Before I started this blog, I did a trial run on Facebook, live blogging a train ride I took between Denver and Salt Lake City during a slow December weekend. I shared the beautiful scenery and detailed the many different people I met; however, one person left a particularly lasting impact, and I have found great joy praying for and thinking about him in the last month.
For those of you that followed my trip, an older man named Richard gave me his sister’s phone number so that I could contact him in the future, as well as share some pictures of him on his own trip. Well, just the other day I received a message from his sister that Richard wanted to pass along, so here is a little update.
Richard had a difficult, but successful, trip to Reno and found great joy in spreading the Gospel to people he felt needed an escape from gambling addiction. He carried cards that he hoped would help share scripture explaining God and heaven and passed out nearly all he set out with. She asked that I continue to pray for him and his healing; and that he continues to grieve the loss of his mother.
Happy New Year, Richard!
For those of you that do not know Richard, here is the original post:
December 2, 2017
One of the best things about Amtrak is the dining car. Tables are seated as a forced foursome, so as a single traveler that means I get to eat with three strangers that all have at least this in common with me: we are on a train, we are hungry and we are between somewhere and our destination. While not everybody is interested in talking, this time affords at the very least the opportunity to meet some new people and usually develops into at least one meaningful interaction.
At first glance, you would assume that Richard was a simply a hungry man on a mission, as he immediately sat down and told the server he knew what he wanted and was ready to order, obviously annoyed that the man that seated us was not already writing down his lunch wishes. To my right was a woman from the Netherlands and seated across from me was a red-haired woman from Chicago that asked how I adjusted to life in Tulsa after moving from the East Coast and growing up in Wisconsin.
Richard sat silently staring at his menu until perking up after hearing that I recently became active in my church. He immediately began asking questions about when and how I was saved and what compelled me to seek God, to which I could only respond that God saved me and has led me on a journey searching for truth and happiness. It turns out Richard went to Bible college with the intention of becoming a minister but then found his calling in music. We spoke at length about the role that faith has played in our lives, and Richard was particularly interested in how my life has changed since I became a believer in Christ, revealing to me that his first impression upon sitting down was that I was a snob and not interested in anything but myself.
As lunch progressed, Richard shared his daily routine of swimming at the YMCA in his home state of Ohio before heading to the library to read his favorite Christian websites and daily prayer forums. The two women beside us quickly ate and left us to talk, and now that he felt more comfortable, leaned in to tell me the purpose of his trip west by train: he was on a mission. Richard explained that he recently lost his mother, a woman whom he admired as a Christian and that he felt his life did not measure up to. He feared that he has not done enough to be worthy of Heaven and he was headed to Reno to spread the Gospel to those gambling in the casinos.
Richard poured out his heart, sharing his grief at the loss of his mother and that his search for comfort thus far yielded zero results. Pain and anguish still overwhelmed him daily despite grief groups and regular worship. Richard then asked how I shared the gospel, following up with a 2018 calendar card with three truths about God found in scripture on the back – this would be his gift to those in Reno he wanted to help find a path to Heaven – adding that he had thousands of these. As our conversation came to an end, he asked if I would be willing to share these calendars with people I met and that I join his grief group, bible study, local church and Christian radio station in praying for his protection and comfort from grief as he spreads the good news.
Richard left me with several hundred cards, and I promised him that I would join him in his work. When I asked for a picture, Richard shyly differed, adding he was self-conscious about his smile and did not like to be on camera – he did not have any teeth – but ultimately let me so long as I asked my friends to pray for him as well. So, to Richard, I pray that you find meaning and comfort in your work, that you shepherd those in need in good faith and that you find comfort that Christ alone has saved you. There is nothing more you need to do other than love Gods creation as he loves you; I pray that you find solace in your grief and suffering as your mourn the passing of your mother and that your journey brings you closer to God; know that you are saved. I am grateful that your first impression of me was just that. And, I think you’re smile is beautiful. #DEN2SLC