Dr. J. T.* was running late, and had a long to-do list.
His wife was shopping at the local market, and couldn’t carry all of her purchases back to their home (in Asia), so, Dr. J. T. departed in their car, prepared to make a quick trip.
When he arrived at the market, he encountered one delay after another. The dish rack his wife had purchased wasn’t the right size, so he went into the shop to see if he could make a deal with the shopkeeper. The to-do list wasn’t going to get any shorter, any time soon.
“So, what do you do here?” It was a question from the shopkeeper.
The area in which Dr. J. T. serves in Asia is filled with some of the least-evangelized countries. He’s used to providing short explanations of why he’s there.
“The shopkeeper was surprisingly talkative as his helper ran to look for a different dish rack,” remembers Dr. J. T. “I gave my standard answer that I was a charity doctor, working with underserved in the mountain villages.”
“What would make someone leave a successful career in America do to something like that?” queried the shopkeeper.
“I again gave my standard answer that I was a Christian, and part of my being obedient to God was leaving my career, family, and homeland behind to love and serve people as Jesus had,” J. T. responded. “This answer serves as my standby statement that points to who I am in the light of who God is.”
But it was the shopkeeper’s response to him that gave Dr. J. T. a sudden pause:
“You must have tremendous faith in God,” the shopkeeper asserted. “I need more faith.”
“Can you help me get more faith?”
“For the next hour, I sat with him as I heard of his successful professional career, his respected family, his beautiful wife, his newborn son – and his desire to escape by suicide,” recalls Dr. J. T.
None of the status or material things the shopkeeper had attained had brought him peace or happiness. He had already tried drugs and alcohol to numb his pain, but he was still depressed. “It was a privileged moment to sit [with him], partially because he respected my profession,” said J.T. “And partially because he knew he needed to fill that spiritual hunger.”
Since the day of the conversation, Dr. J.T. and the shopkeeper have met once again, talked about God, and how Jesus alone can give the inner peace that success, money and drugs fail to give.
“Please pray for him,” urges J. T. “There are many, many people here who are eager to hear good news, but slow to accept because of the very real dangers of persecution and rejection that they will face.”
Dr. J.T.’s to-do list that day may not have been completed, but the time he spent with the shopkeeper helped a bigger checklist get a bit closer to completion. Sharing the Good News of Jesus with the people in Asia where J. T. serves is an urgent task.
There are hundreds of people like the shopkeeper who are “pressed to the end of what they can handle,” says the doctor. “They are asking questions, but the risks of trusting in Jesus as the only God are tremendous.”