God, Please Send a Taxi
Losing track of time can has gotten me into more trouble than I can think of, you’d think I would’ve figured that out from all the things that happened in my childhood.
Despite the watches and daytimers and smartphones, I still lose track of time.
One particular night it carried big consequences.
I was in Paraguay, South America in the capital city of Asuncion. I had just finished speaking at Iglesia Vida Nueva, the small church where I was serving there as a missionary. We had just finished our Saturday night service and I grabbed the last bus at around 10pm, Linea 27 to get home since we didn’t have the money to have a car.
Riding the bus in Paraguay is an experience…but I’ll save that for another chapter.
On this particular ride, I was coming down from the adrenaline that public speaking creates and I was going over my notes to do some tweaking for the marathon of Sunday services that I had to come, going over the points in my head preaching it silently to myself. That’s the great thing about riding the bus, you don’t have to pay attention.
That’s also the bad thing about riding the bus, while you don’t have to pay attention, you probably should.
As the bus jostled down the cobblestone in the dark I continued to go over my message, point after point until something unexpected happened.
The bus stopped.
I looked up and realized I had gotten so engrossed in my message that I missed my stop.
By a long shot.
The bus was at the end of the line.
It was also the last bus of the night.
And I had no idea where I was.
I asked the driver where the main road was in hopes to find a cab even though most cabs stopped running after 10pm.
The driver pointed in a general direction and left me on the bus by myself to contemplate my fate.
This was not good.
I left the bus and started walking in the general direction that the driver told me to go.
The walking was no problem.
The problem was I didn’t know where I was, it was mid night, I didn’t know how to get home, and I’m dressed in my sunday suit and overcoat looking totally gringo while everyone else on the street in shorts and flip flops are pionting at me and speaking guarani.
I started to realize why as I began walking.
I was in a really bad area of town.
I could tell by the thugs with machine guns standing guard in front of the houses that I was in the wrong place at the really wrong time.
I picked up my pace and started praying that God would send me a taxi so I could get out of there. As I walked I felt like there was a sign on my back that said, “Mug me please!”. It felt like everyone was looking at me.
I passed another armed guarded house with a neon sign that said, “Putavilla” which in the local vernacular could be translated into english as “Hookerville”. Prostitution is illegal in Paraguay, but there were clearly no police that would dare enter this part of the hood.
I didn’t even know if I was going the right direction, but at this point, I just wanted to get away from here.
“God, please send a taxi”
Just then a car pulled into the street where I was walking and headed straight for me.
I wasn’t sure what the car was wanting to do so I crossed to the other side to avoid the car.
The car swerved toward me and turned on its brights to blind me and then stopped in front of me to block my way.
I was scared.
I began thinking of all the different options I had to defend myself…I could run, but it would make more sense to start running when the driver got out.
So I waited for what seemed like forever, not sure if the car was going to run me over or if the driver was just going to mug me.
Then the door opened on the drivers side.
I was preparing myself to run, but I caught the sign on the door and read it as the driver stood up and yelled.
It was a taxi and boy was I glad!!!
I slid into the back seat, told the driver where home was, and silently thanked God that He had provided just what I needed to get home.
There was about 10 minutes of silence in the taxi…unusual in Paraguay where the drivers generally want to strike up conversation.
Then he said, “are you a minister?”
I thought that was an odd question, but I thought that the way I was dressed and my Bible may have given him a hint.
“Yes” I said.
“Do you know God?” odd follow-up question, but I was intrigued.
“Yes” I said.
He then proceeded to tell me that he was coming home from a long day at work, had recently been separated from his wife, considered suicide and was asking God for help and for a sign.
I got the sense that this was much more than me avoiding being mugged.
He then said that he was praying for help right when he turned on the street where I was and that I was glowing like an angel. Kind of weird…not sure what to make of that one.
He told me over and over again that I was an angel sent from God to tell him something.
Well….I know I’m no angel.
But I did get to share Jesus with him.
He accepted Jesus as his Savior that night at 2am in the taxi under the streetlight right beneath my apartment.
Then he refused to let me pay for the taxi ride and told me that I could have free rides with him if I told him and his family more about God.
The next morning, the Taxi driver and his family were in the first row at church as I spoke and told the story about how God had worked the night before.
I took another ride in the taxi home, this time in the afternoon with his daughter who wanted to hear my side of the story since she had already heard if from her father. Her father wanted desperately for her to know Jesus, so I introduced her to Him…she accepted Jesus under that same streetlight below my apartment.
In a span of 24 hours, I got to see 3 miracles: God miraculously protecting me and then seeing the miracle that He does twice for all of us as He makes our souls come alive!!! Totally worth the terror of walking through the wrong side of Asuncion at the wrong time of day.
Reminds me of that Psalm that gets quoted whenever anyone’s getting religious:
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”…that idea God taught to me in such profound ways. Ways that would serve me for the life ahead…
But that’s another chapter…