A Divine Encounter on Main Street

Sharing the gospel with roses and cake, smiles and spontaneity.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

I’m eating caramel cake and my friend is drinking a Huckleberry latte. The sun flirts with the clouds, and I flirt with my army green jacket. Passersby come and go, but we barely notice. These visits are few and far between. 

It’s my birthday, and each year, around this time, we try to get together. Last year it was bubble tea by the gazebo. This year, lattes and cake by the Flower Shoppe.

And always our conversations are about Jesus. 

We pray together, there on Main Street, unaware of the foot traffic.

That is, until today.


Today, a particular man grabs our attention while we’re mid-laugh. He turns, looks at us, and smiles, this silver-haired gentleman in a beige windbreaker. He points at my slice of cake and says, “That’s not good for you, you know.”

I laugh again, enamored by the moment. My friend jumps in – “But it’s her birthday! Only once a year!”

He tilts his head. “Oh well, if we were in Cuba, I would give you a hug! Happy Birthday!”

We settle for a fist-bump and he turns towards the Flower Shoppe, and I turn back to my friend. 

Suddenly a rose appears in front of me – a beautiful, perfect, single rose, dressed in a coat of greenery. The Cuban gentleman’s profile, behind. 

“It’s not often I see people so happy,” he says, his voice a bit broken, like a chipped glass. “I hope you have a very happy birthday.”

I swallow, and want to hug him. Instead, I extend my hand for a full handshake. I look him in the eye and thank him profusely, and my friend thanks him too, and he nods and starts off. 


But in a second, he’s turned again, as if our table is calling him, and I know why. Because that morning I prayed that the Lord would show me who needed one of the gospels of John hidden in my purse. And stuck onto each of those gospels is a Tim Horton’s gift card. 

I reach in my bag now. “Excuse me, sir? Can I give you something too?”

He acquiesces, and I hand him the book.

“What is it, a Tim Horton’s card?” 

“And a Bible. God loves you, you know.”

The broken voice returns, and he tells me how, for 12 years of his life, his mom prayed with him, each night, and how he still finds himself saying those prayers. Some 50 years later. 

“Keep praying,” I tell him. “God is listening.”

He smiles again and says, “I will.” That’s the last time we see him. 

But maybe, one day, we’ll bump into each other again – on the golden streets of heaven.


  • Emily Wierenga

    Emily Wierenga is a wife and mother who is passionate about the church and lives in northern Alberta. She is the author of the memoirs Atlas Girl and Making it Home (Baker Books), and the founder of a non-profit working in Africa and Asia.

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