I don’t know of anyone who loves pumping gas into their car, but for my friends Bryan and Jo, filling the tank is an exercise in faith.

Bryan is blind and Jo, his wife, severely handicapped by rheumatoid arthritis, is wheelchair bound. For Jo, getting her wheelchair between the van and pump is impossible, so she coaches Bryan as he finds the pump and tries to operate it. She calls out to him, “To your left, Bryan. Now up… no back… too far. Not that button! You’ve got to start over. Clear it… put the card back in. No… not there.” She rests for a second, the effort of looking backward exhausting, before trying again.

Right here is where “normal” people widen their eyes, “How in the world do they do it?” Answer: Bryan and Jo are anything, but normal. They are God’s secret agents, fearlessly traveling disguised as a handicapped couple in their mission to help others understand the love of Christ.

Take for example their last fill up. Tired of the craziness of paying at the pump, Bryan offered to go inside the store and prepay.

“Usually, the moment I come in, someone offers help because they can see I’m blind. This time only silence,” Bryan recalled, chuckling. “I held out my credit card and said ‘Hello?’ – nothing. So I made my way to the counter where I could hear someone behind it.” He stretches his arms out wide with a grin, pivoting on one foot like a swinging gate, “‘HELLO! I want to prepay!‘ Finally this guy speaks in Spanish and I realize he can’t understand me. I hold up my card. ‘I want to prepay,’ I say again.”

Meanwhile, Jo is watching from the van as more people enter the store. A line forms behind Bryan, who’s waving his arms and gesturing to the pumps. Back inside, a stranger tries to help out, only his thick urban dialect is more confusing to the clerk then Bryan’s English. For awhile it’s chaos, but eventually, the clerk figures it out and takes the card. Bryan heads back to the van and Jo drives over to get the gas.

Only someone else is pumping their prepaid gas into another car.

Bryan gets out and calmly explains to the woman that she’s pumping his gas, but she speaks broken English and has trouble understanding him. Her teenage son, who’s been sitting in her car, begins cursing, “G** D#@* it, Mom! You’re taking his *#@&*^ gas!” He rages on at her until she stops and puts the nozzle back in the pump.

Now what would you do if you were blind, your wife is in a wheelchair and you’ve just been through fifteen minutes of insanity? I would be rattled. I would smile softly at the mom and try to stay away from the kid. But God made Bryan to show me how handicapped I am.

Bryan put his arm around the lady. “You really shouldn’t let your son treat you that way. You were made in God’s image, made to be respected. Can I pray with you that God will give you the strength to correct your son?” And so they pray!

By this time the whole station has been affected by Bryan and Jo – not an unusual thing for them. Another stranger comes up to Bryan and offers to pump his gas. Bryan stretches out his arms again, moving his head like Stevie Wonder, “Oh bless you!” he beams, still happy, not flustered, simply ministering where he can. “I thanked him and talked with him and was just about to go have a heart-to-heart with the kid when they drove away,” he finishes telling me.

I’m amazed. “Bryan, you’re used to being vulnerable aren’t you?”

“Oh yeah! Hey, it’s always God that protects us. Even with the van that’s decked out for us, it still has to function properly and we still have to trust the Lord to get us there. Our lives depend on God so why not take chances and let Him work?”

I shake my head. “Yeah, why not?”

Filed under: Hope on the Streets

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!