12: the evangelist of the number 63 bus

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking the bus these days instead of the Tube before. It’s quiet in the office at the moment so I’m leaving dead on 5.30, which means I can catch the 63 instead of the 45. All thrilling information I know. The 63 heads straight for the river down Farringdon Street at Blackfriars. Just before the bridge, the past couple of nights, a man has got on the bus and started talking to us all about Jesus. He takes a seat and then, as if he’s just holding a fairly loud conversation, begins: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to disturb you but I need to tell you the good news about Jesus Christ.’ Long pause. ‘For God so love the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him, will not perish, but have everlasting life. I am a faithful witness of God. You can have a full life, but there isn’t much time. Turn to God and he will give you freedom and life.’
And so on. He didn’t shout and he sits so unassumingly that it’s hard to work out who it is who is speaking. He could easily be talking on his mobile phone. And he spaces his clauses out with long pauses, so you think he’s finished and then he starts up again, quoting Scripture and urging me and my fellow commuters to come to God for help and salvation.
I wonder if he’s ever been a victim of abuse for quietly asserting his right to free speech? I sat waiting for someone to turn and have a go at him, to ask him to be quiet or to get annoyed, but in true London fashion, everyone continued, headphones in ears, to pretend that nothing unusual was happening. And in his low, rumbling voice he unassumingly continued to assert that there is hope and a future until Elephant and Castle, where he says thank you to everyone for so politely listening and then gets off the bus.


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