Buckling Seatbelts

by | May 23, 2005 | Witnessing

When he (Doug) and Margaret were working in Manila with the organization Action International, they were asked to begin a ministry among street children in Calcutta similar to what they were doing in the Philippines. Doug traveled to India for two weeks to survey the situation and then prepared for his return to Manila by way of Bangkok. Emotionally drained and exhausted from the heat and the filth and the poverty of Calcutta, he could hardly wait to board that beautiful Thai airliner with orchids pinned to the seat, fresh orange juice, and air-conditioning.

As he basked in the cleanliness and freshness of the big jumbo jet, Doug looked over and noticed that the entire center section was empty. “When the plane takes off,” he thought, “I’m heading over there to stretch out and sleep all the way to Bangkok.” He could hardly wait.

Minutes before the scheduled departure, a steady stream of people entered the cabin carrying large woven baskets. They set a basket in each seat, five seats across, until the entire center section was full. Curiosity got the better of Doug, so he undid his seat belt and stood up to see what was in the baskets. Babies. Two in every basket. There must have been close to a hundred, all orphans headed to Bangkok and then on to Germany for adoption. And there were only two Indian women to take care of all those children. As Doug sat down again, lie knew there would be no sleep on this plane.

The flight attendant was beginning her check as they sped down the runway toward takeoff when all of a sudden she looked over at all these babies and became very alarmed. She ran to one of the Indian women and began chattering excitedly in Thai. The young woman didn’t understand Thai, and the more she didn’t understand the more excited the flight attendant became. The attendant began yelling and scared the young woman, who burst out in tears. Once again Doug got up from his seat, this time to see what was the matter, and discovered the problem-the baskets weren’t buckled in.

“I don’t know much,” Doug told our kids, “but I can buckle a seat belt.” Reaching over, he fastened the belt over a basket. Then he went to the next one, buckled it, and went to the next one, row after row. The plane was gathering speed, and as he secured the last basket, jumped into his seat, and buckled his own seat belt, the plane lifted off.

“Wow,” said the fellow next to him as he caught his breath, “you must really like babies!”

“No,” Doug laughed, “not particularly.”

“Then why did you do that?”

He thought for a moment before answering. Then he told him bluntly, “Sir, it’s like this. I did it because I didn’t want to sin.”

The man turned to Doug with a questioning glance. “What does buckling in babies have to do with sin?”

“Well,” said Doug, who never misses an opening, “I’m a Christian, and I try to live the way God asks me to in His Word, the Bible. It tells us how to know Him personally and how to obey Him as we live this life. There’s a verse that says, `Anyone, then, who knows the good thing he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”‘

The man stared at him, incredulously. “Are you sure that’s in the Bible?”

“I sure hope so,” said Doug, as he opened his New Testament and showed him James 4:17.

“Wow!” The man said again.

Just as Doug suspected, he never did get to sleep, but that was alright. “I was able to share the glorious gospel of Christ with my homosexual seatmate all the way to Bangkok,” he smiles. “I’m no evangelist, but God is not hindered by our weakness or lack of resources.”

My children were still listening.

“You might not be able to do much either, kids, but can you get sick? Can you buckle in babies?”

They nodded their heads.

For me, Doug and Margaret’s lives are living illustrations that God only requires what we can give Him. He doesn’t ask that we serve Him in misery, but with joy, doing what we can. Never forgetting Who gets the credit.

Callaway, Phil. Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward? Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2002, p. 232-234. Www.philcallaway.com


Buckling Seatbelts