They have taken over the streets of Montevideo. You can’t hide from them. They are everywhere. What are they? Taxis. In any given day there is a sea of taxis buzzing up and down the roads of Uruguay’s capital. Yellow and white with reflective tape, a sign that says “Taxi” and unique license plates, members of this army of vehicles are hard to miss – except when you need one. The other day I went to run several errands and ended up several blocks off of my bus route and rather too far to walk home. I figured a taxi would be worth it. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet and had picked up some food “to go,” which made it even more important to find a taxi as I didn’t want to carry the food on the bus. I began walking toward home, all the while trying to hail a taxi. One passed, then another. And another. What was wrong with these drivers? Were they trying to drive me crazy? Some already had people, but several others passed me right by with no passengers! It was hot outside and I never found a taxi. I ended up walking far enough to find a bus route that I could use to get home, with my food and all. It turns out that at certain hours of the day the taxi drivers change shifts and you can’t get them to stop for anything!
Despite the occasional frustration, most taxi experiences have been pleasant – now that I know the system. Most drivers are pretty quiet, unless you start talking to them – and then you can’t get them to stop. They are more or less difficult to understand (for me) depending on where they are from in Uruguay or what kind of accent they have. There are regional, class and educational differences – though I haven’t figured out how to catgalogue the differences. They often ask where I am from and what I do. Of course I tell them that I am a pastor, which is usually a great springboard to talking about the gospel. I listen much. One taxi driver asked me what I thought of the Mormons (because there are many Mormon missionaries here). After explaining how we are different from the Mormons, I asked him about what he thought and he said that many were most likely part of the CIA. I told him it could be, but I wasn’t so sure about that.
Did you know taxi drivers are people too? As a church planter, it can be a temptation to think about focusing only on those who will one day potentially join the church plant – hopefully the people who live in the neighborhood. But somehow I don’t believe that is how God views things. The Lord Jesus told us to go to all nations and to baptize and teach them all that he had commanded (Matt. 28:18-20). I’m learning to plant seeds of the gospel, not only in the neighborhood, but those that God providentially directs my way. Here, I’m focusing on taxi drivers. They need the Lord too. I think the Lord is really working on my heart to have more of a burden for the lost. It is amazing that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. That was me a few decades ago. The Holy Spirit brought someone to me to share the Good News that Christ offers forgiveness of sins. That he obeyed all the law of God perfectly when we did not. He died for sinners. He was raised from the dead and has victory of sin, death and evil. When someone embraces Christ by faith, they are forgiven and are ingrafted into the people of God! There is a real hell and those who don’t know Christ will end up suffering eternal punishment for their rebellion against God. But thanks be to God that any who will look to Christ in faith will be saved! We should be driven by our love for the Lord and our zeal for his glory. We should be motivated by the grace he has extended to us. But we should also grow in our love for lost sinners, which we would also be, but for the grace of God in Christ.