“I’m a 15th generation practicing pagan, and proud of it.” Her southern accent was thick as molasses. Her words dripped off her tongue like honey off the comb. Her box-blonde hair was fashioned in a bushy updo, and her makeup was as flashy and vibrant as her personality. She stood over us with one hand on her hip and the other clutching a fresh pot of bitter coffee. There was evidence of a grin forming in the upper righthand corner of her mouth. But there was also a soft kindness in her eyes. She seemed to invite questions with her open stance, and brazenly locked eyes with each of us, almost daring us to speak.
I was taken back by her honest statement. Fifteen generations of pagans? Practicing pagans? Is that really a thing? My questions turned to mourning the previous generations of proud, practicing non-believers, who lived before her and, who most likely, are lost for all eternity. I began to think about how many souls that might be. I’m guessing it would be a large number. After all, she told us she was one of eleven children, and all of them are practicing pagans.
As we sat in the diner conversing with her between bites, she shared with us that her youngest brother had just been killed in a motorcycle accident two weeks prior. A young man in a pickup truck, a friend of the family, pulled out in from of him. A total accident. Neither one of them saw it coming. They didn’t even have time to react. And in the blink of an eye he was gone. Forever.
As I listened to her story I could see the sorrow on her face and hear the pain in her cracking voice, and my heart broke. Her baby brother is gone. There’s no hope of seeing him again. There won’t be a family reunion at the pearly gates. No trumpets sounding the homecoming of a believer. Just gone. Forever.
As our conversation with this 15th generation practicing pagan progressed, I was reminded that there is no better time to share the love of Christ than now. Waiting is a fools game. Waiting for what? The right time? The courage? For someone else to do it? The time is now. The waitress… The store clerk… The stranger… Your best friend… could be gone in the blink of an eye and lost for eternity. The time is now. Don’t wait. The right time will never come, and you can always pray for courage. I have.
So, what happened to the waitress? After a few more coffee refills, friendly conversation and some well-received words of comfort, she graciously obliged to letting us pray for her, her grieving family and the young man in the truck who survived the horrific accident. We also asked her if the local pastor (we were passing through town) could visit her at work. She smiled mischievously and said, “Let him come. I’m ready for him.” I’m praying the pastor and his wife will have an incredible story to tell very soon about how a 15th generation practicing pagan, “and proud of it”, found an authentic relationship with Jesus and an entire family was changed for generations to come.