Heathrow's Hunger Games. Facing Unimaginable Odds, Part 28a

Waiting in the purple line

At times the evil one will try anything to stop us from testifying. Paul and Silas had quite an interesting encounter: A female slave who had a spirit with which she could predict the future. "She earned a great deal of money for a also I l owners by fortune-telling." (Acts 16:16c, NIV2) That's all that was important to her owners.

However once she saw Paul and Silas, she started following them wherever they went, shouting: "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." (Acts 16:17, NIV2)

"Admirable!" Some may say. "She is preparing the way!" Truly this was not her purpose. Paul and Silas couldn't testify, as she kept yelling louder than they could speak. How could anyone listen to them with all that commotion? No way could they testify unless . . .

"Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit,'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!' At that moment the spirit left her." (Acts 16:18b, NIV2) The spirit had no choice but to leave her. Finally they would be able to testify except..."When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities." (Acts 16:19, NIV2) (After all, money in this world is king!)

As uproar occurred. Without a hearing, both disciples were stripped and flogged with rods. Then both of them were thrown in prison. They still were unable to testify! All because of that spirit! Instead they, "put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks." (Acts 16:24b, NIV2) The disciples were truly stuck!

Our circumstances were quite different than Paul and Silas, but we, too, ended up annoyed, with the impossibility to testify. Let me backtrack . . .

It all started when we boarded a British Airways plane in Brussels, destination Heathrow. We had no idea that we would end up being 'hostages' in that plane for the next two hours. London had been struck by heavy lightning, and all traffic was halted for the next 20 minutes, creating a huge backlog that would last for the next several days. We weren't allowed to leave the plane in Brussels, but the stewardess assured us that we would be able to take a later flight from London to eventually end up in Aberdeen, our final destination.

When we finally arrived, we had the privilege of admiring Heathrow from high up in the sky for what seemed an eternity. When we finally landed, we were taxied several times around the airport. We were less than impressed, to say the least! Boy, we were so dizzy!

Once out of the plane, it was pure chaos. Some representatives of British Airways told us not to line up in the purple line, where we could rebook our plane. "Better go to terminal E!" As we were waiting to pass the border to get to terminal E, we found out that if we left our current terminal, British Airways would no longer be responsible for our needs, should we have to spend the night in London. We were completely confused. We turned back to the purple line, and waited there for more than 5 hours. The mood of nearby passengers were sour. I tried to crack a joke, but they looked at me with suspicion. "Truly, I am not working for British Airways!" I quickly added. Then the complaining started, as well as more confusion, as all British Airways agents gave the passengers different advice.

Some people arrived after us, and they were dismissed. "Come back tomorrow!' These people had no choice but to sleep in the confines of the airport. I felt so sorry for them.

We were so hungry! At least they sent a clerk to our line, providing water and cookies or nuts. Our highlight during our wait!

Eventually everyone in our line began to seriously worry. "Look, there are only 5 agents left now!" Then there was 3. Then 2, and eventually only one! Then came the announcement: "We are closing! We will give you vouchers to sleep in a hotel, as well as for food. You will have to come back tomorrow at 5 in the morning." It's then that several passengers started to yell out in frustration: "Why can these business passengers rebook and we cannot!" My wife and I were the next ones in line...

Our luggage was under lock and key, but oh well! Once at our hotel, we had to stand in line for another 40 minutes. We fell asleep immediately, but woke up 4 hours later in order to be back in line by 5 am. We were truly sleep deprived!

However, when adversity hits us so badly, we, the followers of the Most High, will have an opportunity to shine; and shine we would, even when sleep-deprived!

Look for our next installment of 'Heathrow's' Hunger Games' in two weeks.

Rob Chaffart

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