.

As we were parting, Eddie said, “You know, if I had met you five years ago, I wouldn’t have listened to anything you had to say; this is the first time in my life that I am open to spiritual things. I was like a mouse on a wheel until now, but these last few months I have felt I needed to make changes in my life. I’ve been taking time to stop and reflect, and I’ve found that money, fame, and success aren’t what bring happiness in life. I wanted something more.” As we parted we promised to keep in touch.

As I walked home, I thought of the words I read that morning: “Faith and trust in the Lord, and a willingness to follow where He leads, are what we need as Christians.”

Originally published in 2009. Adapted and republished March 2023. Read by Lenore Welsh.

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