Monday, April 6, 2009

The End (Thoughts by Rick R.)

It’s about 7:50 p.m. as we board our Miami to Detroit connection on our return from the Haiti mission. I find my seat, and I see that I will be sitting next to a tall, slim man in his late fifties wearing a leather jacket and looking very annoyed as he stares out the window. As I sit down I feel awkward because he is one of those guys that gives off the impression “don’t talk to me or touch me” and he has positioned himself with his arm on the divider and his leg encroaching in my leg space. I think to myself, “This is going to be a long flight.”
The flight has been delayed a few minutes and we sit there in silence waiting. The captain says over the intercom that a seat malfunction is just about wrapped up and we will be on our way momentarily. The guy next to me speaks up in a loud voice, “that’s just great; every flight I’ve been on during this trip has had problems.” I try to break the ice and jokingly ask him if he is starting to loose confidence in the airlines. He responds without making eye contact, “No, I’ve got 2 months to live and I don’t want to spend it sitting here!” A little stunned I tell him that I’m sorry to here that to which he doesn’t respond and continues to stare out the window.
A million thoughts race through my mind as I sit there, the main one being that I know that as a Christ Follower if I have compassion at all for this stranger, I should before I get off this jet ask him if he knows where he is going in two months. I asked him if he had been traveling to visit family to which he replied, “No.” He had left his wife and kids and didn’t want anything to do with the rest of them. A few minutes later I asked him where he was headed and in another short sentence he said, “I don’t know.” I’m sitting there, hoping he would say something to help me in this one sided conversation, thinking “wow this guy is so angry and hurt and only has 2 months to live.” I turned slightly to glance at him and though his face was hard, he was crying.
As the thoughts continued to race through my mind I struggled with the fine line between respecting this stranger’s privacy and not getting too personal, and the sense that I might be able to help him. I decided that I had nothing to loose and that I am a spineless Christian if I don’t prod on. I said, “If you don’t mind me asking, why does a guy who only has 2 months to live not want to spend those days with his family?” He responded, still not making any eye contact, “If you were in my situation you wouldn’t want to be around them either. They’re all liars. Everyone on this planet is a liar; I don’t want them around watching me die!” Not knowing all the details and not wanting to be confrontational I just said, “That’s sad.”
I later find out that his name is Joe and that he’s from Ohio.
He doesn’t say anything else and just sits there staring out the window at the night sky. Joe eventually falls asleep and I reflect on all the experiences I just had in Haiti and how God was so real in the people’s lives down there. I decided that when he wakes up, some how I would find out where he stood with God because now I truly feel sorry for the man. This normally would not be that hard of a question for me to ask someone, but this guy was so hard and I already had a good idea what his answer would be.
Near the end of our 3 hour flight I finally ask him if he believed in heaven; a round about lead in question to the God one. He abruptly replied, “No.” Then I said, “Does that mean then that you don’t believe in God?” He said even more harshly “no” and that everything in his whole life had always been messed up. I took that to mean he was saying that if there was a God he didn’t want anything to do with Him because his whole life had been messed up and didn’t want to believe in a God that would let that happen to him. I wanted to tell him that God loved him, could help him and about salvation if he only would believe and accept Him... but I didn’t. His heart was so closed and he seemed so defensive all I could say was that I would pray for God’s peace to come on him. He shot back, “Don’t bother!” We got off the plane at 11:30 p.m. and that was it.
The whole thing kind of rattled me as I tried to process why God had me cross paths with Joe. Naturally, I would have loved to be able to see Joe receive Christ and have a happy ending but that wasn’t the point. The point and reason I tell all of you this is because God reminded me of what the real reason is that a person should go to Haiti or any other part of the world. The Gospel... God’s love, forgiveness of sins, and the salvation of souls. There are lost people all around us that will die and not spend eternity with their loving creator. As the body of Christ we are commissioned to take that good news to all the world.
My prayer is that through our support to Robinson and the rest of the church family in St. Marc they will be a witness of God’s love to the lost people in their country.

Pray for Joe.

Your Brother in Christ,



Gallo Family said...

Thank you Rick for that great story! It is people like you that will change Americans one person at a time.... I trust that before the 2 months of Joe's life is over.... he'll think about what you said! God Bless you for being a strong person to try to get what you could out of that man! and show him God's love!

MamaB said...
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