I just had a great encounter in my life. And maybe this testimony will encourage you.
Yesterday was a curiously quiet day. Some quiet moments with the Father. Some stress. Spontaneously anti-social as I missed all my scheduled SP events. Lots of alone time. I prayed over the following day's encounters.
Today I started the morning at 06:00 with a 25K run from Kenmedy Town to Causeway Bay. I was tired and hungry after the run. I stepped into a Tai Hang but I had to take a number. I stepped out, looked down the street and spotted another restaurant. I checked out that restaurant's menu, saw a big breakfast and stepped in.
The restaurant had space in the back. But I would share the table. An old man had also entered the restaurant and walked to my table. He sat inside and to the wait staff's curiosity, I sat outside. He ordered fast -- perhaps he's a regular. I took my time to sit down: I was still standing and had pulled out my iphone from my backpack. My ID card had become stuck to the iPhone screen during my run. As I pried the card off, the iphone escaped my grasp and flew underneath the table. The man was sitting beside a woman. I asked both, in English, if either could fetch the phone for me. The man picked up the phone and I thanked him.
He asked me about my running. We started talking about running, and more generally sports. He plays football these days and doesn't run. In his youth, he did hike a lot, round the island, three times, in fact.
The wait staff thought we were together, and a waiter expressed surprise that we wanted separate checks, so unusual is strangers' talking in our city. I clarified we had just met and built relationship. Taking a cue from all my explicit ministry in Hong Kong, I had supposed all along my neighbor was chatty because he was older, and I could listen to him.
I cannot help praising God, whether in English or Cantonese. And I don't remember how, but we started sharing our histories and travels -- when I told him about my American upbringing, he said he couldn't tell I was an American. He shared his education experience in English schools in Hong Kong and how he had not graduated from university because back in the day even a diploma was sufficient. We had a laugh when I talked about my degrees upon degrees and how even PhDs are so prevalent these days. We both shared a burden for HK, not least because of the dangerous forces acting upon Hong Kong people in this age. We don't want HK people to have hope, unity and a future.
When he said he had been to San Francisco -- he often visits his children in Toronto and had even visited relatives in Kentucky! -- to visit a Baptist brother, I realized there was greater depth in this man. I asked him about the reason for Hong Kong and international Baptist and Methodist denominations; I shared with him my experience teaching in Methodist school; and he told the history of intra-denominational difference in HK; and he told me about the history of HK missionaries and their denominational schools. He asked me if I knew The Lord Jesus and I shared my testimony with him.
I shared God's visions for my life; and he spoke lots about Koreans in HK and Korean missionaries in China. He knew a lot. Hallelujah!
I had ordered the biggest breakfast and the staff had mistakingly provided an extra omelet. My friend was happy for me; I asked the waiter what to do; and she said just receive, no charge. I answered, "This is grace. I receive!"
We began speaking very boldly about The Lord Jesus, the mission life and the Gospel for Hong Kong people. Other customers and wait staff looked at us curiously, not least because we had been strangers and because of our strong language for Christ. This man had the gift of encouragement. We strengthened each other to love our neighbors as ourselves in HK.
His name is Mr. Cheung. He asked me to guess his age and I said 70. 77, actually. He has been retired for a long time. He doesn't use a computer, but he does have a phone number, paper and a pen. We wrote our contact information on a slip of paper and exchanged our numbers. I wrote my email in the event he ever encountered a computer. We took a selfie!
He left first. I ran after him when he left his umbrella on the table. The wait staff were horrified as I had run after him while leaving my phone and valuables exposed on the table. When I returned, the wait staff were amazed that we had been strangers, but had bonded because we discovered we both are believers. I told them I met my spiritual grandfather today. A waitress asked me for how long I had believed. I said not too long compared to Mr. Cheung, he being 44 years older than me! I then asked the waitress for her age. She was shy. We all had a laugh. Hallelujah. A new go-to restaurant in Causeway Bay. Praise God for kindness and favor in that place.
Finally, God surprised me again. I had met a language exchange partner for the first time on Friday. I invited him to church, he thought about it, and he accepted the invitation on Saturday. We had lunch, and attended service on Sunday. After a powerful message, after worshipping God through song, after he had met at least a dozen brothers and sisters by name, we were speaking to one last church brother. I had known this church brother for years and today he was especially coherent, encouraging and bold. When I introduced my friend to this brother, this brother immediately asked if my friend had accepted Jesus. My friend said he wanted to. Whoah! Hallelujah. I said he could know Jesus right then. We moved to a table, I explained prayer to him and led him through the sinners prayer, and he received The Lord Jesus as savior. Praise God! That was unexpected. Maybe he'll be back at church next week. I am encouraged that my friend is a made man for eternity in Christ; and humbled that God would partner with me, all the more in my great weakness today.