Dr. Phil Nordstrom
I am the husband of my best friend Melanie, the father of three "above average" children and the Lead Pastor of an amazing diverse congregation in North Knoxville.
Last Fall, I decided to sign up for Uber as a way to make a little extra cash. On my second week, I picked up a guy in West Knoxville who wanted a ride to North Augusta South Carolina. I would have refused, but he was trying to see his brother who was in critical condition in a hospital and I was his only option for getting home that night. I told him I would do it, if I could bring my daughter with me. I didn't make a whole lot of money, but it was fulfilling ministry.
I am not one of those drivers who imposes my Christian music or Christian views on people. I don't have an open Bible in my car nor do I wear a WWJD bracelet. More than half of my riders don't know that I'm also a pastor. As you might imagine, I see and hear quite a few things in my car, especially when I do the "after hours" bar drives.
Wayne Oates, one my professors in seminary said that Pastoral Care is "listening to the mundane stories of people until the spiritual story emerges." I have the privilege of listening to people's stories in my car. One afternoon, I listened to a young Chinese girl who told me of her interest in religion so I told her I was a pastor. With great excitement she said, "You are a Christian! I want to become a Christian!" Nothing happened after our first ride, but in the space of a couple months, I gave her a ride two more times. After the third time she said, "I believe in fate! This is the third time you picked me up. May I come to your church?" I told her I give free Uber rides on Sunday morning. Tracy has been attending faithfully. Two Sundays ago, my friend Tracy, who was raised an atheist, marked her new found faith in Jesus by being baptized.
On another occasion, I picked up two Iranian Muslim ladies who had been in the country for one hour when they landed in my car. They asked me lots of questions about how to find a job in the US etc. I told them I was a pastor. They struggled with the word so I told them I was a Christian Imam. They asked to visit my church. They have faithfully attended and they pepper me with questions on the way home each Sunday. Their mother in Iran believes that Jesus is s great prophet and that God led her daughters to my Uber car. Next month one of my beautiful Iranian friends is going to celebrate her new found faith in Christ by being baptized.
On my rides, I have prayed with people, been asked to perform a wedding, and given free counsel. The symbolism of picking people up along the road is poignant. We all are on a journey. God has allowed my path to intersect with people who are a little stuck on the highways and byways of life . Revival is happening on the road. My pulpit is my Prius.