WITH NEAL & YVONNE ON THE E-ROAD
Whether it is a “chance” meeting of our two trips in Asia (as the picture shows) or conducting a two-day Member Care Forum with leaders of the Church in America, it is a privilege to minister through Emmaus Road. For 32 years, God has guided us on some of the wildest and most wonderful adventures. Let me tell you a story. I love telling stories.
I had been in the countryside for two weeks, teaching groups of pastors and students in various locations. I returned to the capital city to conduct another training session for pastors. I arrived in the city a day before my scheduled time. My hotel room was not yet ready. I went to the Business Center to check emails. It was a small room—only two computers. I paid the attendant the fee and opened my emails. The one who had set the next day’s meeting said it was “cancelled, but get on the plane the next morning to such-n-such city. Elizabeth (phone number) will pick you up.” I sat stunned. First, at the cancellation, then at how I would get an airline ticket for the next morning.
As I sat pondering this, I began to smell of most unpleasant odor. The attendant had left the room. I looked under my table, in the wastebasket and under the attendant’s desk. Nothing. As I sat back down, I realized the smell was emanating from me! No wonder the attendant had left the room!
The next day (for sure, there was a very hot and very long shower the night before), I arrived. Had to borrow a cell phone. “No, I will not pick you up. Mary will (new phone number).” The taxi is waiting for the man whose phone I borrowed, but I have to make another call. “We’ll be there in twenty minutes,” was Mary’s encouraging word.
One hour and twenty minutes later, a van slowed to a stop at the curb. One tinted window rolled down a few inches and a voice from inside said, “Get in.” We did. Ten minutes of silence, and then brief greetings in a language we did not understand. The van followed the highway, then turned onto a dirt road. Back on a highway for some time, then onto another dirt road. The other passengers made feeble attempts at conversation. The best we could do was to nod our heads and smile. Another turn off of the highway, but this time onto a paved boulevard.
The van slowed, turned off its lights and stopped. Another voice from the front communicated, “Get out. Wait behind those bushes. Another van will come from the opposite direction. It will turn off its lights and stop. Get in.” We did.
For men, the bushes provided an excellent relief station. We waited. Then across the boulevard, a van slowed, turned off its lights and stopped. Through that crack in a rolled down window, a voice said, “Get in.” We did. The merriment of mood encouraged us that all was well.
Again, alternate highway and dirt roads. Then the roads got narrower and bumpier. From time to time, drying grain filled half of the roadway. The van bottomed out several times, but with a laugh, they kept on going. After an hour, we hear a person speaking loudly into his cell phone. Soon the van is stopped in front of a huge, double steel gate. The doors swing open. The van enters. And we are welcomed by fifty pastors, waiting to hear the Word of God taught. What a privilege to be about our Father’s business!