I grab the coffee and survey the hundreds of empty seats. Sunday morning in an airport lounge, and I’m all on my own. I force down the drink. It’s not that bad, but it’s got nothing on Martha’s breakfast brew.
10 am. She’ll be organising the kids right now and hurrying them into the car.
The PA announces my flight is delayed by two hours; her tinny voice bounces unheard around the polished corridors.
“Lord, what am I doing here?!”
But I already know the answer. After weeks of prayer, the Lord provided a job for me. What a blessing it is, but … I travel 3 out of 4 Sundays a month. I haven’t heard a sermon or prayed with a brother for too long.
10.45 am. My family are listening to the minister preach now.
I scrunch the empty cup, toss it in the trash, stretch and yawn. Then I take a walk.
As I’m walking, I have a strange sensation: something pulling me in a certain direction. I see a sign for a multi-faith chapel and my heart starts to beat a little faster.
“What’s going on?” I ask myself. Could this be the leading of the Spirit?
Slowly, I open the door. The room is simple: an altar, religious symbols and some wooden chairs. I’m uncomfortable kneeling to pray before a crescent moon, but in spite of myself I’m straight on my knees pouring out my thoughts to God.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for my job, but I can’t go to church, or hear your word because I travel on Sundays. Show me, Lord, if I should give it up, or if I should keep on…”
The noise of typing interrupts me. I turn and see a man wearing headphones, using a laptop in chapel!
“Excuse me, but this is a house of prayer, not an office! You can use that somewhere else.”
The man ignores me. I speak louder.
“Can you turn your music off?” Still, he ignores me!
I’m getting a little mad now so I wave my hands in front of his face. He jumps a little.
“Oh! Hello. I didn’t see you there.” He takes off his headphones and shakes my hand. “I’m Michael Sontag, airport chaplain. Now, what were you saying?”
I take a step back. “Oh! I….Hello chaplain, what a lovely chapel you have here.”
He looks at the empty chairs and shrugs. “It’s quite lonely, especially on Sundays. I rarely see the same face twice.”
I don’t know what to say, so I just nod.
“But then I found this church online: the Set Apart church.” He spins his laptop around: there’s a webpage showing mountains and a clear blue sky. I take a deep breath in.
“I was listening to the weekly online sermon. Everyday there’s a new devotional, and you can send a prayer request to other church members. They’ll let you know when they’ve prayed for you.”
“Oh. So it’s all online?” I ask.
“Exactly. It’s called a “church without walls” because it’s virtual, so anyone can join and access it anytime.”
I imagine people all around the world, praying for each other and growing in unity with the Holy Spirit. People who don’t, or can’t go to a regular church being in a community, whenever they log in!
“So…how can I join?” I ask.
“Easy. Just go to www.thesetapartchurch.com to access the sermons and devotionals, and sign up for the monthly newsletter.”
I marvel at this man, sitting in his empty chapel, yet glowing with excitement from connecting with his online church.
I take a deep breath. “You know, the Lord lead me here today. When you came in I was praying for guidance, as this job means I can’t go to church. You were the answer to my prayer: this online church means I can keep my job and connect with God!”
I offer my hand, but the chaplain gives me a warm hug.
“Praise the Lord! When I was praying this morning, the Spirit told me I would lead someone to the mountains, but I had no idea what that meant!”
We say our goodbyes and I leave the chapel. Walking to my boarding gate, I’m humbled and amazed. What a fantastic God! He hears our prayers, guides us and puts us in the right place at the right time.
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