Not long after we bought our first house our car broke down. We were already under financial strain and this was not needed. Fortunately, my boss’ partner owns a car yard and he was happy to lend us a car for as long as we needed.
After 2-3 weeks of using the loan car, our broken car was fixed. We were gifted the money to pay for the repairs, so we didn’t have to stress about how to pay for it. Now we just needed to organise to drop the loan car back to Tauranga.
It is a long way to go just to drop a car off, so we arranged to meet up with some fellow believers who live in Tauranga afterwards. A lot of us have children so we arranged to meet at a local playground at 10am.
I got there first with my children and noticed that there weren’t many people around. The only person I saw was a middle-aged Maori man on a park bench, who told me to be careful of the broken glass around the place. I didn’t think much of it at the time because I was on the lookout for the people we were due to meet up with.
Over the course of the morning we had some amazing fellowship.
We spoke about our struggles, our triumphs, asked questions and prayed for one another. After about an hour, we wanted to have a group photo, so I asked the middle-aged Maori man to take it for us, which he did.
After that, we enjoyed some more fellowship until the point where we were starting to get close to lunchtime. People were getting hungry, so a few of us decided to get some food from the supermarket and bring it back for everyone to share.
While we were having our lunch, we noticed that the middle-aged Maori man was still on the same park bench as he was from the morning. He hadn’t talked to anyone else all day and it didn’t look like he was going anywhere in a hurry. April mentioned that we should offer him some food, so I decided to go over and ask him to join us for some lunch. It didn’t feel right that we had loads of food to share and he didn’t seem to have anything.
I found out his name was Colin. Once he had joined us and devoured a bun, we had a bit of a chat. It turns out that he lived in Auckland until a few days earlier and had moved down to Tauranga after someone offered him a job. That job never eventuated, and Colin couldn’t get a hold of the person who offered him the job, so he was stuck in Tauranga. He didn’t know anyone there so ended up sleeping at the playground. In the rocket…
We chatted some more and he told us his story and we shared some of ours. While this was happening, I was trying to work out how to steer the conversation to kingdom matters. I asked him if he was healthy (trying to work out if he had any pain) and he said he was fine. After chatting for a bit more I ended up telling him that we were all there because God brought us together. I explained that we don’t live in the same city and that some of us were even homeless!
I then told him that the kingdom of heaven is near, it is not far off and that is why we invited him over for lunch. I said that we can show him what the kingdom is like because we are born again, but if he wanted it for himself then he would have to be born again. With most people, their response to that will determine whether they are a person of peace or not. A lot of people change the topic, justify their sin or walk away.
Colin did neither. He asked this question:
“How do I go about doing that?”
From there I briefly explained repentance, water baptism, faith in Jesus alone for salvation and baptism in the Holy Spirit. We were right next to the beach, so I said that he could get baptised right there if he was keen.
Even after hearing that, he didn’t change the topic or walk away. He seemed really interested. I asked him if he’d ever heard that before. He said:
“Yea, but I wasn’t listening then. I’m listening now.”
Unfortunately, right at that moment I had to take my daughter to the toilet and then we needed to go because our kids had to sleep. Fortunately, Mike stepped in and shared the full gospel with him from start to finish using some plastics cups and a bottle of juice that we bought for lunch.
There is a whole lot more to this testimony but I will have to get someone else to share the rest of it because I wasn’t there after that!
To be continued…