While on a typical bus ride in Malaysia, Kylee Krusemark met a man searching for truth. Their conversation was one she will never forget.
“I’ve been waiting for a bus forever.” That’s all it took to begin a conversation I won’t soon forget.
Mark* shared his reason for visiting this town in Malaysia. We shared ours.
“So you’re Christian?” he asked.
Mark then shared his beliefs about spirituality. He saw the benefits, especially in a moral sense. He believed in some form of divinity and that we are all on a journey to discover it. He saw it as though we are all climbing a mountain to discover what is at the top. We have different paths in getting there—some Hinduism, some Christianity, some Islam, and many others—but we’re all climbing the same mountain, going to the same place.
He grew up in a church with a lot of travesty. He has firsthand seen church leaders take advantage of their position and mistreat the Body in ways that are not justified and leave scars. What the world needs is love—and to Mark, there doesn’t seem to be much of that within our religion.
My heart ached at his words. Our Gospel is love. We have what the world needs. But Mark is right: often we as Christians can miss the very essence of our own Gospel.
I shared how I too have seen people take the Gospel and make it about themselves rather than God, and how that can make Christianity seem a place where love is often lost, where we mold God. And how sometimes we base our personal definition of right and wrong, of what grace is, on what leads to salvation and what doesn’t on what we think it should be, rather than God’s—and people are burned by this false god we’ve created in the process.
I also shared how the essence of Christianity is that we are all broken and need a Savior for that reason.
“Yes,” Mark responded, “I do believe you’re right in stating we’re all broken.” It was as if he didn’t often hear Christians admit brokenness.
He told me how earlier that day he got a strong inkling he was going to have a conversation with someone who would offer insight. Until now, the only person he had talked with was his waitress. And she didn’t really speak with him.
I smiled real big, because there was no doubt in my mind I was the person he was supposed to meet.
Mark also shared different things he’s recently dealt with and how it’s led him onto a journey of self-discovery. Recently he even attended a two-week silent retreat at a monastery. “It’s crazy the things you learn about yourself when there’s no one to talk to for two weeks, the thoughts that go through your head, and the divine insight you receive.”
I smiled even bigger.
“I know that sounds crazy, but I’m beginning to believe if we take time to listen we can receive insight from divine places,” Mark said.
“That doesn’t sound crazy to me at all,” I respond. “Actually, I call that the Holy Spirit.”
“Hmm,” he smiles.
“You know, I love that you shared the inkling you had of meeting someone, and now the divine insight. I want you to know, I don’t believe in coincidences. Therefore, I don’t believe us meeting is one.”
“Neither do I,” he replied.
We sat in silence for a second.
He shared how he believes in divine plans, but he also believes we play a part. I agreed. We discussed the gift of choice, which I believe we received through God’s graciousness, but how it allows space for people to make decisions that harm both ourselves and others. I shared how I don’t believe God always causes bad things to happen but I do believe He allows them because of that gift of choice.
There were some things Mark disagreed with. Are causing and allowing the same thing? Would it have been better for God to not give us that freedom but create us as robots instead?
We talked about Gospel Love. I shared how often, we as Christians can get stuck in the Old Testament, where fulfillment of the law was required and then we judge based on that.
But love is the reason Jesus came, so He could cover us in love, with His grace, instead.
However sometimes we forget to walk in grace and love. That’s where discrimination and hate can enter. But that isn’t our Gospel. Our Gospel is Love.
I had to leave abruptly, so Mark wrote down his name for me to google him. I did, and it was then I realized that Mark doesn’t simply train people in leadership like he said.
He is actually a renowned author and leadership coach.
God is so funny sometimes. He allowed this your typical 22-year-old girl the opportunity to touch the heart of a man who is leaving a mark on nations, all because of a simple conversation, where two people got to share their own beliefs and questions they still had. This conversation will stick with me for many years—and I can only hope it will do the same for Mark.
“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16
Kylee didn’t go out of her way to meet Mark or to speak with him; God put him directly in her path. She just had to be willing to speak with him and be obedient to what God was leading her to say.