As I think about it, I can’t help but laugh. I went to the Texas Rangers Baseball game Monday night with my good friend Tom Allen and his son and a his son’s friend. We had to get some good chicken fried steak at New York Hill Steakhouse in Thurber, then a trip to the Man-Mall (Cabellas) on the way there — even though the Man-Mall is about 30 miles out of the way 8^).
Being the worry-wort dad I can sometimes be, I was also preoccupied with my daughter driving from Houston to San Antonio and with a student traveling from Thailand back home to China.
Somewhere in the middle of this experience was one of the weirdest baseball games I have ever attended. Yes, we had an incredible rendition of the Star Spangled Banner after batting practice. Yes, Cade and Christian got autographs on their hats from Julio Borbon, the speedster center fielder for the Rangers. We had great seats and good ol’ ballpark hot dogs and nachos. But the game was just flat weird — sloppy fielding, two balks, a home run reversed on instant replay, two star batters were called out on third strikes on bad calls by the umpire with the bases loaded, base running mistakes, and other bits of craziness.
Meanwhile, I was running the battery dry on my droid texting back to Donna and trying to keep track of Megan’s trip to San Antonio and answering email before the ball game started. Once all of that was straightened out, then the really goofy stuff began. I called my student’s mom in China trying to see if she had made it home on her long journey by plane and train. I had a nagging feeling the day before that something was wrong and just couldn’t shake it. (Turns out that there had been a significant problem, but another of my students bumped into her at the airport and got her to the train station, but that’s another story of God’s grace for another time!)
I was using Skype from my Droid and called into mainland China. Perfect connection — how is that possible when I had horrible connections back to Abilene with ATT’s “famous” service on Donna’s iPhone? I could say my student’s name in Chinese, but that was the extent of my fluency in Mandarin! What do I say next? On the first call, the mom talked very excitedly trying to help me understand something — she only understood her daughter’s name and nothing else. On the second call, an hour later, she realized it was me again (except she didn’t have a clue who the “me” was calling in English) and she spoke her Chinese v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I couldn’t help but laugh, because that is what I often do when others who do not know English are talking with me. Then, when I said her daughter’s name, the Rangers made a great defensive play and the stands erupted with raucous cheering. I think her mom giggled a little then, wondering where and the world I was and why all the cheering for her daughter’s name. Meanwhile, the folks around me were looking at me quizzically and wondering what was going on — ironically, the best reception for my phone was actually in my seat in the ballpark, and we all know how much we appreciate people using their cell phones next to us at the ballgame!
As I thought about this scene, I couldn’t help but laugh. What an incredible time in which we live! What an opportunity to share God’s grace across boundaries like distance, culture, language, and space!
I’ve just received an inquiry about our mobile version of Heartlight and learned it’s being used in Africa where the web is mostly accessed by phone. With our new Facebook app we are also reaching a whole new audience. Such an expansive ministry (180 countries, 250000 daily emails, 4 million page views per month) on a shoestring. We have such great opportunities in today’s world, let’s not squander them — and when possible, let’s make personal connections to people who need Jesus whether they are near or far.
The next morning after the game, I called my student’s mom and her daughter answered right away. She had made it safely, only about 4 hours later than expected. So I will continue to stay in touch through email, Skype, and any way possible to help others find their way to Jesus. I bet some of you will do the same!
O Lord, I beg for your Kingdom to come and your will be done and for your grace to help us overcome every barrier as we try to touch seeking hearts with the story of Jesus! And for these special ones that each of have that are on our hearts, whether they live nearby or far away, we ask for grace and time and open doors for them to come to know you. Amen.