Sealed inside an air-conditioned bubble, far from the eavesdropping ears of society at large, Bangkok's taxi drivers will give you their uninhibited opinion on just about anything. Politics. Religion. Education. The monarchy. Their hometown. How to manage multiple wives in different cities. Of course, not all of them are chatty, and I have many times ridden in near silence to my destination. But I love riding with the guys who want to talk. And anytime there is conversation, there is the potential for a conversation about the gospel.On one particular trip, I quickly discovered that the taxi driver taking us to the airport in the middle of the night was ready to talk. Our driver told me that he was studying the Bible with the Mormons. That led us into a forty-five minute conversation about God and spiritual things.
I gently told him that the Mormons are not mainstream Christians and are regarded as a cult by the majority of Christians. Since this Buddhist fellow was just beginning to learn about Christianity, I didn't want to create the impression that different Christian groups are hopelessly divided among themselves. That's a valid question, but not one I wanted to get into at the time.
As we were nearing the departure terminal, he told me how unjust it seemed that God would just forgive someone like a rapist, letting him get off scot-free. I ventured a response, but my answer didn't seem to satisfy. All the same, as we unloaded the baggage, he asked where he could learn more about Christianity. I gave him a copy of the Gospel of John and recommended he contact our mission's guest home manager who had hired him to drive us. We paid the fare and headed off to check-in. After we got back to the U.S., the mission home manager e-mailed to say that our taxi driver had called her and that they had talked for twenty minutes about faith questions. She was going to try to connect him with a local pastor and his church.
After that point, I hadn't thought too much more about our taxi driver friend until I went back to Thailand a couple months later to renew my visa. I needed another ride to the airport and asked the mission home manager to get me the same taxi driver. As we drove out in the wee hours of the morning, I asked if he was still meeting up with the Mormons. "Oh, no," he replied. "I stopped meeting up with them after we talked, and I am a Christian now." Wow! Our previous conversation had gotten him thinking and he had asked around about the Mormons. A Thai Protestant girl and a Thai Catholic both told him that Mormonism is not Christianity, confirming what I had told him. He had been reading the Gospel of John I gave him, as well as a small daily devotional book (both were sitting on the dashboard of the taxi). During our ride that morning, I wasn't able to determine to what degree he truly understood, but he talked about how God can help us, and he no longer objected to God forgiving people. I strongly encouraged him to get involved in a local church to continue learning about Jesus.
During my six years in Thailand, I have talked about Jesus and religion with many taxi drivers. But I have never had a conversation like this with such evident interest and openness to considering the gospel seriously. I didn't say anything different to this fellow, but it seems that God was at work in his heart.
I meet most taxi drivers only once, so it's hard to say whether anything that I or other Christians have shared with these men (and a few women) was eventually used by God to work faith and repentance in some of them. But I praise God for the many opportunities that he gives for free conversation at stoplights and on expressways. Only eternity will reveal to what extent God has been pleased to use one-time conversations in Bangkok's taxis to the praise of his glory.