That’s right. I made a friend Monday while in the gym. Several years ago when I joined the “City Gym” I had several good intentions in mind.
- Getting rid of the flab and spare tire that was growing ever so quickly.
- Relieving stress and frustration.
- Impress my wife with herculean feats of strength and huge muscles.
- Making friends with the hope of pointing them to Jesus.
Since then I’ve been more successful at some of those goals than others, but without a doubt, I can say that the most difficult of the three has been making friends. I’m not just talking about acquaintances. I’ve got plenty of those. I’d like for them to become friends, but right now they are just folks that I see and speak to at the gym.
Most of the time it is simply “Tudo bem? and “Até amanhã.”
“Doin’ good?” and “See you tomorrow.” for those of you who aren’t fortunate to have learned Portuguese yet. 🙂
Sure I’ve invited some folks to church. I’ve talked about and been asked about our church, but it hasn’t gone much further than that.
Monday was different though. A new guy showed up to the gym, and I knew right away that:
- He wasn’t Portuguese.
- He needed a friend.
- I had an inside track.
How could I tell all of that when he walked past the elliptical machine? Easy. 4 words and a number. Blond hair, 7 feet tall.
Yep, he’s a foreign basketball player and he definitely wasn’t American. So in slow deliberate English I introduced myself and asked his name.
-Nice to meet you Patric. Where. Are. You. From? (Said even slower than you just read that.)
Awesome! Long story short. We had a brief conversation because I don’t want to be “that guy” at the gym who talks more than he works out. It’s a gym, right? Not a beauty salon. I invited him over to the house sometime, gave him my number, and told him that if he ever needed anything, he could give me a call.
You see, until you’ve lived in a foreign country and a foreign culture, you’ll never know exactly how wonderful it is to meet somebody who is or has been in your same position.
Patric doesn’t speak a word of Portuguese. He’s easily a foot and a half taller and 2 shades whiter than 90% of the Portuguese population. Everybody stares at him, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He misses his home…family, friends, girlfriend. And, he has very few people he can talk to.
He needs a friend, and I want to be one. So, when I go to the gym today, I’m really hoping that he’s there. Maybe he can teach me a little Polish, and maybe one day I can talk to him a little about a very good friend that I have. His name is Jesus.
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24