“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Looking around frantically in a bustling crowd, I try to find the signs for the ferry station. People brush up against me, carrying luggage and crying babies. I look down at my sticky note instructing me which way to go, but can’t seem to find the correct exit. Was I supposed to walk down that plank, or get on that shuttle bus filling up with passengers outside?
“Are you going across to Hong Kong Harbor?” A deep voice says in English, “This way.”
I follow the man, a stranger, in a tidy business suit out of the mainland terminal toward a walkway that leads us to a ferry boat. I quickly catch his name- he is a German businessman who frequents the two cities I am traveling between. I pray quietly, recognize the characters for ‘ticket station’, and trust I am in the right place. He helps me buy a ticket and get seated on the ferry. We have a pleasant conversation and once we’ve arrived, he hails me a taxi. “Have a safe trip,” he says, then speaking fluent Cantonese, he instructs the driver where I am to go. “Thank you!” I call out the window. He shakes his head, “It’s nothing.” Then he is gone.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Ps. 91:11
18 months later….
It’s been 12 hours in Heathrow airport. Flights canceled, my husband is on a different plane, and I’m standing in the back of a line with my three year old son who is sitting on top of four massive pieces of luggage jammed into the trolley. I have my arms around him with my head down. I’m at my wits end, exhausted, and desperate to get a seat on the next plane out to Asia. I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours. There are four chatty British women standing in front of me, and I hear them discussing their upcoming trip with excitement in their voices. I sure wish I had a friend right now.
My son starts whimpering and I grab his sippy cup, but he pushes it away. Goldfish crackers, stuffed animal, board book… the tears set in. I feel myself starting to cry, when the women suddenly crowd around me and sing gently in unison to my son. He begins to engage, then starts giggling. I strike up a conversation with one of the ladies, who promptly addresses her fellow travelers, “Ladies, it seems the Lord has called us to care for these dear ones today.” I protest, but they won’t have it. I get a bathroom break, my son plays happily while I talk to a ticket agent, and I have extra hands for my luggage and my little boy. “It’s nothing dear”, they say.
But it IS something. Every kind intervention counts. We never forget them.
We all have our travel horror stories: missed flights, a broken down bus, flash flood during a village hike, stolen passports, tricky taxi drivers, obnoxious passengers, crowded stations, long lines, irritable customs agents, lost baggage, scary medical event en route…the list goes on. Believe me, I know.
We get annoyed, glare at the person kicking the seat behind us, and maybe even say unkind things to other people in our presence. We can be so distracted by what’s NOT going right during our travels that we lose sight of the opportunity to bless and be blessed in the midst of ‘everything going wrong’.
And when you least expect it, God provides the Stranger- the one who steps in during a moment of chaos, confusion, or calamity. They SEE you and change the course of your travels for the good, or at least offer a moment of relief (yes, even the bathroom). The offering of a seat, picking up a dropped wallet, sharing a snack, interpreting, a smile. It’s the mama stepping out of her rice paddy, to carry my daughter on her back as we trek to the village. And it’s my well-traveled teenager who notices a nainai (grandma) struggling with her luggage at the train station- he greets her kindly in her language and carries her bags to the street. Those moments are like a touch of heaven, infused into a weary soul.
No doubt you have experienced the kindness of a Stranger in the same way Jesus and his disciples did centuries ago. We, too, are called to care for the weary traveler, the lost one, the out-of-place. With God’s help and His eyes to see, we can be the kind Stranger and make a difference in someone’s journey.
Have you been blessed by a Stranger on any of your journeys? Please share your story with us below! Have you thought about ways to look out for fellow travelers; what does this look like in the culture where you live?
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