2 March, 2024

Driving for Uber a Great Avenue for Faith Conversations

by | 27 October, 2023 | 14 comments

By Bryan A. Sands 

Upon entering an unexpected season of change as a former lead pastor, I suddenly had to find a temporary side hustle to provide for my family. So, I decided to drive for Uber again.  

Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “How Driving for Uber Strengthened my Faith.” At that time, my wife went from working full-time to no-time, so driving for Uber one day a week was necessary . . . and what I learned during that period was transforming.  

Now, years later, I am in another transforming, eye-opening season of driving for Uber. Though I am driving out of necessity, I have discovered that I actually am having conversations with thousands of people who may never set foot inside a church, and as we talk, my vehicle sometimes turns into a sanctuary.  

To date, I have given 1,670 trips via Uber. And if I multiply that by an average of 2.5 people per booking, I have given roughly 4,175 people rides in my 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan. These are not mere numbers or statistics, however, they are people created in God’s image, whether they know it or not—and I get excited to have faith conversations with them whenever possible. Something about stepping into a car frees passengers to share their opinions, their life, their hurts, and their questions. I’ve seldom seen or experienced anything like it.  

Here are three stories (among many) of faith discussions I have had while driving for Uber. The names of the passengers have been changed. 

“I HAVE NEVER TOLD ANYONE THIS . . .” 

I picked up two women, both baby boomers, from a local pub that overlooks the water in Hawaii. I greeted them and was told it was Cynthia’s 70th birthday and that she and her partner, Rebecca, were celebrating the milestone. I quickly surmised they were a homosexual couple. As we headed out, we made small talk about birthdays and turning 70, and then they asked the question I am almost always asked: “What is your full-time job?”  

BRYAN SANDS

I told them I am a pastor and that my wife and I have been dreaming about starting a church—and this is our in-between stage. Rebecca asked what I thought of the Roman Catholic church. I wasn’t sure why she asked that question, but I basically responded by saying it is important to keep our focus on the essentials of our faith.  

She replied, “I do not like the Catholic church because they are mean to homosexuals.”  

I asked her to tell me more about why she felt that way, and she began to share from her heart. After that, they asked why my wife and I wanted to start a church.  

I replied that the church has done a poor job of letting others know what we are for, with the result being that those outside of the church believe the church is against everything.  

“We want to plant a church where the community knows what we are for, is a safe haven for those who are hurting, a place for everyone to find Jesus, and a place where we want to do life with the marginalized, knowing their stories.”  

Cynthia said, “I could listen to you preach every week because you are so down to earth and real! Where are you preaching at now?”  

When I told her I was not currently preaching, she handed me her card and said to let her know when our church was up and running because she wanted to listen to me.  

Then something very honoring happened. Cynthia said, “I have never told anyone this, not even my partner of 35 years, but I always thought I was born a boy.” She felt she was a boy in a female body.  

By then our 25-minute ride was ending. The three of us had started as strangers, grown closer during the drive, and by the end of the trip felt we were in a safe place where we all could share. We didn’t have time to discuss her statement in any depth. Still, I think God used this ride to reinforce that Cynthia still is a child of God, created in his image. The discussion also gave the passengers an opportunity to reflect on faith in Jesus.  

FORTY MINUTES OF BEING BERATED FOR MY FAITH 

I picked up co-workers Steve and Andy who were in town for a convention. Steve, who was inebriated, asked me directly, “What do you really do?”  

I told him I am a pastor.  

Steve responded with a loud tirade about how he hates his wife for being a Christian.  

His colleague tried to calm him by saying, “You don’t really hate your wife.”  

“I do hate her,” Steve reasserted. “I hate that she has this faith in God!”  

Things were heating up quickly, and I knew I had a 40-minute drive ahead of me, so I quickly asked God for wisdom.  

Steve asked me why I’m a believer, and I began to share some of the reasons. But I knew quickly they were not the answers he was looking for.  

“Well, that’s what you believe!” he blurted out. 

I asked if he had studied other religions, and he stated angrily that he had traveled the world and knew plenty about other religions.  

“What do you believe happens when people die?” Steve asked. But when I started to answer, he interrupted with an even louder, “That’s what you think,” to which he added a few expletives.  

“Hey,” said Andy, “we all have different beliefs, but you gotta bring the tone down.”  

Steve apologized, and then he asked again, “What do you believe?”  

I said I would be happy to share with him, but I wasn’t going to engage in a heated, curse-filled debate.  

Again Steve apologized, and again he said he wanted to know what I believe.  

I started sharing about the uniqueness of the universe, but again he cut me off.  

“Is your life perfect?” he asked. 

I thought it was an interesting question. I responded by sharing briefly about how I came to faith, my battle with depression and anxiety, and some other issues I am currently working through. I shared my heart and life with this stranger.  

And in this precise moment the tone of the conversation drastically changed! Up until this moment, everything had been a smokescreen. Now, we were getting to the real issue.  

Steve had two sons and one stepdaughter, and all three of them are hooked on heroin. His granddaughter—his stepdaughter’s baby—has issues because of her addiction. He started swearing about how much he hates drugs, how much he hates that his kids are addicted to them, and how he hates that he has to pick up his son who was getting out of jail. For him, he said, life was nothing but big challenges.  

His hostility toward his wife and Christianity at the start of our ride had all been a smokescreen. The real issue for Steve was how mad he was at the devastation of drugs on his family.  

The encounter with Steve and Andy reinforced for me the importance of always looking for what is beneath the surface . . . and not to react like a jerk to someone who is behaving like a jerk to you. At the end of the ride, Steve appreciated my demeanor and the conversation—and he proved it by giving me the largest tip I have ever received.  

There’s nothing else like 40 minutes of hostility, heartfelt sharing, and one person pouring out his heart like he probably had never done before. It was an honor to be part of this process.  

KEITH AND COSTCO 

When I pulled up to Costco to pick up Keith, he came out and said, “Please give me five minutes.”  

“No problem,” I responded. 

During those five minutes, the fire department and an ambulance arrived with their emergency lights on. Finally, Keith came out and we departed. I soon asked Keith if he knew what the emergency vehicles were for.  

“My girlfriend,” Keith said.  

He shared that his girlfriend had a panic attack while inside the store and had to call 911. I wondered whether, under the circumstances, I was still supposed to drive to Waikiki, as originally planned. So, I asked as sensitively as I could, “Am I taking you to the hospital to meet your girlfriend there?”  

Keith explained that he had no choice but to go to Waikiki to perform at a club, because he could not get someone to cover for him on such short notice. I understood his dilemma, and I could sympathize with why he was leaving his girlfriend in the midst of a difficult situation. (At the least, she was in good hands with the medical professionals.)  

After a few minutes of silence, I said, “It must be difficult to leave when all you want to do is be with your girl. Can I pray for her?”  

I normally do not ask passengers if I can pray for them, but I felt led by the Holy Spirit to do so. Keith accepted my offer, and after he told me her name, I prayed for his girlfriend’s comfort, healing, and for Keith’s sound mind.  

Secretly, I hoped that by the end of my two- to three-minute prayer, Keith would receive a call or text saying she was all better! That did not happen. However, I believe the prayer opened doors for his faith journey. In reality, the prayer could have resulted in professional repercussions against me, but when God leads, we need to respond.  

ALWAYS LEARNING 

Whether at work, school, or in your home, there most likely are people who need to hear about Jesus. And I’ve found when I share my faith or have a faith conversation, I learn something nearly every time. 

Allow me to share some dos and don’ts I’ve learned during these interactions. 

• I always let the conversation happen naturally.  

• I don’t use cliches.  

• I don’t expect that every faith conversation is going to have a powerful aha! moment.  

I recognize that I may not be able to present the full gospel to every person I have a faith conversation with, and that’s OK. I try to remember that I am planting very important seeds. As I plant these seeds, I try to hold kindly to our orthodox beliefs (in love), and I try to be loving.  

In my interactions, I typically listen more than I talk. I ask questions to learn about the person. I am interested in them and their story. It’s so important to be genuine, because people know when you’re being fake. 

When I’m asked something and I don’t know the answer, I admit it.  

It’s rare to consistently have so many opportunities to learn about and talk with people, some of whom would never enter a church. And in all this, I’ve discovered my vehicle occasionally turns into a sanctuary.  

It’s possible the same thing could happen in your office cubicle, or at your desk at school, or in your dining room. Give it a try, and watch the Lord soften hearts as he uses you.  

Bryan A. Sands is a husband, father to four girls, pastor, and professor. He is passionate about Jesus and people. He has served in the church, university, and public school worlds for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Caz, are in the process of planting a church. He is the author of Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait? (A Discussion in Sexual Faithfulness) and numerous articles. 

14 Comments

  1. Joe Sass

    I love these Bryan. Prayers for you and your family as you begin this new chapter.

  2. Bryan Sands

    Thank you, Joe! Miss all of you!

  3. Mary Lawson

    What a wonderful way to reach out to people about your faith! Those were amazing stories!! Keeping you and Caz and the girls in my prayers for this new chapter in your lives!!!

  4. David Hahn

    Thank you for sharing these stories, Bryan. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what the future holds for the Sands family.

  5. Bryan Sands

    Thank you, Mary and David!

  6. Becky Maresh

    Wow Bryan, a lot of changes and challenges are happening in your life. These are some great stories, and look forward to see what God is doing in your life next!!! Ps. I found that when driving with Uber, you meet some great people!! You obviously fit in quite well!!! Miss you!

  7. Bryan Sands

    Thank you, Becky! It’s crazy all the curveballs life can throw! As you know God is good and faithful! Thank you for the kind note!

  8. Loren C Roberts

    I’m a very old mountain bike trail rider. This sometimes gives me opportunities to witness for Christ.

    When I tell the youngsters I come across that I’m in my 80s, it gives me an opening to tell them God has been good to me, not because I deserve it but because He is loving, merciful, and gracious. This sometimes opens up further conversation.

  9. Loren C Roberts

    Ps, I put you and your family on my prayer list.

  10. Joe Grana

    Great stories of real life and faith. Thank you for being bold for the Lord, but gentle!

  11. Wendell R Skelton

    I had the opportunity to share with an Uber driver.
    I had the same Uber driver to and from my destination.

  12. Brad Dupray

    What a great ministry, Bryan. The book “Tactics,” by Gregory Koukl, has some great stories, just like yours, about “putting a pebble in someone’s shoe” in those kinds of encounters. Uber on, brother!

  13. Bryan Sands

    Thank you, everyone for your prayers and encouragement!

  14. GILBERT BAILEY

    Thanks for the stories and update on your life. Keep up the good work for the Lord. I will be praying for your new church. I miss you, brother.

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