Thumbing a Ride to Glory

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by Peter van Gorder

I’d like to share some of my experiences on hitchhiking – a tried and proven way to share our faith. Throughout the years, I have found as probably many of you have, that it is a great way to meet people and make lasting friends.

Of course, it may not be recommended in some places, but when we lived in Uganda, we found it worked wonders in the months that we were waiting for a donated car to arrive from Japan. The public transportation in Kampala is sometimes uncertain and often uncomfortable as the rickety vehicles are often crammed to the max in the hot sweltering sun, emphasizing natural body aromas – a good enough reason to give hitchhiking a try. Being naïve ‘muzungus’ (foreigners) we certainly stood out as someone in need of help.

We were not disappointed, as we usually only had to wait a few minutes before someone gave us a ride. We found that as we put ourselves in a position of need, those who stopped received a blessing and we learned a bit of the art of humility. It all seemed to tie in with the power of asking and receiving. It showed me those unexpected situations that we encounter when traveling are sometimes the best times to overcome communication blocks. When people are taken by surprise their guards are down. As they stop and you enter their car, they naturally want to know who you are and what you’re all about, and we are happy to tell them.  (see Acts 8:26-40)

We met people through hitchhiking, that we would not have met and touched their lives in surprising ways.  Before leaving, we always left them with a piece of gospel literature and asked them if they would like us to pray for them. They seldom refused.

My friend Josiah Lorenzo related a story at dinner along these lines.

“I wanted to go to Croatia on a mission trip, so thought to invite a friend of mine to come with me. We decided to hitchhike to save money and share our faith with people on the way. It was a first for my friend, but he agreed. He told me later that it was a life-changing experience. We got rides with 18 people and prayed with 17 of them to receive the Lord and for their needs.

“We were coming from Germany and all was going well until we came near the Croatian border. We were standing in the freezing cold for 5 hours and nothing was happening except we were slowly turning into human icicles.  My friend had just read a Christian book that gave 3 principles of getting answers to prayer. It seemed like a good time to put them to the test. The first was before praying to give honor to God by praising Him, so we did:  “Thank you Lord for getting us this far. You are truly wonderful and magnificent! We know you are greater than our circumstances and will bring us out of this one as you have in the past. We know you have someone to give us a ride and he is on his way now. “

“The second one was not to listen to other’s good and logical advice when the Lord has already shown you something different. This was so right on, as everyone we asked for a ride told us to take a taxi, train, or that they would give us a ride back to Germany. We knew where we were supposed to go and s how we were to get there – and those plans weren’t it.

“The third principle was not to give up, so we didn’t.  And guess what? Just ten minutes after we had decided that we weren’t going to quit, a car stopped to give us a ride. The miracle was that this driver’s battery had gone dead and he had to jump start it. He was advised to drive it for an hour before he got out on the highway, so he turned around in the opposite direction he was going to where we were and picked us up.  If his battery hadn’t gone dead, we never would have met. God was working in those hours that we were waiting. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to line up all the pieces that are in play of God’s chess game.

“This Austrian man that gave us a ride asked a lot of questions about life. He was looking for a larger perspective on his purpose and his destiny. He wondered if it is possible to live a life of faith in today’s world. We suggested he put God’s promises to the test and receive him into his life, which he did.

“We got to Croatia and the Lord did a lot of miracles, but it was how we got there and the people we met on the way that were some of the biggest miracles of all.”

If you have any hitchhiking miracles, please feel free to share them with us.

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