Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 31, 2009

The Diesel Mechanic

Bangla Boat   In February 2003, I led a group on an expedition down the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh. This trans-Himalayan river has its origin in western Tibet, slices its way through the Himalayas and then tumbles into the subcontinent where it winds its way through the fertile fields of Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal. We began our journey in northern Bangladesh and made our way south, visiting remote villages along the way. My team distributed 10,000 copies of Luke’s Gospel and initiated dialogue with about fifty Muslim imams and village leaders. We lived, slept, ate our meals, and fought mosquitoes on our fifty-foot long wooden boat. Jay Lowe, one of our team members dubbed our floating home “The Love Boat” because we used it to carry the message of God’s love to those who had never heard it. However, after one night on the boat we renamed it “A River Runs Through It” because it leaked and we had to regularly bail water from the bottom of the boat.

   I love trips like this because they put you in a context where you see God do some cool things. On three occasions on our boat trip, people ran along the shore and stopped us, saying that they had had a dream that someone was going to come down the river to share an important message with them. “Are you the men I dreamed about?” they asked. I have often heard people say that they want to see God do miraculous things and yet do everything they can to avoid the context in which miracles take place. When we step across the line that defines the farthest we’ve ever been and the most we’ve ever done for God and His purposes, we place ourselves in a context where miraculous things happen. A year after our visit and after very intentional follow-up, national Christ-followers identified over ninety small groups meeting along the river for Bible study.

Jay Lowe   My friend Jay and his son-in-law Andrew returned to Bangladesh this month to complete the remaining portion of our 2003 boat trip. They distributed over 5,000 copies of Luke’s Gospel and made some great connections with people in villages that can only be accessed via the river. They had lots of conversations about Jesus and why He came and how He demonstrated His love for us. They found people today just as interested in hearing the good news about Jesus as the people we met in 2003. That’s a good thing. Jay sent me an e-mail about something that happened at the end of their trip. I love stories like this. Jay wrote …

“As you know weird things happen on these mission trips. Here’s one you’ll get a kick out of. We’re on the Brahmaputra River and it’s our last day. We’re in the middle of nowhere, not even a village in site, when the boat’s diesel engine goes out. The boat owner worked on it for 15 minutes and then told Mortuza he can’t fix it. We’re thinking it’s going to be a long paddle to the next town. The boat floats over to the east bank where there is a cane field. As soon as the boat hit the sand, a man walks out of the cane field and says something to the boat owner. [National guide] turns to me and says, “I can’t believe this!” Mortuza was in shock. The guy said, “I’m a diesel mechanic, can I help you?” The guy steps into the boat, fixes the engine in 2 minutes and then walks back into the cane field. Would one say that was a “God thing”?

   Some would call Jay’s experience a coincidence. I agree with Jay that what happened was a “God thing.” God is in the business of doing miraculous, perhaps weird and unexplainable things, when we go beyond — when we step across the line and venture into the unknown and the unfamiliar. Step across the line and join Him there. Adventure awaits!

• • • • •

PS | Jay has written an excellent course entitled Witnessing Made Easy. Visit his website to learn more. And, read about Jay’s remarkable Dad in my post entitled No Limits.


  1. Omar,

    When our machine stopped to working, boat men tried for 15 minutes. Immediately, God has been sent an angel, who looks like Bengali, and, who knows that, how to fixing the engines! I was wondered; even thou I did not shared to them, that time! It was miraculous work of God!


  2. What a great story to start the weekend off with! The mechanic showing up on the shore sounds like it’s a story straight out of the Bible.

    God Bless!

  3. It would not surprise me at all to learn that the “diesel mechanic” had never been seen before in that area, and will never be seen again. Why would a diesel mechanic be wandering in a cane field alongside a river in Bangladesh, far from any organized habitation? Yes, I would say it was a “God thing.” Maybe more than we’ll ever know. I love it!

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