Upon moving into a new neighborhood, I met “Arnold,” a pastry baker, while looking for a cooking supply needed by my wife. I was surprised to find him extremely open to a friendship even after only a couple of conversations. Over the next few months, I found myself having tea with Arnold once or twice a week. Sometimes I would stop by and talk to him while he worked in his pastry shop, but as hard as I worked to move the conversation toward spiritual topics, he worked just as hard to move it away.
After spending more than a year visiting, Arnold wanted to teach me how to make the pastries that are his passion. I agreed and thought that I was in for a fun morning. After a day of mixing, kneading, rolling, making and baking, I had learned a small portion of what Arnold wanted to teach me. He asked if I could come back the next day so we could really get to the “important” stuff. My mind was reeling as I mentally reviewed everything on my to-do list that would have to be shuffled if I spent another day at the bakery. A couple of hours into day two of my “training” as a baker, Arnold turned to me and asked what I believed about the end of the world. We talked for two hours about what each of us believed, how they were similar, and more importantly how they differed.
The work in Central Asia is slow. We are often tempted to make judgments about an individual’s receptiveness to the Good News based on a handful of interactions. Maybe Arnold, like many others, just needed to determine if I was willing to stick with him whether he believed or not. Arnold has not come to faith…yet. However, he is asking questions that allow for the Truth to be shared with boldness and unwavering truthfulness.
It took a year before Arnold would discuss spiritual issues with me, but it was worth the wait!