Bob is little above average in height with a salt and pepper beard, glasses and welcoming face. He greets people at Walmart and helps them find the aisle they need. I met him one day when I was clueless about where to begin my look for an item on my list.
“Where would I find tortillas.” I asked.
“That’s right, … here I’ll show you,” Bob said as he pointed and began to walk in the direction I had already begun to move.
“I don’t want to take up your time …”
“No problem. I need to take a walk anyway,” Bob offered.
So the two of us walked to the aisle and he showed me exactly where the item was.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind
to live on all the face of the earth, having determined
allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”
[Acts 17:26 (ESV)]
That verse tells me there are no accidental relationships in my life. So …
“I’m Marty, thanks for your help,” as I offered my hand.
“Bob Gerring (name changed for this post).” We shook hands and continued our walk toward the aisle he was directing me to.
“Are you from Watseka?”
“Moved here about eight years ago,” he said.
Bob went back to the door and I went on with my shopping. But when I had paid for my groceries and was heading out, I made a point to say goodbye and thank you to Bob. And then I started praying for him and for my future interactions with him.
The weeks have rolled by and I still look for Bob and opportunities to move toward gospel clarity. He forgot my name in our second meeting, but by the time I was heading out, he had remembered and came by to seek me out and question me, “Marty?”
“Yes, you remembered,” I said and knew that a relational connection had been made. He has congratulated me on becoming a grandfather, and we have laughed at some jokes and the next time I see him I want to ask him to sit down with me for a cup of coffee sometime and tell me what he likes about Watseka and a bit more about his family. I will probably ask him for some grandfather advice, (he has 16 grandchildren himself).
Intensely local ministry begins with simple questions, is bathed in prayer, and is in it for the long haul. Try it. There are open doors everywhere, if you open your heart to see them.