What I learned from an encounter with a man from the middle east

I couldn’t believe this was happening. Why now? Couldn’t this have waited until after rush hour? To add to my distress, the weather was insane. No one wants to be outside changing a tire when the pavement is hot enough to brand your skin like a baby calf in the hands of a cattleman.  Sadly, there’s never an opportune time for your tire to blowout. You usually just have to deal with it when it happens…. And apparently this was my moment to shine.

I was vexed. However, as disheartening as a blowout can be, there something else that was bothering me even more. I had anticipated that my move to Arizona would include meeting new people, places, and life experiences. Nevertheless, this country boy found himself experiencing the exact opposite. Truth be told, I felt quite isolated from humanity. I had spent most of my life living in closer proximity to cattle, than with humans, and I never had felt this lonely and disconnected….. and it wasn’t because there was a shortage of people. On the contrary, quite often I’d find myself surrounded by swarms of them. Much to my disappointment, most avoided eye contact and conversation at all cost. Everyone seemed to live life in a hurried state. No one had time for anyone or anything. I hoped that someday I’d get used to it, but for the moment I was saddened by this “new normal.”

I pulled over to a side street when I heard the tire pop. Although I was still close to the main road, I wanted to be out of the way of traffic. Countless cars passed by without a care in the world. Where I’m originally from, we usually roll down the window and offer help, when we see someone stopped on the side of the road. That wasn’t the case in the city.

As I unloaded the spare tire and jack, I felt like I was on a stage performing. Several people drove by slowly, peering my way, staring in a somewhat creepy manner. One guy, driving a red convertible, slowed down for a minute looked at me and nodded like a Pez dispenser. But instead of speaking, he turned his head, spun his tires on the pavement, and drove off (weirdo). Suddenly, I felt a case of performance anxiety take over me as I experienced myself being watched by many. I wanted to hurry and change my tire before the entire Phoenix Metro area passed by me and observed my misery.

While I was setting up the jack, to lift my car, a black car pulled up beside me. I turned around to see who it was. I could see the window of the car rolling down, but before a face materialized, I heard the voice of someone speaking to me in a foreign language. I then stood and saw a man who appeared to be of middle-eastern descent. Despite the language barrier, I spoke to him anyway. “I had a blow-out, but I got a spare-tire, and I’ll be finished here soon,” I said. He responded in what I assume was Arabic. Of course, I had no idea what he said.  Nevertheless, I spoke back to him, “Thanks for checking on me. I’ll be alright. Have a good afternoon.”  The look on his face told me that he clueless to what I had said. This was confirmed by his following choice of action. Without thinking about it twice, he jumped out of his car and proceeded to take the busted-up tire off of the car. “Sir, I appreciate your help, but I got this,” I said, as I attempted to gain back control of the tire-iron. My action was greeted with a slap on my hand and a smile. Before I knew it the man had changed my tire for me….. I was absolutely speechless. I didn’t know whether to laugh, smile, or hug the guy. However, once he was done, he simply shook my hand, muttered something in Arabic, smiled, jumped in his car and drove off.

Although this unexpected encounter caught me by surprise, it also helped restore my hope in humanity. I strongly believe that God will send, who he needs to send, at any given moment to remind us that He is nearer to us than we think. In addition, He used that opportunity to remind me that the way that He chooses to reveal His presence to me isn’t always done in a manner that I would expect. In this situation, He chose to use a foreign man, who did not speak my language to demonstrate kindness, when I was feeling alone and forsaken. Although, I could not speak his language, his actions spoke louder than any sentence in my native tongue could’ve told me. In this life, many people who promised to never leave my side, are nowhere to be found. However, God has shown me that he will always send the right people, at the right time, to accompany me on this journey called life.

So, wherever you are at today. It is my prayer that you would be open to the possibility that God may use the unexpected to speak to you. He may use someone who does not speak your language, faith, worldview, or interests, to walk beside you for a minute, a season, or a life-time. Some of the people that I consider to be my dearest friends walk a different path on life than I do. I recognize that God has raised me up to shine His light on their path. However, I’d be foolish to think that he hasn’t used them to shine His love on me too.

However, God chooses to bless you today, embrace it. Know that the Lord’s blessings makes a person rich, and no trouble is added to it (Proverbs 10:22 CEB).

Unapologetically yours,

John Garay  


To schedule a coaching session with John Eli click here.

Author: John Eli

John Eli is a transformational life coach who has spent over 15 years mentoring individuals in life skills, career transitions, and through organizational change. His resume includes pastoral care, behavioral health, and higher-education advising. From an early age, John recognized that God created him to bring hope, healing and encouragement to others. He is currently walking out his purpose by helping others confront, and work through, any negative self-talk that keeps them from living life to the fullest. His ministry includes blogging, speaking, and personal development coaching. He currently lives in Chandler, Arizona with his wife, mini-schnauzer and an antique piano whom he calls, “Betty.”

26 thoughts on “What I learned from an encounter with a man from the middle east

  1. Love it! What a great reminder to help out when we can – and not use excuses like “We don’t even speak the same language.”
    When I was in colllege I had a case of laryngitis that lasted for months. The ones with the patience to sit with me, talk to me, and wait for me to write out everything I wanted to say were not all ones I expected. But you’re right, God always sends someone, and He has a way of keeping it interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this John. I also believe what you took from this “lesson” is exactly right, so often we think we’re alone and yet we never are, even though it can sure feel that way and I can’t tell you how many times God has used the “unexpected” to get His point across. I love these kinds of stories because it underscores the warmth and beauty of our relationship with God. Thank you again and you have yourself a great day! Grace and blessings as always!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Excellent post, John. The key is: “In addition, He used that opportunity to remind me that the way that He chooses to reveal His presence to me isn’t always done in a manner that I would expect.”

    What you wrote is an example of when God ordered Peter to eat “unkosher” food and Peter balked. God told him, “Do not call ‘unclean’ what I call ‘clean.'”

    In life, we call many things “unclean,” much to the Lord’s disappointment. A very timely blog for these days. Much thanks, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
    Just maybe 😊 he was an angel sent from the Lord for your encouragement and blessing…just maybe. 😉 But if he wasn’t, he still was sent and used by God and encouraging to read! TY

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s