It was lunch time yesterday; a gray, drizzly October day. Paul was down at Jane and Finch with an elderly friend who was doing some shopping. For the friend shopping meant going from store to store in search of the cheapest possible toilet tissue, while Paul explained the finer points of comparison, such as the number of sheets and thickness. "This might cost 2 cents more but you won't have to use as many sheets!" It was exhausting, but being patient with the person you may one day bccome is always a good thing!
Our very thrifty friend needed a washroom break, so Paul waited while he used the facilities and the "free" toilet tissue. He wouldn't be moving fast, so he knew it would be a while before he returned.
On a nearby bench he noticed two men, one elderly and one young. He went over and sat beside them.
To make conversation, Paul commented on the wet weather.
"The weather is good," said the elderly man in a lilting Caribbean accent, "Even when it's not growing season we need the rain."
It turned out the 86 year old man was a farmer named Albert. "Named after a British king," he told Paul. That would be King Edward the V1, whese name was Albert, or" Bertie."
The younger man was named "Winston," after Winston Churchill. "Both of us named after important people in the U.K," he said.
Paul just had a sense that they were fellow believers, so he asked if they were and they said that yes, they were. The older man then broke into a beautiful song; something like, "I may look poor but I am not poor," and sang three verses right there in the secluded corner, in a rich, deep voice.
On Paul's way in to the store with his friend, he had also passed another older man, also from "the islands," who was talking to an Asian woman. He was sharing his faith with her, telling her that Jesus had died on the cross for her.
The woman was looking up at him as though she had never heard this before, and saying with interest, "Really?"
Paul said, "This was at Jane and Finch, an area of Toronto that has a notorious reputation, and could be called "the Gates of Hell!"
That this happened the day before we started our new cell group study on the book by Richard Peace: Holy Conversation: Talking about God in everyday life, seemed too much for coincidence.
How wonderful that all around us, sometimes in the most unlikely places, there are conversations going on--and the Kingdom of God is advancing.
The Message (MSG)
The Ethiopian Eunuch
26-28Later God's angel spoke to Philip: "At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza." He got up and went. He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. The eunuch had been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was returning to Ethiopia, where he was minister in charge of all the finances of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.
29-30The Spirit told Philip, "Climb into the chariot." Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, "Do you understand what you're reading?"
31-33He answered, "How can I without some help?" and invited Philip into the chariot with him. The passage he was reading was this:
As a sheep led to slaughter,
and quiet as a lamb being sheared,
He was silent, saying nothing.
He was mocked and put down, never got a fair trial.
But who now can count his kin
since he's been taken from the earth?
34-35The eunuch said, "Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?" Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.