I have often wondered if the anxiety many of us feel about sharing the gospel stems from a tendency to rely more on ourselves than on the Lord. When we realize that it is His work and that He is willing to lead us in it, we can be prompted to talk to those who are prepared to embrace His doctrines.
Such was my experience one winter day when I missed a bus. I had a job interview to get to and had been waiting for over half an hour at the bus stop. Then, before I realized what was happening, the very bus I had been waiting for pulled away from the curb. Frustrated, I wondered, “How could I have missed this bus? Now there’s no way I can make it to the interview on time.” But I soon received a distinct impression: there was someone I needed to meet.
I accepted the message and decided to walk to the next bus stop, where I sat down on a bench. I looked around casually but inquisitively at the other people, trying to discern what to do next.
The person who caught my attention frightened me a little. He was tall and slender, a young man with a formidable hairdo, deep eyes, and a nervous expression. He paced back and forth and seemed to be muttering under his breath. I prayed silently to know if this was the person I needed to meet. I felt it was.
I reached in my purse and pulled out one of the two Ensign magazines I had bought and began to glance through it—partly to distract me from my fears and partly to bide time as I considered my next move.
At third glance, I thought the young man might be on drugs. A few seconds later he sat down on the bench next to me. I felt too scared to say anything, so I silently prayed that he would break the ice.
Just then the young man gently asked me, “What time is it?”
I told him, and then I knew I needed to carry the conversation further. His name was Eric, and our exchange went something like this:
“It looks like you’re in pain of some kind. Are you?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “I have a migraine. I’ve been trying to quit smoking. I get headaches when I try to quit. I’ve been off cigarettes for 10 days.”
“I’m sorry you’re in pain, but I admire you for trying to overcome your habit. I’ve had some hard ones to break myself. Actually, I couldn’t have done it myself. Do you have any other source of help beyond yourself?”
“Yes, I believe in God.”
“Well, that certainly makes a difference. Do you attend any particular denomination?”
Noticing the Ensign on my lap, he said, “Actually, I’m interested in your church. I’ve tried to find out about it, but there are some things I don’t understand.”
Our conversation continued as I answered his questions. Then his bus pulled up. He wanted to hear more. I handed him an Ensign magazine. I didn’t have the missionaries’ telephone number, so I gave him mine. He called me about a week later, wanting to know more about the gospel. About five weeks later, Eric was baptized.
We later joked about how afraid we had been of each other. I was “dressed up”; he was “dressed down.” I thought he was on drugs; he thought I was rich. We likely would not have met if it were not for the promptings of the Spirit. For those promptings I am thankful to the Lord, who knew our hearts and that our common love of truth would unite us in the gospel.
“At the Bus Stop,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 72–73