17907986-flat-tireThe lorry behind me kept flashing its lights. It had been behind me for a while but it had not stopped flashing its headlamps. I was alone, driving to Senai, Malaysia to speak at a retreat for youth workers. It was a lonely stretch of highway and the lorry on my tail kept on flashing its lights. As I periodically remind my beautiful Singaporean wife, the moment we enter Malaysia we adopt “paranoia mode”. There are people out there out to get us. Every day we receive news of friends or friends of friends who have been robbed on the streets. It pays to be careful in Malaysia.

But the lorry wouldn’t let up. Maybe there was something wrong with my car. I thought this was unlikely because I had serviced the car recently. Still — just in case. I stopped my car. I said a prayer. I reminded myself that God was with me. And that I had a blue belt in Taekwondo. I also had a heavy steering lock.

The driver of the lorry jumped down from his cab and approached me. He was an Indian gentleman of medium height. Had a bindi on his forehead. I assumed he was Hindu. I was driving a Singaporean car and quickly let him know that I was a Malaysian. He smiled and pointed to the back of my car. My right back tyre was flat. He offered to help me change it. Didn’t ask for any money. We worked together to change the tyre. Well, mostly him. I was messaging the retreat organisers to inform them that I would be late and to ask for prayer.

He changed the tyre in no time. We looked for a nail in the punctured tyre but couldn’t find any. There was a tiny hole that might have been a puncture. I asked for his name. It was long and he spoke quickly. It was also very noisy as other vehicles zoomed by. I truly regret that I can’t remember his name. Around that time the highway emergency patrol showed up and distracted us from our conversation. It was thumbs up all round. Before I could ask his name again, my benefactor had jumped back into his lorry and was driving off. He must have had a deadline to meet. I am glad that I had the opportunity to slip him a small financial gift as an expression of my thanks, even though he had not asked for it.

The charismatic side of me said this might have been a spiritual attack. I was going to a youth workers conference where I was going to say that the starting point of youth ministry is not youth but God and His agenda. I was going to tell these dear workers that we will not go far if our perspective is, “Lord, we have all these plans for youth ministry. Now come bless them so that we can be a great youth ministry.” Rather, we should stop to see what God is up to, and then ask Him how our youth work can fit into what He is doing. I thought it was an important message, one that warranted attention from the evil one (1 Thessalonians 2:18). But I can’t be sure.

If it had been an attack from the evil one, the Lord had already prepared an angel, to both warn me of my danger and rescue me. Indeed, this was a grace that pursued me and wouldn’t give up even though I didn’t respond to his warning lights for a long time. A grace that pursues, a grace that warns, and a grace that helps. I never had the chance to confirm his religious affiliations but who says that angels cannot come in the shape of an Indian lorry driver with a bindi?