Gift Card #1

Trip Start Aug 21, 2010
Trip End Dec 31, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Saturday, August 28, 2010

En route from Albuquerque, NM to San Angelo, TX, we needed to stop for gas and to change drivers. The border town of Clovis, New Mexico, offered that opportunity. Kelsey was driving, and passing a few gas stations along the way. After inquiring as to why we hadn't stopped yet, she explained that she saw a billboard for a gas station three miles ahead--one that traditionally has cheaper prices than others.
Sure enough, we pulled in to find it to be an entire dime cheaper. Kelsey got out to pump the gas, and I checked the oil and tire pressure to round out the completion of our three mandatory gas station chores.
After I finished squeegy-ing the windshield with not-so-soapy, less-than-effective windshield wash, I announced my urgent need to use the restroom.
"Okay, well go pull into that parking spot over there, and talk to that kid on your way in."
"That kid sitting by the door. I heard him asking people for money and stuff. And there's a Subway right there, you can give him one of those cards."

Sounded like a plan to me! Not wanting to let the card go alone, I grabbed a tract from my bag and clutched them both as I entered the store.

"Hey man, how's it going?"
"G-good. How are you?" He put his cigarette down.
"Good, thanks!" A lady was entering the store at that time, "Here you go" I said as I held the door.
"Hey" I gave my attention back to the young man sitting on the ground. "Are you hungry?"
He nodded and diverted his gaze.
"Please--take these." I handed him the Subway card and little booklet.
"Make sure you read that little book though. It's important."
He nodded again.
With that, I entered the convenience store to fulfill my secondary purpose. It was then that I realized that I never got that guy's name...

On my way back out of the store, I continued the conversation.
"Hey is there anything else I can do for ya before I head out?"
He shook his head no.
"What's your name?"
"Anthony, nice to meet you. I'm Mike." I squatted down in front of him--I didn't feel right hovering above him. "Where you headed, Anthony?"
"C-California. Wh-what about y-you?" By now, it was evident that Anthony suffered with a significant speech impediment. His speech was slow, cautious, and quiet. Does his stutter indicate that his mind might be slow as well? I guess I just assumed he could even read when I handed him the tract...
"Oh, I'm headed the opposite direction, actually. Headed to New York."
"We go around to schools and do assemblies for high schools and stuff. So we talk to students to motivate them."
Anthony nodded. He appeared to put a lot of effort into trying to keep up a conversation.
"Well Anthony, I've got to head out again. Are you sure there isn't anything else I can do for you before I go?"
He shook his head again.
"That Subway card should work right here. I haven't used it yet, but it should work--it's got about fifteen dollars on it."
Anthony nodded.
"And hey--if you have any questions about anything in that little book..." my mind froze. What could I say? I can't exactly stay in Clovis, New Mexico to follow up with this young man... "'ll find the answers."
Gah--that's the best thing I could come up with to say? "You'll find the answers"?
"Take care, man."

I climbed back into the van and reflected on the interaction. On one hand, I was proud to have given out the first of our gift cards. On the other hand, I felt like I didn't quite make the most of the opportunity. As I drove, God reminded me that as long as I step out to give out those gift cards and tracts, and carry a conversation with his divine appointment, I can't do anything to mess it up. I do my part, and God takes care of the rest. Anthony might not have been able to read. That won't stop God. Maybe he could read fine, and I assumed too much from my short interaction. I might have been able to stay longer and talk through the tract. But my failure to do so still won't stop God from pursuing a lost soul.
As long as I take initiative for what I can do, I simply cannot fail. The only way I can fail is to ignore the man or woman who God has placed in our path. But even then, I'm not robbing God. God will work through someone else if I don't do my part, and He will reach the person regardless. I would only rob myself of the blessing of playing a small part in the grand scheme of redemption.

So Anthony is out of my hands. A little bit of food, a little bit of paper, and a little conversation was all the mark I left. I pray that someone else on God's team comes alongside him and guides him further. Ultimately, I pray that Anthony comes up to me a hundred years from now and says with a clearer speech than ever before, "Hey Mike--I'm here. Thanks."
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