Woah, I thought to myself looking at the guy I was to sit next to for the next several hours. I was headed to Asia on a United Airlines flight from the USA. My assigned seat had me sitting next to a guy with his shirt sleeves cut off at the shoulder, exposing his well developed biceps, a tight body shirt to display his equally well developed six pack, head shaven and loaded with tattoos and piercings and an invisible sign on his forehead which read, "Don't mess with me".
That's exactly what I will do, I thought to myself as I took my seat.
The story continued something like this.....
"Hi, my name's Kel." I sat with my hand extended. He took my hand and said, "My names Saul".
"I've never met someone with your name before but I've been reading a book where a couple of the characters have the same name."
"Interesting." he responded.
"What do you do, Saul?"
"I'm a kick boxer", he said. "America's champion. I'm on my way to the Asian Championships where i'm hoping to win and become number one in the world!"
"Wow, quite an ambition. How long you been doing this?"
"I imagine you've broken a few bones along the way doing that."
"Sure have. Broken bones in nearly every part of my body."
"Surely there's got to be an easier way for a man to make a living than that." I suggested with a grin on my face.
He smiled and said he loved to fight.
"What do you do?" he asked.
"I'm a fighter too." I said.
He looked at me rather strangely and asked, "What kind of fighting do you do?"
"I fight for mens souls."
"You one of those Christians?"
"Sure am, been at it for years, but happy to report, no broken bones!"
"I used to be a Christian", he said. "I married my sweetheart right out of high school and ran a Bible Study in our home for five years. We were "Born-again" ones, you ever heard of them?"
"Sure have." I assured him.
Saul continued. "One day when I came home from work, there was a note on the table from my wife, she had left me with a baby son, I never saw her again. I became bitter and angry, blamed God and decided to do what ever I could to burry my pain. I became a bad man."
Then, turning towards me and eye-balling me, he said, "Not only a bad man sir, I'm a wicked man and have done many wicked things".
"Remember I mentioned to you I've been reading a book where there are a couple of people with the same name as yours. Since you studied the Bible for several years you will know all about Saul of Tarsus. How he believed he was helping God by persecuting the Christians, having them thrown into prison and killed. The man had blood on his hands. I don't know if you have any blood on your hands, but he sure did. On the road to Damascus, the Lord intervened and struck Saul with blindness for three days. His life was turned around and instead of Saul persecuting the church, he became a great Apostle and served God with all his heart. Do you think it might be possible that the same God who intervened Saul on the road to Damascus, loves you just as much and has sent me to intervene you on your road to Asia."
He thought for a short while, then catching my gaze, nodded affirmatively.
"What would keep you from coming back to the Lord today", I asked. He just sat there with big tears swelling up in the tough man's eyes and replied, "Nothing."
"Come on then, let's pray and make your peace with God right hear and now." So we did.
The moral of the story is to make the most of every opportunity and to not walk away from opportunities to talk to the tough guys. They're often not nearly as tough on the inside.
-Kel Steiner, Pioneer and Base Director
Photo taken by YWAM Virginia Staff.