Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when someone else’s phone is ringing in a public place?
More than once I’ve been in the “quiet carriage” on the train and been so relieved that it wasn’t my phone which was arousing all of those disgruntled glares from fellow passengers, so why ever would I want to put a really loud ringtone on my phone?
Well, it can be a great conversation starter. . . in the right context. As I’ve traveled around in Africa on public transport I’ve realised that it can be an opportunity to start a Gospel conversation if I have the right ringtone on my phone. Of course, someone needs to call you at the right time for it to work. . . or, you can have a “fake call” app set-up so that you can have what appears to be an incoming call. Jump on the bus, a bit of a lull in the hubbub of conversation around you, take a quick peek at your phone, press a button and there you are, due to have an incoming call (which you won’t need to answer) in a few minutes.
I always like to have a large purse / back-pack when I travel, preferably one with lots of pockets, so when that ringtone goes off, it takes me a while to search through the pockets to find where silly old me has put my phone, by which time, most everyone has heard my conversation starter.
I’ve tried different approaches from a Gospel song, a chanted Psalm in a local language and style, to something completely foreign so that I get to replay it and explain the message, once it has caught peoples’ attention.
One of my favourites is actually a song in English and Arabic by Michael Jackson. It’s had the best responses so far and often leads to the initial question about which religious group I belong to: am I a Muslim like my fellow travellers? Depending on the people around me I will take that starter in different directions, but it would be a rare occasion that I don’t get to pass on some Gospel presentation to my fellow travellers. My large purse also contains micro SD cards and a Bluetooth speaker, as well as a tablet with a larger screen than my phone, so that I am set up to share more audio, or even a video file if the conversation heads in that direction. I inevitably also have written Scripture with me too.
Another of my favourites is a piece of Arabic poetry which talks about creation. On a long taxi journey where I was being squashed by a rather hostile religious teacher, that ringtone led to a good conversation between the teacher and myself. It was also followed by all sixteen of the other passengers. The religious teacher read from Genesis, keeping the copy which I had pulled out for him to read aloud to our fellow travellers and somewhat captive audience. Then, over the cup of tea he invited me to at the next stop, he proceeded to buy up other literature and a micro SD card, which then led to other travellers also taking stuff.
Sometimes we need to dare to draw attention to ourselves so that the message can be heard. Be creative, be bold, but always be prepared. Above all, commit the journey to prayer.
This story was submitted by Jill M.