The train ladies...the full story

“Just met two wonderful women on the train. One chatted to me the whole way about her son at uni, my work, and life; the other I didn't even make eye contact with once, she sat on the other side of the train looking out the window, then as she walked past me to leave, she pushed a tenner into my hand with the words 'I really like what you do', and she was gone...moved beyond belief, grateful for train time angels.”

So read my Facebook status on October 29th.  It was a series of moments which have resonated with me since.

That first woman, on her way back from an unexpected and frustrating trip (with the silver lining of seeing her son) had so much to talk about.  She had stories, hopes, questions and encouragements to share.  We discussed much in such a short time and the trip, she decided, was not a waste of time after all.  The conversations she had with myself and another lady on the outbound trip had made it wholly worthwhile.  I wonder how often we have the words, the listening ear and the encouragements that are so needed at any given time.

I was reminded again of how many mothers travel to and from university campuses with secret hopes in their hearts for their sons and daughters.  Christian or not, desires for their children to be happy, successful and passionate about the things that matter in life resound.  It reminded me to pray for them.

Conversely, it struck me how little we realise of the impact our words and actions have.  I wasn’t trying to connect with the woman on the opposite side of the train.  Yet something I said moved her to support my work.  She was gone in a flash, head turned resolutely away as I looked out of the window, trying to catch her eye.  Who was she?  Was she a mother?  Was she a Christian?  Had her children lost their faith at university?  Was she moved by our discussions of how pay always comes from someone else’s pocket and integrity in the workplace?  Was it a simple act of obedience, providing the reminder I needed of God’s provision?  I don’t know and never will.  Whatever the case, my words connected with her unintentionally and unexpectedly.  I met two people that week who have read my blog.  I’d never met them before but they read these words (hi guys!) and again I marvelled at the impact of our words beyond our expectation, control or understanding.

Our words have great power to encourage, our hearts to listen and our minds to marvel at the consequent results.  I love this little story, as, apparently, did 88 others who liked it on Facebook.  I will treasure and meditate on it more in the weeks to come I’m sure.

Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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