It was an unlikely exchange that began with a smile. While enjoying a drink at the local pub, a friendly stranger approached us. When he walked by, Teresa struck up a conversation — one that eventually turned to church. Actually, the topic may have come up within the first three minutes.
The conversation went something like this: “So do you go to church?” Teresa inquired. Stranger Perry responded, “No, I golf.” Never mind that it was about 30 degrees outside with more cold weather approaching. This fact seemed irrelevant to our new Southern Californian friend. He had relocated from the West Coast six months earlier, and he seemed to embrace the move, especially meeting new people. Except for one thing.
“There are a lot of ‘Bible thumpers’ here,” Perry said. Without pause Teresa responded, “Well, we’re Bible thumpers!” I burst out laughing at her unapologetic boldness but agreed, “Yes we are!” You would think this would be a conversation-stopping moment. It’s not the typical exchange in a crowded bar with a stranger you just met — politics and religion are always topics to avoid. But this conversation seemed strangely natural.
Later when I reflected on it, I smiled — not only because of how ridiculous it would have sounded to anyone around us who may have been inadvertently eavesdropping. But I smiled because it was real. Teresa and I were not afraid to be exactly who we are — two women who unapologetically love God and His Word. Whether we are in church or at a bar, that is exactly who we are. I guess you could call us undercover Bible thumpers.
And our new friend Perry? As our conversation continued, he told us that he was on the way to a Pacers game and his driver had been waiting for him for the past ten minutes. Then he stayed to talk to us for another five minutes. Eventually, we exchanged cards and said our goodbyes although I had a feeling that we had not seen the last of our new friend.
In fact, a few weeks later I did spot him, but not in a local bar this time. As the lights dimmed and the worship music began, I noticed a man approaching from the aisle. He stopped a row ahead of mine and took a seat — the one directly in front of me. From the moment of his arrival I had a feeling I knew who he was. During the greeting time I tapped him on the shoulder, and it was confirmed — he was indeed Perry. What are the chances he would be in the seat right in front of me? His initial reaction was one of surprise as I said, “Hey Perry! You’re here! Remember me, Julie?” As we took our seats, he shared that he had shown up the day after we met and has been attending ever since.
Apparently these Bible thumpers did not scare him away. Or maybe the golf course was covered in snow? Whatever the reason, I’m glad this friendly stranger found his way to church and to a new community of friends.