A Story about God and a man named Ryan

Written by Nick Wasiuta


Ryan is a friend of our church whose business it is to distribute free Bibles to companies and individuals in need.

Ryan was stopped at a red light one night – and he noticed a woman across the street. She sat alone on a bus bench, taking a drag of a cigarette. There was nothing particular about her that drew Ryan’s eye, but, driving away, he stumbled upon the thought, “I should have pulled over and offered that woman a Bible.” Although this was out of his way the moment the light turned green, Ryan bothered to turn around. He pulled up near the bench, got out, and sat down next to her.

How do you start a conversation with a stranger?

When your entire motivation for breaching social boundaries revolves around the phrase, “I think God wanted me to stop and talk to you,” just how many different reactions – how many of them violent – can you imagine? Thoughts like these probably made their way through Ryan’s head. Yet he had a courage in him that maybe only made sense, if you could see the bigger picture.

“I felt like God is telling me to ask you if you might be in need of prayer,” he said. “Would you mind if I pray for you?”

She did not object. In fact, something compelled her to reveal to Ryan, five seconds ago a stranger, her story. She lived in a nearby apartment with her family, a daughter and granddaughter. She was the family’s sole provider of income. She had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was wrestling with the pain of how her family would be supported, if she were no longer there to provide.

Ryan prayed for the woman.“Why didn’t I give her a Bible?” he asked himself as he drove away. “I literally have a trunk full of them.” This desire formed in him anew. He decided he would come again.

The funny thing about smokers, is you can set your watch to them. Few things in the dominion of creation operate with such cyclical regularity as a person who smokes. So Ryan returned to the park bench the next day, and this time with a Bible in his hands, certain he would meet the woman again.

She did not return. He waited an hour before leaving. He waited another hour the next day, and another the day following. She did not return, she did not return, she did not return. Perhaps a bit crestfallen, Ryan offered another prayer for the woman, and allowed that if God should wish him to meet her again, that was in His hands. Ryan did not return to the park bench after that.

Some days later, providence arranged that Ryan should need some ingredients missing from dinner, and brought him to Safeway. Standing at the checkout to pay and be on his way, he recognized the face of the person to follow him in line.

It was the very same lady from the park bench. “Do you remember me?” he asked. She did. “Could you wait here for a minute? I have something for you that I need to fetch from my car.” She agreed.

He moved briskly back to his vehicle, dropped off his groceries, pulled out a pen, opened a Bible, began scribbling. His name, a phone number. The address of his church. A note. “If you ever want to talk, call me. If you feel like you want to join me at church, we would be blessed to have you.” He dashed back to Safeway to present the woman his gift.


She showed up. Then the next week, she showed up again. And the following week.

It had seemed like life had given up on this woman, but thanks to Ryan’s insistence, she knew that God had not. She knew that soon she would not be able to protect her family any longer, but now has faith in a God who can, a God who loves.

There were no trumpets blaring from the throne of Heaven, or voices like thunder lighting up the sky in this story. Yet, if you listen to the whispers, you can hear God as He wrote a new page in the Story. Ryan heard the whispers, and for following them, God allowed him to see something incredible unfold.

Maybe we should stop waiting for a shout, and start listening to the whispers.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

 

  • 1 Kings 19.11-13

     

    “When I pray, coincidences happen; When I don’t, they don’t.”

    – Bishop William Temple (1881-1944)

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