A Divine Encounter on a Flatbed Truck
by James Robison
During the summer after I graduated from high school, I began working at Petro-Tex in Pasadena, Texas. As a pipe-fitter’s assistant on a construction site, I helped the men who were assembling all the pipes for a big addition to the plant.
The plant workers ate lunch out in the yard every day, where there were several large flatbed trucks parked. As many as a hundred men would gather, put their lunch pails up on the flatbed trucks, and eat their sandwiches. To a shy kid, it was a big crowd.
The conversations during those lunchtimes were typically obscene and degrading. On top of all the cursing, the primary things these men talked about were all the bars and parties they were going to, all the women they were having sex with, and whatever else they were doing on the weekends. It was just awful, nothing but filth.
So there I was, a seventeen-year-old who had just received the call to preach, and I was surrounded by some of the vilest and most depraved talk you could ever hear. It literally made me sick. I couldn’t eat my lunch. As I looked around at all these men laughing and talking about how “we went to this party…and everyone was getting drunk and carrying on…,” I suddenly felt compelled to jump up onto one of the flatbed trucks and shout with the authority of a coach or a drill sergeant, “Listen! Listen to me!”
“I’m just a boy trying to learn how to be a man, and all I’m hearing from you all is how to think filthy, talk filthy, and live filthy,” I said. “Men, I wouldn’t talk about a dog the way most of you talk about your wives.”
The minute I said that, hot tears started cutting a course down my cheeks, which were covered in dust from the morning’s work. I reached into the back pocket of my Levi’s where I had a little Soul Winner’s New Testament. I held it up, with those tears in my eyes, and said, “But God loves you so much. He gave Jesus to die for you and to give you life, to show you how to live and how to love your life and your family. I just want you to know that if I can help you, I’m a helper. If you will just call me, I will tell you how you can know Jesus.”
With that, I jumped down off the truck. I had a zeal and fire that can only be described as the work of the Holy Spirit. I knew I had been caught up in a powerful force unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Now, with that many hardened souls standing around, you can imagine the kind of feedback I might have received. But there was none of that—no catcalls, no shouting, and no mockery. Only dead silence and a yard full of men, their mouths crammed with entire halves of sandwiches, staring at me in disbelief.
For the next three weeks, before I left to attend East Texas Baptist College, I led men to Christ all over that plant. I mean, it was nonstop, every day, praying with those men. All day long, I would hear shouts of, “Helper! Helper!” and I would climb up onto the steel catwalks of the storage tanks they were working on, and the men would say, “You were right. I don’t love my wife like I should. I don’t trust my kids like I should.” And I would pray with them. I was catching my first glimpse of what it means to live amazed.
Years later, when we held crusades in the greater Houston area, men would come up to me after I had preached and say, “Five years ago…eight years ago…ten years ago, you led me to the Lord out there at the chemical company. We were way up on a catwalk and we got down on our knees.” I met four who had become deacons in their church.
Please take note: Anyone with a heart submitted to God could have done what I did. God isn’t looking for perfect people to carry out a well-orchestrated plan. Divine encounters happen when ordinary people are obedient to His extraordinary call. That’s the way my ministry started, and the amazing results have never stopped. God wants all of us to experience these types of divine encounters. As we remain yielded vessels, we can live amazed and see God move in ways we never imagined.
Adapted from Living Amazed by James Robison, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017. Used by permission.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.