I met “M” while waiting for other students to arrive for a discipleship group. I was in the “Den,” short for Denny’s, on the UAB campus.
While sitting at a table, a student approached me and asked what the small disc-like things were that the cashier had handed him.
I explained that it was a pager and would flash and vibrate when his food was ready to be picked up. He sat down at the table with me. We began a conversation.
I found out he had been the U.S. for a short time, was taking English as a Second Language classes to be followed by the pursuit of an engineering degree.
We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then he left to go back to the cashier.
I thought he had not understood my explanation about the discs because he returned with another pager.
We resumed our conversation. Eventually, he asked me what I did on campus. When I mentioned I was a campus minister with Baptist Campus Ministries, the conversation cooled for a few minutes.
His first pager began to vibrate and flash. I showed him where to pick up his food.
He returned with a delicious-looking cheeseburger and fries which made me wish I hadn’t eaten pizza at Medical Student Bible Study I had led an hour and a half earlier.
Soon after he sat down his second pager went off, and he returned with something in a paper bag. I assumed it was some special dietary food they had prepared for him.
I took a piece of paper and wrote my name and phone number on it and told him if he ever needed anything to please call me.
I guess he set aside his suspicions of American ministers because we were able to continue talking with one another. He then asked for a tissue. I wasn’t sure what he had said so I asked him to repeat it, just as I had done through most of our conversation.
I finally realized he didn’t want “tissue” from the restroom, he needed a napkin. I showed him where they were and when he returned he said: “This is called a napkin?” I said yes and spelled it for him.
He then offered me the paper sack with the mystery food in it. I opened it not really knowing what to expect, but it was an order of French fries.
He hadn’t realized that the cheeseburger came with fries, so he had returned to the cashier to order fries, thus the second pager.
I only accepted the fries out of courtesy. I certainly didn’t need to eat again. But I did, and we talked. He is from Oman and is planning on being at UAB for five years.
We parted acquaintances that I hope becomes a friendship.
I walked a little extra around the green before walking back to the Baptist Student Center to make up for eating an order of fries I didn’t need.
But, I did need to meet “M.” We will meet again and I hope and pray that God will open doors for ministry and the Gospel that began through waiting on students, French fries, and napkins. Will you join me in praying?
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French Fries and Friendship