“Get out of the cab, Hannah! Get out of the cab!” my sister urged me as I hastily dumped all of my luggage onto the nearby curb while she haggled with our cheating, rickshaw driver. Paris, so far, was not a highpoint in our day. On our way to Greece to spend a week ministering with the refugees at a camp 9km outside of Turkey, we had decided to take advantage of our location and stop through the City of Lights. Now, here we were, on a curb 10 blocks from the Eiffel Tower, lost, and nowhere near the airport we needed to be. We needed a taxi—and one who this time knew where he was going.
After deliberation on which driver looked most trustworthy we chose one, only to have it pull away as we reached for the door handle. We chose the next one behind us, and warily greeted the man who popped out to grab our bags. That’s when I realised it—my phone! (aka. our GPS, boarding passes, only mode of communication, etc). It was gone. I jumped out to go back to the spot we had first landed, and saw nothing but the pigeons pecking around my feet. I slumped down in my seat, feeling stressed and dumb, wondering why we had even come to Paris in the first place.
Meanwhile… my sister had struck up conversation with our new cab driver. Having recently lived in Cambodia she had much in common with our Cambodian driver, Ping. We chatted and listened as his story started casually and then unfolded to reveal the 45-year ache to return to the country of his youth and the empty place in his heart trying to make himself believe his Buddhist faith and yet, “I do not feel it. How can I believe something that I do not feel is true?”
“Can I tell you about Jesus?” she asked.
“Yes, yes! Please!” he eagerly replied.
Simple as that, she told Jesus. He listened intently as he breezily manoeuvred the busy, cramped European streets. She encouraged him that Jesus was pursuing him. I marvelled at her boldness and prayed for his heart to be open.
After a short while, Ping opened further and told us that within the last year his eldest daughter had died in a tragic accident. At this point the man broke into sobs. He was wrestling with wondering if he would ever see her again; guilt because he could not connect with his younger daughter; hope for the future.
We didn’t have answers—how could we? But we listened, prayed, and cried. “I do not tell you this to make you sad”, he apologised. We told him not to. He pulled over to the curb of our terminal and brought out our bags in awkward silence. We thanked him, tipped him well, and my sister once again encouraged him—“Go home tonight, and ask God to reveal Himself to you. You are searching, and He wants you to know Him.” He said that He would. That He would ask Jesus to speak to Him in His dreams.
And we parted ways.
This is why you came to Paris, Hannah. I was reminded that in all the mess of that day, it was no accident that our rickshaw driver was lost and pulled over to that curb. It was no mere chance that our cab of choice pulled away and left us with Ping. It was no frivolous thing we went to Paris. Jesus was at work in it all, and included us in on a moment between Him and Ping. Losing my phone became part of the adventure, and I saw the truth that ministry can be both planned and ‘spontaneous’; learned the craziness of God’s sovereignty. Ordinary person going about ordinary life, searching. How many other opportunities have I missed being caught up in my own cares and worries?
Pray for Ping! Pray for his family, and that their hearts would continue to be open and searching. Pray that God would bring other Christians into his path.
“…What must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30b–31)