I made it to the airport on time for my flight but utterly exhausted. As I got to the check-in table, the attendant told me that the flight was overbooked, so I could volunteer for another route on the same airline. Not only would the new route be 5 hours shorter, but it would come with a US $400 gift card at a company of my choice.
I thanked God profusely in my heart for this lovely surprise. I was even tempted to write a post on Facebook about this testimony of God’s lavish goodness … until the deal was retracted as I was boarding the plane. Fewer persons checked in on time than who booked, so the flight didn’t need to be rebooked.
I trudged through the rest of my journey tired, frustrated and deeply disappointed. When I boarded my last and longest flight, I ended up sitting beside a young man with a hoodie and a baseball cap. I usually don’t start up conversations with strangers in this setting, but this time I felt prompted to ask “What brings you to London?” And those five words launched a four hour long conversation …
His childlike innocence was endearing. He excitedly said how cool the plane was, awash in awe on his first ever international flight. He was on his way to Wales to study at a United World College (UWC). He told me how much he was going to miss his mom’s cooking and showed me pictures of his pet cat. He gushed with anticipation and nervousness about meeting classmates from around the world.
The conversation spiraled pleasantly into a wide array of topics: the latest developments in his hometown of Dallas; my adventure shooting on my friend’s range in West Virginia; our hobbies; and the importance of being true to your values no matter where you go. The moment I sensed that we were probably talking about the same values, I brought up my Christianity.
There was an immediate lowering of our guards after that point, like two spies who suddenly found out they were working for the same government, or better yet, two long lost relatives of the same family. Here we were, two people of different races, nationalities, genders, ages and cultural backgrounds but we immediately felt the camaraderie of our Christian belief. More than that, we were eye to eye on a number of political issues that even Christians sometimes find controversial: capitalism; the ups and downs of the Obama and Trump administrations; the LGBT lobbyists and abortion.
The Holy Spirit immediately melted my heart, and he became my brilliant, brave younger brother who I was personally sending off to school.
On one hand, I was proud of how untainted and uncorrupted he was by the world. He wasn’t naïve or immature. In fact, he was exceptionally well read and educated on a myriad of fields. But the purity of his heart was rare for the average 18 year old Westerner.
On the other hand, I suddenly had a deep maternal desire to protect him from the attacks he would undoubtedly face on campus. I lunged at the opportunity to recommend a book for all college bound Christians, and to share some of my experiences as an international Christian student, as well as advice I wished someone had told me when I was going abroad to college.
We never exchanged names, far less contact information, even after such a long conversation. Chances are we will never cross paths again in this life. But I am convinced that God orchestrated both of our travels plans, for both of our sakes.
Even though I was the one giving a lot of advice, I definitely took away some lessons of my own from this experience.
- Nothing in life happens by chance. Even when it is less convenient and less pleasurable, God can use that to accomplish something beautiful and inspiring through you.
- God is the God of the details. There were easily over 300 seats on that flight, yet we ended up sitting beside each other.
- Sometimes God will deliberately allow you to see the tangible things you could have enjoyed (like a shorter flight and a gift card) so you will learn how to value the intangible things that He treasures (a young man being built up in his faith).
- God is the source of our love for our neighbor. He is the One who softens our hearts in a supernaturally fast and intense way so we can open up to even a stranger and pour into others’ lives.
My Dallas Cowboy, if you ever miraculously come across this article, I pray that you will keep holding fast to your faith, and that you’ll see the lengths God will go to support you. You have a cloud of witnesses in heaven – and a big sister in Jamaica – cheering you on to run your race.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. She hosts the new TV series “MTM News Magazine” which can be streamed live on www.mercyandtruth.tv.