Conversations on the way
Whenever I go on a journey on a plane, bus or train, I ask God for an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation with the person sitting next to me. I hadn’t caught a train in Thailand for many years as air travel is so cheap in Thailand. But this day I was on a 3rd class (no aircon) train to Lopburi where I was to give a couple of talks on Bible Storying and about opportunities in North Thailand.
I sat down opposite this man, but it took a while for me to start a conversation. I noticed that he was wearing rings on every finger on both hands and so I asked to tell me about his rings. Most of them bore the image of a famous monk in his area. He also was wearing amulets with his picture as well.
He was a policeman but helped out at the temple where this monk was the abbot until he had passed away about 3 months ago.
He was more than happy to chat and invited me to visit the temple where this monk used to be the abbot.
I was able to have a conversation with an older couple on the plane down to Bangkok, with this man on the train to Lopburi, an older Thai woman on the train back to Bangkok and then on the plane back to Chiang Mai. I told the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14) for both the people on the train, in response to their comment that “all religions teach you to be good” which is a universally held view in Thailand.
I didn’t get to share a Bible story with the people on the plane. Whether I tell a Bible story or not really depends on where the conversation is at with the people and their level of engagement. After a few questions if the person doesn’t seem interested in continuing the conversation I don’t force it.
I’ve noticed a huge difference in the number of conversations I’ve been able to have since I’ve been intentional in asking for prayer conversations and in initiating conversations.
Unusually, on the train back to Bangkok, the old lady opposite me was the one to initiate the conversation by asking me if I was Japanese! I can’t remember if I gave the Thai greeting “Sawatee Khrap” first though. I think it is good form to give a greeting or at smile to someone who is going to sit next to you. The old lady said that she never usually initiates a conversation with a stranger on a train but she did this time. Answered prayer? We spoke for almost 3 hours together on the trip down to Bangkok. I learnt a bit about Buddhism from her. She appreciated that I was a good listener and that I tried to learn about Buddhism from her.