The Traveling Ambassador
“I study people’s faces, and I see that you are someone I can trust and talk to.”
I was on a plane traveling back from researching a new mission project. I had my ear buds in, so I was quite surprised when the passenger across the aisle from me reached out and touched my arm and made the above comment.
“What did you think of my country?” he asked.
“Well, it’s certainly a lovely place for a winter break. It was so nice and warm for this time of year,” I said.
“Where did you stay?” he asked.
I shared briefly about my trip. “It is a beautiful town,” I concluded. “It has lots of nice restaurants, beaches, a port and a harbor, and the people are so nice and friendly.”
“Ah,” he said, “that’s where I live, too. I love it there, but I also have apartments in Turkey and in London. In fact, I’m on my way to my home in London now.”
“Did you like the local wines?” he asked.
“I don’t actually drink any alcohol, so I wouldn’t know,” I replied. He seemed surprised and interested. “I don’t eat anything from the pig either, as it’s an unclean animal.”
“What religion are you?” he asked.
“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist,” I responded. He looked quizzical, so I explained, “We try to follow the biblical teaching of only consuming things that are clean and good for us. And if you add exercise to that, it helps us to stay strong and healthy.” He started talking in his own language to his seatmates at this point, and they glanced across at me curiously.
As we chatted more, I discovered that he was a prominent figure in his community and was well known by many people, even on the aircraft. Although retired, he continues to work with young people as a leader of the Scouts, both in his home country and internationally. He told me he joined the Scouts when he ended his national service because he wanted to make a difference in his community. His kind and caring nature, which involves him in many activities, has earned him good will and respect among his peers and within his community.
“Do you think you would visit my country again?” he asked.
“I would like to take my wife there sometime. The weather is perfect, though a bit hot in the summer months, and housing is much more affordable than in England. Plus, with some of the housing you also get a pool and some land. If you combine all that, along with the fact that I love nature, the sea and the mountains, I think your country has a lot going for it. It would be a really nice place to retire.”
He smiled broadly. “Give me a call or email me when you want to visit next, and you can use my apartment for free.” I thanked him very much for his kind offer and promised to keep in touch. As we disembarked from the aircraft, we continued our conversation until we had to go our separate ways.
Each time I travel, I pray for divine appointments. This experience was a reminder that people observe me, and I always need to reflect the fact that I am God’s ambassador. Who would have thought God would encourage a stranger to tap me on the shoulder to begin a conversation that could lead to a deeper friendship with potentially eternal consequences?