I often hear, “it’s about the beauty in the journey, not simply the destination”. This proved true as I board the second leg in my flight to Beirut, reaching from Germany to Lebanon. I noticed as I boarded the plane, things began to look, smell and feel much different. I was now apart of a very small minority and it was glaringly obvious to the majority. Let me describe, the smiles were constant, the laughter was contagious and the mixed smell of many different perfumes was most noticeable. Conversations were bright and plentiful as everyone was willing to engage, probably because of the big bearded white guy/redneck spectacle, but whatever the reason, the warmth and friendliness of the people was something that I simply didn’t expect. I didn’t really know what to expect. By the time I walked off the plane I had made three very genuine connections with Sam, Mary and Gary. Not apart of our team, Sam and Mary, happen to be seated in the same row on this Lufthansa flight today. Gary stopped as he was walking to the restroom to welcome me.
Sam and Mary walked to their seats where I was already seated and as our eyes connected you could see something was very different about these individuals. The smiles, the joy and the friendliness were evident and palpable. Could it be? Could these two have that same spirit that makes you feel like brothers and sisters? It’s true, as our conversation began, we all rejoiced to find out that we were related! Daughters and Son’s of the KING! Mary came to know Jesus as a 13 year old here in Lebanon. She was introduced to Him by Sam who had helped Mary’s family for years. Now the entire family has come to know Christ because of the witness of this courageous man. Sam is a pastor of a Christian church here in Lebanon.
As we made our introductions and began to listen to each others stories, my heart was so full of hope. Jesus is moving in ways, in places that we in America, simply may not be aware of. They began telling me a story of an ISIS fighter who came to know Jesus and is now serving Christ with passion and power. I was somewhat taken back by everything they were telling me, what? Here in Lebanon? How is this? The land of Islam and terror? My perceptions and views are already being challenged as I learn about the Lebanese people and the plight of the Syrian refugees. Our time together ended with a, “row 16 prayer meeting”. I’m sure the people around us wondered what in the world was going on. I think I was a little in awe, but on this Lufthansa flight to Beirut, Jesus showed up and it was amazing. How good is it to know that where we go, He is always there! Thank you Jesus.
There will be much more to come as the relationship with Sam and Mary develops.
I also met a warm and friendly Lebanese man named Gary who owns a construction company here in Beirut. He was eager to talk and tell me about the exploits of his life as well. We exchanged numbers and emails and will connect more in the future.
How would I describe what I’ve experienced so far? Warm, loving, extremely friendly and excepting. Did I expect that kind of a welcome from people that are not part of my team of hosting our team? Not really. These were simply people that I met on a plane, totally disconnected with anything I’m here to engage in. My first impression of the Lebanese and Syrian people is to say at the least, very inspiring.
My drive from the Airport in Beirut to the Hotel? Not quite as inspiring, ha. That did meet all my expectations of craziness. Dramamine, thank you Isaac for recommending this drug of choice. We swerved, drove the wrong way down a busy road, stopped in the middle of the road so the driver could get out to talk with a police officer and yes, I loved every single moment of it!! Driving with almost no rules! However, I’m thankful I’m not the one driving right now. Maybe later.
Until tomorrow, with great expectation and excitement.
PS. The hotel is very nice, we’ll be in Beirut tonight and in the Bekaa valley tomorrow.