A new Japanese friend of ours was amazingly scheduled to be on the same flight as us from Singapore to Japan. Since he had just returned from a trip to China (working with house churches) we were anxious to hear about it and see pictures. Unfortunately, the plane was packed and his seat was in the front while we were sitting in the way back. So I prayed that somehow we’d still be able to see his pictures…
…and we found a creative solution. I sat on Danielle’s lap, he took my seat, and we were all be able to enjoy the slide show. We were encouraged and educated by his detailed report.
God didn’t answer our prayer of missing our next flight so we could tour Tokyo ….but that’s ok. Maybe another time.
We boarded our next plane from Tokyo to Minnesota. We were a little disappointed that our seats were split up.
I’m often surprised by the person the Lord provides to witness to on the plane. This time it was a young Asian guy with spiky hair and tattoos. He had the window seat, I had the aisle seat, and my friend Nickie was in between us.
He probably doesn’t even speak English, I thought.
“Hello” Nickie said as we sat down.
“Hello” he said.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
After talking with him for a while we found out that he lives in Minnesota, works a nightshift at Target, is a UFC fighter, and his parents attend a Baptist Church.
We talked with him for about 30 minutes or so, just getting acquainted.
“So I have a question,” I said, trying to bring the conversation to something more substantial, “In schools in the Philippines, do they teach evolution, creation, or both?”
“I went to a Christian school, so they kind of taught Creation but then basically let you choose for yourself what you want to believe. I don’t really think or worry about it,” he said.
“Well, I don’t worry about it either,” I replied, “in the sense of ‘trying to figure it out’ because I already know what I believe; but I do think the topic is very important. For one thing, it helps us to understand why people act the way they do. If people believe there’s no God, then there’s no right and wrong, and no accountability. People can do whatever they want! For example, what’s wrong with abortion, if we’re just animals anyway?”
He responded with interest, and began to ask questions.
“So, how do you know the difference between all the religions?” he asked.
“Well, there’s many people today who say that it doesn’t matter which religion you follow—we’re all worshipping the same god,” we said, “But there’s no way that could be true. Christianity is so different from all the other religions. For one thing, it’s the only one with a risen Savior. Mohammed, Buddha, and other leaders died and were buried, but Jesus rose from the dead and is alive now.”
Nickie added, “And it’s the only religion that even has a Savior. Other religions just have leaders.”
“Christianity is also the only religion that has a cure for sin,” I continued, and explained how Jesus took our punishment on the cross. “And it’s also the only religion that’s not a ‘do it yourself’ religion,” I emphasized. “Most people in this world are trying to be good enough to go to Heaven.”
“But” I said, “Christianity is the only religion that says ‘hey, we can’t do this on our own. There’s no way we could meet up to God’s perfect standard.’ So the only way we know we’re going to Heaven is because God made a way to save us.”
He seemed both surprised and interested in our answers.
Side Note: Just one week earlier I had read a little gospel tract entitled, “Are All Religions Really the Same?” That tract provided me with the fresh thoughts I needed to share with Gelix at that moment. Isn’t it neat how God equips us? He doesn’t lead us into a situation without providing the words for us to say. He’s so good.
Gelix continued to ask questions. We discussed many things including life purpose, the power of spiritual warfare in this world and the danger of polluting influences in our lives.
Then he said, “I think I should start going to church again.”
We supported that idea and since I have some friends who live near him, I got his e-mail and I’m going to try to hook him up with a good church in his area.
Gelix had lots of questions. Maybe he didn’t feel comfortable talking to his friends or family about them. However, “strangers” on a plane whom he’d never see again were a different story. I’m so glad we became friends with him and were able to have this talk. Please pray that he’d run from darkness into the Light.
It seems that often when I’m witnessing to someone, they tell me about a Christian relative they have. It causes me to wonder, Could it be that our conversation is an answer to the prayers of their Christian relative?
About 8 rows behind me my dad had been talking with a young couple about Creation Science and homeschooling. Although they weren’t Christians, they seemed very interested in what he was saying.
After a while he switched places with Sarah (who was in another part of the plane). Continuing the conversation, Sarah learned that they run a T-shirt shop on the beach together, call themselves non-religious, and love to surf. One had grown up Mennonite, and the other Mormon. Both had turned away because of hypocritical people they knew in the faith.
I joined the conversation about this time and stood next to their row, enjoying my little stretch break.
“So what do you believe happens when you die?” Sarah asked.
“I don’t like to think about death,” the girl said, “it’s sad.”
“I think you just die and that’s it” the guy said. “But I think religion is a really good thing,” he continued, “It can draw people together and cause them to develop good morals…”
“Well, it can be a good thing or a bad thing,” Sarah responded. “People do good things because of religion, but religion also has caused divisions, wars, and people have done horrible things over the years– all in the name of religion.”
He probably wasn’t expecting that response. Sarah explained, “I don’t call what I have a ‘religion’ but rather, a relationship with the Creator. Many who say they are Christians don’t really know God—they are just following rules.”
“It seems like you guys are really living for what you believe,” he said.
“Well, if you truly believe in life after death then it makes sense to live with that in view,” Sarah said.
He could see that.
“My philosophy,” he told us, “is to do as much good as I can in my life and if I come to the end and it wasn’t good enough—well, at least it was a good system.”
I went back and sat down but noticed that Sarah continued to talk with them for about an hour or so. I hear that it was a really good talk. It’s fun meeting new friends. They like to travel so we are hoping they’ll come visit us sometime when they come through Iowa.
I fell asleep and was awakened by a girl holding a sleeping baby. It was Nickie. “Grace, can you move over so I can sit down?” she asked. Apparently a young mother from Korea was having trouble keeping her 5-month-old quiet and was grateful for Nickie’s help.
Nickie mentioned what an open door it was to be holding a baby. As she stood rocking the baby, people would just walk up and start talking to her.
My mom also made a friend on the plane. She got acquainted with the Chinese mother sitting next to her and learned that she had 2 young kids. We gave her a Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends book and 2 Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Coloring Books for her kids. She was so appreciative and began reading the book right away.
We got off the plane with lots of new friends — and we were grateful to God for splitting up our seats on the flight.
The mother of the baby was a Christian and since she had a 9 hour layover in Minneapolis with nothing to do, we invited her to stick with us for the 5 hours that we would be there. We enjoyed getting to know her and learning more about Korea.