Encounter for Love
A worker at London Heathrow Airport receives a reminder that God is real and loves him.
His name may be John, Henry or Pulla; we never found out. He looks like he may be from the Philippines or somewhere in the Pacific Islands. Short and stout, he could have been a rugby player, except that middle age has softened his muscles. Friendly would not be the term to describe him; he does not even wear a pro forma smile. Everything about him seems to shout, “Do not mess with me!” He is well-suited for his job.
We are at gate B44, Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport in London when we are ushered to this agent who takes care of overweight cabin luggage. We join the line of people before him. A man raises his voice at the agent, who sends him away; another one lowers his voice and starts bargaining. We hear the agent: “This is not a marketplace here. You cannot handle with me. Get on the side if you do not want to pay.” The next lady in line says she has no money and is also sent to the side.
Now our turn comes. Even the outspoken, sharped-tongue Caribbean lady that I can be knows better than to argue—even if I find it quite unfair that the three airlines we are taking to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania have different hand-luggage policies! The verdict falls: We must pay £120. Elisha reaches for the credit card, and the agent starts typing things on his computer, but I cannot quite keep my tongue. Mustering up a soft and humble voice, I express how unfair it feels that we must pay when the other airlines we’ve already flown today had not bothered anybody.
Without looking up, he explains that for flights to Addis Ababa, where we will be transferring planes, they have had a lot of problems with people carrying the same amount of weight in the cabin as they had checked in, making it hard to know how much weight was in the plane. Now we understand.
Suddenly the agent lifts his head. “I am not going to make you pay the full amount,” he says softly.
“Thank you,” we tell him. “Praise the Lord.”
“I used to believe in God,” he tells us.
“What happened that made you give up your faith in God?”
“This job here. You see, everybody who comes here hates me.” His voice sounds bitter.
I pause to think how to phrase my thought. “It seems to me that this would be exactly why I would hang on to God,” I tell him. “You see, His love for you does not change. So if everybody hates you, the only thing that will keep you from becoming bitter and dissatisfied is the assurance of God’s love for you. And He does love you. You need this. Do not throw it away.”
“What are you doing in Tanzania?” he changes the subject.
We explain that we have been missionaries there for a few years. He gives us our papers, boarding passes and credit card back. “I gave you a missionary price.” Looking at the receipt, we see that it’s true.
Yes, God loves us, and He smiles when we bring hope and love into other people’s lives. We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will bring our unsmiling agent the desire to receive God’s love into his heart.
Nadege Vande Voort
Nadege and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. email@example.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.
How You Can Help
Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in Tanzania and in all their travels around the world.
Share. Look for people like the unfriendly agent to share God’s love with when you travel.
Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check, with “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” as the memo to:
Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302
For online options, visit:
www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Click on “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” under the ministry tab.