I don’t always pick up on the providential designs beneath my daily encounters. But some days they’re simply on full display. Almost as if providence is showing off.
Most of my prayer walks in the bazaar are an exercise in being alone with God while being surrounded by other people. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy praying quietly to myself while flanked by other pedestrians on a bustling Central Asian sidewalk. I’ve not intentionally sought out opportunities to share the gospel while out praying and walking—that discipline is able to happen elsewhere. But neither am I opposed to hitting an evangelistic softball if one is thrown my way during the course of a walk.
An opportunity like this came along last week, and completely out of nowhere. It was a sunny mid-morning I was walking down a street full of small bakeries, fish stalls, chai houses, and watch repairers, when I decided on a whim to take a left down past the old post office. I had no particular reason for choosing this route, but at the moment of decision it simply felt like this would be a good way to go.
Two-thirds of the way down the post office street I spotted a man standing in front of me and lo oking at me oddly. Our eyes met.
“You are an English teacher, right?” he asked me.
“Well, I was for some years, yes.” I said as I wondered how he had pegged me so accurately.
“I am a legal translator. And I am stuck. I have been translating registration documents for a Christian organization.”
Internally, I quickly transitioned out of prayer/meditation mode and sought to focus on what was happening in front of me. The ingredients of this situation were not exactly common. I wondered if this might be a divinely-appointed interaction.
“There’s some religious language that I’m not familiar with,” he continued. “Some unique Christian terms that I haven’t heard before. I don’t know what to do…”
“Would you like me to come to your office and see if I can help?” I quickly offered.
“If it’s no trouble, my office is just across the street here,” he motioned to a nearby corner.
We walked over to his small translation shop and stepped inside. The legal translator motioned for me to take a seat, handing me the customary small bottle of cold water. Then he pulled out the documents he had been working on.
“Can you tell me what gospel identity means? And what about reconciliation?” the translator started off, furrowing his brow. “Look at this sentence where they use those terms. I can’t make any sense out of it. I’m a legal translator, not someone familiar with translating religious language.”