Through the thick, round window, Jim watched the asphalt pass by. At first, the steamy black pavement seemed to crawl across his path at a leisurely pace; it then began to pick up speed. Now it grew smaller and smaller as the plane ascended, causing his stomach to reach for his throat.
Closing his eyes, he began to whisper to himself while grasping the seat’s arm rests with enough strength to cause the veins in his arms to bulge. He took slow, deep breathes, and attempted to calm his shaky nerves.
“You okay?” a voice asked. “Would you like some water?”
Without opening his eyes, Jim answered. “I’m fine.”
“Let me guess, first time flying?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“I think it’s safe to open your eyes now,” the voice spoke again, with a slight snicker.
After a brief pause, Jim slowly began to open his eyes, trusting the stranger’s words, but not really knowing why. With his stomach still fluttering, and his face a pale shade of green, he gingerly gazed out the plane’s window once again.
“The name’s Felix.”
Without moving his eyes from the spectacular array of clouds and sun rays that engulfed his vision, Jim casually responded, “I’m Jim.”
“So Jim, what brings you to Tanzania?”
“Tanzania?” Jim responded in shock as he spun to face the stranger that went by the name Felix. “How did you know I was going to Tanzania? I never told you that!”
Almost laughing, Felix explained. “Everyone aboard this plane is headed for Tanzania.”
“Oh yeah, right,” Jim said, as his face began to change colors once more, this time to a bright red hue. “I’m sorry, it’s just…I’m a little scared…nervous…I’m not sure. I’m just not myself today.”
“I completely understand. It’s not just you. I get that way sometimes too, Jim. You don’t mind if I call you Jim, do you?”
“No, that’s fine…Felix, right?”
“Yeah, Felix. Why are you going to Tanzania? Is it business or pleasure?”
“For business, I guess you could say. But I’m not sure I should be going at all.”
“I’m not following you. What do you mean?” Felix asked.
“I’m part of a mission team that’s spending the next month in Kilimanjaro establishing churches and hopefully leading lost people to Christ.”
Looking around the cabin of the plane, Felix asked, “Team? Where’s everyone else?”
“They flew out this morning. I had to take a later flight due to a family emergency.”
“Emergency?” Is everything okay?”
“I buried my father a little more than six hours ago,” Jim said, as a tear trickled down his cheek.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Jim. Shouldn’t you be with your family now? I’m sure they need you at time like this.”
“I’m an only child. My mother died three years ago.” Staring directly at the seat ahead of him, almost in a daze, Jim added, “I don’t think my father would want me to change my plans. He was a small town Baptist preacher who believed in reaching the world for Christ.”
After a brief moment, Felix interrupted the silence. “You said you weren’t sure you should be here. What did you mean by that, Jim?”
Jim hesitated before answering. “It’s difficult for me to share my faith. I sometimes feel like I’m not cut out for this type of work. ”
“Yeah, my faith. You know…my beliefs.”
“What exactly are you beliefs?”
For much of the remainder of the flight, Felix barely spoke; as he listened intently to Jim explain his beliefs about Christ, sin, salvation, and eternity.
As the stewardess’ voice echoed through the plane, announcing the preparations for landing, Felix and Jim made plans to continue their conversation at one of the many restaurants the airport offered.
“I just hope I make my father proud,” Jim said.
Felix, a man who knew nothing about God before boarding this flight, was now on the verge of accepting Christ as his personal savior because of his talk with Jim. “Jim, I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” Felix said. You’ll do just fine. I’m sure of it!”
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