He was standing on the side of the highway, next to his car, waving a hand in the air. I was driving and asked J if I should pull over. We had almost driven past him.
I pulled over. The man had sheepishly run out of petrol, 20 kilometres from the next town. We didn’t have any petrol in a can as he first asked, but we agreed to take him into town to buy some. He told his wife who was waiting in the car what was happening and then came with us.
It turned out he was going the same direction as us, for the same reason. Visiting family for Christmas. He told us all about his son, his grandchildren, where they were at school, what they were interested in. And it turned out he was a Christian too. We’d heard of the church he went to, and even visited the church his son and grandchildren went to in our home city.
To be honest, we had both been nervous about stopping for someone in the middle of nowhere. For me, the fact that he was a older man allayed some of my fears. It was a relief to find out that we weren’t just helping a stranger, but a brother in Christ. I always feel safer and more comfortable around Christians. But we didn’t know this when we stopped.
On our drive we’ve been listening to an audio recording of the Gospel of Luke, read by us and some of our fellow students. One of the parables that Jesus tells is of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). This story is Jesus’ response to the question “who is my neighbour?” Jesus turns the question around.
Which of these three do you think became a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36 –37)
I was reminded that anyone in need is our neighbour. And by helping we were being good neighbours. I don’t regret stopping for this stranger and driving 40 kilometres more than we had to. They were both so appreciative and couldn’t stop saying so. Perhaps I won’t be so nervous about stopping for someone next time.