Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: Emergency on Flight LJ762
By Debbie Roome
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I straightened my laptop and tried to focus on my work; a Bible study I was compiling about the church. It wasn’t coming together and I felt frustrated as fragmented thoughts drifted through my mind. The body of Christ. Living stones. How did it all fit together? How could I explain the mysteries to my ladies group? I needed a greater understanding myself; a depth to pass on to them.
The explosion caught us all by surprise. A loud thump followed by a grinding of metal and a tremendous hiss.
“The engine’s on fire!” Shouted a panicked passenger as the plane tilted violently to the left and plunged towards the ground.
“Oh God.” I prayed. “Help us. Be merciful Lord.” All around people were screaming and dense, black smoke streamed past the windows.
It seemed like a lifetime but was probably a matter of seconds before the aircraft leveled out, shuddering and vibrating, straining as the load transferred to the remaining engine.
“Please stay in your seats, ladies and gentlemen. Ensure your seat belt is fastened and keep calm. This plane is designed to fly with one engine and the fire will be extinguished automatically.” The cabin crew were efficient, professional as they moved among us, checking for injuries and soothing sobbing children.
“Why don’t you pray for us?”
The voice came from the seat next to mine. A melancholy drunk who had slept for most of the flight.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Pray for us. You’re religious. I saw your screen saver with all those Bible verses and church pictures.”
I thought of the congregation back home. Pastor Jim, the ladies group, the young people and the old and longed to be back with them. I felt so alone just then, surrounded by fear and uncertainty. Not knowing if we would even survive the trip.
“I have been praying.” I told him, “And will continue to do so. I believe God can save us from this situation.”
“Then pray out loud so we can all hear you.”
A tremor ran through me. The fear of praying out loud in front of a plane full of people was second only to the fear of crashing. Yet a still small voice echoed the thought. Stand up and pray.
“I can’t do that.” I reasoned with God. “I might offend some passengers.”
Stand up and pray.
“But this is an international flight. Many people won’t understand English.”
Stand up and pray.
“We’ve been told to stay in our seats. I won’t be allowed to do that.”
Stand up and pray.
I stood and called out to a flight attendant, heart pounding and palms slick with sweat. “I’d like to pray…out loud...over the public address system…please.”
She stopped and looked at me, her hands full of bloodied cloths from tending to an injured passenger. “You want to do what?”
“Pray. I feel God wants me to pray for our safety.”
She hesitated. “I shouldn’t really let you…but we could do with some divine help here. Follow me.”
My voice was shaky as I spoke into the microphone. “I’m a Christian and I believe God wants me to pray for a safe landing.” I squeezed my eyes shut, amazed as the words began to flow. I was even more amazed when people started joining in.
A family man with a wife and two young children, an Asian woman, wizened with age, a couple who prayed in broken English and perfect French, a young guy with dreadlocks and piercings. Others whispered amens as the brace command was given and the plane slammed into the runway.
We clustered together afterwards, a conglomeration of age, culture and language, rejoicing in our common bond in Jesus Christ. Thanking Him for bringing us down safely.
“You’re wonderful, Lord.” I whispered. “Your church is much greater than I realised. So diverse and multi-faceted.”
Just then, my drunken neighbour pressed himself into our midst. His eyes clear and sober as he looked round at us. “I’m a backslidden believer.” He said. “I want to recommit my life. Please will you pray with me.”
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