I only left my house to run a quick errand down the street. On my way back, I hear someone yelling my name. I look across the street and it’s the lady I introduced myself to a couple weeks earlier, who I only met because the big bakery didn’t have what I wanted one particular morning, and so I found myself in her little shop. I walked over and she immediately told me to sit down. “I just made this food and I was asking God for someone to give it to when I looked up and saw you passing by! God sent you!”
I had never before shared the gospel by myself in this country, but I don’t think God could have dropped a more obvious opportunity in my lap. As I ate multiple plates of food and drank cup after cup of tea, we talked and I could see in her a genuine love for God and a desire to please Him. I pointed this out to her, and before I knew it, the words were just flowing out of my mouth about what Jesus did for her and the truth of who He is.
I can’t say that anything evidently incredible happened in that moment, but since that day I have sat many times at her tiny table in her makeshift kitchen in the back of her little store. We talk about God, I listen to her pray as she chops vegetables, I see her run across the street to give tea or soup to a homeless couple, customers of all ages come in and call her “mom,” and she tells me the stories of every person who walks by her window. She’ll introduce me to her friends and say, “This is my American friend. She loves Jesus.”
I’ve had chances to sow more gospel seeds, but her usual response is a nod, smile, and change of subject. I’m often left discouraged, thinking what more could I possibly do, and heartbroken at the thought of not seeing her sweet face in heaven. Then the Lord shifts my perspective to see with His patient, loving eyes. He saw this woman, in a little bakery wedged between a grocery store and a barber shop, down a side street in a district of a really big city. He saw her heart and wanted to reveal to her the truth of His Son who He sent for her. For some reason He picked me to be the one to bring her that message.
Now as I sit at her table and silently pray for her as she slices loaves of bread for her customers, I imagine what she will be like when the message finally sinks in. I can see her overflowing with joy and telling everyone she knows about the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ. I am in awe of the patience of God, that even as the veil remains over the eyes of their understanding, He sees these people and loves them. I believe He is drawing them to Himself whether I can see it or not, and so I will keep praying and sitting at little tea tables and talking about Jesus whenever I can.
As it says in 2 Peter 3:9, the Lord is extraordinarily patient toward us, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. As God continues to use me to play a part in the work He’s doing, I pray that my heart will come more in line with His beautiful patience to see the whole world reached.