I have been giving tracts out at the gas pumps around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I want to tell you about Friday evening - I gave out approximately 30 of these tracts in Lost River, West Virginia. I was en route to a prayer meeting for a little boy named Joshua who is fighting for his life from a kayaking accident. (The Facebook page to follow that story is: https://www.facebook.com/FightingandBelieving/) I was traveling the main highway leading into the state of West Virginia from my home in Virginia, route 259 just past Mathias when the tank truck in front of me came to a sudden stop. I couldn't see anything up ahead from my perspective. Both lanes of the two-lane highway were shut down and soon wreckers pulled away with vehicles, but rumor had it that for hazmat cleanup, we continued to wait. I was stopped at the entrance of a field and decided to back into the rough driveway there. I started cleaning out my car to make use of my time and found the stack of tracks in the console that I hand out at gas pumps. I have been attempting to be more bold for the faith, especially with the circumstances of perpetual fear that grips our world during this upheaval surrounding the pandemic.
I hopped out of my car before I could talk myself into chickening out. The parable of the sown seed came alive to me as I walked. Some did not want to open their window. Others were curious. At least one had the light in his eyes and affirmed to me that yes, he was a believer. If you would like, please pray for two individuals specifically - "Uncle Si" and Byron.
The first individual would not disclose his name, and he reminded me of the character in Duck Dynasty from Louisiana, the duck call makers. It soon became tense in my conversation with him, so I quickly wrapped it up and told him I would pray for him. Folks in this community will often brag, "I've been to church my whole life" or beam "my grandma had a Bible", as if somehow these acts have secured salvation. Without fail, any time I attempt an evangelistic street ministry session, I agonize over each word I used and wonder if I do more damage than good. So commonly, it seems people are embittered at the church. I do not desire to push them further into hurt.
Byron was a picture of the fertile soil from the parable. I had made my trek down the yellow lines and walked back to my car in the ditch. I read people's faces as I returned to see if they appeared to want to discuss what I had handed them. Many clearly did not, but when I got almost back to my car, Byron really wanted to talk. He appeared stunned. He exclaimed that he had experienced the same medical condition as Kristen - encephalitis that caused a cranial infection and clotting, but that his condition had been caught in time. So I don't know if it was exactly the same causation, but at any rate, Kristen's story resonated with him deeply. He was amazed that I had those tracts and a bible ready to hand to him at the drop of a hat. Byron just seemed completely open to the gospel, but we were cut short as torrential rain hit early in our conversation. I had my infant with me, so of course needed to end abruptly. A detail that affirms his sincere interest, he had pulled over and continued to talk after traffic was moving again. He gave his phone number and we have conversed on my husband's account over the weekend. I invited him to a church in his area, but yesterday morning he said his buddy was killed in a farming accident Saturday night and he had been up most of the night distraught over that devastating news and didn't feel up to coming. Of course, I don't know how things will progress from here. I feel certain that we will have more encounters with him.
I read on your post that there was a spike in orders around the end of 2019. That is congruent with when I started becoming more faithful about placing them at the gas pumps. Who knows? :)
I have been moved to tears many times thinking about your pain in missing Kristen. She and I are nearly the same age - I will be 29 next month. I vaguely remember being convicted when I first remember hearing about her as I was backsliding terribly around the time of her death. I don't at all recall where or how I first learned about her story, but I am excited that 10 years later, it is relevant and active, and I am in a much better place than I was in 2010.
Well, as is typical of my stories, this has gotten longer than I intended. I hope you all have a blessed week and are encouraged by this feedback. I will let you know if Byron experiences a breakthrough.