Antonio drives a cab – one of nearly 200,000 in Mexico City, home to 19 million people. When the hotel staff calls for a cab, there’s a pretty small chance Antonio will be the one picking you up. Unless, of course, God wants to demonstrate His love.
When our home was burglarized on June 27th, one of the items stolen was Sheila’s passport. We knew she would not be traveling with me to Mexico City 11 days later. One of the many emotions we felt was frustration. The Enemy was doing his part to frustrate God’s plan and we felt like pawns.
Remarkably, Sheila’s new passport arrived just two days after I had left with a team and she was able to fly out to Mexico City the very next day. That same evening I took the elevator to the hotel lobby and asked the attendant at the front desk to call a cab to take me to the airport to pick her up.
That’s when I met Antonio. I introduced myself, asked his name, and our simple conversation began.
One of his initial questions was if this was my first trip to Mexico City. In the past 25 years, I’ve averaged nearly one trip per year. Antonio was surprised and asked, “Do you like Mexico City?”
“Yes,” I responded, “I love Mexico City. My wife and I bring groups of people here every summer and we help small churches in poor communities to minister to the needs of the people living there. We provide medical, dental, optical, haircuts, groceries, and school supplies with Operation Serve in order to show people the love of Jesus.”
“I’m a Christian,” Antonio said.
“That’s good, Antonio,” I replied.
Then, he pointed to his heart and a sad look covered his face. “But, my heart isn’t clean.”
That’s the point where I knew my Spanish vocabulary would be insufficient to converse with him at the next level. Antonio had presented me with an opportunity to minister the grace and love of Jesus but I was crippled by language.
My response was simple. “Jesus loves you and I will be praying for you.” I felt disappointed and embarrassed. In retrospect I realize there is more I could have said but I felt at a complete loss of words at that moment.
Antonio took me to the airport and asked me to give him the favor of the return fare to the hotel. It seemed the least I could do. I hoped it would be possible for me to somehow exhibit the love and joy of serving Christ in my few words and actions in the time remaining. Sheila arrived on schedule, cleared Immigration and Customs, and we were back in the van on the way to the hotel within an hour. Once we arrived, I bid farewell to Antonio and hoped something would happen to bring the forgiveness and redemption he sought.
My hopes were realized several days later.
Dr. Sameh and Connie Sadik are the Executive Directors of Operation Serve. Several days after my encounter with Antonio, Connie took the elevator to the hotel lobby and asked the attendant at the front desk to call a cab to take her to the airport. On the way to the airport, the driver asked Connie a surprising question.
“Do you know a guy named Ric Shields?”
“Yes,” she replied. “But how do you know him?”
Her driver was Antonio – one of the nearly 200,000 cab drivers in Mexico City. The same cab driver I had a limited conversation with a few days earlier.
“I gave him a ride to the airport a few days ago. We had a really nice talk. I used to be a worship leader at a church and got married to a beautiful lady but it ended in divorce. My life has not been the same since and my heart isn’t clean.”
Connie was able to speak in Spanish with Antonio and even shared scriptures with him. Some of those scriptures had been written to him recently by another friend who was encouraging him to recommit his life to Christ. Antonio knew this was no mere coincidence.
“I’m going back to church next Sunday,” Antonio told Connie. “I’m going to recommit my life to Christ in the presence of my pastor and my parents. They need to see it happen. They have been praying for me.”
Life can be filled with disappointments, painful experiences, and things we don’t understand. Our family has come to learn that God is at work in all the details of our lives. Rather than fighting a battle we can’t understand, we have often found our surrender to Christ is the only way to victory. As the shepherd boy, David, said to the giant Goliath, “The battle is the Lord’s!”
- Had Sheila’s passport not been stolen, she would have arrived with me on Saturday.
- I would not have taken a cab to the airport on Tuesday, nor would I have met Antonio. Our conversation would have never happened.
- Connie Sadik may have met Antonio, but their discussion might not have taken the turn which allowed her to share scriptures with Antonio.
God loved Antonio so much that He took a difficult situation in our lives to provide a redemptive experience in his life.
To what lengths must God go to touch your heart and change your life?