God works in mysterious ways and none more so than on that day in London when, in effect, I witnessed Him kill two birds with one stone.
Christi and I jumped off the red double-decker bus and ran up the brick path to the door of the quaint little Bed and Breakfast where we were staying. Mrs. Rose was waiting inside to greet us. Friends in Germany had recommended that we stay with Mrs. Rose when we stopped in London on our back-packing trip around Europe. She was as delightful as they said, taking us under her wing like a doting grandmother.
“Come in, Dearies, and tell me about your day.” She ushered us into the parlor and over tea and shortbread cookies we chattered on about the wonderful time we’d had visiting all the sites of London. Although it wasn’t part of the Bed and Breakfast package, she invited us to have supper with her that evening. Without hesitation we agreed, eager for a home-cooked meal.
Upstairs in our room we began to put our things away and get ready for dinner. While emptying our back-packs and inspecting our purchases of the day, a tingle of fear ran up my spine. “Christi!” My friend jumped at my shout. She didn’t say anything, just stood still, staring at me, waiting. “I can’t find my wallet.” I said it hesitantly, not wanting to say the words out loud, because that would mean they were true.
She paused for a moment, absorbing. “Let’s look again, I’m sure it’s there,” she encouraged.
Having already checked thoroughly twice, I wasn’t hopeful. I did feel calmer though. There’s something nice about sharing a feeling of dread with a friend. We looked again, unwrapping all my treasures, inspecting everything closely. I was desperately hoping that she would be right, but the dismay in Christi’s eyes when she looked up at me confirmed my fears; my wallet, indeed, was missing.
The implications of the missing wallet were huge. The wallet was, in fact, a travel pouch which contained all my money, my Euro-rail train ticket, and most importantly, my passport. The train ticket and even the money were possibly replaceable, but without a passport they didn’t really matter. Without a passport the trip we had worked so hard for, and only just begun, would end here and now. We stared at each other, stunned.
Christi, ever the optimist, declared, “We’ll talk to Mrs. Rose, she’ll know what we should do. Let’s pray about it first though.” I quickly agreed to both suggestions. We sat down, each waiting for the other to begin. It was my problem so I quickly said a prayer asking God for help. Christi followed up by thanking Him for taking care of us and being in control. I did feel a bit better after talking to God. There’s something nice about sharing a feeling of dread with a friend. However, the glimmer of hope I felt was still faint.
Over a lovely dinner we explained the situation to Mrs. Rose. She was kind and calm, advising us to go to Canada House first thing in the morning to see what could be done about the passport. She suggested that we then go to the London Lost and Found to see if the pouch had been turned in.
I didn't laugh, but really! How realistic is that?! This is London! My mind flashed immediately to all the signs we’d seen on the big red buses and down in the subway tube, “Beware of pickpockets”. London is, after all, the home of the Artful Dodger and Fagan, the leader of the gang of pickpockets Oliver Twist ended up with. Realistically, it seemed unlikely that someone would turn in such a treasure as my little pouch.
Arriving at Canada House the next morning, we were shocked to see a long line of people already waiting. Surely every Canadian in London couldn't have lost his passport! Dejectedly we took our place at the end of the line. As the line inched forward we began talking with the people around us, listening to each other’s travel stories.
The man in front of us was from India, which was interesting because my parents had been missionaries in India and I was born there. This common bond led us into conversation and after talking with him for awhile he commented on the buttons Christi and I were wearing. We always wore buttons that said something about our faith. This one said, “Jesus Is The Way.” The man asked us why we wore them and we started talking about our faith. He asked questions and listened carefully. It was like he had just been waiting there for someone to tell him the Good News of Jesus. As the discussion progressed, we asked if we could share The Four Spiritual Laws booklet with him. He agreed without hesitation, and when we came to the end, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior, right there, on the street in London!
This wonderful encounter cushioned the news that it would take several weeks to replace my passport, but even so, we were dismayed. There were people waiting for us to arrive in Scotland the next day and we had a wonderful trip planned ahead of us: Paris, Barcelona, Rome. However, with few other options we decided to follow Mrs. Rose’s advice and go to the Lost and Found.
Even my optimistic friend was a bit discouraged when we arrived at the stone building which housed the London Lost and Found. It was HUGE inside! Rows of shelves reaching from floor to ceiling were piled high with large, black umbrellas and everything else imaginable. The clerk’s eyes widened as I described my pouch and its contents. It was clear that, realistically, he did not expect to find it. We waited anxiously as he went to check.
It was a half-an-hour before he returned and placed a little tan pouch on the counter. We were speechless! Someone had turned it in! Everything was there, my ticket, my passport, all my money. My faith in mankind was restored. My faith in God was renewed. I felt ashamed at having ever doubted, but realistically... I stopped myself there. My God is bigger than what reality dictates.
That evening, Moon, the man from the line at Canada House, came over to the B&B and we spent the evening talking with him about his new-found faith. Mrs. Rose gave him an extra Bible she had, which he took with gratitude, holding it tightly, reverently, as he left.
We continue to marvel at the events of that unrealistic day. If I had not lost my passport we would never have been outside Canada House to meet Moon and share the gospel with him. We would have gone happily on with our plans, but God had something better for us on that day when the lost were found.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Author’s Note: We heard from Moon after returning home and he was continuing in his walk with God.