From the trip journal of Jason Williamson.
“So, what’s your name?” I asked him.
“My name is Jason,” he said.
I’ve been to this Asian country 11 different times and I’ve met hundreds of people who give themselves all sorts of English names. I’ve never met a Jason.
“Cool! That’s my name, too!” I said. “How old are you?”
“I am 36,” said Asian Jason.
“What? I’m 36, too!” I replied. “Are you married?”
“Yes, I am married and we hope to have three children,” said Asian Jason.
“That’s crazy. I’m married and we have three children!” I said.
“Wow, I really think we were supposed to meet each other,” said Asian Jason.
I could not have agreed more.
This encounter with Asian Jason happened on the last day of our sports trip to East Asia. Our team of 12 used basketball as a way to reach people with the Gospel. Before I met Jason, our team spent the morning prayer walking at a university. With my headphones on and tears in my eyes, I looked at the spot on a basketball court where I last saw my friend Joe several years before.
I met Joe on my first trip and over the course of several years, Joe had a chance to hear the Gospel on several occasions. But, the time came for Joe to graduate and he was going to be moving back to his hometown to pursue his Master’s degree. As I hugged Joe goodbye, I encouraged him one last time to trust Jesus, something he had never done. My heart broke as I walked away, knowing it was unlikely that I’d see him again. I desperately wanted him to be our brother in Christ. I think about Joe often and wonder if he ever changed his priorities and placed his faith in Jesus.
I took a moment and prayed for Joe, as I had done many times before. I also praised God for the work that was done during the week. Our team had the opportunity to lovingly articulate the Gospel and share personal testimonies to a couple dozen people, including one Buddhist man we called DD. DD had recently completed an 82-day walk to a Buddhist temple in search of peace. DD confessed that he did not find it and over the course of several days, his heart and his mind became more open to the peace that only Jesus can bring. By the time I was done praying, I felt incredibly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place. I wanted to see God do something amazing that day.
And then I met Jason.
My conversation with Asian Jason took place between pick-up basketball games at a different university. We started and stopped our dialogue a few times as we went on and off the court. But, then the conversation began to take precedent over the games and we both turned down a spot in the next few games.
I learned that Asian Jason, a financial consultant, had only been to this court one other time and that he lived across town in an area that takes about two hours on the subway to get to. Jason was consumed with his work and the competitive nature of stock trading. He would often spend his time after work drinking too much wine. Jason admitted that he never found anything rewarding in the bottle. I was able to share with him about my personal decision to not consume alcohol and why I placed my faith in Jesus instead.
Asian Jason shared with me that he had been to visit church before, but that no one had explained the Gospel clearly to him. After hearing and understanding what I had to tell him, Asian Jason prayed to trust Jesus! With dozens of people playing around us, Jason bowed his head and prayed. It was an incredible moment. But, God wasn’t done yet.
That night, Asian Jason joined us for dinner along with a Buddhist man named Phil. Over dinner, we laughed, told stories and enjoyed fellowship with our new brother in Christ. Some people on our team began talking to Phil about the Gospel and Asian Jason interjected and began pleading with Phil to believe just like he did! Jason hadn’t been a believer for more than a couple hours, but he was already being obedient by sharing the hope he found in Jesus.
There is no doubt in my mind that God fully orchestrated that event. He brought me over 8,000 miles to meet a man with my same age, same name and that wanted the same number of kids I had. I also have no doubt in my mind that I was prepared to have that conversation with Asian Jason because I had had that special moment of worship and prayer that morning.
So, what does this mean for you? It’s not every day you meet someone with a staggering amount of common ground…or is it? That favorite coffee shop you visit each week has lots of other patrons that love it to. Common ground. That park you’ll visit this summer has lots of other parents visiting it with their kids who are about the same age as yours. Common ground. That person stuck in a long line at the grocery store at the same time as you also has a lot on their plate and could use some prayer. Common ground.
So the question is not, “Will God orchestrate a great interaction for me?” Instead, the question really is, “Will I be prepared and in the right mindset to respond when I see God working?”