Yesterday a new convert in one of the Shanghai area branches shared a story she experienced shortly after her baptism. The woman is from Shanghai, married to a foreigner. When she chose to be baptized, her Chinese parents thought it was a bad idea and were very skeptical. Shortly afterwards, she organized a trip in which she took her parents and husband on a trip to Nanjing.
As part of her detailed preparations to make everything perfect, she had arranged for a cabbie to meet them at the train station and take them to their hotel. The cabbie called 30 minutes before they arrived and said he was waiting. She explained he would need to wait. He waited, but when they arrived they could not find him. This began a lengthy comedy of errors with the cabbie explaining where he was and with them explaining where they were, repeatedly sharing descriptions and even photos of where they were. It was a hot, humid day and after about one hour of frustration trying to find their cabbie, they gave up and took another cab.
Based on some of the details she shared, it sounded like they were at Nanjing South station and the cabbie was at the main Nanjing station to the north, since he mentioned he could see a lake from his location and they could see no sign of a lake. But the old station itself is big, complicated, with messy traffic, and perhaps they were both at the main station.
In any case, the woman told the cabbie that she would pay him electronically. Cabs are often hired using one of a couple different phone apps and payment can then be made electronically. The father objected and said that she should not pay him and that she should give him a bad rating on the app. She should not throwing away her money and treat such bad service with kindness. The woman felt that she might have acted this way before her conversion, but now she felt a desire to be kind to others and recognized that money was not that important. Because of her new faith, she chose to be patient with the cabbie, to pay him for his time and attempted service, and to be forgiving.
Three days later, when it was time to move on, she used a different software tool to order another cab. As she and her family got in, the cabbie remarked that they seemed to have a Shanghai accent and asked if they were from Shanghai. Yes. Then he asked if they were the people that had tried to find him at the Nanjing train station three days earlier. Yes! It was the very same cabbie, out of thousands in Nanjing, a city of 8 million people (yes, 8 million) and thousands of cabs, I would say far more than any American city. Because she had treated hm kindly before, he was happy to see them. She was happy to see him. And if I understood correctly, her parents were happy with what she had done. “We were all happy.”
This was a tender mercy of the Lord, in my opinion. An impossible little coincidence to show her family the blessings the Gospel had brought to her life and to remind her, her family, and all of us that the strangers we interact with are our brothers and sisters. We should never use the illusion of anonymity to justify unkindness to another person. We should never justify poor behavior with the delusion that we will never see someone else again. May we be patient with others and always kind. And may we also realize that sometimes the error we think we see in someone else is because we are standing in the wrong place.