I recently read the biography of Brother Andrew, and while I admire his boldness, his “derry-doo”, and his consistency, the constant mysticism of the book wore on me. Simply defined, Andrew’s mysticism frequently told him to go to embassies for visas, call a certain young lady, and visit specific people. That is not the way we hear from God and, while I don’t doubt Andrew’s veracity for a moment, I think such writing leads others to wonder why God is not speaking so specifically and accurately to them. That said, on my rescheduled connecting flight just after takeoff I had the very definite mystical feeling that I would not survive the flight. It was creepy to say the least, and it led to an excellent time of prayer including confession, commitment of my family to God’s sovereign care, and an inventory of my ministry and affections.
Needless to say, I survived the flight and my feeling was not a premonition from God. But I determined to redeem my layover, and indeed my entire trip for the glory of God. Landing in Frankfurt I purchased a train ticket to the city centre, I missed the first train by seconds and had to wait twelve minutes for the next. It is nice to know when the end of a public sermon is coming for the sake of time and brevity and clarity, and so I waited until a crowd formed on the platform for the next train and, using a tactic of Brother Andrew, I gave them greetings from the United States and from the Kingdom of Heaven. When the train arrived I was less than thrilled with the response, but several dozen people heard the gospel and then boarded the train.
Arriving at the city centre I was impressed with the city planning and the beautiful small parks throughout, but there were no crowds, so I made my way towards a Frankfurt landmark I recognized from somewhere, a beautiful round glass building. To my surprise and happiness I also found the river, which has a long meandering park on either side of its bank. I walked a few hundred yards until I found people lounging on the grass in any direction, and I preached on the authority of the Christian to preach and the imperative of the hearer to be reconciled to God from 2 Corinthians 5. While many listened, I was again disappointed with the response.
I knew I could spend the entire day on this expanse of river so I walked down about a half mile until I found a large crew unloading trucks into a large pleasure yacht for what looked like a sizeable and expensive party. I set up facing the yacht in hopes that my voice would echo from the yacht for greater distance. As I preached many stopped to listen, and as I finished my new friend Thorsten Winters approached from the newspaper and asked if he could ask me some questions. On the plane I literally had just read Albert Mohler’s wisdom on the broadcast power of the news media. Not only had my voice echoed off the yacht, but it was also going to reverberate from a newspaper! See Thorsten's Article Here. After a quite pleasant conversation I decided I would find something to eat then continue my circuit down the river.
But as I came up into the city centre again I found a beautiful park that has the largest metal EU (European Union) logo I’ve ever seen firmly posted on stilts at the entrance. There were Japanese tourists, Chinese tourists, Arabic tourists, and many locals drawn to that giant logo. The park was crowded so I started to look for my best location, when I noticed a beautiful little hill almost directly at the center. As I ascended the mount I was pleased to note that the wind would at my back if I was facing the largest concentration of people and thus carry my voice over the crowd.
As I preached the response was what every open-air preacher hopes for. Everyone turned their attention towards me, passers by stopped walking and sat on benches or in the grass. At least three listeners started to record the sermon. I preached on peace with the Kingdom of Heaven, and after I called for repentance and faith I thanked the recorders for recording the sermon and encouraged them to watch it again later and post it to the internet. I concluded that I would love to have a reasoned conversation with anyone who would like to and that I had approximately four hours to catch my flight. A group of four middle-eastern college aged young men who I thought at first were hostile to the preaching all gave me enthusiastic thumbs ups.
I considered heading over to them when a young man named Eddins waved and called me to speak with him. Eddins was in his mid-20s and spoke English quite well, I expected him to be hostile because his first question was what I thought of the United States Army. But he was ready for a reasoned conversation and we both agreed that the lack of faith in the United States Army has led to terrible outcomes. A young Christian jumped into the conversation and encouraged me for the sermon but also rebuked me to spend more time forming relationships. I half laughed and said, “Brother, I have nine hours to preach to this whole city.” He saw my point and I encouraged him to keep building relationships and preaching the gospel and that faith comes through hearing and hearing the Word of Christ.
Eddins professed to be a Muslim, but admitted that he had not found time to read the Koran. We spent quite a bit of time on textual criticism of both the Bible and the Koran. He said he found the Koran too hard and deep to understand, to which I responded that the Koran itself claims to be a light and perspicuous book. We both agreed that it is not. I helped him to understand that the Bible we are reading today is the Bible that was originally written thousands of years ago. He seemed pleased but didn’t want to let the conversation go, so I invited him to lunch (it was now dinner time).
As we were eating I did form a relationship with him, talking about his upbringing and his career and his aspirations, all the while answering and discussing the things of God. He told me that the name Eddins is a variation of Adam, but that he did not know why his parents had named him that because he had no family members named Eddins. I took him to the story of Zechariah naming his son Johannes despite having no ancestral precedent for it, but that God would be gracious to John in the future. I asked Eddins what he knew about Adam and he knew the story of the fall, then I asked him about the Second Adam, of whom he did not know that was a title of Isa, the Christ. I implied that perhaps his parents had named him Eddins on God’s promptings so that someday he would put his hope in the Second Eddins.
It was then that Eddins told me he was supposed to leave Frankfurt the day prior but his bus had broken down, and that he had been sitting in the park wondering how he would spend his afternoon before his bus left at the same time I needed to get on a train for the airport. He was very pleased that we had met and he told me he didn’t think it was a coincidence.
I don’t think it was a coincidence either. Pray for my friend Eddins!