Christian Articles Archive

The Most Unexpected People

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

A superheated layer of air shimmered a few feet above the sun-baked soil of the Gaza wasteland. Far up the highway that stretched from Jerusalem down to the Mediterranean coast, Philip could see a black stretch limousine. "Somebody wealthy must own that car," he mused, pulling the head covering closer around his face to shield him from the glare reflecting off the desert.

He could make out the driver now, a uniformed chauffeur, but the darkened windows of the heavy Mercedes hid its important passenger. A diplomatic flag fluttered from its right bumper. Definitely not his kind of people, Philip thought.

But as the car roar towards him, the Spirit of God spoke ever so distinctly to his heart: "I want you to talk with that man."

Almost instinctively, Philip rehearsed all the reasons why this was impractical:

  • The man was rich, he was poor.
  • The man was a foreigner, of a different ethnic and racial background.
  • The car was driving too fast, it would never slow down.
  • He wouldn't know what to say.

But Philip didn't win the argument that day. He found himself walking, now running, toward the highway, waving his hands for the car to stop. It roared past, the wind in its wake plastering Philip's clothes to his body. "The driver's afraid of carjackers and kidnappers. He'll never stop," he said out loud.

But just then he could hear the big car's brakes squeal, and a moment later it lurched to a halt. Now it backed up two hundred feet or so until its rear door came opposite Philip. With a slight hum, the smoked glass window rolled down, and a small, dark man -- an Ethiopian, Philip realized — peered out.

"And what do you desire, my good sir," the diplomat inquired in a high, thickly-accented voice that Philip strained to understand. His eyes peered into the limousine's lavishly-appointed interior. The chauffeur was moving for a weapon, but the passenger waved him brusquely away. Then Philip caught sight of a Bible lying open in the Ethiopian's lap. "What are you reading?" he asked.

"I am reading from your Scriptures the words of Isaiah, one of your prophets."

"And do you understand it?"

"Oh, no." The man looked at him, his eyes pleading. "Could I trouble you to explain it to me? Here, get in, please."

The chauffeur really looked worried now, but the diplomat motioned him to drive on as smoked window rolled up. The blast of the air conditioning — and the man's obvious spiritual hunger — made Philip glad he had obeyed the Lord's voice.

Philip took the book, the Ethiopian pointed to the place, and Philip began to read the ancient words out loud:

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.

"Who is the prophet talking about? Himself, or someone else?" the Ethiopian inquired.

Philip smiled, and began to tell him the good news, the gospel.

"The Lamb in this passage," he said, "is Jesus, the Son of God himself, who gave his life as a ransom for many."

It seemed like hours that Philip talked as the dark-skinned diplomat -- the Ethiopian Minister of Finance, he learned — listened with rapt attention. Occasionally, he would ask a question, but mostly he was still.

By this time the car had turned south from Gaza and was heading down the coast. The chauffeur had relaxed, but was still watchful of his charge through the glass that separated his compartment from the rear of the vehicle. The sun had begun its downward trek into the Mediterranean by the time the two men in the rear of the car bowed their heads together. Jesus had revealed himself most powerfully that afternoon within the leather interior of the Mercedes. The richly-robed diplomat was praying earnestly, words tumbling over one another, surrendering his life to a new-found Head of State.

Abruptly he faced Philip, tears streaming down his face. "I want to be baptized," he insisted. "Can I be baptized right now?"

"Baptism takes water," Philip murmured.

There's an oasis just a few miles down the road," he said excitedly. "Why can't I be baptized in the pool there? You will baptize me, won't you?"

Philip could see the longing in his eyes. "You may be baptized, if you believe with all your heart."

"I do believe," he said. "I believe that this Jesus Christ is the Son of God! You know that I believe." He spoke urgently now, as if to convince his guest.

Philip grinned and he nodded.

The man shook his hand excitedly, and then rapped on the glass in front of him until the chauffeur turned around. "We're stopping at the oasis up yonder," he shouted through the glass. "I'm going to be baptized."

The chauffeur switched on the car's intercom. "Baptized, sir? Whatever for?"

Before the car had slowed to a stop beneath the date palms that marked the place, the new convert was explaining to his driver how Jesus the Savior had given his life to atone for his many sins.

"Strange," thought Philip. "What unexpected people God will put in your path if you're willing to obey. I wonder…." He smiled as he listened to the Ethiopian's eager testimony to the chauffeur. "I wonder … if I'll be baptizing them both tonight."

Most of you will recognize this from Acts 8:26-38, as the story of Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian eunuch, Treasurer to Queen Candace of Ethiopia. Of course, the black stretch Mercedes was a chariot back then, and air conditioning depended upon how fast the chariot driver could make the horses go, but with a bit of imagination you get the picture.

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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