One of the joys of having a monthly newsletter* is that I have a bunch of beautiful people who have chosen to subscribe to it because they enjoy reading “light through the cracks” stories and reflections.

I particularly love it when they choose to share their own “light through the cracks” stories with me – and one that came to me, just recently, was from a wonderful woman called Marjorie.

“I have been a Christian since l was 16 and now I am 90,” she wrote. “Yet I am constantly amazed at what God will do when we give ourselves to him in gratitude for his great and wonderful love in Jesus!”

I share her “light through the cracks” story here with her permission.


Marjorie has been staying with her son in London, but her journey home to Devon has been delayed because she has been suffering with a heavy cold. When she feels well enough to make the journey, and her son confirms her seat booking on the coach, it is three days later than originally planned.

As the coach sets off, Marjorie prays. She asks God to choose whoever he wants to sit next to her and that, if it is his will, he will give her an opportunity to witness to them.

When the coach pulls in to pick up passengers at Heathrow airport, a young South Asian man gets on. Spying a spare seat next to Marjorie, he politely asks if he might sit next to her.

“Of course”, she replies, and he settles in for the journey.  

He is watching a film on his iPad and Marjorie soon realises it’s Gone with the Wind, which she has also watched. So, as it comes to an end, she ventures to break the silence between them, and she asks him if he’s enjoyed the film.

“Yes,” he responds, “but it was so sad.” She nods her agreement; she understands what he means.

Marjorie has a tub of strawberries with her, and she holds them out to him. “Would you like one?” she asks. Surprised and grateful, he accepts.

Taking a deep breath, and sending up arrow prayers under her breath, she starts a conversation.

“Where are you from?” she asks.

“Iran,” he replies.

“I guess you must be a Muslim then,” she says.

“Yes,” he says, before proceeding to tell her than he always feels so guilty. When she probes as to why this is, she is unprepared for his response. “It’s because l have everything l want here in England, but my family in Iran have so little.” She urges him to continue. “It’s not because they are poor, but because there are no luxury things for them to buy there.”

Taking another deep breath, and sending up more arrow prayers, she decides to share her faith.

“I’m a Christian,” she tells him. “So when I feel guilty, I say sorry to God and ask him for his forgiveness, and I always know he forgives me.”

He seems perplexed, as if forgiveness is an unfamiliar concept, and he becomes thoughtful.

“Have you ever considered reading the Bible, alongside the Quran?” she asks him.

“No, I haven’t,” he says. “What’s in it?”

With another arrow prayer, Marjorie starts to unpack the Scriptures and give him the good news of the Gospel. She refers to the prophets of the Old Testament, who Muslims have in common with Christians. She explains how Jesus is not just a prophet, as Muslims believe; how he is God; how and why he died and rose again.

She has his full attention. He is listening deeply, without any interruptions.

“It wasn’t an accident that you sat next to me today,” she tells him, “because I prayed and asked God to bring the right person into that seat.”

He looks at her in astonishment, and she sees tears welling up in his eyes. “You prayed for me!” he exclaims, “Now here I am, sitting next to you.” He pauses a moment. “That is incredible,” he says.

“It is incredible”, she agrees, “because I’ve had a heavy cold these past three days, and I wouldn’t be here, on this coach, if I had travelled when originally planned.”

Again he is astonished. Wide-eyed in wonder, Marjorie asks him his name.

“Ali,” he tells her.

Then, gently and tenderly, she tells him how much Jesus loves him. “Ali,” she says, “l believe God is giving you an opportunity to come into a relationship with Him through Jesus. You only have to pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart and life, and he will.”

She pauses a moment and then asks him, firmly but kindly, “Would you like to do that?”  

Without hesitation he replies. “Yes,” he says, “but I don’t know how to pray.”

“Why don’t I pray, and you can say the words after me?” she suggests. He nods his head in agreement, and then she leads him through a prayer for salvation. She asks Jesus to forgive his sins and take away the guilt. She asks him to come into Ali’s heart and life. With each sentence she utters, Ali repeats out loud what she is saying, clearly moved by what is happening.

As she says, “Amen”, he looks her in the eye. “Ali, you’re now a Christian,” she pronounces, and his face breaks into a wide smile. “Now you just need to find a church family.”

They continue chatting and, when the coach pulls into a city bus station on the route home, Ali prepares to get off. Turning to Marjorie he thanks her for introducing him to Jesus – and then he announces, with a flourish, “Tomorrow I’m going to buy a Bible!”


“As you can imagine, I have prayed so much for Ali, in the years since then,” Marjorie tells me. “All I can do is trust that God showed him where to buy a Bible, and that he has led him into a church family, and is keeping him on his Christian journey.”

I know how she feels, and I echo her prayer for Ali.


I have two strands of thought from this story for you to reflect on.

Firstly, do you ever travel on public transport? Perhaps a train, a bus, a coach or a plane?

If this is you, and you’re a Christian, why don’t you pray, like Marjorie, that God will choose whoever he wants to sit next to you, and that you will be able to have an opportunity to witness to that person, and boldness to follow through?

Secondly, if you’re a Christian, do you know how to share your faith with Muslims, in the way that Marjorie did with Ali?

If not, why don’t you take some time to remind yourself of the basics of the Gospel message, and practice communicating it in simple terms with someone?

As ever, all constructive comments would be welcome below.


*Please note: If you have read this blog post and, like Marjorie, you would like to subscribe to receive my monthly newsletter, you can sign up via the form at the bottom of this page link.

Photo credit to Hobi industri via Unslash 



  1. I love this story so much! Marjorie for her willingness to be used and her kind courage. God for settling it all up. It’s an encouragement to us all to always be ready and open and compassionate.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thank you for encouraging Marjorie with your comment, Joy. I know what you mean about her kind courage. A little kindness always goes a long way!

  2. This is the most amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. I live in Devon and it is wonderful to know that there are people who have these conversations. What an incredible journey on the coach. Perhaps Marjorie will see Ali again some day. It encourages me to be bolder in my sharing my faith with strangers.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thank you for encouraging Marjorie with your comment, Janet. I agree with you that this is an amazing story and, like you, I also hope that Marjorie and Ali will be able to meet again. I know God can ordain it, if that’s to be part of his plan!

  3. Dear Joy and Janet,
    Thank for your kind comments on my story about Ali on the coach. If l have encouraged you, you have also encouraged me. All we need is to ask God each day for His divine appointments with those He has ready and open for a conversation. It is amazing how often these happen!
    Yesterday it was a new librarian who helped me with some photocopying, a God-given opportunity to ask if he had a faith, to which he replied, “Yes, but l don’t often go to church, I’m afraid”. He just needed encouragement, so l gave him an invitation to come to my church and said l would pray for him. “Thank you so much”, he said, “I needed that”. Saying goodbye, l said, “You’ll be on my prayer list”, and he laughed and said thank you.
    Oh what a faithful God we have! May you know His blessing today!

  4. Marjorie’s story is such an inspiration and a challenge to us! And Joanna’s ‘take away’ — why not take some time to remind yourself of the basics of the Gospel message, and practise communicating it in simple terms with someone — in my opinion should be one of the top ten items in every Christian’s ‘to do’ list. I keep meaning to do it, but so far I haven’t fully got round to it. Yet it’s part of our essential armour, ‘the preparation of the gospel of peace’ (Ephesians 6:15). With properly shod feet we won’t be afraid to walk into conversations with anyone!

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks for this insightful comment, Arnold! I’m so pleased to hear how Marjorie’s story has inspired and challenged you.

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