My plane was to leave Singapore for Jakarta at 7:00 a.m., very early in the morning. I was weary after seven hours of preaching and teaching the previous day. My plan was to sleep on the plane, which is usually quite easy for me, especially when I am tired. But not this day. I simply could not sleep, and would very soon understand why. This was to be my first visit to Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. I didn’t know a soul in the country. My seatmate in 16A was a young woman returning to her home in Indonesia after many years working in Singapore. I was surprised she was open to talking, and within a few minutes, I began to see God’s plan in placing us together on a one-and-a-half-hour flight on this precise day. God had arranged for me to sit next to her in 16C from the foundation of time.
Nora was raised as a Muslim in what both she and I would term a somewhat nominal home. Only two months before her return to Indonesia, a co-worker asked if she was interested in attending a Christian church. She said yes. She had seen the lives of Christian friends, and understood the positive impact Christianity had on them. She started to attend the church and had an immediate attraction to Jesus. As she voiced to me, “I talk with Jesus all the time about everything”—and this after only two months of being in any kind of Christian community! I admit to being a bit skeptical. I know that many Muslim people are a great distance from accepting Jesus as the Son of God and more, as the one who died for the forgiveness of sins. But Nora has taught me to never underestimate the power of God. The more we talked, the more I was in awe of God, the evangelist.
It seemed that Nora has readily accepted Jesus as the Son of God. Further, she nodded yes when I asked if she believed he died to forgive her sins. She even sang songs (in her native tongue) about Jesus right on the airplane. How about that for evidence of new birth? We talked further and I learned that only the day before our flight, two strangers had knocked on her door. These two women were missionaries from mainland China who just happened to visit her home before her departure back to her Muslim country. They spent three hours together in fellowship and study. Again, this was a clear sign of God, the evangelist. Now, a few hours later, the Lord had arranged for us to be seat partners. Here I was, an evangelism leader from the United States, seated next to her. His attention to “saving” detail was amazing. I would learn more as we continued our flight. Her sister had married a Western man a few years before; he was a Christian and had been telling Nora about Christianity for years. Thus, at least five Christians had been placed in her life to walk with her on her salvation journey.
I was number five in her story, and my joy was immeasurable. In this short flight to a place I’d never been, to be with people I did not know, to preach of Christ in a Muslim land, I was honestly frightened. I surely wondered if my life and preaching could be of any value here. I hoped I was not wasting the time of the churches who invited me. So God gave me Nora, and God gave Nora me, and in the end angels were dancing. So was I. We prayed together before leaving the plane, and I encouraged her to find a Christian church. I hope she will contact me by email, but if not, I know we will fellowship in eternity.
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for ALL who believe (Romans 1:16). I learned the truth of that passage again on an airplane to Indonesia. May God be praised, and may readers be encouraged.
As one of your publishers of Lausanne World Pulse, I want to be an encourager for readers. I know we all have our share of disappointments in ministry. Sometimes we make ministry more complex than it is. I believe in the necessity for training and education. I believe in strategic development. I believe in all of it. But today in this column, I want every reader to know that I believe more than anything in the “saving power” of God the evangelist.
P.S. I also had a remarkable time in Indonesia. I was hosted by the Abbalove Ministry network and saw a tremendous ministry that is reaching a city and a nation for Christ. Perhaps Abbalove will be the theme of my next article.