My 737 jetliner was just passing take-off speed with a capacity load on the short runway, at Gerrard Smith International Airport on Cayman Brac, when the left engine exploded in a ball of fire and flying fragments. Somehow, by God’s grace, we came to a stop on the very edge of the ocean. One of the passengers was Mabry Kirkconnell, Speaker of the Cayman Islands Parliament. Back in the arrival hall, he asked all passengers and crew to gather round him and bow our heads in prayer. He gave one of the most moving prayers of thanks I have ever heard. His concluding sentence was a special moment for me:
“And, Lord, help us to thank you just as sincerely and deeply each day for the ordinary blessings of life as we do today for so miraculously saving our lives. Amen.”
I am sure that, since then, I have in fact been a much more thankful person.
On a visit to another country, I inadvertently left my suit jacket behind in a closet.
Back home, three weeks later I received a parcel. It contained my jacket, newly dry-cleaned, beautifully pressed, and carefully folded in special packaging.
This was a great deal more than a “cup of cold water” gesture. It was a powerful lesson to me of what Jesus meant by going the extra mile.
Many years ago, the ecclesia in Georgetown, Guyana, put a small ad in a Caribbean newspaper offering literature. One respondent was a man named Burke. He wrote telling us that he had a question, and asking if someone would visit him. A young brother and sister went to his home and found him in a rocking chair on his verandah, swinging gently to and fro while reading a faded old Christadelphian booklet. After a few courtesies, and a truly delicious papaw (papaya), he said, “Young man, I have a question. I went to a Christadelphian meeting 57 years ago and picked up this book. I have read it many times since then. This book is telling me that the doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible. Am I correct?” “You are correct,” the young brother replied, and reached for his Bible. But Mr. Burke would not be drawn further. “Thank you. That’s all I want to know.”
Meanwhile, the young sister was chatting with Mrs. Burke. “My husband tells me that I must give up believing in the Trinity. I asked my pastor at St. Luke’s and he tells me that Herbert is a heretic on the road to hell. I really don’t know what has come over him!”
One Sunday Herbert Burke appeared at the ecclesia and asked for baptism. He became a true pillar of the house of God for many years and was our serving brother. Only after her husband’s funeral did Mrs. Burke leave St. Luke’s Church and become a beloved sister in Christ. What a surprise awaits our sleeping brother!
I was driving a young sister, sadly now asleep in Christ, to Bible class. On some roads it is not wise to give lifts to strangers, even women. So when a young lady waved for a lift, I passed her by. The young sister beside me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Please stop. She will become a sister in Christ.”
I stopped and reversed. “Please, where are you going?” the young stranger asked. “To a Bible class,” I replied, indicating the town. “May I come too?” was her response.
She not only came to the Bible class, but she also became our sister in Christ.
When I as quite young, the minibus I was in had a head-on collision with a truck. I awoke in hospital. Many years later I was in another country thousands of miles from my home, and was invited to a social function in connection with my job. I saw this man looking at me very intently for such a long time that I became embarrassed. Finally, he came over to me and asked, “You’re from the West Indies, right? Were you in a bad minibus accident years ago?” “Yes, I was,” I replied, and briefly described it. “How do you know? And why do you ask?”
“I lived in the house right beside the scene of the accident. I took you to the hospital and saved your life.” What could I say next? As you might expect, we became the best of friends.