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"Hey, Joe," Martin waved at his friend coming in the restaurant door. "It's great to see you again!"

Martin walked up to Joe and shook his hand warmly. "It's been about a month, hasn't it, since our last 'weekly' lunch! How have you been doing?"

"Doing great," he answered quickly before he said to the waiter seating them, "Could we sit over by the window?"

After they ordered, they both relaxed and gazed outside at the cars passing by.

"You've been doing a lot for your church's missions program lately, Joe. Tell me more about that," Martin let Joe have the floor first.

"My church really has a great missions program. Do you know we gave 1.2 million dollars to world missions last year? It's because the missions committee that I chair has been spearheading several projects that I haven't been able to meet you for lunch recently. I think we have accomplished a lot in the past few months¡Xclothes drive for an orphanage in Puerto Rico, crating up the household goods of a missionary on his way to France, a work team going to Argentina to build a church building, and buying a car for a missionary in Singapore."

Martin liked Joe a lot, but sometimes felt intimidated by Joe's strong leadership abilities and wondered how he could learn from his friend in this area. He hinted at this attitude by saying, "You are really helping in a lot of ways. I'm a bit embarrassed to mention my small church's efforts. We've been focusing recently on a missionary in Singapore also and the needs he recently mentioned. I don't know whether you have heard of Sam Donnelly."

Joe's face lit up. "Does your church support Sam too! He's the missionary we have been raising funds for also. We just sent him a check for $35,000 so he could get a nice car. Our church likes to do things for missionaries in a big way."

Martin reached for his glass of tea and put it to his lips quickly. He really wasn't thirsty, but he was trying to hide his facial expression and borrow time before responding. "Joe, didn't Sam say he needed a motorcycle?"

"Yeah, that's what his letter said. We like large projects, so we decided to go ahead and buy him a car, and we sent an amount that could surely get him a good one." Joe seemed never to have to stop and chew before answering. Was it because he took smaller bites? Martin was always amazed by what Joe could do.

"Did you go online and check what cars cost in Singapore?" Martin knew that Joe led a fine missions committee of very capable people. "Even just a standard car can cost upwards of $50,000."

Joe paused. He held his fork in mid-air. "You can't be serious. That country is so small, you can drive across it in an hour. Cars should be cheaper there than in other places because you don't need to put as many miles on them a year as you would in other locations."

Martin wasn't sure how to proceed. "I haven't researched it myself, but the reason Sam requested funds for a motorcycle is that he didn't expect to be able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for a car, especially since the distances he needs to travel are short, and it never snows or gets icy in that tropical country."

Joe's mind raced on beyond what Martin had said, "If you are right, that a car costs $50,000, and we sent him only $35,000, he still won't be able to buy a car with that amount of money."

Martin nodded. "And then, their gas prices are higher than ours, and taxes, parking fees, and car upkeep are much higher than for a motorcycle."

"Then why didn't Sam explain all of this in his letter?" Joe was trying to find a way to justify his helping Sam buy a car.

Martin looked down at his plate, "Sam didn't mention a car; he mentioned his need for a motorcycle."

"Then how do you know all of these details?" Joe demanded.

"We wrote him," Martin confessed. "He told us that he had been using public transportation for a few years and thought he could save time by using a motorcycle. From one housing area to another there isn't always a direct bus, and sometimes you have to walk quite a distance to get to a main road to hail a cab. As for a motorcycle, Sam explained that he could ride it all year long in the warm weather there, and he wouldn't have high gas or parking expenses. We expressed to him our concern for his physical safety on a motorcycle, but he explained that the drivers there are quite law-abiding and safe, so he didn't worry about having an accident."

Joe then said the obvious, "You mean our church could have saved $30,000 if we had bought him what he mentioned?"

Martin reached for his glass again, and looked down at the ice cubes floating on top of his tea.

"So what should I do now?" Joe asked.

Martin shrugged and looked at his plate. "Maybe you could write him and explain what you have done. If prices have come down, or if other people sent money for the same project, or if he can buy a used car . . . there may be a way he can use that money anyway. Only he would know all the facts and possibilities."

Joe's eyes got big, and he fell silent for a while. Martin raised his hand for the waiter to bring the check.

On their way out, Joe shook Martin's hand again. "I've missed seeing you at lunch. I always learn something from you when we meet." Joe then hurried out the door at his usual pace, and Martin stood still for a moment wondering if he had just heard Joe correctly.

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Five-mile Run

A Car for a Missionary

Judah's Story

John--Apostle of Glory

Singles Pastor