It was our final day in the village in Kenya and after a few hours of journaling and sharing, all 28 of us boarded the big bus for the drive back to Nairobi Airport for our long flights home. It’s about 250 miles on tarmac but always seems to take all day somehow.
We left at 10:30 and a bit over an hour out the driver stops and tells us he’s getting bottled water (ok, but we already had some!?) and it would take about 10 minutes. 15 minutes later I ask him if we can go and he says they need another tire and that’ll just take about 10 minutes. Another 15 minutes pass and I finally tell him that we must leave (“Now!”) with or without the tire. He walks over to a group of men standing around a tire (one that is not mounted on a wheel – not sure what good that it will do us….) and he points at me, so they proceed to load it under the bus and we’re soon underway again.
After our lunch break (we’re about halfway), the driver tells me that they don’t have permits to enter the airport. Later, as we enter Nairobi on the highway, he pulls over, “the man with the documents is supposed to meet us here.” After 10 or 15 minutes, I tell him we need to go, with or without. We have to drop some folks at a hotel on the way and we have about 2 ½ hours before our flight leaves. The team on the bus is getting anxious and they don’t know why these delays. (I’m not really sure myself.)
Some 10 minutes later, the driver still standing out on the highway “waiting”, I give up and just start leaning on the horn until he finally re-enters the bus and starts driving again. I’ve got a map, directions and a GPS so that I know where to turn (I’m used to the village drivers getting lost in the big city). The driver is driving rather slowly and keeps creeping toward the exits, so I keep telling him, “not our exit…just deep driving…not our exit…just keep driving,” as we limp down the highway.
Finally, with about 2 hours to spare, we maneuver our way down the crowded, narrow street and drop off our teammates at their hotel. We almost missed that turn, but I kept hollering until they stopped and backed up 15 feet to made the turnoff. Now we’re back on the one-lane road that feeds the main downtown thoroughfare and traffic is at a stand-still. After 10 minutes without moving, I learn that the team is near panic about making our flights.
I know that many of them have been praying silently, but are very stressed, so I stand mid-bus and address the team with all the reassurance I can muster. “I have full confidence that we will make the airport with plenty of time for our flights,” I tell them. (OK, actually I am a little worried that these drivers don’t know what they’re doing, that we aren’t moving at all, and I don’t know what it means for us to show up at the airport “without the permit.”) “But,” I continue, “let’s pray for God’s help.”
I proceed to pray for Almighty God to take charge of the situation and to help us trust that He is in control and then I resume my seat of vigilance behind the drivers.
Within 2 minutes a new man gets onto the bus and our driver tells me, “Oh, he is one of our drivers.” (We already had 2 drivers, but whatever….). This new man gets in the driver’s seat. I feel the need to keep up some pressure and tell him, “we need to go to the airport now.” And he looks at me with calm confidence and says, “No problem. We are going to the airport!” And the bus starts moving (!) and in a few minutes the traffic clears and we’re at full-speed. (Ok, maybe I can start breathing again!)
We reach the entrance to the airport where we all have to walk through detectors and then get back on the bus. It is less than 2 hours before our departure -–are they going to let us in? At that point another new man enters the bus and the driver tells me, “he has our permit.” Apparently he had chased us down on a motorcycle!? And about 10 minutes later we are off the bus, unloaded and approaching our check-in counters, in plenty of time for our flights. And I’m left to reflect on what just happened!
Matthew 18: 19-20
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Because I’ve seen this in operation many times over the years, I am now a believer in God’s “Two or More Principle.” Weren’t there people praying on the bus already – silently, by themselves? (Yes, in fact, probably for our last hour in transit because things seemed sketchy by then). And I know that God has also honored silent prayers; I’ve experienced it. But so many times I’ve seen a dramatic change of circumstances after an aloud, sometimes desperate prayer in the company of other believers. This was a case in point – things took a very dramatic turn immediately after that corporate prayer.
I guess I need to be bolder about publicly asking Him for help.