The Stranger at the Gas Station


I have an older cousin named Joseph who’s a gentle and sweet man. He served this country in the Army twenty years before I was born and currently serves in his church as a deacon.

My mother’s family is a mix of two American Indian tribes and my cousin Joseph, of course, shares in this heritage. In a recent conversation, he told me about a random encounter he had had with a stranger at a gas station.

He was standing beside his car getting gas when a stranger from the car in front of him struck up a conversation. What started as friendly small talk quickly turned awkward.

There’s a tribal bumper sticker on Joseph’s car and he often wears a small bone necklace that was given to him from another tribal member.

After only a few minutes into the conversation, the stranger suddenly announced that he’s a Christian and felt it was his “duty” to invite Joseph to attend church with him because Joseph needed to be witnessed to.

Making assumptions about someone based on appearance, preconceived notions, or without all of the facts will always (and I mean always) get you into trouble.

Joseph politely responded,

“You assumed that because I’m Native I’m not a follower of Jesus. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior decades ago and you really should’ve asked me before assuming I hadn’t.”

The stranger stood speechless.

After a brief pause Joseph continued:

“Also, it’s our job to reflect God’s love. It’s through our love and testimony of how the Holy Spirit is working through our lives, that hearts are opened and lives are changed…this is our witness.”

Embarrassed, the stranger apologized several times and the conversation ended on good terms with Joseph accepting his apology.

Myth #1: Native peoples don’t know Jesus.

There are actually a lot of American Indian and First Nations people who not only follow Jesus, but faithfully serve Him as pastors, deacons, preachers, missionaries, worship leaders, Christian authors, Bible teachers…not to mention those who serve Him in other vocations outside of church.

Not every single Native person is a Spirit-filled believer, but neither is every person in any other ethnicity. The best approach is to ask someone what they believe before making an assumption.

Myth #2: Witnessing only occurs within the four walls of a church building.

Inviting people to a church service or event should be a regular habit of all believers. However, 99% of witnessing occurs outside of a church building and before they accept your invite to a church function.

This is because our witness is sharing our testimonies over a cup of coffee, showing love and kindness in the midst of evil, praising God through our struggles, and living a life that’s counter-cultural and set apart from the world.

11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. ~ Revelation 12:11

How we live our everyday lives is a bigger witness to the world than anything we preach on Sunday mornings.

Witnessing isn’t approaching a stranger in a public place and loudly announcing they need to be saved. Think about how you would respond to that.

Myth #3:  The lost are just a number and it’s our duty to save them.

We don’t save anyone. Only Jesus saves.

 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. ~1 Timothy 2:5-6

 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said…12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:8,12

Moreover, we aren’t called to view the lost as just another notch in our “look how many people I saved” belt. They were created by God for a purpose and it’s our job to LOVE them.

If you can relate to the stranger at the gas station, know that everyone makes mistakes.

My enthusiasm of what God has done in my life and the knowledge that time is fleeting, sometimes makes me over zealous when speaking to someone about Jesus.

I pray everyday that I never turn someone away from learning more about God because I came across as conceited.

This is why it’s so important to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our every move, giving us the ability to know exactly when and where to speak, what to say, and when to patiently listen.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. ~Galatians 5:22-26

5 thoughts on “The Stranger at the Gas Station

  1. You have made some very valid points in this post. While I admire the courage of the strange at the gas station—too many Christians are ashamed, I also feel his assumption negated that courage. There’s an old hymn that’s entitled, They will know we are Christians By Our Love.” We’d all do well to remember that. Thanks for another great one, Shelly!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot on, Shelly! We who are non-native make too many assumptions about our native sisters and brothers… assumptions that are usually incorrect and always harmful because they promote prejudicial stereotypes. Thank you for sharing your blog with me at St. Davids! I look forward to following you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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